Backlit Film – My Print is Dark / How does black print?

Backlit film is one of our most popular medias and our specialty.  But, it’s important to remember the characteristics of this media and what’s meant for to make sure its the right fit for you.

The best way to think of backlit film and it’s uses is to think of movie posters at the cinema and menu boards at fast food restaurants.

Can black be opaque on backlit film?

Backlit film, like it’s name, is meant to be lit from behind, hence “backlit”.  It’s also a film, which means it’s slightly transparent, so that light can shine through it and light it up.  It’s not opaque like paper.  This means that the entire film, and everything we print on it, is going to be slightly translucent so that light shines through it.  It can be a common misconception that black is going to be solid or “opaque” and you won’t see the light through it.  Unfortunately that’s impossible with backlit film.  Remember, it’s a white translucent material, and black is just another ink color being printed on the film (it’s not magically turning that area opaque), so the black areas are going to light up a bit just like all of the print.  Take a look a the wide variety of samples prints on our backlit film media page for examples and to see how posters, black, and colored prints look on this media.

My print on backlit film is much darker than the file I sent to you.

This is another normal behavior of backlit film. Because the film is meant mostly to be ‘lit’ from behind, it can sometimes be shocking when you first see the print and see that it’s much darker than the original.  This is because the print gets much brighter and lighter when it’s “lit up”.  If the print wasn’t made darker on the film, then it will be washed out, light, and unusable when lit from behind, so the print must be darkened to prevent this.  It’s important to remember that you’re ordering backlit film because you want to light it from behind and accept the compromise that it’s going to need to be darker when it’s not lit to achieve the right look when it is lit.

How do I color or light correct backlit film?

Unfortunately, backlit film is a difficult media to color and light calibrate because there are a million different applications for backlit film, and millions of combinations of hardware, lights (LED, incandescent, fluorescent, etc).  To perfectly calibrate for color and lightness you’d need to measure profiles of your exact application and then work with a professional photo lab.  Posterprintshop does not offer color or light correction as we use the industry standard profiles for backlit film and print on the highest quality film available.  As mentioned, backlit film is one of our most popular medias and is our speciality, and our settings and prints work for 99% of customers wanting backlit film.

If you have specific color, black, or other requirements, backlit film may not be the best media for you.  We’d recommend printing on our professional photo papers instead.



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Updated on November 23, 2022
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