My Favorite Color Emulsion
Before I found Cinestill 800T, I was shooting primarily B&W film stocks like Ilford HP5 and Kodak TMAX Pro. This was until my brother got me five rolls of Cinestill 800T as a Christmas gift– then everything changed.
Shooting B&W allowed me to focus primarily on composition and framing. The biggest drawback to shooting B&W is pretty obvious– I pinched myself often for loading Ilford HP5 because I would come across really colorful scenes.
Cinestill 800T is a high-speed, tungsten-balanced film emulsion. It’s actually just Kodak Vision 3 cinema film modified for still photography and C-41 processing.
What makes Cinestill 800T so special is its unique cool-tone color palette and the unique halation that occurs when photographing fluorescent light.
You see, Kodak Vision 3 is a cinema film emulsion that requires a different form of processing. Kodak Vision 3 has something called a Rem-jet backing that prevents light from bouncing off the back of the camera.
The people at Cinestill said yuck and did away with the Rem-jet coating. This allows C-41 processing but it also creates these crazy intense halations.
While some may not like the intentional tarnish caused by the extreme halation, it is this graphic quality that attracts me back to the color-film format.
The way I see it, 35 mm film photography can’t compete with digital photography in terms of high definition quality. Even low-speed, low ISO 35mm film emulsions just don’t have the prowess of modern DSLR or mirrorless cameras.
35 mm photography is more of a casual and artistic medium– it’s a means of expression. Cinestill 800T is intentionally imperfect; that’s what makes it a perfect film stock for me.
One thing that I love about 35 mm film photography is the lack of control. Of course, with my FM2, Lensy, I have control over the fundamental elements (shutter speed and aperture), but things like light leaks, halation, and grain are sometimes beyond control.
HQ photography is something I’ll leave for medium, large format film, and digital cameras. Cinestill 800T allows me to have control over composition and no control over color.
Cinestill 800T is also an ideal emulsion for night and street photography. 800 speed film is good for indoor and low-light circumstances. I seldom used a tripod shooting 800T– if the situation calls for extra stability, I use my monopod.
While I understand the need and use of professional emulsions like Kodak Portra and Ektachrome, I think that Cinestill 800T is going to be a long-term friend of mine.
What matters is you and your specific needs. Are you a street photographer? Do you shoot in the daytime, or at night? Portrait or Landscape? Professional or art-focused? Different emulsions lend to specific styles.