These days, color negative film is hard to come by, especially in 35mm. As a result, a lot of people have been turning to motion picture film such as Vision 3. Often dubbed “ECN-2 film”, ECN-2 stands for Eastman Color Negative, which is the process used to develop motion picture film. These days Kodak is the main and maybe only player in the game but motion picture film used to be available from other manufacturers such as Fuji and Agfa. You can find other companies selling motion picture film such as FPP, QWD, Silbersalz, and even CineStill, but it is all essentially bulk-loaded Kodak vision3. Kodak still makes motion picture film and it may be a very long time before it is discontinued since it still continues to be used in Hollywood and by many directors of photography.

Motion picture film comes in several formats, such as 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, and 65mm. Although 65mm ECN-2 film can be shot in medium format cameras by being loaded onto 120 spools, 35mm is the format that has been creating all the buzz lately in the film photography community. 35mm motion picture film comes in 400 foot rolls that can be cut down and put into a bulk loader and then into reusable canisters to shoot in your still camera. What’s the benefit? It’s cheaper, always available, and arguably the best-looking color film.

When shooting motion picture film for still photography, it is always best to overexpose by one stop. This will allow you to gain a bit more shadow detail and since vision 3 has extended highlight latitude, you do not have to worry about blowing out the highlights.

Since it is not recommended to shoot expired motion picture film, we will focus on Kodak’s vision 3 since it is still being made. Vision 3 comes in four film stocks, 50D, 250D, 200T, and 500T. If you are wondering what the “D” and “T” stand for, they represent the color temperature they were made for. D is daylight film, and T is for tungsten light. Daylight film can be shot at night with an 80A filter, and tungsten film can be shot in the day with an 85B filter but must be overexposed one stop to compensate for the loss of light from the filters. However, using a filter is not necessary since it can always be color corrected.

       

All Vision 3 films are known for their flat profile, large dynamic range, clean shadows, and superior gradation of colors. But, what 50D has going for it is its fine grain. 50D is the finest grain film I have ever seen. It even has finer grain than Ektachrome. It is a slow-speed film perfect for bright outdoor conditions with an amazing color rendition.

       

250D is a phenomenal film stock and is my favorite film to shoot after Vision 3 500T. 250D has a faster film speed that makes it more versatile than 50D, and also has some of the best colors straight out of the camera. However, the caveat is that colors start to shift on overcast days and in low light conditions, but it’s nothing that can’t be corrected in post. All daylight balanced film shift a little more towards yellow/green, which is most noticeable in 250D which gives it its cinematic look.

       

200T is an exceptional film stock that is ideal for situations where you might be useding a studio or controlled tungsten lighting and still want to use a wider aperture. It has fine grain and renders shadows exceptionally well, when exposed correctly. It is great, and was made for controlled lighting situations but not ideal for those in the still photography community that are shooting handheld in low light situations. That is why most of us gravitate to its counterpart, 500T.

       

Kodak’s Vision 3 500T is possibly one of the greatest film stocks to ever exist, in my opinion. It has such a wide dynamic range, can be used in every environment and has a distinctive color profile. It even has equal or less grain than Portra 400. It is a higher-speed tungsten-balanced film, so it is great for nighttime photography and produces great color in the daylight even without an 85B filter. If you want a great all-around film, this is the one for you.

So you shot your first roll, and now you’re wondering, “how do I even get this processed?” You can send it right to us. We now offer true ECN-2 processing per Kodak’s instruction. Just send us an email, and you will be well on your way to creating your cinematic images!


Mitchell Jackson