What Is Slide Film: Everything You Need To Know

What Is Slide Film: Everything You Need To Know

Are you a budding film photographer looking to dig into slide film but need help figuring out where to start? We've got you covered!

Slide film is a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on the film base after processing. It differs from traditional negative films in that they do not need to be printed before viewing and can be projected onto a screen using a slide projector. 

Read on for everything you need to know about shooting with slide film. 

Slide film in frame with a photo of a daisy against blue sky.

Slide Film vs. Negative Film

Slide film produces a positive image on the film base after processing, whereas negative film produces an inverted or reversed image.

These films are categorized according to their ASA or ISO rating, indicating their light sensitivity. The higher this rating, the more sensitive the film will be and the less light it needs for exposure.

Color slide film has layers of emulsions, each sensitive to a different light color. There are also chemicals called dye couplers present in the film. After it's developed, the image that results from the interaction of the emulsion and developer is positive. This image can then cut out and placed in a plastic or cardboard sleeve, which can be inserted into a projector to show as a slide.

All reversal film sold today uses the E-6 process, which is different from the process (K-14) used by Kodak Kodachrome back in the day.

On the other hand, the color-negative film contains layers of silver halide crystals and a single emulsion layer. When you expose it to light, these crystals create an invisible latent image that you must convert into a visible image in the developing process. This involves using different chemicals called "color developer," which reverses the colors on the film, resulting in a negative image. From here, you can print it onto photographic paper or have us scan it at hte lab to create a digital image.

The Advantages Of Slide Film

Compared to color negative film or black & white film, slide film has a few advantages worth noting.

Versatility

Reversal film is incredibly versatile and is available in various formats, from 8mm to medium format, which makes it the perfect choice for photographers looking for maximum flexibility.

Slide film in frame with photo of a boat's nose.

Quality Of Images

Slide film offers some of the highest image quality available on photographic film. Its sharpness and resolution allow for highly detailed images unmistakably vibrant and life-like.

Durability And Longevity

The positive nature of reversal film makes them much more resistant to deterioration than negative films, which can fade over time. As a result, slide films will retain their original colors and image clarity decades after exposure, even with constant projection or handling.

Accurate Colour

Slide film exposes the colors accurately with minimal variations, so you don't have to worry about incorrect color reproduction or shifts in hue. Want some extra pop in your image? Try Fuji Velvia 50!

Disadvantages Of Slide Film

With all its amazing benefits, some drawbacks are worth noting before you order a year's supply. Let's take a look at some of these:

Cost

Slide film is more expensive than negative film, making it a less budget-friendly option for some photographers. While this is something you should keep in mind, don't let it stop you from trying at least once. 

Limited Dynamic Range

The limited dynamic range of reversal films can be a hindrance when shooting subjects with high-contrast lighting conditions, as there may not be enough exposure latitude to capture all the details and tones in both the shadow and highlight areas.

Precise Metering Is A Must

Unlike negative films, slide film is best when properly exposed. Color negative film can handle overexposure up to 3 stops. Slide film, however, will be overblown if exposed that hot and thus requires an accurate reading of your scene to get a good exposure. 

The Different Types Of Slide Film

Yes, there are different types of reversal film too. Let's check out the three main types of slide film: 

Color-Positive Film

Color-positive films produce a positive image in the emulsion's red, green, and blue layers. Color-positive films are best used in daylight or other brightly lit conditions to create images with a reasonable degree of color saturation. 

Slide film in frame with a photo of dimly lit alley.

Black and White Positive Film

Black-and-white positive films produce a positive image in the silver halide layer of the emulsion. This film can be used indoors and outdoors but produces better results under low-light conditions. 

Reversal Film

Color reversal films create an image of only one layer of silver halide crystals, and reversal films require processing to produce a negative image before they can be viewed as slides. 

Reversal films are most effective outdoors as the colors produced will be more vibrant than those from negative or color-positive films.

Developing Slide Film

You can develop your film at home, but remember that it's not for the faint-hearted. You'll need the following: 

  • E6 processing chemicals 
  • A developing tank 
  • Darkroom thermometer
  • Small funnel
  • Amber glass bottles for holding chemistry
  • Film squeegee
  • Film cassette opener (Bottle opener works just as well)
  • Darkroom
  • A damn good guide and temperature regulator!

Alternatively, just send your film to our lab for stress-free, professional development. Be sure to check return negatives at checkout to get your slide film back!

Slide film in frame with photo of a dolphin.

How to Take Care of Slide Film

Slide film is very delicate, and you should handle it carefully. Always store slide film away from extreme temperatures, direct sunlight, moisture, and dust. When handling slides, use clean cotton gloves or avoid touching them altogether if possible—fingerprints on slides are hard to remove.

Let it Slide

Slide films capture vivid images with true-to-life colors and sharp details. While they require special equipment and processing techniques, they can produce stunning results that are difficult to achieve using other film types. With the correct knowledge and equipment, anyone can create beautiful slide images that will last for generations.

Grab your slide film (or any other film really) over at Reformed Film Lab—we develop too!


1 comment


  • Marvin Kantorowitz

    I LOVE SLIDES,ESPECILY 3D,STEREO REALIST,BUT ITS THE MTG,THATS A PROLEM,WITHOUT KODAK MTG GONE,WHO CAN DO 3D SLIDE MT? ME??? I NEED MTS? ETC,BUT WHEN YOU DO A GREAT 3D SLIDE AND LOOK AT,IT JUST THE BEST PHOTOGRAPY ON EARTH,AND ESPECILY WHEN PROJECTED.WITH POLAROID GLASSES AND BIG,SILVER LINTICULAR SCREEN. TRYT IT YOU WILL LOVE IT,GET CAMERAS FROM EBAY,AND BE A 3D SLIDE SHOOTER.NYC HAS A BIG 3D SLIDE CLUB,JOIN IT,ITS GRAT! MK. LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.


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