CineStill Under Fire: A Close Look at Analog Photography’s Latest Controversy

Last Updated on October 11, 2023

In recent weeks, the analog photography community has been abuzz with discussions, discontent, and debates surrounding CineStill, a company specializing in repackaging Kodak movie film for still photography. This controversy stems from a combination of rising film photography costs and CineStill’s business practices, which have sparked an intense debate within the r/AnalogCommunity subreddit. Here’s a snapshot of the situation:

CineStill controversy

Rising Costs and Film Photography

Over the years, film photography enthusiasts have watched the cost of film, development, and equipment steadily rise. This trend has left many photographers searching for cost-effective solutions while still preserving the charm of analog photography.

CineStill’s Role

CineStill distinguishes itself by offering repackaged Kodak film, sans the remjet coating, which simplifies the development process. However, this convenience comes at a premium, leading to criticism from some users.

The Trademark Dispute

The controversy ignited when other sellers started respooling Kodak film and selling it as their own. CineStill responded by trademarking the “800T” designation, causing some to question the litigious nature of this move and the potential impact it might have on competition within the film photography market.

CineStill’s Defense

CineStill has defended its trademark, “CINESTILL®,” asserting that it is derived from “CINE” for motion and “STILL” for still photography. They argue that “CINE film” historically referred to smaller formats like 8mm and 16mm, which are distinct from larger professional cinema formats. CineStill believes that their extensive use has granted them exclusive rights and secondary meaning in the market, and they express concerns that other products, such as “Cine200 film,” may infringe on their trademark.

Reddit Commentary

The r/AnalogCommunity subreddit has been a hotspot for these discussions. Key points raised by community members include:

  • The revelation that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) initially rejected CineStill’s trademark application for “800T” as it was considered descriptive, with CineStill subsequently claiming distinctiveness due to their extensive use over five years.
  • Observations that “800” is an internationally recognized ISO/ASA mark, raising questions about the attempt to trademark film speed and color balance.
  • Surprise at CineStill’s actions in a small, niche market, with accusations of potential harm to their own image and an attempt to undermine other companies selling “800T” film.

These comments on Reddit reflect concerns about CineStill’s trademark claims and their impact on the film photography community. The controversy serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency and fair competition in this passionate and dedicated community.

The film photography community continues to watch closely as the debate unfolds, with questions about the future of film photography and the evolving landscape of analog film distribution.

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