Is CineStill 400D Film the New Natura?

Does CineStiil’s new 400D replace Fujifilm’s legendary Natura 1600 film? Many fans of Fujifilm’s high-speed color negative film would find this an absurd proposition, but bear with me.

Over the past year I have been shooting my remaining Natura 1600 stock as well as my new CineStill 400D stock. I shot 400D at ISO 1600 and had my lab push it 2 stops. I love to walk around at dusk and early evening to take handheld shots with point and shoots, which is why I like fast movies.

From my results, there is no competition – 400D is better. Keep reading my CineStill 400D 2-stop push review and find out why.

Natura: Fujifilm’s legendary high-speed color film

So what is this Natura film and why do low-light shooters love 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 disappeared there is nothing like it. Natura was known for its natural skin tones, beautiful colors, which are somewhat softer than other color negative films, and for being relatively fine grain for 1600 speed film.

Natura is also a bit 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 from overexposing your photos. Natura was the go-to film for low-light photography: indoor scenes, weddings, parties, concerts, twilight shots and handheld night shots.

Natura had Fujifilm’s 4th Cyan Color Coat which improved color reproduction under fluorescent lights. It also featured Σ (Sigma) nanostructured grain technology – 60% finer but more uniformly sized crystals to achieve crisp, smooth image quality.

Remaining stocks of the film regularly change hands for over US$50 per roll.

Discover CineStill 400D

400D is CineStill’s new color negative film. It was announced in late March with pre-orders opening almost immediately on the CineStill website. I wanted to buy both 35mm and 120, but when I noticed that the medium format film had a later shipping date, I opted for two bricks of 35mm early bird . I was thrilled when the film arrived here in Australia in May.

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

First 400D results

I posted 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 did a fantastic job with all the scans.

Although I loved the footage from my first reel shot at box speed, I was blown away by the footage that was 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: “I was missing an alternative to Natura 1600 and maybe Matt just found it for me.”

Why Push Color Negative film?

Now you might be wondering why would you rate a 400 speed film at ISO 1600 and push it to 2 stops? The quick answer is that I love shooting at dusk. I can still shoot in low light handheld without a tripod with faster film – or when the camera thinks it has faster film by setting the film speed to 1600. Unfortunately you don’t You can’t adjust the film speed on many points and -shoots, so in that case you need to use an ISO 1600 DX code sticker on the cartridge instead.

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

5 reasons to choose Fujifilm’s CineStill 400D over Natura

1) Availability

Since its shutdown in 2017, Natura and Super 1600 stocks have been slowly depleting. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer high-speed color negative films on the market. Although supplies of the 400D have been limited while CineStill fulfills orders, we expect it to be readily in stock towards the end of 2022.

2) Cost

Since the shutdown of Natura, prices have continued to rise due to the reduction in supply. The rolls frequently sell on eBay for over $50, making them one of the most expensive discontinued film stocks, behind perhaps only Kodak’s color infrared films and Fujifilm’s film pack.

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

3) Freshness

400D is fresh stock, Natura is aging stock. High-speed color films aren’t known to age well, so there’s no competition here.

4) Colors

Although Natura is known for its colors, I was blown away by the rich, vibrant colors of 400D pushed 2 stops. 400D shot at ISO 1600 looks fantastic – much richer and more dynamic than Natura. The one thing I’m not convinced of is the 400D’s ability to match Natura’s natural skin tones.

5) Cereals

400D has wide dynamic range – although not native ISO 1600 film, it looks fantastic pushed to 2 stops. The images I got are amazing – there is noticeably less grain than my Natura photos.

How to shoot CineStill 400D at ISO 1600

1. Get your hands on a CineStill 400D. Visit their website or check inventory at your local movie retailer.
2. For those shooting medium format or 35mm cameras with manual film speed dials, set the film speed to ISO1600.
3. For those who take pictures with cameras that only recognize DX codes, you will need to hack it to ISO 1600.
4. Shoot your movie.
5. Tell your lab that you need the film pushed 2 stops.

Is the 400D the new Natura?

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

I’m also planning on pulling a few more rolls at box speed – if you want to see some banger footage, check out Lucy Lumen’s review of the 400D box speed. I also shot a 400D roll at ISO 3200 – the results were interesting and not quite what I expected. Be sure to subscribe to the Matt Loves Cameras YouTube channel as I will be making a video on this roll soon.

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