Kodak Vision3 — High-Quality Film on a Budget
By: Arunoda Susiripala
Hmmm. What’s Kodak Vision3? I’ve never heard of it.
This might be something you’re thinking of right now. Yes, it’s from Kodak, but Kodak does not directly sell this film. It’s a high-quality film that comes in a couple of variants. Before we talk about it, let me show you some of the photos captured with Vision3.
Roots of Vision3
Vision3 is a modern film that Kodak created for shooting motion pictures. Basically, all the movies that use film use Vision3. “Openheimer,” “Asteroid City,” “Knives Out,” and many other blockbusters were created using this film. It comes in a couple of variations, with the most common versions being:
Day Light Optimized Film
250D & 50D are daylight-optimized films that aim to provide accurate colors when shooting under sunlight. They come in two ISO variations: 250 and 50. Vision3 50D is an ultra-fine-grain film that might be a good choice for portraits. However, all Vision3 films are fine-grain films compared to most of the other films.
Here are some pictures I took using Kodak Vision3 250D.
Tungsten Light Optimized Film
This is a film made to be shot under tungsten lights, which are commonly used in movie productions for lighting. You can shoot these films in daylight with an 85B filter.
Trust me, you don’t need this filter. I didn’t use the filter, and we can correct the color in post. While doing that, sometimes it could give us a slight blue cast. Personally, I like that blue cast, and currently 500T is my favorite film.
Here are some of the pictures taken with 500T.
Exceptional Dynamic Range
Kodak Vision3 has a much better dynamic range, even higher than Porta. This is because Kodak designed it for movies, which require high dynamic range. For example, you can shoot 500T at either 400 ISO or 800 ISO with the standard development process (without pushing).
You can also shoot at 500 ISO and do a bit of overexposing and underexposing without any issues.
Very Good Shadow Details
Some films, like Kodak Gold, give us yellow tones for shadows and it doesn’t look good. However, Vision3 handles shadows pretty well, and you can see the details as they should be. Of course, if you shoot under low light, it might be a bit noisy. But still, it preserves the details.
Pushing for High ISO
Both 250D and 500T can be pushed up to 1600 ISO through push development. Essentially, you can shoot the film at a higher ISO and compensate for it in the film development process. Generally, this may add a bit of contrast, but for Vision3, it is minimal.
Personally, I shoot 500T at 1600 ISO via push development. With this, I can shoot in the early mornings and evenings without worrying too much.
Why You Cannot Buy This Film Directly?
This is a motion picture film that comes in large rolls spanning 100 feet, 400 feet, or more, designed to fit inside motion picture cameras. It also has a carbon protective layer called Remjet for durability when used inside a motion picture camera. Due to this protective layer, the film cannot be developed with C41 development machines, so most labs cannot handle it.
To be honest, Kodak could sell it as standard 35mm and 120mm rolls, but they choose not to.
Luckily, third parties can purchase these large rolls of film, cut them, repackage them, and sell them. This is exactly what Cinestill does. They buy Kodak Vision3 films in bulk and then remove the carbon remjet layer. Finally, they repackage them into standard rolls and sell them. Because there is no remjet layer, Cinestill films can be developed in any film lab. These are the similar Vision3 and Cinestill films:
- Cinestill 800T — Kodak Vision3 500T
- Cinestill 400D — Kodak Vision3 250D
- Cinestill 50D — Kodak Vision3 50D
It Can Be a Budget Film
Unfortunately, Cinestill films are not cheap. However, there are other companies that cut and repackage Vision3 films and sell them for a lower price. They do not remove the remjet layer, but for indie film labs like Analog Dreamz, it’s not a big deal because we do most of the development by hand and using tanks.
If there is enough demand, we can even purchase large rolls and repackage them ourselves. That way, we can offer the film at a very low cost.
Basically, Vision3 is a high-quality film that you can shoot with confidence, and it costs less, even lower than Kodak Color Plus. So, I think this is the film for Sri Lankan film shooters. We have plenty of stocks of Vision3 in both 35mm and 120mm formats.
Give it a try!