CineStill 800 Xpro Tungsten 35mm film user experience By Aivaras Sidla

CineStill 800 Xpro Tungsten 35mm film user experience

By Aivaras Sidla

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I’ve tested new film recently and thought to share this experience with You. Its CineStill 800 Xpro Tungsten 35mm film, I don’t remember where and when I heard about it first time, but I haven’t paid to much attention to this product, as my first reaction wasn’t big excitement. Thought that its more special effects product as some of lomography films.

I think that for me the trigger was Brett Price article “Shooting & Processing Cinema Film in a Still Camera” published in Steve’s site. Then I started to dig deeper and finally I bought five rolls to play with. So, you see Brett – you are responsible for my expenses. Joking. I’m a big fan of your work, It inspires me. You have unique style, know light well and it seems to me that you have very good sense where to break rules of composition for best results.
Basicaly CineStill 800 Xpro is Kodak movie film prepared for still photography and for C41 development process. Film is balanced for tungsten light, so It means that usable to shot indoors under inside lights. There are more technical aspects of this films, but I’ll not go into them, as there is plenty information in manufacturer website. For me it was important, that: its C41, means I could dump it to my lab as usual, its fast and suited to shot indoors – I do a lot such shooting in winter, it’s very flexible with good colours.

So, here I am after 4 used rolls, trying to draw some notes for myself and other potential users:
Tungsten balancing. I thought that shooting outdoors should use warming filter 85B as per manufacturer recommendation, but after first roll I understood that there is no need. I dig this blue cast it delivers in natural light.
Flexibility. It handles underexposure very good. And it’s good characteristic for fast film, as one faces low light levels with it.
Mixed lightning. A little unpredictable, at least for me and at least from 4 rolls experience. I know more or less what could be achieved when shooting Portra 400 in various light situations, but with this film facing mixed light, means I could get something unexpected. But stated this, I can say that in all cases unexpected wasn’t bad.
Halation effect. CineStillFilm warns that there could be red halation when sources of light are in focus. And it is true, you will see it in the pictures. I don’t fully understand how this effect arrises, and honestly, I don’t care. In some cases this effect is bad, In some cases I can tolerate it, for me it doesn’t spoil the picture (see picture of broken xmas decoration), sometimes even adds some charm (see portrait of a man). What I do noticed and it wasn’t in any reviews, that halation appears from certain strength of direct light source in the picture. In case light source is not so strong, there is no halation (see portrait with xmas tree lights in background).
Film speed. Before shooting this film, I read that some people overexpose this film a bit, using ISO640, but I used box speed all the time and it went fine for me. Should note here, that I use spot metering almost all the time.

To sum my experience up, I can say that this film has its unique and unforgettable look. Its in grain, in colours and unique blue cast. In some cases it reminds movies look (and it should remind). I will definitely come back to it and I can honestly recommend this film for others. CineStill made a good job providing film users more choices. And they are marching on with publishing of new exiting product – 50Daylight ISO50 film, there are 5 rolls in my fridge counting their last days and waiting for proper execution (and probably next story for a different day :)).

Thanks for reading!

As usual, more could be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aiwalit/

Aivaras

 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA50mm F1.4

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 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA50mm F1.4

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 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-F50mm F1.7

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 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA50mm F1.4

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 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-F50mm F1.7

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 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA50mm F1.4

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 Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-FA50mm F1.4

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Pentax MZ-3, SMC Pentax-F50mm F1.7

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18 Comments

  1. I have been trying out this film as well recently. In terms of color, grain, etc I don’t exactly love it, but it is not a bad option if you want color correct photos out from box when shooting under tungsten. Using filter to correct the color would lose a stop or so it is usually not very practically because typically indoor scene doesn’t have a lot of light to begin with (and I don’t own an Noctilux…)

    There is one thing that bug me slightly – they haven’t tested how stable the film is for archiving. Something we won’t find out soon…

  2. Cinestill is Kodak Vision 500T repackaged and with the REMJET layer removed for C-41 processing. As David points out, sending a roll of Vision with this layer on would ruin the lab’s C-41 processing equipment and chemicals to boot. Some labs will do the processing of re-spooled Motion Picture Film like Kodak Vision with the REMJET on (they simply remove the backing). If you can find a lab that can do this processing (ECN-2) you’ll save yourself a fair bit of cash by buying up re-spooled Vision and other brands (Fuji, Kodak etc.) on ebay and elsewhere. Cinestill is very pricey per roll in comparison and it is basically the same film. It is just a matter of finding a lab or doing yourself 🙂

    • Finding a lab that will process motion picture film with rem-jet on it rolled into 135 cassettes (not CineStill) will be a challenge. The only labs that process ECN-2 are motion picture labs and they will not handle short lengths. The couple labs that will process motion picture films in short lengths, do so in a way similar to how you would do it at home. They “pre-wash” the film with a chemical to soften the ramjet and then remove it by hand prior to processing the film in standard C-41 chemicals. This works but can still cause contamination of the emulsion and rem-jet can get embedded into the emulsion during the “pre-wash”. They will also charge extra for this service so in the end you wont be saving any money. Also, those selling motion picture film on eBay in 135mm cassettes use old expired film, hand rolled into reused old cassettes; rather than fresh film, professionally assembled into clean new cassettes. So really you pay a little more when you purchase CineStill but you save on the backend. 😉

      • Well I guess I’m lucky that my lab will process ECN-2 for a little bit extra than C-41 😉 I buy the reels myself or get them off a lab that insists the re-spooled stuff is fresh. But yes I can see the attraction of Cinestill is convenience and perhaps more cost effective in the long run depending on how much processing costs run to.

    • I’d say, that on one hand – you pay for convenience, on the other – I have zero means for processing film myself – so uncial expenditures for processing at home would make Vision more expensive.

  3. Not so fast with 50D 🙂 I’m curious myself, but its dark here in winter. 🙁 Usually I feel that its best to shoot more than one roll continuously in order to adjust shooting to result that film provides. So, I’m waiting for a bit brighter days.

  4. Most films have an “anti-halation layer” on the back which absorbs light. This is to stop bright light going straight through the film, reflecting off – for example – the smooth and shiny pressure plate in the camera back, which holds your film nice and flat, and the light then bouncing back into the film again through the back side of the film ..causing haloes – or “halation” – or bright areas around highlights.

    This “CineStill” movie film normally has a carbon black layer at the back of the film to absorb this excess light, and although this is washed off in cinema-film processing before the rest of the development process, this “pre-wash” is NOT part of normal stills-film C41 development, and so the carbon layer may float off the film during its development and then deposit itself within the processing equipment and chemicals, thus ruining the next film(s) to be processed.

    For this reason, the distributors, or “re-packagers”, of CineStill movie film pre-wash it to remove the carbon anti-halation – so-called “rem-jet” – (removable by jet-wash) layer, so that when you have the film C41 processed it does not spoil the C41 processing equipment and chemicals.

    Th-th-that’s all, folks! (..as they say in movie land!..)

  5. Nice examples.I dig the cooler colors in the outdoor portrait.Looks like it is worth a try and the ISO50 sounds interesting, too.

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