Friday, May 19, 2017

Funding Film Part I: CineStill 120mm 800T Film

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A year and a half ago I participated in another IndieGoGo Campaign initiated by CineStill Film.  Note the operative word is “another”, I have backed a combined total of five KickStarter and IndieGogo fundraising campaigns to date.


I became a fan of CineStill back in March of 2013 when they released their remjet-free Kodak 35mm Movie Film, which was a 500 ISO Tungsten balanced film. This time CineStill wanted to expand their product line to include both medium format and large format film stock and so I pledged $150 (they offered Film Rewards based on contribution) back in July of 2016 during their second round of funding (Their initial round was started in February of 2016 and the campaign was funded by March of 2016).  In return, CineStill would send me 6 rolls of their new 120mm 800 ISO Tungsten-balanced film, a film case, a t-shirt, and assorted stickers by August of 2016.

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Production delays pushed the release date farther into the future with very little communication from CineStill and most "backers" were getting frustrated based on the number of posts on the CineStill Group on FaceBook. Finally in February of 2017 I received e-mail from CineStill informing me that they had shipped my Rewards and a letter. In the letter, CineStill thanked me for my support and noted that the film is an "alpha" release and asked that I share with them any issues with the film.


Rolls 1 and 2 (on 6 x 4.5 equates to 15 images per roll):

I wanted to shoot this film at box speed, which is ISO 800 and not at ISO 500 as recommended by other film photographers who were familiar with the 35mm version of the 800T film stock. I'm paying for ISO 800 so why shoot it at anything less. I setup a night shoot with a friend and warned her ahead of time that I was shooting test film ("alpha" release per CineStill) and that we may or may not get any images. I loaded two Mamiya film backs and brought along my Sekor C 45mm f/2.8 lens, Sekor C 80mm f/1.9 lens, a tripod and a spotmeter. 


I had no issues loading or shooting the film, but upon unloading the film, I noticed that the exposed film felt a bit loose on the take-up spool so I placed them in my dark bag to ensure they didn't get exposed to anymore light. The following day I loaded one roll into my Patterson tank and the other in a Kalt Stainless Steel (SS) 120mm tank with a Hewes 120 SS reel. Loading the exposed films on the reels went smoothly and I noticed the film stock film felt a bit stiffer than other films. 
After developing the rolls at home and scanning the negatives I noticed there were static electricity streaks on one roll (see above image). I messaged CineStill and they confirmed that this was a known issue and provided "alpha' testers with a webpage documenting all reported issues and possible solutions.

Roll 3 (6 x 6 produces 12 images per roll):


Having read on the web that 800T film works best when shot at ISO 500, I loaded an alpha roll into my Rolleiflex f/3.5 TLR. Again there were no issues loading and unloading the film.  Development and scanning went smoothly, but I noticed that the edges of the film were lighter than the middle portion.  I sent the images to CineStill and they responded that they hadn't seen this issue before.


Rolls 4 and 5.25:

CineStill 800T Pushed to 3200

A musician friend was playing at local spot and I let him know I'd swing by to shoot some film.  I brought the Mamiya 645 Pro, 45mm and 80mm lenses, and two rolls of "alpha" film into their own film backs.  This time I pushed the film to ISO 3200 since other photographers were able to get good results. 

CineStill 800T Pushed to 3200

The settings were f/2.8 at 1/15 for the f2.8 lens and 1/30 for the f/1.9 lens.  I was able to shoot the first roll without any issues, but when I mounted the second film back the film wound to the end of the roll after 4 shutter presses.  

CineStill 800T Pushed to 3200

I successfully developed and scanned the fully exposed roll #4 and the other "faulty" roll #5 I rewound to the beginning in my dark bag then loaded it into the same film back. I mounted the film back on the Mamiya, left the lens cap on and exposed one picture (I noted that I shot four images before the film wound until the end) and as I advanced the film for the next exposure it wound to the end.  I tagged the film back as "bad", rewound the film again and placed it in my other film back.  I have yet to shoot, or advance the film.  I'm hoping procrastination will make it work.

I'm not sure if I will purchase any more CineStill film as I prefer Black and White film stock when shooting medium format and large format. More images from the "alpha" rolls can be found on my flickr stream by clicking the image below.

CineStill 800T 120mm

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

and now for a Commercial Break

I've been working with AMA SEABEAUTY for about a year by providing them with pictures of their products and with their storefront at 506 State Street, in Santa Barbara. They are California's premiere Seaweed farmers and have formulated natural products for the body . You can find out more information about them at and their products at:

As part of their Marketing strategy, they wanted some "clean" images.  I suggested we shoot everything using high-key lighting against white backgrounds so the images could be combined with text for advertising materials
Andrea Ama

For lighting I used three of my Paul C. Buff studio strobes, 2 - Einsteins and an Alien B1600. For my key light I chose the Alien Bee, with a Beauty Dish and Diffusion Sock. I prefer the AB1600 because it lighter than the Einsteins and easier to position during a shoot. One Einstein was used for the rim light with a strip box and the internal diffusion screen and grid in place, and the other Einstein was for the background with barndoors and bare bulb.

After adjusting the output from each strobe, the settings were:

  • Key: f/10
  • Rim: f/13
  • Background f/16

I set my camera to f/8, or f/9 depending on the skin color of each model.

Ama Jazz

In addition to the lights and modifiers, I also used a tri-flector to provide me with clamshell lighting. The picture below does not show the final position for the key light, it was set just high enough above the reflector that I can photograph the model using a 105mm field of view.

Now it's time to get back to work. As always, please feel free to comment, or ask questions.