Shooting Eastman 5363 - Pushing the limits again!

Posted: 04/02/2015


Guest blog by Mark O'Brien

Back in December, I received a surprise package in the mail from the Film Photography Project.  Three rolls of Eastman 5363 b&w to try out.  Now, FPP's Mike Raso must know that I have tried all kinds of crazy b&w films intended for copying, graphics, and other high-contrast applications. But 5363 was a new one for me.   The data sheet states:

"EASTMAN High Contrast Positive Film II 5363 and 7363 is a medium-speed black and-white positive film that is suitable for making both positive and negative titles. It is also useful for production of printer effects, such as silhouette and traveling mattes. This blue-sensitive film is characterized by high contrast, excellent sharpness, and very high resolving power."

In other words, "This is not a film for general photography" -- or is it?  Part of the problem with using these oddball films is that outside the cine world, we do not see them used much.  If you have Tri-X, why use something like Eastman 5363?  The answer is -- it's the challenge of seeing what happens.  Unfortunately, the data sheet does not give one much hope for other uses, so others have been experimenting with developers and what the native ISO of the film really is. Seeing the term "medium speed" baffled me, - compared to what?  Is it ISO 100?  Based on reading what the FPP folks have been doing, I started with ISO 25.  Roll 1 was shot with my Nikkormat EL -- perhaps not the best choice, but it worked.  I compensated for the snow in some shots by shooting manually, in others, I left it in full Aperture Priority.


One interesting thing is that this is the first time that I have seen registration holes in addition to the perfs in a film.  Development Notes -- I developed the 5363 in Kodak D76 at 1:1 dilution for 12 minutes, as provided by Mike Raso's notes.  It could obviously be a shorter development time, but like any of these oddball films, there is much room for experimentation.  I think if one has Technidol LC or Photographer's Formulary TD-3, it would be worth trying out.
Based on the negatives from this first attempt, I'll try some less contrasty subjects, and a different developer...perhaps Technidol LC.


Unlike a lot of high-contrast films such as Kodalith, TechPan, High-Contrast Copy film, which are for still cameras, these cine film stocks are always a challenge, because they do not see much use outside their industry.  With the demise of analog titling and effects, they will probably pop up in the market more frequently.  I don't know about 1000 ft rolls, though.  That would be more than a lifetime supply for anyone.

All images by Mark O'Brien

Eastman High Contrast 5363 35mm cartridges at The FPP On-Line Store -

Eastman High Contrast 5363 35mm 100ft bulk rolls -

Mark O'Brien has been shooting on film since he was 12 years old. His first camera was a Kodak 126 Instamatic -- and he still has all the negatives from those early days.  He really enjoys shooting with older manual film-based equipment. For Mark, photography is an ongoing journey. 

Mark's Photo Blog -

Mark on Flickr -


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