Friday, February 24, 2017

Film’s Worst Enemies (7 common film issues)

“Here today, gone tomorrow...” 

A predominant theme in the modern digital world around us. The greatest appeal of photography is the ability to capture that fleeting moment. To lock it, in true permanence, with the swift and sure click of a shutter. But as with all things ones and zeros, digital photography is by nature immaterial. Film photography, on the other hand, is a physical process with immutable results. 

Perhaps this is part of film's appeal to photographers. It’s permanence, it’s physicality, forces you to care about what you are doing. To have patience. To be deliberate. To trust yourself and your gear. While there is something to be said for the “happy accidents” and imperfections that sometimes come with photographing on film, there are things you can do to help ensure the quality of the moments you capture on this permanent, physical medium.

Michael Ash Smith

We field a variety of inquiries for people experiencing issues with their film images. As results continue pouring in from our CineStill 120 Alpha production, we expect even more, since we asked our Film Makers for their feedback. Below are seven common adversaries to film, and some tips for how to avoid them!

Enemy #1. Old Age
Before film is processed into permanence, it is perishable! Just like a carton of milk or fresh vegetables, there comes a time when consumption would be unadvisable. The same goes for film. There will come a point when unprocessed film may leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Correne Durand

Identifying it:
The color will be strange and the contrast muddy. Most commonly there will be aberrations in the shadows, usually creeping in from the edges. This destructive effect (caused from the combination of time, heat and radiation) is known as “Age Fog.” *

* In particular, CineStill Film is one of the more perishable films on the market just behind instant films. On our website, we have always recommended shooting CineStill within 6 months of purchase and freezing whenever possible. Originally, we did not have expiration dates on our film because we had not been making it long enough to observe just how long it would last. Over a year ago we were able to run tests from archived film dating back to our original beta rolls, and we found that CineStill is good for one year from manufacturing. Immediately, we began implementing new expiration dates. If you have film without expiration dates, you should assume it's expired. If you choose to shoot it anyway, you should expect varying degrees of age fog to emerge. 

Avoiding it:
Variables such as heat and humidity can contribute to “Age Fog”, so it is best to store your film in a cool dry place and only purchase what you will shoot within 6 months. You can also freeze film, but that will not stop aging completely and you have to be carful not to damage the film further. 

When freezing film it must be placed in an air tight container and not opened until it has sufficiently adjusted to room temperature. After removing old film from cold storage, it should be tested, shot and developed immediately, or else it will age rapidly and your film will gain no benefit from cold storage. You also should not re-freeze film once it has been thawed.

Basically, nothing is better than fresh film!

Enemy #2. Dust and Dirt
We have all seen it — those little specks on our images that should not be there. Like pops and fuzz on vinyl records, dust, grime and sometimes lint can get on our film and become a part of your photograph.

Gable L'Heureux

Identifying it:
Black dots or dark shapes in our image are from dust and dirt in our cameras. Sometimes, even a hair can get in there and become a real bugger. Basically, something is blocking the light from exposing the film, causing a silhouette of whatever the object is. I remember in school a classmate even had an entire roll turn out with giant ant shadows over most of his images. 

White specs or markings come from dust getting on your film after processing. This is the most common markings you will find on scans and prints. The good thing about white spots is that they are easy to get rid of. Just clean your film and scan, or print, again in a dust free environment.  

Avoiding it:
Basically, keep your cameras, darkroom and anywhere film is present clean! 

Enemy #3. Static
Static is created by friction. It can build up on parts of film, equipment, or in winding. Sometimes even when loading the film for processing. If it builds up enough it will ark to the closest neutral or oppositely charged material. It is most likely to occur in a cool and dry environment where humidity is below 40%. Static sparks on film are highly improbable if the humidity is over 60%.

Identifying it:
Electrostatic can cause many problems with film. It attracts dust, and if it is bad enough, it can even cause sparks that will show up on your film as blue or red marks. Though uncommon, this problem can show up more easily on highly sensitive films such as CineStill 800T or other high-speed/pushed emulsions. 

