The Difference between Cinema Film and Standard Film


MoDannyWilliams on Reddit mentioned that most standard color film is mainly daylight balanced so the use of cooling filters is still required. Also Kodak Portra seems to handle push processing a bit better than most other color films but nowhere near Kodak cinema film.

I’ve been asked this question a lot. What’s the difference and does it really matter? Is there a benefit to one over the other? In all honesty no. The major differences between the two types of film is colour balance, coatings, push processing and grain.

Colour Balance

Standard film is made to allow you to shoot in either daylight or low light without worrying about using temperature filters to alter the color of the film.

Motion picture film is produced in either daylight balanced or tungsten balanced variations. These are usually labelled with either a D or a T after the ASA speed. Example 250D or 500T.

Each film can be used in either lighting conditions but to avoid heavy colour correction the appropriate cooling or warming filters should be used. On tungsten film you can use 85, 85B, or 85C filters. Each of these filters provide a different intensity of warming to your tungsten films which inherently are very cool in color and would render your environment very blue in daylight.

The reverse can also be done on daylight films in tungsten environments using 80, 80B, and 80C filters.

Take a look at the Tiffen website which contains a list of all color conversion filters.




This is probably the most important aspect and the main one that will deter a lot of people from using motion picture film. You CANNOT process this film at your local 1h photo lab. Not even the professional labs which process B&W films are able to deal with this film. The reason for this is a special anti static coating called Rem-Jet.

Rem-Jet’s purpose is to prevent the film from getting electrically charged when it runs through a movie camera at 24 frames per second, or fps. This coating needs to be removed at the beginning of the development process and leaves and nasty black goop when rinsing the film.

The process is quite easy to remove and you can read more about it here on my How To Develop Motion Picture film article.

Push Processing

When it comes to cinema film push processing works very well. You can easily push the film up to 2 stops before noticing major grain changes. This is a huge benefit over standard colour film as it tends to not handle pushing or pulling very well. If you attempt to push standard film you’ll get a lot of colour shift, grain, and various other artifacts.


Cinema film in general has a more prominent grain structure than your standard colour or B&W films. In general this doesn’t bother me the slightest and I enjoy the overall grain of cinema film. But as mentioned above standard film grain doesn’t react very well with push processing. The more stops you push the more obvious grain you’ll have to deal with.


Hopefully this write-up has given some better understanding of cinema film. If your comfortable developing your own film at home I would highly recommend you try shooting and developing the film yourself. The colour is spectacular and the feeling of developing your own film is second to none.


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