Cinestill BwXX film review: Munich walkabout

Sometimes the best photographs come from simply going for a long walk, and this is exactly what I did one day armed with a roll of Cinestill BwXX film. Come and join me for some composition practice around Munich city.

The more I practice photography the more I realise it is about just being aware of your surroundings and keeping your eyes wide open. This is why street photographers simply “go for a walk” and end up capturing some really great images, because they are present and fully aware of what is around them. Without getting too philosophical into what makes good photography, let’s just say I had no theme in mind for this post other than being present and trying out some new compositions and angles.

A bit more about the film

Cinestill’s BwXX film is essentially re-packaged Kodak Double X (which is no longer made and as such as pushed up the price for anyone re-spooling this wonderful cinematic film). I have shot Kodak Double X before and reviewed here, so it could be that this roll is pretty much the same film just packaged and marketed under the Cinestill brand.

According to Cinestill:

CineStill BwXX is a high speed, classic black & white film emulsion, with an EI of 250 under daylight and 200 under tungsten lighting. Recommended development in Kodak D-96 developer, but is compatible with D-76, HC110 and all other black and white film developers. Double-X is a classic black and white film stock left relatively unchanged since it's release in 1959 for still and motion picture use.

Some of the movies using the classic Eastman Double-X film stock 5222 include: Raging Bull (1980), Schindler's List (1993), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Memento (2000), Kafka (1991), Casino Royale (2006), I'm Not There (2007), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Manhattan (1979), Cinderella Man (2005), Aferim! (2015), Frantz (2016), American Horror Story (2011-2017) and many many more. CineStill BwXX is an excellent choice for those looking for a classic film stock to fill the void left by the discontinuation of it's wonderful sister films, Kodak Plus-x (discontinued in 2010) and TXP320. 36 exposures professionally spooled into high quality 135 Non Dx-Coded Cartridges

I shot this roll of film with my Leica M6 camera and a Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 lens (single coated version of the lens). All shot at ISO 250.

The photos

Below you will find the photos, ordered randomly. I have left the review and commentary for the end of the post and let the photographs speak for themselves.

Overall observations

Whilst not on the inexpensive side, this is a really nice black and white film that all photographers should try, not least because of its cinematic history!

It does really well at capturing a strong contrasty scene with strong highlights but also leaves sufficient detail in the shadows. I would have liked to have tested it more indoors for even more high dynamic range shots. I like strong contrast with deep blacks in my images, and this came out very well in these shots. It also shows some really nice grey tones, which adds a lot of depth to these shots, where sometimes I find some black and white films to be very flat overall.

My Voigtlander lens is designed for black and white and has a very distinct “old school” feel to it, which works well with this documentary style film. This film also displays plenty of grain, which I quite like. For sharper black and white film I would recommend Kodak TMax 400.

All in all a really great film and I will aim to keep a spare roll in the fridge, although for everyday use I would probably lean towards the Ilford HP5 or Kodak Tri-X for a good 30% less in price.

I hope you enjoyed some random shots around Munich,

See you next time,