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Various types of film are receptive to particular regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Panchromatic film are (or were?) so-called because they are generally sensitive to the whole visible light spectrum. Colour films are normally panchromatic but some, such as those intended for use in tungsten light, are balanced for specific lighting conditions and designed to record images that match what the human eye perceives. Most black-and-white films, but not all, are also panchromatic.

Orthochromatic films are more sensitive to the blue end of the visible spectrum. They are sensitive to the wavelengths which produce green light, but not to those that produce red. Films of this type are still used today for line drawings, graphic arts applications and the medical industry.

Infrared film is used in both scientific and creative photography. It is a basically a panchromatic film with extended sensitivity which gives additional sensitivity at and beyond the visible red end of the spectrum.

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