Regular contributor Lorraine Healy is back, this time with a comparison of CineStill’s 800T against the mighty Fuji 800 of yesteryear that was also recently featured in the Lomography Magazine (details for the curious are below. Over to you Lorraine!
I had been intrigued by the Cinestill 800T film, the 800 ISO, tungsten-balanced, C-41-enabled motion picture film developed by Cinestill, the Brothers Wright photo company, which also offers a daylight-balanced 50 ISO version. Cinestill 800T has recently started shipping in 120 format as well, following a successful 2016 Kickstarter campaign.
Cinestill 800T is advertised as extremely fine-grained and best suited for low and difficult lighting situations, especially under fluorescent or Tungsten light. I bought a couple of rolls after seeing some beautiful work done with the Lomography LCA+, but I kept wondering where to try it. The examples I saw had a clear urban, night vibe to them, almost the color equivalent of “film noir”—if you can excuse the lunacy of that statement!
I decided to take one roll with me to Buenos Aires last February, since I knew there would be clearer opportunities in the city, as opposed to my usual rural surroundings. I had pretty much settled on putting it through my LCA+ and, once in Buenos Aires (where heavy traffic makes the subway lines a faster way to get around) it struck me that shooting inside the “subte”, as the Underground or Subway system is known in Argentina, would make for an interesting project.
I added an extra twist by shooting a roll of Fuji Superia 800 through my Pentax K1000 (with a 28mm lens f/2.0) side by side, for the sake of comparison. There are differences in the lenses, with the LCA+ lens being 32mm and f/2.8, but this was not meant to be a very scientific experiment.
There are 6 subway lines in Buenos Aires, with many points at which they interconnect. The system has over 80 stations and most of them have some sort of public art display on tile, which makes them interesting photographic subjects. I chose to shoot the entire length of the “B” line, both ways, simply because it is close to my Mom’s house.
So, on a scorching Southern Hemisphere Summer morning, I dove into the depths of the underground armed with my two loaded cameras. I traveled from my “local” station, which is almost to the end of the line, into downtown, taking a train from one station to the next. I would get off at each station, shoot a couple of images (the Fuji 800 roll was only 12 exposures, so I rationed it some), then board a new train to the next station. And do it again.
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After a couple of hours alternating air-conditioned trains with asphyxiatingly hot stations, it was time to get outside for a while. I needed fresh (if still hot) air, a cold can of soda, and a chance to shoot both films in daylight. The Cinestill 800T box recommends lowering the iso to 500 and using a 85B filter when photographing in daylight. Well… I did not follow the instructions. I just shot both cameras and their respective films straight at 800 ISO, I was pleased with the results.
And then it was back to the subway, for the return journey. One of the most praised features of the Cinestill film is how accurately it reproduces skin tones. I think the praise is deserved.
A rather dark and muddy Fuji 800 portrayal of skin tones, and two showing the stellar combination LCA+/Cinestill 800T at skin tones. All shot from the hip, and bear in mind that the Fuji 800 could likely be improved in Photoshop or with a better scan than mine.
The color results from the comparison, of course, depend on personal taste and preference. I have always been a Fuji film shooter and have always preferred the Fuji palette to any other brands’. That said, the combination of the Cinestill 800T with the outstanding LCA+ lens produced some stunning results, in my opinion. In many instances, I liked the shot taken with that combo better than the one taken with Fuji, but there were some exceptions. To be fair, I probably should have used a roll of 36 exposures for the Fuji film and matched the films shot for shot. But that was all I had.
I have another roll of Cinestill 800T waiting while my LCA+ undergoes some repairs. I think they complement each other perfectly, with the LCA+ bringing out the color vibrancy of the cinematic film and adding the natural vignette of its Minitar lens. If I had more occasions to use it, I would stock the Cinestill 800T by the brickload.
Thanks for reading,
This article first appeared in Lomography Magazine.
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“Colour version of film noir”. That’s a great way of summing up the cinestill’s look.
@CineStillFilm @LoreHealy I remember reading this before, still love the shots. I especially remember… https://t.co/5GUkkaN7p8
@CineStillFilm @LoreHealy Fan of Agfa Vista 800?
hi David! Never tried Agfa Vista 800! Is it still around?
@CineStillFilm @LoreHealy @cpindell1, @DrMarsRover and now @LoreHealy ? It’s like a trifecta of cool… https://t.co/2o2S6kCm4J
omg, José! That you even THINK I’m cool! I was never one of the cool kids…. ☺️
Like I stated in the article, this wasn’t meant to be a really scientific comparison—it was just to see an approximate side by side. I did not have two equal cameras with me at the time… My main purpose was to test the Cinestill roll, the Fuji roll was an afterthought.
CineStill is impressive, but this ‘test comparison’ is nothing short of useless.. Color rendition and contrast depends on amount of exposure, and these two cameras surely work differently in that respect.
well, hello there underground! I’ll be seeing you in a few days!
@CineStillFilm I have a roll and just don’t know what to do with it
Night scenes, neon, London, London, London. With the Nikon and that fabulous new lens of yours 🙂
I thought it was a very interesting piece, and well worth reading. So much so, I am itching to get some Cinestill 800T to try!!! :0)
Thanks so much, Richard!
