5 frames with...

5 frames with CineStill 800T at night in Taipei – By Jim Sangwine

January 28, 2020

My wife and I went to Taiwan for 10 days in the run-up to Christmas 2019. It was our first time visiting this incredibly photogenic country, so I took a fairly ridiculous collection of films, my Leica M4-P, and my latest love – a Pentax 6×7 (the 2nd version with mirror lockup). I usually shoot B&W, largely because I can develop it at home, but for this beautiful country I felt I needed to go colour. This gave me a great opportunity to experiment with some unfamiliar stocks, perhaps the most exotic of which was CineStill 800T.

For those who don’t know, CineStill 800T is actually Kodak Vision 3 5219 500T motion picture film modified so it can be used for stills and developed using the common C-41 process. The “T” stands for tungsten as this stock is designed for use in artificially (tungsten) lit low-light scenes. If you want to know more, there are plenty of great articles online.

We started our trip with 4 nights in Taipei, staying very close to the famous “Camera Street” in Zhongzheng District where I managed to pick up an immaculate copy of the wonderful 105mm 2.4 lens for my Pentax 6×7. Taipei is heaven to explore, with very different feeling neighborhoods and incredible food absolutely everywhere. It strikes me as a complex mix of Japanese and Chinese cultures, looking like Tokyo one minute and Beijing the next, but always with it’s own unique Taiwanese character. This isn’t that surprising considering Taiwan spent 50 years under Japanese rule. We found the people to be very polite, but warm and friendly, and the streets manage to be almost as clean as Singapore while still retaining a rich Asian feel. We got by fine speaking English – most places have an English menu although sometimes you have to order by pointing at it.

Taipei (and Taiwan in general) is famous for its night markets, so I grabbed the 6×7, the new lens and a roll of CineStill when we set off to visit the one in Shilin district. It reminded me of Asia in the 80s – a delightful sensory onslaught of sights, sounds and smells. It felt like we’d stepped into Blade Runner’s Los Angeles at times, and I think the film captured this beautifully. The food was as delicious as it was exotic!

Street meat, Shilin Night Market Taipei, CineStill 800T

Bubble Tea, Shilin Taipei, CineStill 800T

Suckling Pig, Shilin Night Market Taipei, CineStill 800T

Cold Noodles, Shilin Night Market Taipei, CineStill 800T

Shilin Night Market Taipei, CineStill 800T

I guess this is a Marmite kind of film – you either love or hate it. Personally I really enjoy the other-worldly cinematic Matrix kind of feel it can give, and I’m looking forward to trying it again. I imagine it might sing in a cold, snowy, misty environment. I might even invest in a Pro-mist filter to accentuate the halation.

Taiwan is a stunning country with wonderful people, exciting cities, and incredible natural beauty too. I highly recommend visiting, just make sure you pack some comfortable shoes and a lot of film.

If you’d like to connect on social media you can look me up on Instagram. I’ve also recently resubscribed to Flickr – I’ll get round to uploading some more work there soon.

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Rock
    January 28, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Nice images. Taipei at night certainly seems perfect for Cinestill. Question – what sort of aperture / shutter times were you getting?

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 28, 2020 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks Rock. I was shooting wide open (2.4) at 1/60 I believe.

      • Reply
        stanislaw witold zolczynski
        March 3, 2020 at 3:15 pm

        1/60 and no shake due to mirror slap? You must have rock steady hands.

        • Reply
          JimSangwine
          March 4, 2020 at 5:39 am

          I use the mirror lockup whenever possible if I’m shooting at 1/60 or below (still handheld). I do have big hands though.

  • Reply
    Neil Woodman
    January 28, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    These shots are wonderful, particularly admire the 105mm 2.4 and the fact you were carrying this camera around in the heat of humidity of Taiwan is amazing! I will definitely be trying cinestill when I go to Bangkok this year. How did you go about going through airport security and xray machines with your film?

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 28, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks Neil. I have always said that the cost of the 6×7 should be filed under fitness instead of coming out of my photography budget πŸ™‚
      I just asked the security to hand check it all – this went OK until the return trip when they were a bit more clued up and insisted on scanning 40 rolls of HP5 and Delta 400 I had bought in Taipei! They let me off with the bag of assorted rolls since there were some high ISO ones in there. Gladly there doesn’t seem to have been any damage.

      • Reply
        Neil
        January 29, 2020 at 12:17 pm

        Thanks, very interesting!

  • Reply
    Clive Williams
    January 28, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Nice work, Jim. I think these are the first pictures I’ve seen from 800T in 120 and it’s interesting to me that the red highlights seem to get less smeared than they do in 35mm, where I’ve found they can get a bit out of control.

    Have you tried it in daylight yet? The ever-reliable Internet insists that you can’t do this without an orange warming filter, but I like the cool colours I get using it naked. (I only found this out when I shot a few nothing-pictures to finish a roll and they turned out to be the best in the set!)

