Eastman By The Numbers: BW Movie Film for Your Still Camera

Posted: 06/09/2021

Today I'm thrilled to present a comprehensive blog by Mark O'Brien covering all of the wonderful Eastman Kodak BW Movie Films available for your still camera. Most of these films were not intended for pictorial use but have been tested and rolled by the FPP so that you can enjoy using them to create beautiful BW images.

Even more exciting, the Film Photography Project has released two new films previously unavailable for use in still cameras (Hi-Fi 2374 and Hi-Con 2369)!

Eastman By The Numbers
By Mark O'Brien

Interested in shooting any of the Eastman BW cine film stocks in your 35mm camera?  Confused by the numbers (instead of names)? What are these films and what are they used for?  What are the ISO ratings? How do I develop them? So many questions, and dear reader, I hope to answer them all, so please read on.

above: Quentin Tarantino / Article: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood proves that Film (is still) The King.

While Kodak's brand is familiar to everyone, fewer people might know that Eastman (as in Eastman Kodak) is still an ongoing brand for cinema films and intermediate processes that are used in creating movie magic.  Back in the very beginnings of moving pictures, George Eastman (pictured below) supplied 35mm film to Thomas Edison for his movie cameras, and thus, an industry was borne. It was from that 35mm perforated film that 35mm still cameras (as in Leica, Retina, Argus, etc.) started the “miniature 35mm" format craze. So, going full circle, we are now looking at cine films that can be used in our 35mm still cameras!

Kodak produced a lot of special-use films under the Kodak and Eastman brands that were discontinued because of the digital onslaught of the mid-2000s.  The movie industry however, did not not roll over entirely to digital.  Eastman film stocks that remain are specially formulated to the needs of the cine industry, and the various BW films that I will list here are ones that are either currently produced or recently discontinued. They can be used in still cameras, and once you are familiar with their characteristics, you may be inclined to try them out. The Film Photography Project On-Line Store has been offering these films for pictorial use, and have made every effort to test them and evaluate their suitability and figure out the best developing procedures, so that you won't be in the dark when it comes to shooting and processing.

above image by Mark 'Obrien / Eastman Double-X

Eastman Double-X 5222 - ISO 200 - This is a superb panchromatic film with excellent latitude, fine grain, and can be developed by a lot of different developers.  It's been in production since 1959, and people have been respooling into 35mm cassettes at home for many years. I have been using this film for about 15 years, and absolutely love it.

Eastman 5222 can be pushed, and I have seen good results from it at ISO ratings of 100-800.  However, the box speed of ISO 200 to 250 is where it really does best. It develops really well in D-96, but also in D-76, D-23, XTOL, and other developers, which you can find on the Massive Development Chart on-line.

Available as X2 by the FPP in 35mm, 8mm, 16mm and Minolta 16 formats

Additional reading on 5222:

above: Eastman 5302 - photo by Alexander Rabb / @rt48state on IG

Eastman Fine Grain 5302 - Fine Grain Positive Release Film. This is a blue-sensitive film with an ISO of about 3, though I have seen where it has been exposed at ISO 6 and 12 with good results.  As with any film that's not been designed for pictorial use, you may need to bracket your exposures to see what the "sweet spot" is for your conditions. From the 2008 Kodak specifications -- "This blue-sensitive black-and-white film is designed for general release printing. It is also useful for making both positive and negative titles, and for dubbing prints for sound." This film needs lots of light, and any use of filters is not recommended. As a pictorial film, it yields good tonal results and fine-grained negatives.

Pictorial use - The choice of developer will affect your results, and based upon what I have seen, your "ideal" ISO depends on what developer is used. According Alex Luyckx, shoot at ISO 6 for D-76, ISO 12 for HC110, and ISO 3 for Rodinal. The film has no antihalation layer, so load it in subdued light, or you'll get light piping. Available freshly rolled by The FPP.

Additional reading on Eastman 5302:

Gorgeous portrait shot on Fine Grain Six Panchromatic BW Film(Eastman 2238) by Will Alexander on Flickr.

