CineStill 35mm Film Review


There is nothing quite like 35mm film photography. It’s the purest form of picture-taking that literally changes the way you shoot. There is no obsession over sharpness or noise, no plethora of unnecessary camera settings, and no need for digital manipulation once you get your prints or scans back from the photo lab. Plus, the number of pictures you take is kept to a minimum, so you spend more time framing your shots and making them count. I learned my craft with a film camera when I was kid, and I actually developed my black-and-white film rolls in a darkroom at school. And while I shoot primarily digital with my Leica M (Typ 240), there are times when I bring along my 35mm film camera and some rolls of film. Two of my go-to film stocks of choice are CineStill 800T and CineStill 50D. I use both of these often, and am really pleased with the results.

About CineStill film.

CineStill works with film photography companies to continue the production of analog film stock. The company uses innovative technology to prepare motion picture film for use in still photography. Both the 800T and 50D film stocks produce high details, beautiful colors and rich contrast, and natural-looking tones. CineStill 800T is a color-balanced tungsten negative film, and I use it primarily in low light situations and indoors. CineStill 50D is color balanced for 5500 K daylight, and I use this one when it is bright and sunny outside. One interesting thing to note is that both of these films can produce really some cool-looking halation effects. I’ve seen colorful red, orange and yellow halos and streaks appear in pictures that were taken at night, indoors, and in broad daylight. CineStill 800T can give street lights, indoor lights, and neon signs a unique and magical glow-like effect. Once thing to note is the halation effects have a much higher chance of appearing when shooting at a vibrant light source.


CineStill 800T review.

This is my favorite CineStill film stock because it transforms dark, abandoned, or otherwise average-looking places into vivid, colorful ones that are jam-packed with the unique characteristics of analog film. I’ve taken pictures of city streets, store windows and hotel lobbies with this film and the end results are enchanting and almost dreamlike. Subtle lights have a stunning glow effect, fine details are rendered perfectly, and the large grain keeps everything in check. The film’s tungsten balance can alter the look of some types of lighting (i.e., fluorescent) but it’s actually something that I don’t worry about. For example, I’ve had colorful street lights and signs look completely different in my finished prints, but their color changes actually look cool and experimental.


CineStill 50D review.

This is all-around excellent film stock for daytime shooting. I’ve used CineStill 50D film on bright sunny days, as well as cloudy and foggy days. In sunlit conditions, the tones appear normal, and sometimes look similar to a 1970s photograph or motion picture. In cloudy and/or foggy conditions, the tones appear cooler, with soft blue being the dominant tone in my experience. One really great thing about this film is its dynamic range. In most cases, shadows and highlights in the lightest and darkest areas are reproduced quite well. I recommend it for landscape photography, street photography, and portrait photography.

The bottom line.

If you are looking for an interesting film stock that is created from motion picture cinema film, CineStill films are definitely worth trying out. You can see more examples in my 35mm film photography portfolio. CineStill films can be push processed based on your needs, and you can get them developed at any professional photo lab that uses the C-41 process. They cost more than most premium film stocks, but the end results are what count, and CineStill 800T and CineStill 50D deliver with each and every roll I shoot.