Ryan Muirhead on pushed Tri-X 120

Avoiding it:
If it is cold and dry where you are shooting — slow down! Static will not form as quickly if you handle your film carefully and slowly. 

Enemy #4. Light Leaks
This is probably one of the most common and most contentious accidents that can be with film. Light leaks can be kind of fun in some circumstances, and even create cool effects on your image. But when they are unwanted, they can be very very hard to cure. 

Gable L'Heureux

Identifying it:
The most common occurrence of light leaks is at the very beginning of the roll. Sometimes light can slowly “pipe” in past the felt on the film canister and cause red stripes on the first image or two, or along the edges of 120 roll film when wound too loosely. Other times it will contact print the writing from the backing paper into your image, but most of the time it just washes your exposure with uneven splash of light. 

Avoiding it:
The best way to avoid light leaks (if you don’t love them that is) is to be sure that your camera has fresh light seals and that you avoid exposing your undeveloped film rolls to bright light for any period of time. Be sure to run fresh test rolls through your cameras before an important shoot, and always keep your rolls of film in a dark place like a bag or film case. 

Enemy #5.  Physical Damage
One of the more frustrating things that can happen is when your film becomes physically damaged. This is film’s closest equivalent to a corrupted memory card (it is sometimes unavoidable until after it is too late), with the exception that you can still get some interesting images out of it. 

Danny Clinch on CineStill 120 (Prototype from 65mm IMAX film)

Identifying it:
Film is delicate and can be scratched, creased, torn or even exposed if handled too roughly. The most common damage to film comes in the form of scratches – often long straight lines going the length of the film.  Less frequently, you might see things like little white crescents caused by creased film, or colorful splatter from chemical contamination. Almost all damage to the film is caused by the camera itself, or in the processing of the film.  

 These images were taken on a roll of film that was in a camera that had orange juice spilled on it. It soaked in the orange juice for days and then was rolled back into it’s canister. The film was stretched, scratched, contaminated, and even ripped in a few spots. Although strange, they are rather interesting.
Correne Durand

Avoiding it:
Make sure that your cameras all have a regular C.L.A. and that you use a reputable lab. The biggest thing that can prevent damaged film is experience. Once you've damaged film you know how not to do it ever again. 

Enemy #6. Thin negatives
Film records light to create an image. If your film is Underexposed (when not enough light reaches the film) or if your exposure begins to fade from Latent Image Failure (when too much time passes between exposure of the latent image and development), the recorded image will be faint on the processed film. This is what we call “thin” negatives. This is perhaps the most notorious enemy of film. 

Identifying it:
Thin negatives result in excessive grain, poor shadow detail, and flat images. Though the exposure should be dark, the image can be brought up by scanning or printing lighter. This causes more separation between the tones in the grain, therefore making the grain much more visible. To make up for the flat image, you will be tempted to add contrast in post, but this will make it even grainier.

Avoiding it:
The best way to prevent underexposed, or thin, images is by overexposing when you shoot. Film can be nearly impossible to blow out. If too much light hits film, an image will still be produced on a negative. An overexposed negative, even 3 to 4 stops over, can then be corrected in scanning or printing. 

Film captures images with a photochemical reaction in the emulsion when exposed to light. A "latent image" is formed on a molecular level from silver halide that is invisible to the eye but for all intensive reasons, permanent. That image is so subtle and delicate though that it must be developed (amplified) to make it visible. 

If you suspect you may have underexposed your film, and as a result will be left with “thin” negatives, the only thing you can do is push process the film promptly. This will amplify the latent image before it can start to fade. 

“Latent Image Failure” can occur over time, when an invisible "latent image" is formed in the emulsion during exposure, but begins to fade away before it is made more permanent through physical development. The first thing you will lose is the areas of the image which were least exposed to light, your shadows. If an image is exposed and then left for several weeks or months before processing, you can lose even a stop or two in valuable shadow detail. This will result in a softer, lower contrast and grainier image. 

The only way to avoid “latent image failure” is to develop your film as soon as possible after shooting. If you discover an old roll some where in your bag, and you have no idea where it came from or what’s on it (come on, am I the only one?) you can always push process it. This will help bring out more of the remaining latent image on the film.

