CINESTILL 50D – FILM REVIEW
Cinestill is one of the newer, but defiantly more popular, kids on the film manufacturing scene. They are very well known for their fantastic Cinestill 800T, a film that I have shot a lot of (review coming soon). But that films lesser popular sibling, Cinestill 50D, is another favorite of mine. The film is actually Kodak Vision 3 50D (also known as Kodak 5203/7203) – a color negative motion picture film.
Working in animation and being a HUGE movie buff, the idea of shooting on the film used by some amazing films like ‘First Man’, ‘The Hateful Eight’ and ’12 Years a Slave’ was a big draw for me, and a great opportunity to experiment with a film previously only been used by motion picture films.
The film brings a very cinematic look to your photos, I love shooting it on the Fuji TX-1 XPAN with the super wide aspect ratio – it feels like you just grabbed a still from a movie. The ‘D’ in the name stands for daylight where is very much excels in bright light, and it produces amazing soft skin tones, a soft pastel like color palette that has a sun drenched Western Movie vibe with grain the is virtually nonexistent.
I have shot the film on all my cameras and have had fantastic results with them all. In this review the gear used includes:
- Leica MP
- Fuji TX-1 XPAN
- Fuji GA645
- Hasselblad 503cw
I have found the saturation and contrast is definitely lower that other color films including Kodak Ektar, Fuji Pro400h (although it has some of the green tones from this film) and even Portra 160 and 400. With a slight green cast in the highlights which is enhanced in overcast and some indoor lighting conditions, it can look great and give it a really nice vintage vibe, but something to keep in mind as I have found it can get very green as soon as the light fades.
One other exceptional quality to this film the incredibly fine grain. I have found, especially in 120 format, that it’s so smooth it’s almost impossible to see.
Cinestill is not just sticking this film into canisters and sending it out, the original Kodak film has a ram-jet layer which must be removed if you want to develop the film in regular color C-41 chemicals. By removing this layer it creates a highlight halo glow that has a red cast to them.
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the red highlight halo. It can look great, and to me adds to the unique flare of this film, but in some instances can be super distracting. Its something to keep in mind when shooting that bight white highlights make take on this effect – or embrace it!
When scanning, I use the SilverFast software which is great. However, there is no Cinestill color preset, which means having to play around with your own settings. There are loads of examples of this film that look very cold and blue, and sometimes very very green. It does require some color balancing within the initial scan to get the best results. (I have a film scanning tutorial coming up where I will focus on my settings for Cinestill 50D and 800T).
Honestly, I love this film. Its one I make sure I always have with me and keep a constant supply in the fridge. It captures a look that I find people are drawn too when they see my photos, it has an unapologetic film feeling that gives me a reason to often grab a film camera over a digital one and enjoying looking for situations and locations to shoot and get the most from its unique characteristics.