CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed One Stop by John Adams III

Portrait on Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
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Written by John Adams III

I recently completed a shoot in New York where I didn’t know how the lighting would be until I arrived.

As I made my way to the shoot location in Hell’s Kitchen, clouds moved in fast, and it had begun to pour rain. All I had in my camera bag was five rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and some Kodak T-Max.

I began to panic about the lighting situation. What if there was not enough light?

I packed a small handheld light in my luggage as a precaution, but that was the extent of my gear. No tripods, no strobes. I made the decision to make a pitstop at B&H Photo where I picked up two rolls of CineStill 800T and a small 8 inch reflector.

I didn’t want to solely shoot CineStill as the halation of the highlights can be distracting, so I determined that shooting half Portra and half CineStill would be a good mix.

Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
CineStill 800T
Portrait on Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop

Kodak Portra +1

To compensate for the lack of available light in the space we were shooting, I had to push the Portra 400. I shot to 800 and pushed one stop in development. This allowed me to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/40 at f/4 instead of 1/30 or even slower.

For more information on pushing film, check out this article here.

Portra is naturally a warm tinted film when shot in daylight, and when shot in artificial lighting, it leans heavily towards yellow/orange.

This is often seen as a negative aspect of shooting daylight film indoors, but I think that it can be used to your advantage in certain situations. Warm lighting compliments darker toned skin nicely, and I was pleased with the results.

Pushing this film also introduced a noticeable amount of contrast and a small amount of saturation, which I think fit the overall mood of the photos nicely.

It’s not a look that would work for all photoshoots in my opinion, but I’m glad it worked out.

Find Kodak Portra 400 on Amazon.

Portrait on Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop
Portrait on Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop
Portrait on Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop
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CineStill 800T

The T in CineStill 800T references the fact that this film is tungsten balanced, meaning it’s meant to be shot indoors.

Because there was almost zero natural light present, using 800T allowed me to shoot at a workable shutter speed in the lowlight without the added effects of chemically pushing the film. Very convenient!

In comparison to Portra, the CineStill delivered an overall more balanced image in my opinion.

Where the Portra images are very warm with a high level of contrast, the CineStill 800T images have a more normal warmth level and a modest amount of contrast. The grain in the photos shot on 800T is also much less noticeable compared to the pushed Portra images.

The red halation that CineStill is known for wasn’t nearly as distracting as I was anticipating it to be. There are a few images where it is noticeable, but it seems that if you keep a strong light source out of the image, you’ll avoid the red glow.

Find CineStill 800T on Amazon.

Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
CineStill 800T
Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
CineStill 800T
Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
CineStill 800T
Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
An outdoor example of CineStill 800T
Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
An outdoor example of CineStill 800T

Final Thoughts

If you’re in a low light situation, either Kodak Portra 400 pushed or CineStill 800T can provide you great results.

As photographers, we try to control all variables when it comes to lighting but sometimes things don’t work out as we had hoped.

I hope that seeing how each of these films perform side by side in identical lighting scenarios can help you better plan for your next indoor photoshoot. Happy shooting!

Portrait on Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
Kodak Portra 400 pushed one stop
Portrait on CineStill 800T - CineStill 800T vs Portra 400 Pushed by John Adams III on Shoot it With Film
CineStill 800T

Thank you so much, John! John is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out his other articles here, such as a Tips For Creating Interesting Portraits and 5 Film Photography Mistakes to Avoid.

You can also check out more of John’s work on his website and Instagram.

If you have questions about CineStill 800T and Kodak Portra 400 pushed, leave them below in the comments! And you can pick up some Portra 400 and CineStill for yourself on Amazon here: Kodak Portra 400, CineStill 800T

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John Adams III

John Adams III is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his other articles here, such as a review for the Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera and the best light meter app for film photography.

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Blog Comments

Very helpful article! I wanted to share that I’ve metered Portra 400 indoors at 1600, and did not push in development, and had beautiful photos that did not appear underexposed at all. It was only one roll, so I’m not sure if my results are reproducible. I also notified my film lab, so they may have made some adjustments in scanning. But it’s another option to consider!

How about Kodak Portra 800?

How does that compare to the Cinestill 800T?

Thanks
FW

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