CineStill 800T In Your Toolbox

Posted by Brian Wright on

With so many choices currently available, it helps to have some understanding of when a particular film excels. Looking at CineStill 800T, it is necessary to understand where this film comes from and what it was originally designed to achieve.

CineStill 800T is produced from a Kodak motion picture emulsion originally designed for shooting in limited artificial, continuous, incandescent light. This film is known in the motion picture industry as Kodak Vision 3 5219, the 3rd generation of tungsten balanced EI 500 color negative motion picture film, and is the standard for movies shot on film in Hollywood. 5219, or "19" as it is commonly referred to, is optimized for a hybrid workflow, ideal for scanning, with literally futuristic features (from a still photography perspective).

It is important to note that CineStill is NOT simply "repackaged" motion picture film. We utilize the same advanced emulsion technology found in motion picture film to create a still photography film for standard C-41 processing.

Now on to the point...when is the best time to use CineStill 800T for capturing images? There are many creative applications for a high-speed tungsten balanced film, even in daylight. 800Tungsten is designed for and excels in difficult, low light and tungsten lighting situations. It may be used in many different lighting situations to achieve a variety of desirable looks but due to its cool color balance and halation, some situations will have a more stylistic look.

CineStill 800T is a perfect emulsion in your toolbox for when you want to capture natural looking images in limited light. Daylight balanced negative films usually require 2 or more stops additional exposure than your camera meter will tell you in order to produce natural color. This is because tungsten light emits very little blue light, resulting in orange colored images with daylight film. 800T has added blue sensitivity to capture full color images in incandescent light. In mixed light or daylight it can also produce stunning color when rated at ISO 400. This makes CineStill 800T the most versatile color film currently available and by far the fastest (most sensitive) color film in incandescent light.

In short, situations when you will ideally want to reach for your CineStill 800T will be in incandescent tungsten light, candle light, fluorescent light, mixed tungsten with fluorescent and mixed tungsten with limited daylight.

One of the greatest aspects of film is its incredible latitude. This is especially true for 800T. From our tests and user feedback, CineStill 800T is best rated at EI (Exposure Index) 800 in tungsten light when processed in standard C-41 chemistry. Though the original stock (Kodak 500T 5219) is recommended to be rated at EI 500 in tungsten light, many cinematographers and filmmakers regularly rate this film at 1000 speed with no push, due to this film's amazing shadow latitude. Regardless, the ideal ISO/EI to rate this film at will always be somewhere between 400 and 800 without push processing. But remember, CineStill 800T is designed for C-41 processing, which causes a slight push in development and results in a denser negative. Thus, we have found 800 to be right in the middle of the ideal Exposure Index range.

Expect a unique look from CineStill 800Tungsten when photographing:

  • heavily backlit images
  • strong window light
  • content including intense points of light (ie. Christmas lights or bright windows)   

When shooting in these situations, the resulting effect is referred to as halation. Points of light surrounded by darker tones will produce a "red glow" or "halo" around strong highlights. The effect is significantly reduced with medium format film due to the larger negative and shallower depth of field. Longer lenses also reduce this effect. While it is worth stating that all film can halate, CineStill is particularly sensitive to this effect, so it is worth remembering when choosing this stock. That being said, some people have used this unique quality to achieve some awesome results!

Happy Shooting! 
-The CineStill Team





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  • Hello there what about the kodak 250T ? I have about 100 metters

    Tasos Tsiros on
  • I am the front of house engineer (aka: sound guy) for a travelling concert act. I have also been a middling photographer since high school. As you might expect, the two often converge, and of late. About 30% of my photography is the band, in between turning guitar solos up and down.

    I picked up some 800T when I first heard of it, SPECIFICALLY to try in a theatre concert situation. I was very favorably impressed. With the film that is. My shots were the same mediocre stuff I always get, because the interesting visual stuff always seems to happen while I am actively mxing the show! Being tied to the mixing console at the back of the theatre limits me to whatever I can get with zoom lenses from one place, so not a lot of compelling shots.

    One of my frustrations is the proliferation of LED stage lighting when shooting digital. It seems no matter what it looks like to the eye, thee lights always seem to achieve a mauve wash in my digital shots. I don’t recall what the theatre had when I tried the 800T, but the colors seemed more accurate than a vague mauve wash.

    All in all, I would say, go ahead and try it. Maybe shoot a test roll at a local club first, but in the hands of a photographer more talented than I am, this should be wonderful stuff for concert shots.

    Dave Stephenson on
  • It’s part of the reason that it exists! ;-)

    Brian on
  • Thanks for this informative article. How is 800T suited for live concert photography?

    Glenn Haggis on
  • how do YOU judge Cinestill 800T compared to Portra 800…..thanks

    Stephen Perera on

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