Cinestill 400D VS Kodak Portra 400

I’ve been lucky enough to get the early bird release of Cinestill 400D so I can help you decide whether you should try it out!

Cinestill 400D is a great colour film stock with yellow and red hues, fine grain and a great dynamic range. Produced by the people that made the incredible 800T and 50D. Upon testing it I’ve found it to be a high-quality film stock that produces some interesting colours. 

If you want to discover more about Cinestill 400D and see it compared to Kodak Portra 400 then keep reading on!

Take a look at the short video I put together where I compare Portra 400 and Cinestill 400D.

So What Is Cinestill 400D?

Cinestill 400D is a new dynamic colour film stock released by Cinestill who famously created Cinestill 800T and Cinestill 50D. As with all Cinestill film stocks, the Rem-jet layer has been removed from the back of the film which means that you will get Cinestill’s signature halation in the highlights – even in the daytime. 

According to Cinestill themselves “CineStill 400D is a fine grain film that delivers a soft colour palette with natural saturated colour and rich, warm skin tones. The film has a wide dynamic range, with a base sensitivity of ISO 400 but can be rated from 200 to 800, and it can be pushed up to 3200. This makes the film highly versatile, suitable for any lighting condition, any event, and can be used either outdoors or in the studio.

400D was specifically designed for still photography, to be processed in C-41 chemistry by any photo lab or at home. In addition, it also features a process-surviving anti-static lubricant coating that will make it an ideal film for both manual SLRs and automatic winding cameras. This new film will continue CineStill’s ongoing tradition of motion picture film emulsions made for still photographers so that they can maximize their creativity and produce remarkable images that express who they are as a photographer.”

This film stock has been crowdfunded by the film community so that Cinestill could produce it. So at the time of writing the only people who have this film stock are the people that invested in it as ‘early bird investors’. 

400D produces yellow and red hues in the highlights, the signature elation in blown-out highlights and high-quality fine-grain images. 

What Format Is Cinestill 400D?

Cinestill 400D has been produced in 35mm, 120mm and large formats due to the support of the film community. This can be very exciting for people that want to shoot medium format and large format as there aren’t as many options for those formats.

How Does Cinestill 400D Compare To Kodak Portra 400?

As you can see the 400D shots have much more of a yellow a red hue whereas the Portra 400 shots tend to have a more flat, less saturated look. 

You can see in some of the blown-out highlights the red halation is very noticeable and it’s even visible in some places that I wasn’t expecting. It’s hard to say whether this level of halation is too much but it is a defining aspect of Cinestill so it would be strange without it.

When comparing the grain of these two film stocks it’s hard to really say if there’s much difference at all it just seems that they both have very fine grain in which case Cinestill have done a really good job. 

Could Cinestill 400D Replace Kodak Portra 400?

Cinestill 400D won’t replace Portra 400, however, it will be a great film stock to work alongside Portra 400. These are very different types of film, Portra 400 is more of a professional film stock that creates very crisp, detailed shots without any specific colour being overwhelming or overbearing whereas, on the other hand, 400 D produces quite a noticeable Yellow and red hue which gives it some sense of its own identity but for many professional photographers it may be quite off-putting. 

I think that 400D is going to be a great 400 ISO colour film to try out for people who like shooting travel photography and that day-to-day life on film whereas, Portra 400 is more for portrait photography, street photography, documentary photography and editorial photography. When it comes to the professional side of things 400D doesn’t really compete however, when it comes to the more artistic side of things and almost romantic side of things then 400D blows Portra 400 out of the water! 

What Kind Of Photography Is Cinestill 400D Best For?

Cinestill 400D is best for travel, documenting life, street photography and experimenting with artistic photography styles. This is because of Cinestill’s look and the evident halation in the highlights. This is not to say that you couldn’t use this film for anything else it’s just that most people wouldn’t use it for other types of photography, If you like the colours and halation then there’s no reason why you couldn’t use this film stock for any other type of photography it’s just best for the ones noted above. 

Final Word On Cinestill 400D

I think that 400D is a really fun film stock that has some beautiful yellow hues and tones that a lot of people would have a lot of fun shooting with. For my personal style of photography, I don’t think I would use Cinestill 400D as much as some more professional types of film. A lot of people will still love the look and feel of this new film stock. 



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