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 28, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you Clive. I haven’t tried it in daylight yet – it’s prohibitively expensive here and I haven’t got an orange filter. I do have a few rolls of it in 35mm though, so based on your recommendation I might give it a try. Perhaps it would work best around sunset?

      • Reply
        Clive Williams
        January 28, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        I suspect you’d just lose the drama of sunset lighting with 800T’s shift towards blue. I’ve liked the daylight results best on overcast winter days where the colour shift makes a dull scene more interesting without veering into the surreal. The most recent five pictures on my IG are all from the same roll and four are in grey daylight – all with Pentax lenses too. I hope that will show you what I mean. https://www.instagram.com/clivew198/

        • Reply
          JimSangwine
          January 29, 2020 at 1:14 am

          Thanks for the tips Clive, and thanks for sharing those images – I love the results you got! You’ve definitely inspired me to give it a go.

          • Clive Williams
            January 29, 2020 at 10:10 pm

            Ah, thank you, Jim, and the best of luck. We all love a happy accident!

  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    January 28, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    You should be a travel writer/photographer!
    Your written comments compliment your great color photos. It must have been a blast shooting w/the Pentax. Well done.

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 28, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Thank you for the kind words Daniel.

  • Reply
    Christof Rampitsch
    January 28, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Beautiful – well done! makes me want to consider colour film more. Question though: I bought a 67 a few years ago and agonized between the Pentax and Makina (also Fuji Gxxx). I finally settled on the Makina because of the leaf shutter and easier portability. The leaf shutter really pushed me over the fence though – not that I have any regrets (I don’t care about interchangeable lenses really)… so my question is, do you find the P67 to be hand-hold-able easily, especially under low-light conditions where your shutter speeds must have been on the slower side even at f/2.4 or 2.8? Or do you use mirror lock-up a lot? I have used a friend’s Hasselblad in the past – handheld – and found many of my images to be softer than I would have liked, which I put down to the explosion that results every time you press the shutter. How did the P67 do in this situation? I sometimes still wonder whether I made the right choice with the Makina because I’m not crazy about rangefinder focusing. Or maybe I have shaky hands.
    And now I am hungry. Where is that jar of marmite…?

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you Christof.
      I have very big hands and I make full use of the wooden handle and 3D printed grip I have on it. That said, I do use the mirror lockup a lot, especially if I have to drop to 1/30. So far, it seems to have worked out well. If I’m taking photos of friends in the pub I don’t mind it being a little soft, and if I want a sharp picture of a scene I can use a tripod or the MLU. Don’t let that stop you getting one – they are truly wonderful cameras!

  • Reply
    Bill Thoo
    January 28, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    Gorgeous images! I do love a beautiful analog night shot. Did you use the Pentax prism meter?

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 29, 2020 at 1:12 am

      Thanks Bill, yes I did. Mine is absolutely spot on – it’s given me roll after roll of perfect exposures even in relatively difficult lighting.

  • Reply
    Matthias Steck
    January 28, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Very impressive photos. Good exposure in demanding scenes. These are the first shots with CineStill I really like, even the red halos don’t spoil the image.
    And respect for shooting on the streets with a monster like the Pentax 67 – did you use a tripod for it ?

    Regards Matthias

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 29, 2020 at 1:11 am

      Thank you Matthias. I didn’t use a tripod – just the mirror lock up handheld at 1/60 or 1/30.
      I also shot a couple of rolls of 35mm 800T and found the halation much more overpowering. I think it works much better in 120.

  • Reply
    Mike Hannon
    January 29, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Jim, have you compared the colours of C41 processed Cinestill to Vision3 500T processed as ECN2? The Matrix style colour shifts are probably more a product of the cross processing than the inherent charactertistics of the film itself.

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 29, 2020 at 1:10 am

      Hi Mike, I haven’t. There is a mail-in lab in Malaysia that can do Cine development though and I have a few rolls of different Vision3 varieties to try out though – I’ll post the results on 35mmc if they are worth sharing πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Joe
    January 29, 2020 at 5:51 am

    Great shots! I’m impressed with that the red glow effect you often get from 800T is toned down in these images. Did you achieve that through your post processing or was it something else about the way that you shot these pictures that enabled that?

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 29, 2020 at 8:20 am

      Thanks Joe. I didn’t do anything to the halation in post. Perhaps you’ve been looking at 35mm CineStill images? I find it much more pronounced in 35mm.

      • Reply
        Joe
        January 30, 2020 at 7:18 pm

        Yes I have been shooting the 35mm version, but have some rolls of 120 so you have inspired me to use them. Thanks again for a great article and for your response.

        • Reply
          JimSangwine
          January 31, 2020 at 1:28 am

          You’re so welcome, thank you for your kind words πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    eric
    January 29, 2020 at 6:24 am

    Simply, great : BRAVO !
    Thank you very much.

  • Reply
    edeadlk
    January 29, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    Be aware that 120 film comes with matte black back paper while 35mm relies on the usually way more reflective camera back plate. Thus should explain the different halation effect.

    • Reply
      JimSangwine
      January 30, 2020 at 1:19 am

      Ah, that makes sense! Thank you!

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