What is the difference between Duratrans and Backlit Film?

Erica Gabriel

Publication date: 10/19/2021

What is the difference between Duratrans and Backlit Film?

A common question we get asked is “what is the difference between Duratrans and backlit film?”

This can be a complex answer because in current times, most people cannot tell any difference, although the original method of producing each is quite different.

The Endura Transparency from Eastman Kodak

To explain the difference, we need a history lesson. The original duratrans product was invented by Eastman Kodak (the famous and bankrupt film company) in the 1970’s.  It was originally called the “Endura Transparency” but they shortened and trademarked the name in 1982.  Duratrans was the original backlit color transparency film.  To make a duratrans, a photograph or image was exposed photographically and developed chemically using a silver halide process similar to a conventional photo lab.  Think of it as developing film onto a giant transparency, in a dark room.  As you can imagine, this process was very time consuming, prone to development errors, and extremely expensive.

Then came inkjet printing on backlit film.

As large format printing became popular and cheaper, a new media called “backlit film” was created to allow printing on the film with inkjet printers.  Just as inkjet printing has pretty much replaced the traditional photo lab for photo printing, large format printing has also all but eliminated the need for the original ‘duratrans’ process.  Inkjet printers, their resolution, and the ink used now rivals and in may cases surpasses the quality of the original duratrans print at a fraction of the cost.

Is Duratrans Extinct?

Nowadays, most people looking for a Duratrans print are really looking for backlit film because of cost, time, and similarity, it rarely makes sense to order a true “Duratrans” branded print made with the original process, and there are actually very few companies left that offer original method of exposing photos to film to create a duratrans.

Because the term was synonymous with backlit advertising for so long, many people still refer to this outdated brand name.  It’s much like the “Kleenex” brand of “tissue” – because it was one of the first developed and trademarked ’tissue’ names, many people still ask for a Kleenex when really they are looking for a tissue.  It’s the same with duratrans prints and backlit film.

The highest quality backlit film printing.

Backlit film is our most popular item at posterprintshop and our specialty.  We have several Roland solvent printers dedicated to backlit film printing, using the highest quality 8 color UV resistant inks and using original Roland backlit film – the highest quality in the industry.

Learn more about our backlit film, it’s specifications, and see samples of backlit prints on our backlit media page.


Related Articles

A Guide to Choosing the Right Print Size for Your Posters When it comes to printing posters, selecting the appropriate size is...
In the realm of visual storytelling and advertisement, one tool that stands out for its captivating allure is backlit film. Whether you’ve...
Discover how to print on transparent paper with our easy 5-step guide. Learn the best techniques and printers for perfect transparency prints...

Start An Order

Upload your existing photo or design, choose your media and output size, and you’re done!

Customize your poster using our built-in Design Tool. Add custom text, multiple images, and more!

Experienced customers that don’t need to edit or preview their files can submit orders quickly with this method.

What can we help you find?

Choose your order method

  • Upload an existing file, photo, or design.
  • Accepts JPG, PDF, PNG, TIF, DOC, XLS, PPT.
  • Our most common order wizard guides you through the order.

Design online

  • Design a poster online with multiple images on one design.
  • Add text and clip art.
  • Use when you don’t have a design ready to upload.

Advanced order

  • Upload files without a wizard or quality check to enter an order quickly. Best for experienced customers and designers only.

How do I create an account?

You create an account when you place your first order. During the first step of the checkout page, you’ll see an option to “save your order” and create an account with a password. This will create your account for future use and save your new order to the account.

You're not able to create an account before placing your first order, as an account is not needed until there is an order to go with it.

How Fast Do You Need It?


We offer same day printing and shipping on express orders received by noon Pacific (3 pm Eastern) and a variety of shipping methods for you to choose from.


Enter your zip code to get a shipping quote on cost and arrival date for the various shipping methods.

Enter your ZIP code: