Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First Look at CineStill bwXX

CineStill recently had a stock of 2,000 roles of Eastman Double-X movie film (which CineStill calls bwXX) loaded into 35mm canisters. I bought three.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
I shot the first roll at EI 250 on a very bright, cloudless afternoon. I also did a few shots in late afternoon with strong light. The film was shot through a Leica M6TTL with a 50mm Summicron, using the internal light meter. No lens filter was used. I developed it in HC110 dilution B for 6 minutes at 68 degrees (fahrenheit). The negatives were scanned on the Epson V600.

Negative scanning is not the best method for evaluating a film. But then again, neither is the web. Until I can print it, I can only comment on how it looks scanned compared to Tri-X and Arista Premium. And it looks pretty good.

Reading in the afternoon sun.
For my second roll, I will either switch developers (D-96 is recommended, but I couldn't source it anywhere), reduce the time, or shoot it at EI 400. The negatives are rich, but maybe a little too rich. (I may change my mind when I print the negatives.)

The famous steps from the Rocky movie.
Even looking a bit overexposed, the film has great qualities to it. The grain is beautiful and smooth, and detail was held in both the highlights and shadows even in the extremely bright and contrasty light. The tones are rich, and definitely look nothing like a modern film. (The film has changed very little in the past 60 years.) The closest comparator I know would be Ilford's XP2 (which is a dye based emulsion) when printed on black and white paper.

The tower of Bryn Athyn Cathedral. 
My first impressions of this film are very positive, and I wish I didn't have to be so frugal with each shot. Finding the right EI and developer times are clearly key to getting the most out of this film, and that will be impossible with only two rolls left.

I hope CineStill restocks this film. (Otherwise, I might be stuck buying 400 foot rolls from Kodak!) I also hope that it performs well at 400, since shooting outdoors on bright and sunny days is more of a luxury than a common venue for me. Can't wait to see what the next couple of rolls provide!

Bryn Athyn Cathedral in the late afternoon.