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Film's sensitivity to color

Different films react differently to color


Occasionally, you'll be faced with a subject that can be photographed equally well in both black and white or color. Often, your subject's wishes will determine your choice. When you have trouble deciding, it's usually best to shoot color.
Occasionally, you'll be faced with a subject that can be photographed equally well in both black and white or color. Often, your subject's wishes will determine your choice. When you have trouble deciding, it's usually best to shoot color.

Black and white film translates the colors of a scene into shades of gray in varying degrees of brightness. To render the scene accurately, the brightness levels must correspond as closely as possible to the brightness of the actual colors themselves. This is known as the spectral sensitivity or the “color sensitivity” of black and white film. Orange, for example, is rendered by black and white film into a lighter shade of gray than red, a seemingly-darker color. See Black and white film to learn how different types of B&W film react to colors.)

Black & white film is available in many varieties and film speeds, including film like Kodak's T400CN that can be processed in C-41 color film processors, which are typically used at one-hour photo labs.
Black & white film is available in many varieties and film speeds, including film like Kodak's T400CN that can be processed in C-41 color film processors, which are typically used at one-hour photo labs.

Color films are actually multi-layered black and white films which have three or more different emulsion layers that are individually sensitized and filtered, a treatment that causes each layer to record its own distinct light wavelengths. Processing of color film dissolves the silver grains forming the various layered images and replaces them with colored dyes. (See Color film to learn how different color films react to colors.)

35 mm color negative film for use in daylight is the most popular film type, and is available in many varieties and film speeds.
35 mm color negative film for use in daylight is the most popular film type, and is available in many varieties and film speeds.

 
Further information...
Black and white film
Color film