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HomeCamera TechIs CineStill 400D Film the New Natura?

Is CineStill 400D Film the New Natura?

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Is CineStiil’s new 400D a replacement for Fujifilm’s legendary Natura 1600 film? Many devotees of Fujifilm’s high-speed color negative film would find this an absurd proposition, but bear with me. 

Over the last year, I’ve been shooting my remaining stocks of Natura 1600 as well as my new stock of CineStill 400D. I’ve shot 400D at ISO 1600 and asked my lab to push it 2 stops. I love walking around at dusk and early evening taking handheld photos with point and shoots, which is why I like fast film.

Based on my results there is no competition — 400D Is better. Keep reading my review of pushing CineStill 400D 2 stops and find out why. 

Natura: Fujifilm’s Legendary High-Speed Color Film 

So what is this Natura film and why do low-light shooters like it so much? Fujifilm’s Natura 1600 — also known as Superia 1600 in North America — was Fujifilm’s high-speed color negative film. 

It was produced from 1998 to 2017 and since it’s been gone, there’s nothing really like it. Natura was known for its natural skin tones, beautiful colors, which are a little softer than other color negative films, and for being a relatively fine grain for a 1600 speed film. 

Natura is also a little pickier than other color negative films when it comes to exposure. Underexpose and you’ll get a lot of grain in the shadows, and unlike other color negative films, there’s little performance gain to overexposing your shots. Natura was the go-to film for low-light photography: indoor scenes, weddings, parties, concerts, dusk shots, and handheld night shots. 

Natura had Fujifilm’s 4th cyan color layer which improved color reproduction under fluorescent lights. It also featured Nano-structured Σ (Sigma) Grain Technology — crystals 60% thinner yet more uniform in size to achieve sharp and smooth image quality.

Remaining stocks of the film regularly change hands for upwards of $50 USD a roll. 

Meet CineStill 400D

400D is CineStill’s new color negative film. It was announced in late March with preorders opening up on CineStill’s website almost straight away. I was keen to buy some in both 35mm and 120, but when I noticed the medium format film shipping date was later, I opted for two bricks of early bird 35mm. I was delighted when the film arrived here in Australia in May. 

I must admit that when I bought the film, I didn’t even think about the possibility of pushing it. It wasn’t until I saw the 35mm canisters that I realized that CineStill is practically begging for you to push their film — there are markings on the 35mm canisters to indicate a 1, 2, or 3 stop push to your lab. A quick look at the 400D FAQ reveals that it has a wide dynamic range – the D stands for dynamic, not daylight. 

First 400D results 

I published videos showing my first roll of 400D at box speed shot in my Fujifilm Klasse S point-and-shoot and my second at ISO 1600 in my Fujifilm Natura Black f/1.9. The legends at Ikigai Film Lab pushed the second roll 2 stops and have done a fantastic job with all the scans. 

Although I loved the images from my first roll shot at box speed, I was blown away by the images that were pushed 2 stops. I posted some of these images on Twitter and my friend Bill Thoo in Sydney, who is known for his night shots, said this: “I’ve been missing an alternative to Natura 1600 and Matt may have just found it for me.” 

Why Push Color Negative film?

Now you may be wondering why would you rate a 400 speed film at ISO 1600 and have it pushed 2 stops? The quick answer is that I love shooting at dusk. I can continue to shoot in low light conditions handheld without a tripod with faster film — or when the camera into thinks it has faster film by setting the film speed to 1600. Unfortunately, you can’t set the film speed on many point-and-shoots, so in that case, you have to use an ISO 1600 DX code sticker on the canister instead. 

Following my first roll success, I went out and shot another 2 rolls at ISO 1600 to see if I could recreate the magic. Once again, the shots blew me away with their gorgeous colors and relative lack of grain. 

5 Reasons to Choose CineStill 400D Over Fujifilm’s Natura 

1) Availability 

Since its discontinuation in 2017, stocks of Natura and Super 1600 are slowly running out. Sadly there is less and less high-speed color negative film on the market. Although supplies of 400D have been tight while CineStill fulfill orders, hopefully, it will be readily in stock towards the end of 2022

2) Cost 

Ever since Natura’s discontinuation, prices have been steadily rising due to the dwindling supply. Rolls frequently sell on eBay for over $50USD, making it one of the more expensive discontinued film stocks, behind perhaps only Kodak’s color infrared films and Fujifilm’s pack film. 

Assuming CineStill has 400D in stock, there really is no competition with cost with the film costing around $15 USD a roll (plus tax and shipping). Paying that much for a roll of color negative film would’ve been unthinkable a few years ago, but with global supply chain issues, this has become the new normal for film shooters. 

3) Freshness

400D is a fresh film, Natura is aging stock. High-speed color films are not known for aging well, so it’s no competition here. 

4) Colors 

Although Natura is known for its colors, I’ve been blown away by the rich, vibrant colors of 400D pushed 2 stops. 400D shot at ISO 1600 looks fantastic — much more rich and vibrant than Natura. The only thing I’m not convinced about is 400D’s ability to match Natura’s natural-looking skin tones. 

5) Grain

400D has a wide dynamic range — although it’s not a native ISO 1600 film, it looks fantastic pushed 2 stops. The images I’ve had pushed look incredible — there is noticeably less grain than my Natura shots. 

How to Shoot CineStill 400D at ISO 1600

1. Get your hands on some CineStill 400D. Visit their website or check stock at your local film retailer. 
2. For those shooting medium format or 35mm cameras with manual film speed selectors, set the film speed to ISO1600. 
3. For those shooting with cameras that only recognize DX codes, you’ll have to hack it to ISO 1600. 
4. Shoot your film. 
5. Tell your lab you need the film pushed 2 stops. 

Is 400D the New Natura?

It seems unlikely another 1600 speed color negative film will hit the market soon, but in the meantime, you can get excellent results from pushing 400D. CineStill has revitalized my dusk and early evening shooting with their new color negative film. I only have a few rolls left from my initial order, so like many other shooters, I will be looking out for new drops of the film soon.  

I also plan to shoot a couple more rolls at box speed — if you’d like to see some banger images check out Lucy Lumen’s review of box speed 400D. I’ve also shot one roll of 400D at ISO 3200 — the results were interesting and not quite what I expected. Make sure you subscribe to Matt Loves Cameras YouTube channel as I’m making a video about that roll soon. 

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