I had never even heard of CineStill 800T film until a couple of weeks ago when a Fuji X Weekly reader asked if I could help him develop a film simulation recipe that mimics the look of it. This film didn’t exist back in the days when I shot a lot of film. Even though companies like Fujifilm are slowly discontinuing some of their 35mm films, other companies have been introducing new ones. CineStill 800T falls into the latter category, as CineStill has only been around since 2012.
CineStill 800T is Kodak Vision3 500T motion picture film that’s been modified for use in 35mm film cameras and development using the C-41 process. It has a “cinema” look, which means that it doesn’t have a lot of contrast or color saturation, as motion picture film is rarely as punchy as most still picture films are. The “T” in the name means tungsten, which is a fancy way of saying that it is not white balanced for daylight (typically 5500K) but for artificial light (3200K). Even though the unmodified film is rated at ISO 500, the modified version is rated at ISO 800.
I searched the web up and down looking for photographs captured with this film to get a good idea of what it looks like. I’ve never used it myself, so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what the aesthetics are. I hope to someday try CineStill 800T, but I have probably 25 rolls of unused 35mm film that I’m looking at right now, and in 2017 I shot a grand total of three rolls. So far in 2018 I’m at zero. I just don’t shoot all that much film anymore, especially after purchasing the Fujifilm X100F.
I discovered that CineStill 800T is an excellent high-ISO color film. The options for good quality high-ISO color film are very slim as most color film that’s ISO 800 and higher look especially bad. There are a few good choices, all of which I believe have been discontinued over the last several years. CineStill 800T definitely looks like one that I would have used if it had been around 15-20 years ago. It seems as though that it is mostly being used for portraits under artificial light and after-sunset street photography, although there are plenty of examples of it being used in other situations.
The issues with nailing down some good settings to mimic the look of this film (particularly in light of the fact that I’ve never used it) are that, when looking at an image online, I don’t know how much the process of scanning the image has changed the look of it, I don’t know what was done post-scanning to adjust it (if anything), and if filters were used during exposure to change the white balance (a common film practice). Some people provided good notes with their pictures, and this helped tremendously, but most did not, and so I was left guessing. Despite these shortcomings, I think I was able to get a look that’s pretty close to CineStill 800T. It might not be 100% exact, but I believe it to be close enough that you could probably convince some people that you used the film instead of your digital camera.
Initially I was just doing this recipe to help out a reader and for the challenge of it, but I’m pretty happy with the results and I might continue using it occasionally in the right situations. It’s not something that I’d want to use all of the time, but in the right moments it looks quite nice. It has an analog feel and certainly a different “look” than what most people are creating with their X100F. I simulated using three rolls of 36 exposure film to get the pictures seen in this article.
PRO Neg. Std
Dynamic Range: DR200
Highlight: +3 (+2 when there is a bright light source in the image)
Noise Reduction: -3
Grain Effect: Strong
White Balance: 3200K
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 to +1/3 (typically)
Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs, using my CineStill 800T Film Simulation recipe:
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