Photographic film is a sheet of plastic coated with an emulsion containing light-sensitive silver halide salts with variable crystal sizes that determine the sensitivity, contrast and resolution of the film...
sensitivity to light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...
, determined by sensitometry
Sensitometry is the scientific study of light-sensitive materials, especially photographic film. The study has its origins in the work by Ferdinand Hurter and Vero Charles Driffield with early black-and-white emulsions...
and measured on various numerical scales, the most recent being the ISO system.
A closely related ISO system is used to measure the sensitivity of digital imaging systems.
Relatively insensitive film, with a correspondingly lower speed index requires more exposure
In photography, exposure is the total amount of light allowed to fall on the photographic medium during the process of taking a photograph. Exposure is measured in lux seconds, and can be computed from exposure value and scene luminance over a specified area.In photographic jargon, an exposure...
to light to produce the same image density as a more sensitive film, and is thus commonly termed a slow film.