Very interesting article.
In fact so interesting that some CineStill 800T and a Wratten 85B filter are in the post! Well done.
Enjoy shooting with both, Phil! Do you know already where?
I really like how the colour pops out compared to Fuji.
Thanks so much, Michal! I agree!
Canny shots with both films:) I had a certain amount of deju vu with this article-shot both films on a photo wander with my nephew on May day! In the processing queue as I write this:) Can’t wait to see the results:)
I also wonder if the camera I used is “advanced” enough-Canon 1000Fn w/kit zoom(35-80mm)? 25 years old this year, and still chugging along:)!
I’m going to have to look for those shots of your from last year, I don’t think I saw them when/if you posted them. Was your nephew shooting as well?
800 ISO film needs a more advanced film camera to be shot in any light conditions.
The author used what she had on hand, but you can’t compare the results or draw a conclusion regarding that – just nice to see the shots. Surprisingly, the daylight shot was better on Cinestill 800T but again, that means nothing.
Dude, seriously. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you post any positive comments here, what’s the problem? Why does an ISO 800 film need a “more advanced camera”? That simply doesn’t make sense.
Higher shutter speeds and better exposure system considering the high sensitivity of the film, for example? And… why is this a negative comment? It wasn’t obvious that it can’t be taken into account regarding the comparison/(battle, eventually) between two films of equal ISO as the author didn’t used the same type of camera and lens? I enjoyed the images as were presented, without considering the (forced) comparison.
BTW, when you review a film, you must check if your camera exposes correctly, as the majority of the old film cameras have problems with the exposure meter (battery or sensor problems) and/or the shutter speeds – you need an electronic gadget to measure the speeds, then you can check the included exposure meter versus a digital camera. Why are authors always rushing in doing a half baked project?
Negative: your first comment sets up the entire piece. Saying that “a more advanced film camera” is needed means that you believe the camera used wasn’t suitable and therefore voids the results.
My Hasselblad has no meter, does this mean that it is less advanced than the LCA used here?
Your final comment of “that means nothing” underlines the negative view.
Also, this isn’t a battle. You must have missed the paragraph:
“I added an extra twist by shooting a roll of Fuji Superia 800 through my Pentax K1000 (with a 28mm lens f/2.0) side by side, for the sake of comparison. There are differences in the lenses, with the LCA+ lens being 32mm and f/2.8, but this was not meant to be a very scientific experiment.”
This is one person’s comparison and as the author says, “this was not meant to be a scientific experiement”. It’s an opinion.
I’m happy to publish a review that you believe stands up to scrutiny and allow others to draw conclusions but until that day comes, please don’t deride someone else’s efforts at sharing their results.
Also, I’m sorry but this is simply not true: “…the majority of the old film cameras have problems with the exposure meter (battery or sensor problems) and/or the shutter speeds”. Perhaps you meant to add “in my experience”?
Finally, regarding “Why are authors always rushing in doing a half baked project?”
People want to share their findings. Not everyone has the time or inclination to perform detailed checks and tests and nor should they. Film photography is about a feeling and what you might find trite, rushed, pointless may be a mine of useful information to someone else.
Please have some respect for the author. They have after all stepped up and put their work out there. If the output has no value to you then please consider creating something that you believe does and share it with the community.
I am one that considers doing an injustice to the film he loves if the camera is unreliable. I also threw away an entire roll with all the printed photos after ruining it by improper film storage (in a russian fridge ) although, i think it wasn’t too bad http://bizitown.blogspot.ro/2016/07/fujicolor-c200-al-doilea-rol-un.html (Romanian language).
I am my most fierce critic regarding my work, and I would have thrown away much more if my daughter had not intervened to save some saying she liked the result…
Unfortunately, I tend to judge others as I judge myself 🙁
There’s nothing wrong with being a fierce critic of your own work but remember: what others do with their own film, their own cameras and their own time is their choice. Accept their work for what it is and don’t pass needless and unwarranted judgement like a billion other people on the internet.
If your aim is to start or enter into dialogue and discussion, there literally hundreds of better ways to do so – start with asking a question and see where it leads you.
I understand your point of view, Vasile, and by the way, that daughter of yours is gorgeous and so is the puppy! It must have felt awful that you didn’t get the perfect results you had envisioned. But I’m glad she intervened to save those few you posted.
Regarding the Cine800 vs. Fuji 800 article, and really all articles I write for EMULSIVE and for Lomo, they are really in no way scientific comparisons or technical considerations of any kind. I just don’t have that kind of knowledge on the technical side of photography, and I always make that very clear from the start. Essentially, what I write is the kind of article I enjoy reading, that provides me with useful information about the film, the lens, the camera. My thought is: “if I experimented with this and got these results, maybe somebody else will benefit from what I tried.”
As film stocks disappear day to day, it seems, my hope is that those of us in the film community can pool and share our experiences with all films, so we’ll know what to “replace” those films no longer available with those that still are. Given the direction that Fuji is going, I’m so grateful there is Cinestill 800 available now.
Wishing you the very best light!