Why was film originally in black and white?

Question by Annalisa: Why was film originally in black and white?
Photographs and films were not always able to capture color, but they could capture form, shadow, etc. Why was this? What enabled film to eventually be able to capture color?
I am not talking about computers, or CGI films. I mean regular film, like as in the mid-twentieth century, when film was first able to capture color. I know that colorized films were made, before then, but actual film could not capture color. Why was this?

Best answer:

Answer by Emily
because we didnt have color

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3 comments to Why was film originally in black and white?

  • Michael  says:

    Because now days, we have computers. They do the movements, the color, and more stuff.

  • Mitchell  says:

    The chemicals initially developed and subsequently put on film recorded the amplitude where light struck the film. The amplitude of light waves is what we perceive as strength or, more accurately, brightness. Therefore the film only recorded how bright a certain spot was. The face is lighter than the shirt, but there’s no color information so it just comes out in grays.

    Newer film (with newer chemicals) records not only amplitude but wavelength of light. Wavelength is what we perceive as color. Thus the colors can be reproduced in the prints.

  • Edmund B  says:

    Originally, film was made by drying a silver nitrate emulsion on a celluloid strip. Silver nitrate turns black when exposed to light and it was found that varying light levels caused a proportional darkening of the silver nitrate. Thus by controlling the amount of light by controlling the exposure the film was not completely darkened and a negative image forms. The paper was also originally treated to darken when exposed to light, So when exposed to the light passed through a negative a positive image is formed on the paper which then must be developed to be visible. The image is chemically fixed, rinsed and the paper is dried.
    Color was not possible until chemicals were developed that responded to certain wave lengths of light by changing color. These chemicals were used in both the film and paper.and a process similar to developing black and white except timed exposures using red green and blue filters are necessary, to bring up the colors on the paper.
    Books on developing both black and white and color pictures are available in your library.

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