Cinestill 800T is popular these days and many people use it to get unique-looking pictures. However, I am hesitant to use this film due to its high cost; 35mm Cinestill 800T sells for USD23 per roll in my local shops and is more expensive than Kodak Portra 800.
A few months back when I shopped for photographic films at the Chinese online shopping platform Taobao, I came across a film stock with purple box called “Color Negative Film 800T“, retailing at RMB46 for 36 exposures (approximately USD 6.70). It has no brand, the descriptions stated that the film is motion picture film with remjet removed. This film
probably is Kodak Vision 3 500T (Kodak 5219) with remjet removed. I decided to buy a roll and try it because it was only one-third of the price of Cinestill 800T, even after adding shipping fees.
After I submitted the film for development, It was confirmed that the 800T was Kodak Vision 3 500T with remjet removed based on the edge markings. This film has no brand but since it originated from China, I decided to playfully call this film stock Sinostill 800T. It use plastic canisters instead of metal and like Cinestill 800T, can be processed in C41 chemistry.
Before I start shooting Sinostill 800T, I found that I might face obstacles in getting the film developed in future. One day when I was in a local film processing shop I frequently visited, the boss complained that he will not accept Sinostill 800T in the future because the film causing problems. The boss never explained the problems, but I guess probably was contamination of the residual remjet messed up their minilab machine. The quality control of remjet removal of the cheap Sinostill 800T may not up to par. Fortunately, there are other shops accepting Sinostill 800T, there are selling China 800T as well.
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With my freshly loaded roll of Sinostill 800T in Nikon F3, I first went to Geylang Road to try out the film. Geylang Road is a vibrant neighbourhood with iconic Peranakan shophouses, food, durian stalls and various buildings of different religions. The Sinostill 800T colour palette is good for neon lights, the red lights are particularly striking.
The Holi Department Store photo shows Sinostill 800T’s features, red halation around glowing highlights. Removal of the remjet layer makes 800T prone to halation, the light bouncing back from the camera pressure back into the red layer of the emulsion causing halation. I also tested Sinostill 800T under indoor low light conditions, I quite like the red color of Sinostill 800T. While known for its nighttime performance, Sinostill 800T performs quite well in daylight. The photo of the high-rise hotel building was taken on a hot day with a blue sky without 85B warming filter, the tones appearing on the cooler side due to the tungsten balance of the film.
In short, Sinostill 800T is bulk roll Kodak Vision 3 500T with remjet removed, it is a cheaper alternative to Cinestill 800T. It performs well, I may continue to shoot Sinostill 800T due to its lower price. Seems like the Sinostill 800T is popular and in high demand, the price of the film has increased by around 20% at the time of writing.
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