I found this thread but still have questions: What is the white balance of film?

I am going to use Film in studio with Strobes.

The films I am experimenting with are:

  • Fuji FP-100C (Peel-apart Polaroids)
  • Kodak Professional Portra 400 (Color Negative)
  • Ilford FP4 Plus (Black and White)

The strobes I'll be using are:

  • Profoto B1
  • Profoto D2

How should I figure out the filter and white balance?

I will retouch the scanned versions but prefer to have a good base to work with out of camera.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Corey : Yes, I have Profot B1 and Profoto D2 \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Mar 5, 2018 at 20:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you planning to work from a scan of these shots ? If so you can adjust white balance in your post processing (unless you used mix lighting, which to be avoided if possible). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 5, 2018 at 21:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StephenG : Yes I will retouch the scanned versions but prefer to have a good base to work with out of camera. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Mar 5, 2018 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Brandon: And yes no mixed lighting, Will be all strobe. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Mar 5, 2018 at 21:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The monochrome (B&W) and color films probably ought to be separate questions, as the use of color filters on lights or the camera for each is for totally different reasons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Mar 6, 2018 at 3:43

2 Answers 2


The strobes you are using have the following temps (sourced from B&H Product Specs):

  • Profoto B1: 5600K
  • Profoto D2: 5600K

B&H says that the B1 color temp can vary +/- 150K over the entire power range in normal mode and +/- 800K in Freeze Mode.

Given this, if you're not doing exceptionally high speed photography, I'd recommend that you use Normal Mode.

The films that you've chosen have these temps:

Given that your strobes are outputting ~ what your film is balanced for, very little seems necessary. Shooting without any modification should get you very close, with the expectation that you do some final tweaking in post after scanning.


Photo films, unlike digital sensors, do not self-adjust when encountering different lighting situations. Photo films are made to be exposed under specific lighting situations. In the heyday of color film usage, films were harmonized for use in daylight or under studio tungsten or home movie tungsten or flash bulb. There were other specialized emulsions also. Often, we had the wrong film loaded or the lighting we encountered was irregular. We resorted to mounting filters that matched our films to the light source. These are known a conversion filters or light balancing filters.

These filters are generally warming filters (salmon color) or cooling (bluish in color). They are designated using a catalog system devised by Frederic Wratten. Kodak acquired his shop in 1906. Color balancing jargon of photo film is uses the Kelvin Temperature scale and allocates the hue (coloration) of a glowing object with its actual temperature. The scientist who specialize in this trade favor the Kelvin temperature scale which is the Celsius scale starting at absolute zero = -273C°. Such a scale is void of negative numbers that otherwise can confuse. This scale is also favored by metallurgies who design the incandescent lamps that were used in photographic studios.

Some common luminous sources: Standard Candle = 1930K

Carbon filament light bulb standard candle 2080K

40 watt general service light bulb 2650K

100 watt general service light bulb 2900K

500 watt photo lamp 3200K

500 watt movie flood lamp 3400K

Clear flash bulb 3800K

Zirconium flash bulb 4200K

Carbon arc movie light 5000K

Photographic daylight 5500K

Skylight 12000K thru 18000K

Conversion Filters Wratten Catalog

80A blueish 3200K to 5500K

80B blueish 3400K to 5500K

80C blueish 3800K to 5500K

80D blueish 4200K to 5500K

80C salmon 5500k to 3800K

85 salmon 5500K to 3400K

85B salmon 5500K to 3200K

Today, most color films are balanced to be exposed under daylight conditions. Thus they are labeled as Daylight 5500K. Most studio strobe (electronic flash) output daylight 5500K thus no filter is generally required.

As to black & white films: As you know, black & white films have a published ISO speed. This speed is usually the film’s response under daylight conditions. If exposed under tungsten conditions, the exposing light is ruddy and deficient in blue. This will induce a speed loss. As a rule of thumb, unless you are doing scientific testing, you can usually disregard these ISO changes as they are likely well within the latitude of the film.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Brandon. You can buy a light color meter to measure the Kelvin temp of any light source so you know the appropriate filter or specialty film to use for that light source. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Mar 5, 2018 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I am using Profot B1 and D2 , so I should find out what color temperature their strobes are and then compare it to "5500K" of Film and go from there, right ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Brandon
    Mar 5, 2018 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ Brandon -- It’s not likely that they differ from the 5500K typical. Do you see any unexpected color shift like too cool or too warm? One thing to be aware of, sometimes strobes output an unacceptable high UV content. When this happens, dyes in clothing fluoresce. This is most notable in white shirts and the likes; they image too cool (blueish). The countermeasure is a UV filter of just a piece of Mylar clear plastic. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 5, 2018 at 22:31

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