Enemy #7. Poor Quality Scans
This last enemy is likely the most common but the least permanent one. When good negatives are not scanned well, the quality of the developed image is not accurately represented. 

Identifying it: 
This can appear in the form of dirty scans, poor color and density correction, or low resolution output. Your images will have a terrible color cast, no black point, or worst of all clipped highlights.

The Image above shows two "straight" scans from the same exposure on CineStill 800T, made with the same film scanner. The one on the left had no attention given to it, and the scanner made it far too light and with a yellow bias in color correction. The right image was scanned correctly and the difference is unmistakeable.

Avoiding it:
In any of these cases, the solution is simple. Re-scan the images better!
A good lab is a photographer’s best friend. Find one you can trust and you will never regret it.

Life is fleeting, Film is permanent...
In a time of immediacy and convenience, photographing on film is a refreshing change of pace.  For many, film satisfies the desire to slow down and enjoy the process of something they truly love. So knowing how to get the most out of it is of utmost importance. The above problems are film's worst enemies. By avoiding them, you will be well on you way to obtaining the best results film has to offer. So invest in fresh film, handle it with care, and shoot and develop it as quickly as possible. Do this and all your memories and beautiful images will be here to stay for generations to come. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017!

2016 was a long year for us with the excitement for this project accompanied by some setbacks, brutal heartbreak and loss. Needless to say, we are welcoming 2017 with open arms! 
It's been a year of challenges and learning. The number one thing we've learned is, never know what to expect. We could not have expected the amount of support we would receive from you all nor just how difficult it would all be. Currently, we are still working on wrapping up final shipping arrangements for getting your Alpha production film shipped to you. We are excited to hear your response!
This year is going to be huge for analog film! We are working, even now, on making 120 available for retail purchase around the world by March or possibly even sooner. All of the perks for our Indiegogo and Backerkit supporters will be shipped in the next month and we are still going! Financially, this project has costed much more than projected, to the extent that we have now matched nearly dollar for dollar what you contributed to get production off the ground. That just goes to show, we really could not have done this without you!
I know some of you feel that this has all taken far too long and your patience is wearing to say the least. We apologize for every delay and any gaps of silence. Please know that we are doing everything we can and are in this for the long haul, for you and the analog film community! Our commitment is unwavering. Your support was an investment and a seed that was planted. You helped us by accepting small portion of the risk to make such a large venture possible! You are the bold and the brave, the backbone of the analog renaissance and the first fruits of your investment are on their way! Thank you!
We will be making another trip out to CineStill East in Rochester this month to continue our work to make more and better CineStill Film. Please follow us on Instagram for updates! @CineStillFilm
If you would like to check on your pledge status, go to BackerKit ( and log in with the same email used for your Indiegogo account. From there you can check your pledge level, verify your address and add on items to your perk!
Once again, happy new year and we look forward to letting you know when we have shipped your perks! Blessings in 2017!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Guten Tag aus Deutschland

Photokina is in full swing and CineStill has found it's way back to Cologne, Germany once again! If you happen to be in Cologne as well, the Brothers and the rest of the CineStill team would love to meet you. Come by stand A041 in Hall 3.1 to say hi!

Over the past two years since our last Photokina trip, CineStill has gone from announcing our first attempt at crowdfunding CineStill 120, to running a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo, and just last week we completed our first run of a brand new high speed tungsten balanced color film for medium and large format photography! In a recent update to their IndieGoGo backers, the Brothers Wright shared with their “CineStill Filmmakers” their progress setting up manufacturing, success in producing our first production run and the anticipated timeline for delivery. If you have yet to support the campaign and would like to be among the first to get your hands on some medium or large format CineStill 800T, you can still make a contribution by preordering through our BackerKit today! Otherwise, you can expect to find CineStill 120 and 4x5 on shelves by early 2017.

Also coming in 2017, CineStill is releasing a new simplified color negative film processing chemistry kit, “CineStill Cs41.” Cs41 is a simplified kit for processing your color negative film at home. This new liquid chemical, two bath processing kit can be used at a variety of temperatures with the same equipment you already use to process your black and white film at home. No darkroom or automated processor required! If you already process your own black and white film at home, with this kit, you can now process your color film too! 

