Racquet Reviews: Cinestill Film

Shot by Andy Sapp, 800T, Leica M6, 35mm ASPH f2.0 Summicron-M.

As one of the more open-minded Brisbane photo labs, Racquet Film find a lot of unique film coming through our doors. Lately, Cinestill 800T has flooded our developing tanks, with the rise in popularity pretty easy to pin down: it’s a damn good film. But it doesn’t end there.

When I opened this page, my intent was to write a review on my experience with Cinestill’s 800T film, a tungsten-balanced high-speed film that’s the pilot behind some absolutely stunning imagery circling the internet right now. Unfortunately – or fortunately – I ended up trying the other Cinestill offerings. Once I’d found myself in that relatively shallow labyrinth, I decided grouping the offerings would be a much better idea. They all share a common concept, despite producing vastly different results, and they’re all just as good as one another, assuming the application is right.

Shot by Big Head Taco. Cinestill 800T, Leica M-A, 35mm Summilux ASPH at f2.8.

Before we dive into the magic of the film, Cinestill must be talked about as a company. Since the company’s BETA testing began back in 2012, their intention was to make film stock requiring ECN-2 motion picture processing methods available to the general public, in a usable format with a developing process that was both familiar and simple to the average film photographer. Not tech savvy? Ignore this: to accomplish the task, the company had to remove the rem-jet layer of motion picture film without contaminating the sensitive emulsion. Years of R&D, tens of thousands of feet of wasted film and thousands of hours of experimentation techniques yielded a premium technique. How? It’s a secret. All we know is that early on, an alkali bath and water jet wash was successful in removing the layer, but partially developed and slightly contaminated the film.

Cinestill 800T @ 1600 ISO. Shot by @papamalangi123, Yashica T5.

Having mastered the removal of the rem-jet layer, Cinestill was released to the public. That meant big things, and Cinestill themselves said it best: “CineStill brings the wonders of cinema film technology to the still photographer.  Now, anyone can use film in the same lighting situations as new blockbuster movies and TV shows such as Inception, Argo, Lincoln, all of the Batman movies, Django Unchained, Man of Steel, Les Misérables, The Master, the new Star Track films, the forthcoming Star Wars films, all Wes Anderson’s films, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, Castle, True Blood, American Horror Story, 30 Rock”

Shot by @insuo using 800T, Leica M2, Nokton 35mm f1.4.

Cool, eh? Cinestill 800T – a tungsten-balanced color negative film which is extremely versatile – could be considered the flagship of the small (albeit impressive) Cinestill line. It produces some of the most fantastic photographs when used in the right situations, and we’re constantly in awe by some of the photographs we see captured using the stock.

Shot by Andy Sapp, 800T, Leica M6, 35mm ASPH f2.0 Summicron-M.

Alongside the 800T, Cinestill produces a daylight-balanced 50 ISO film – 50Daylight XPRO. According to the brand, noteworthy points on the film include the fact it’s factory spooled into NEW high-quality Dx-Coded Cartridges, holds unrivaled highlight and shadow latitude, boasts the world’s finest grain alongside dynamic and accurate color rendition. They also make a Double-x, which “is a classic black and white film stock left relatively unchanged since it’s release in 1959.” It’s a little harder to come by, however.

Shot by Andy Sapp, 800T, Leica M6, 35mm ASPH f2.0 Summicron-M.

We’ll review the 50D when we have more experience with it. Until then, get out and by some Cinestill. It’s amazing stuff.