Several hours before the crack of dawn, I loaded up my Leica M2 with a roll of Cinestill 50D which was sent to me by my good film-friend, Cody Priebe and once again boarded the F/V Rimrack for a day of lobster-bait fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Cody had sent me the film last month and I just couldn't decide what subject I wanted to tackle with it. Realizing it's been a month since last being out on the ocean, I rang up Mike Anderson of the F/V Rimrack to see if he wanted some company. He told me he'd be out fishing for lobster-bait the next morning, so off to bed I went, setting the alarm for 2:00am.
A Little About Lobster Bait Fishing
I won't go into much detail on this as I've really outlined the grind on my posts on scallop fishing and squid fishing aboard the Rimrack. The squid being scenic grounds off Nantucket sound and the scallops being a grind in the icy waters in the Gulf of Maine - lobster bait is all about sorting bait-fish into barrels on the Gulf of Maine. Before sun-up, Mike and daughter Kelsea run the nets an hour at a time and pull up the catch full of herring, whiting and other assorted sea creatures (like wonderful lobsters which they can not keep). Once they have the catch dropped onto the desk, Mike scoops shovel loads for Kelsea to sort into barrels for either pre-sale or dock sales. Everything is iced, the nets are dropped again and the process repeats.
As this post is about the film, not the fishing, let's get into it.
About Cinestill 50D
The issue with regular motion picture film is most people or photo labs do not have an in-house ability to remove the rem-jet backing during processing (which forces you to use a specialty house). Cinestill 50D is a motion picture film with the rem-jet (p)removed so it can be processed just like regular C-41 film and anyone capable of color developing can handle it.
The "D" in 50D stands for daylight - meaning it's color balanced for 5500 K daylight. My film has zero color-correction performed by the lab, so everything you see here is how the film should behave for you under similar conditions.
Exposing Cinestill 50D
For my test, I treated this exactly like any other film, in that, I exposed at half the box speed. So in this case, I was using it in natural light and metered for ISO 25. It seemed so strange to be shooting in the unobstructed bright light at f/2 for 1000/sec but, as you can see from the results, it was the right thing to do.
Something to note on Cinestill is that with the rem-jet removed (it's originally put on there to eliminate halation) you get some real interesting things going on with highlights. By definition, the halation causes light to behave in new and exciting ways. You can see above and a few examples when you scroll through below to check out some of the really over-exposed ones and what the highlights do - it's just awesome.
One thing really nice about this is how clean the images are. For those looking for a grain-free film, this is your boy. The grain on this is so fine that I zoomed in to 100% (see above) and still nada. This shot is 2 stops over (1/2 box exposed for shadows) and everything is looking spot on.
The color pallet of Cinestill 50D is really nice. These scans have no color correction and show just what you can expect to get from it. The browns and blues are just wonderful. I don't think this will be an everyday film, but for special projects, hell yes I'll be using this! As always, I'll let you judge for yourself below.
Stay tuned for the Cinestill 800T Review.