CineStill Cs41 is currently available in limited quantities to “CineStill Film Maker” members and for preorder for delivery late 2016 through CineStill’s online shop at

Friday, March 4, 2016

PetaPixel Interview with CineStill Film Founders

We wanted to share this PetaPixel interview with CineStill Film founders, Brandon & Brian Wright. Please go take a look, comment and share the article wherever you can! With just 7 days left in the IndieGoGo campaign, this press could help extend the reach and help us make our next stretch goal for CineStill 50D in 120 and 4x5!

The article features some great questions and answers, offering insights and photos from behind the scenes of CineStill Film, our crowdfunding experience, the state of film photography and other interesting tidbits.

We hope you all enjoy the read!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Two More Weeks for CineStill 50D in Medium and Large Format

Thanks to you, our IndieGoGo campaign for medium and large format is now over 130% funded and we have unlocked our 4x5 sheet film stretch goal! In the few weeks since our campaign began, we have heard so much encouragement and support from analog photographers from around the world. It is undeniable that CineStill 800T in 120 and 4x5 have the demand necessary to justify full large scale production and distribution and we believe this is only the tip of the iceberg.

On Friday we officially extended the campaign another 14 days beyond our original deadline, giving us the time we need to reach our third stretch goal and jump start production of CineStill 50D in medium and large formats. IndieGoGo contacted us directly and offered to extend the project another two weeks with no penalties, to give us the opportunity to reach all of our stretch goals, including CineStill 50D in 120 and 4x5!

CineStill 50D 120 beta test Photo by Nicole Hill
CineStill 50D is a truly unique film with ultra fine grain, resolution and a color pallet that stands alone. This film screams medium and large format! But to take on a second emulsion for medium and large format, large scale production will come at significant cost. Our next stretch goal for CineStill 50D in 120 and 4x5 formats requires only $30k more in funding but in order to accomplish this we needed a little more time to spread the word to every analog photographer out there and create opportunity for new supporters.

Based on the past few days of support, we should only need a fraction of this extension time to reach 50D and we may even get to unveil our mysterious 4th stretch goal!

Thank you once again, and please continue to spread the word and support the effort to bring more unique film choices for the analog renaissance!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

48 Hours to Go for Large Format 4x5 Sheet Film!

CineStill 120 is now not only possible... It is inevitable! If you have not yet been over to the new project on IndieGoGo, head over there now. We are already 110% funded, beyond our first goal and will be producing CineStill in 120 for the masses! Support the cause and be among the first to get yours!
But that's old news now... The next big thing is large format! 
We just released some brand new perks, including "Grandpa Graflex" sheet film pack, to help reach our stretch goals for 4x5 Large Format Sheet Film and CineStill 50D in medium and large format! We have already raised over $130k in support from the amazing community of analog photographers banding together and are now only $20k from our first stretch goal for 4x5. 
Head over now and let's make more film for more cameras!
There are only 2 days left in the campaign but there has never been more reason to support bigger and better film for the world!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Large Format Sheet Film and 50D on IndieGoGo!

Thanks to your support, we are well on our way to fully funding our initial goal! We want to let you all in on a little secret. CineStill 120 Medium Format isn't just about 800T, nor is it just about Medium Format. We just revealed our next two big stretch goals!

Stretch Goals Revealed

LARGE Format 4x5 Sheet Film 
Making CineStill in 120 opens up many exciting opportunities. Since it will be produced from a special order motion picture emulsion we will be able to format it nearly any way we wish. And we wished for 4x5! The extra material, tooling, and packaging will only require an additional $30K in funding, which looks to be no problem. With your help, we are excited to do our part to bring more tools to large format photography. 
MORE Film Emulsions
50Daylight is boasted to be the world’s finest grain film. Setting up an additional line of film will take twice as much work, but we only need 40K more to make it happen. Once we reach this goal and the end of the campaign, we will send out surveys to all contributors. You will have the option to choose between 800T or 50D for each perk you backed! 

