They give us those nice bright colors,
They give us the greens of Summers.
Makes you think all the world is a sunny day.

Face it - not all film is the same. When it comes to color balance, most film comes in two or more types. There is the common daylight balanced film and the tungsten-balanced film. Each has its place.

If you are photographing outdoors, under the sun you should be using daylight film - that makes sense. The "problem" occurs when you take that daylight film and bring it inside. Indoors, if you use a flash the colors should turn out "right". If you shoot daylight film indoors without a flash it is "warm".

What do I mean by "warm"? I've taken two photographs with 100 speed Kodak film (daylight - balanced for 5500 K) sitting around a table playing Yahtzee. The first, with the flash has everything as I recall it - the color of the walls is right, the color of the various skin tones match what I recall. The other photograph was taken without a flash and the colors are all a bit "warmer" - a bit more weighted to the reds and oranges. The classic way to correct for this is to use a blue filter on the camera. This is most often done with an 80X filter (where X is either A, B, or C depending on the color temperature - 3200 K, 3400 K, or 3800 K respectively. (See table below)).

Meanwhile, tungsten film is balanced for 3200 K and requires a warming filter to be used in daylight. This is done with an 85B (a orangish) filter.

Realize, that sometimes, as a photographer and as an artist you may wish to use a particular film to bring out some aspect of the scene. There is nothing wrong with using daylight film indoors. I have done so on many occasions and often (not always) prefer a warmer tint to the photograph.

Film       Light Source  Filter
Daylight   < 3,200 K     80A
Daylight   Headlights    80A or 80B
Daylight   Sodium Vapor  80A or 80B
Daylight   Tungsten      80A
Daylight   Photolamp     80B
Tungsten   Daylight      85B
Tungsten   Photolamp     81A

Even between different brands there is a difference. Some films are more sensitive to the reds while others are more sensitive to the blues.

I personally have no experience with slide film or using professional quality film where the color balance from one to the other becomes noticeable. The following is taken from various other accounts:

  • Kodak
    • Ektachrome Elite II: warm (yellowish)
    • Ektachrome E100S: Slightly warm ('S' stands for 'saturated'); great red sensitivity
    • Ektachrome E100SW: Very warm (makes 'white' appear 'cream') ('S' stands for 'saturated', 'W' stands for 'warm')
    • Kodachrome: Neutral color balance
    • Royal Gold: good red sensitivity
  • Fuji
    • Fujichrome Sensia II: neutral color balance
    • Fujichrome Provia: neutral color balance
    • Fujichrome Velvia: exaggerated colors and warm (highly recommended for photographing vegetation)
    • NPH: great blue sensitivity

Fuji's Velvia has a "warm" color balance that tends to bring out the oranges and red while downplaying blues. This is a good thing when photographing flowers. Kodachrome is a cooler color and, as Paul Simon said it brings out the greens and blues while still preserving the rest of the colors. Meanwhile, Fuji Provia is said to be even 'cooler' than Kodachrome.

This color balance becomes very important when photographing things of a particular color. This is especially the case in astrophotography where the subject may be a blue or a green or a red and that is the color that you want the film to be most sensitive too.

Everything looks better in black and white

Kodachrome, they give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away


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