Eastman 2238 Panchromatic Separation Film.  According to Kodak (2015) this film's use is: "...a black-and-white film intended for making archival black-and-white separation positives from color negative originals. Other product applications for this film include special effects, density cover mattes, panchromatic masters from black-and-white negatives, and restoration work."

Pictorial use - With a working ISO of 6 to 25, Eastman 2238 is a good choice for anyone wanting to experiment with the "slower" Eastman films. Another plus is that it is panchromatic, and can be easily developed with D-96 and D-76.  It's on a polyester ESTAR base like Kodak Techpan, and has a blue-antihalation dye that comes out in developing. It's extremely fine-grained, and is ideal for landscapes photography.   Again, it's a good idea to bracket your exposures, as results vary with conditions. Available at the FPP as FPP Fine Grain Six.

Additional reading:

above: photo by Leslie Lazenby / shot on Hi-Con 2369

Eastman 2369 High-Contrast Panchromatic Film.  Kodak described the film's use as "... making silhouette mattes and traveling mattes for printer control."

Pictorial use - The working ISO is 12-25, and the film is contrasty, but it also probably depends on the developer that is used.  Developing in FPP D96 and Caffenol gives good results, as does D76. Available at the FPP as Eastman Hi-Con 2369.

Additional reading:

Kodak 2369 as a replacement for Kodak Tech Pan - https://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/E5369/e5369.html

above: Eastman Hi-Fi 2374 photo by S Joseph / @coma_vision on IG

Eastman 2374 Panchromatic Sound Recording Film - "...is a high contrast, panchromatic black-and-white film designed for recording variable-area sound track negatives with a tungsten light source, and/or producing digital sound track negatives." Now, if this film sounds strange, it is.  Sound tracks are superimposed on the movie footage to make the final prints. After processing, the words "KODAK Safety Film", the strip number, and year symbol are located in the center, along the length of the film. This is repeated every 3-5 frames.  So, the cool thing or the infuriating thing is that you would see this in some of your full-frame images. After all, this wasn't designed as a pictorial film.

Pictorial use - This film is contrasty, which makes sense for a soundtrack.  There's also the imprinting of the code down the center every few frames.  It is fine-grained, and the working ISO is 25-50.  D-96 is a good developer, at about 6 minutes. Available at the FPP as Eastman Hi-Fi 2374.

Dane Johnson shot by Michael Raso on Eastman 2366 Film

Eastman 2366 Fine Grain Duplicating Positive Film. According to Kodak - "Kodak Eastman Fine Grain Duplicating Positive Film is a black-and-white film designed for making master positives from black-and-white camera negatives.  This 35mm film is coated on a clear polyester ESTAR base with an integrated anti-static layer and a carnauba wax lubricant for high durability and flexible handling."

Pictorial Use - The film is blue sensitive, and has an ISO of 6.  Of course, it's slow, but it is also a really nice film to shoot with.  It develops in D76 1:1 in 8.5 min at 20°C with good results.  I shot it handheld on a sunny day at f/8 at 1/30 second. Available at the FPP as FPP Low ISO BW Film.

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The fun thing with any of the non-pictorial films is that you can bend them to your will and shoot them pictorially.  Some people have achieved astounding results with these films that are being used for purposes they were not intended for.  Your results may vary, of course, but if you like to tinker with oddball films, look for what others have done by searching Flickr. The one film that stands out is Eastman 5222. It's a pictorial film, of course, and though it was intended for cine purposes, it gives a lush cinematic look when shot as a still film.  It's what I recommend if anyone is looking for something different, yet not esoteric. It’s the only film in the lot that was recently introduced in 120 format as CineStill XX 120!  I recommend Eastman 2238 as a "slow" film that is easily adopted as a landscape film. However, don't be afraid to try any of these films. You might just decide that you have found a film that gives exactly the look that you have wanted.

Mark O'Brien is a regular contributor to The Film Photography Project and the author of the Random Camera Blog and Monochrome Mania Magazine.


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