CineStill's mission is giving creatives more choices and tools to create their vision. You would expect a guitarist to have more than just one guitar, electric or acoustic. And a pianist would never be satisfied only ever playing a synthesizer. In a highly homogenized market and culture, artists and professionals can't be expected to express themselves freely without diversity of mediums and tools. We desire to bring them to you, and work with many other film manufacturers to support diversity in the analog film renaissance.   
To say thank you, we are shipping an additional CineStill 120 roll to all contributors who select another most wanted perk, after making your initial contribution.
 50D beta test Photos by Nicole Hill and The Brothers Wright

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CineStill 120 is BACK!

Over the past year, we've gone back to the drawing board, created more cost effective designs, scaled down the minimum order quantities, and even made a really cool new crowdfunding film on CineStill film! We have worked hard to create a leaner and more flexible plan for CineStill 120. We are ready, with a more flexible project, so we have chosen a more flexible crowdfunding platform to give you the opportunity to bring CineStill into the world of medium format.

CineStill 120 is about more than just us bringing to market a new product that we are passionate about... It's about you! It's something you have been asking for since the beginning and it can only happen if you make it happen!

Introducing... CineStill 120!

We want you, our most loyal supporters, to be our first "CineStill Film Makers" and beta testers! The project is now live and early contributors will have access to limited "early-bird" perks and the chance to beta test CineStill 120 before the first production run is complete!

Now, a little on how we got here and why...

Immediately following our Kickstarter campaign which received nearly $120K in pledges but did not meet it's larger goal, IndieGoGo reached out to us. They were confident that we could have a "hugely successful campaign" and generously offered to help us "blow past" our original goal. This was enticing and could most certainly have worked, but after speaking with them and much deliberation, we opted to take time to explore the opportunities before us and to work out a better plan for our supporters. One where your previously pledged contributions would be enough and we could award your dedication and support with better perks and exciting stretch goals.

We are now counting on you to match or surpass previously pledged funding. Please contribute generously to collect your piece of the pie. CineStill 120 on IndieGoGo

CineStill 800T 120 Beta by Adam Goldberg

With your support, we have a clear pathway to bring CineStill 120 to market at an affordable price. All the components are sourced, we have the process prototyped, and all of the agreements and services are in order. We are even giving early supporters opportunities to further beta test for us!

The main obstacles originally (other than funds) were the MOQs (minimum order quantities) and setup cost vs volume of production. With medium format film, we couldn't just start small and scale up, as was the approach with our previous 135 releases. It is either large scale production or not at all. In order to produce the highest quality product, we needed to secure all the materials compatible with slitting and spooling 120, and engineer our process for the optimal and appropriate scale. Fortunately, during our last campaign, you displayed the demand and scale of interest that is achievable and we have adjusted accordingly! This included securing special order materials, a custom built machine and a larger production space. Initially, this required over $300K in capital to produce and fulfill a crowdfunding campaign which would bring CineStill 120 to market. But hard work and dedication pays off.

We have since invested much towards this goal, negotiated lower minimum orders, created production efficiencies and more cost effective equipment design.

We have a plan, and $120K is the minimum additional funding needed to get our first MOQ production run off the ground. In truth, it has and will cost more going forward, but that is the remaining of what we need to raise through pledges to justify a large scale production and begin sustained distribution.

Since the beginning, we have resisted the temptation of expanding too quickly through outside investment or excessive leveraging of debt. Such an approach, though enticing, would result in a higher end retail price and limit future expansion of our products. This is where crowdfunding is so helpful. It allows you to stimulate startup based on demand, bringing to market much more efficiently, a product with market awareness for continued availability.

Starting out with multiple production runs of 120 to be distributed at wholesale would take much more outside investing and several cycles to sustain. More time, requires more funding, leading to higher prices. By inviting you to become "CineStill Film Makers," you will be our investors and you will reap the perks!

So if you haven't already, please take a look at the new project and watch the film we made. We would love your comments and feedback. Once you've made your most generous contribution, please share with your friends in the analog community.

This is our renaissance,

-Brian Wright