Using Kodak Vision3 250D as photographic film – my experience and opinion

The Kodak Vision3 is a negative film originally made for motion pictures. The Taiwanese company Bokkeh repacks the original film rolls into 35mm film cartridges, which then can be used in photographic cameras. Besides a variety of Kodak cinema films, they also offer films from Fujifilm. Here is a link (in Chinese) to some of their products. You can also find some of these films on ebay.

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Roof of Terminal 1 of Taoyuan International Airport [Olympus 35DC]

About a year ago I tested the Fujicolor Reala 500D. But the results were not overwhelming. Probably the film was already expired. This time I did better research and found that Kodak is still manufacturing the Vision3 films. So I decided to give it a try, and I hope there was a fresh film in the cartridge.

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Daan Park in Taipei [Olympus 35DC]

Luckily the Vision3 is really cheap in Taiwan. One roll costs only 100 NT$ (about 3 €), which is much cheaper than a regular color negative film. The downside is, that the film needs to be sent to a special lab, where the rem jet layer can be removed. In my case it takes one week to get the negatives back, instead of one hour for regular photographic film. Also the costs for developing are double as for regular film. However, the total costs are still lower than buying and processing a regular film. This makes the Kodak Vision3 a quite interesting alternative to regular film.

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Liuzhangli area in Taipei / Photo was taken against the sun light [Minolta Dynax 505si super]

The table below shows an example of the costs.

Kodak Vision3 250D Kodak Ektar 100
Price in Taiwan* 100 NT$ (~3.00 €) 250 NT$ (~7.40 €)
Developing (no scanning) 130 NT$ (~3.80 €) 60 NT$ (~1.80 €)
Total costs 230 NT$ (~6.80 €) 310 NT$ (~9.20 €)

*If the film is ordered from overseas, shipping costs will probably consume all the price benefit.

For this test I used two rolls of film in two different cameras: Olympus 35DC and Minolta Dynax 505si super. The photos were taken mostly on sunny days, but some of them were taken on cloudy and rainy days.

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Small temple on Keelung Road in Taipei [Olympus 35DC]

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Office building at Keelung Road and Xinyi Road intersection in Taipei [Olympus 35DC]

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Small lane in Taipei [Olympus 35DC]

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Shopping in Taipei Dunhua [Olympus 35DC]

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Roundhouse in Changhua [Minolta Dynax 505si super]

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Fishfarm near Tainan [Minolta Dynax 505si super]

I already published some more photos in an earlier post here.

The results are quite nice. The film is very fine grained, and when exposed properly, the grain is hardly visible. But if it is underexposed then the grain is very prominent.

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Not well exposed photo. The area on the right side with the tree is very grainy. [Olympus 35DC]

One thing I like is that the colors are exactly reproduced and well balanced. Colors are neither oversaturated nor muted. For me they are just right. There is also no particular color that pops out. On a day with bright sunshine the colors look really great. However, the downside is, that on a grey and rainy day, the colors also look grey.

Unfortunately there are a couple of drawbacks with this film. Not sure what the cause is for some.

Two frames were damaged and had this brownish crescent-shaped thing on it.

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Damaged frame. Not clear if the film was already damaged or if it happend during processing.

And most of the frames were full with white speckles. They are very noticeable in the blue sky. Luckily in other parts of the frames they are not that obvious. I am sure, that this is no dust from scanning, because all negatives I scanned before and after never had this kind of speckles. Some are probably dust on the negative or glass plate of the scanner. But not all of them. Not sure where they come from. Maybe the removal of the rem jet layer was not well done?

With some work it would be possible to remove them in post processing, especially from the sky which is quite uniform.

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Frame with white speckles in the upper part and damaged part in the upper right corner.

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Another frame with sky full of white speckles.

Another slightly annoying thing is, that the company is a bit stingy and packs just enough film for 36 exposures into the roll. But the problem is, that it is very difficult to get all 36 exposures. Usually the first two or three frames are lost when loading the film.

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Beginning of film with three frames not exposed due to winding. This is what the camera does to make sure, that no pre-exposed part of the film is used.

And the last frames (in this case 2 frames) where already exposed from bulk loading. So that the last two photos on each roll are lost. The last frame was completely lost and from the next-to-last frame about 1/3 was pre-exposed, so that I only got 2/3 of the image.

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End of the film with pre-exposed last frames and lost image.

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This how the almost last picture from a roll looks like

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And this is from the second roll of film.

Since it happend on two rolls of film and both patterns look quite similar, I think that this is what to expect from each roll of film. Now I also know that this is not a real 36 exposure film but more a 34 or even less exposure film. To be safe, it would be better not to expose the last two frames.

Pros

  • cheap
  • fine grained
  • very good color reproduction

Cons

  • has to be sent to a special lab to remove the rem jet layer
  • no information about expiration date of the film
  • bulk loading seems to result in less usable frames than actually stated

Conclusions

The Kodak Vision3 is an interesting alternative to normal photographic film. I like the color reproduction a lot, especially in bright sunlight. The colors are well balanced, saturated and still look natural. For an ISO 250 film it has very fine grain. But the film also has some drawbacks, which should be kept in mind. If you can live with them, then this is a good film to have some fun. But if you are looking for good and consistent results, better choose a regular photographic film. Despite the drawbacks and ‘quality-lottery’ I ordered two more rolls and wait now for the summer to explore the colors of this film more 🙂

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