CineStill 400D film tryout

I backed their kickstarter thing a little while ago, it’s meant to be a general purpose film so I thought it’s worth a try. I’m not full-hipster but I can be persuaded with a bit of vintage aesthetic.

Seeing as actual photoshoots have been few and far between I took a couple rolls with me to Jindabyne, where my in-laws and I wanted to walk up the big mountain.

I’ve got some mixed feelings so far, which I think relate partly to the film stock and partly to the lab. As 400D is a negative film the only ways I have of viewing it are scans and prints. Normally the prints look fantastic, then you see all the gory details in the scans. This time it was the other way around; the scans look pretty good and have decent details, but the prints in hand just feel… crushed. There’s a lot of detail being lost in the shadows and the highlights feel washed out. Something just doesn’t feel right, as though they made the prints from heavily-compressed JPEGs instead of a clean scan. They also scanned and printed the 120-film back to front, so that doesn’t bode well either…

Anyway with that aside I guess 400D seems alright. Their sample photos look a lot punchier and I think that’s really to do with having something more suitable in front of the lens. Honestly, Aussie foliage tends not to be visually lush, it’s this very particular yellowy-green colour when viewed en masse.

  • The square photos were shot on a Mamiya C330, a medium-format camera that takes 120 film, and an 80mm f/2.8 lens
  • The other photos were shot on a Nikon F5, which takes normal 135/35mm film, and a 16-35mm f/4 lens
  • All the daytime shots were taken at 1/1000sec at f/8
  • The evening shots were taken at 1/8sec at f/5.6, except for the overexposed crane photo which was at f/4

The photos I like more are at the end of the set – Lake Jindabyne by the water’s edge, and the construction cranes that I found near home. It probably helps that those scenes had less dynamic range and more colour in them. The Nikon might not have been focused perfectly on the cranes, but the lens is a reliable performer on its own, and yet the Mamiya has tonnes more detail to show for itself. The much larger film format is phenomenal when you shoot it properly.

For me the takeaway here is: I really need to try putting some humans in front of this film instead! It should probably be in natural/ambient light too, and not trying to stretch it too far with artificial light at nighttime.