Film Explained

Over the years photographic film and the technology used to make and process it, have progressed significantly. However, with the advent of digital imaging this millennium may never see any further significant developments by film manufactures. Today we can still class most film as being one of two types, print film (negative image) or slide film (positive image). Specialist types such as black and white and infrared also produce negative images.

Print Film [C41]

The cheapest and most widely available consumer film that many people are familiar with. This was the way of life before digital. Print film is developed using the C41 process and produces a negative image.

Kodak Portra 800

Slide Film [E6]

This is what professionals have been using for years. Slide film or colour reversal film is developed by the more complicated E6 process and as the name suggests produces a positive colour image. Sadly only a limited number of photographic labs can develop this.

Kodak E100VS

Cross Processing [C41/E6]

Cross processing is a method by which E6 film is developed using the C41 process or vice versa. Whilst not commonly used because of its false colour rendition, it does however present unique artistic qualities in the resultant images. Different slide films will each have their own rendition of this. For example, Velvia 50 will produce a high contrast green and yellow cast over everything while Velvia 100 (below) shifts to red and purple. Provia 400X on the other hand will simply increase the contrast and colour saturation.

Fujifilm Velvia 100 Cross Processed

Black and White

Almost forgotten these days, black and white film was the only colour of choice from the 1890’s until 1935 when Kodak invented Kodachrome, the original slide film. Today it is available in most formats by Kodak, Fujifilm and Ilford. Its achievable fine grain and fantastic tonal reproduction are qualities still favored by many photographers. Traditional black and white processing is separate to the normal C41 process with a negative image being produced.

Fujifilm Acros 100

Instant/Integral [Polaroid]

Invented by Polaroid in 1972, colour integral film differs significantly from all other types in that it exposes, develops and fixes the photo all in one. This is the most common type of instant film that is associated with the Polaroid cameras although there are actually six different instant films that they are responsible for.

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