The Imitation Game, Les Miserables, Lincoln, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave and Argo…oh, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII.

What do all these movies have in common? The were all shot on good old motion picture film. In fact, they were all shot (in total, or in part), on Kodak’s VISION3 250D (5207) motion picture film.

“Hang on”, I hear you say, “This is a film photography website. What does motion picture film have anything to do with all this?”
Read on to find out…

“KODAK VISION3 Films continue to raise the bar with the newest member of the platform – KODAK VISION3 250D Color Negative Film. We’ve incorporated the remarkable performance of KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film in a medium-speed, daylight-balanced emulsion – providing filmmakers a tool to add to their creative palettes.
Thanks to KODAK VISION3 Film technology, VISION3 250D Film offers outstanding performance in the extremes of exposure — including increased highlight latitude, so you can move faster on the set and pull more detail out of the highlights in post. You’ll also see reduced grain in shadows, so you can push the boundaries of underexposure and still get outstanding results.
What’s more, VISION3 250D Film works seamlessly in digital post, so you can employ a workflow that combines the best of both worlds for exceptional efficiency and image quality. Combine all that with film’s amazing resolution and proven, long-term archival capabilities and you’ve got a state-of-the-art image capture medium that others can only aspire to. Why try to emulate film when you can have the real thing? Film. No Compromise.”
Kodak VISION3 250D
NameKodak VISION3 250D (5207)
TypeColor negative
Format8mm, 16mm, 35mm, 65mm
Speed (ISO)250
Exposure latitude–-5 to +5 stops
Push processing3 stops
Cross processingContrast shift

What’s it like, then?

If you’ve seen the movies mentioned up top, you’ll be familiar with their look. You might also be familiar with the absolutely insane latitude this film stock provides (+/- 5 stops) but what you probably won’t know is that you can shoot it in any camera, or film back that will let you load 35mm film. What’s more, that the results are something a step above “ordinary” colour negative film stocks.

There’s no need to use specialist chemicals in order to develop this film. In fact, if you have access to a darkroom, you can wash this film using a C41 kit, or black and white chemistry and take care of the Remjet yourself (Remjet? More on that a little later).

The eyes have it II - Shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207) at ISO250.
The eyes have it II Shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207) at ISO250.

Most colour motion picture films are either daylight or tungsten balanced. Kodak 250D falls into the former category and in my experience, gives great results (almost) regardless of the light it’s shot under. In short, it’s pretty much like Kodak says above: no compromise.

Just a quick note before going any further: I’m a little bit biased towards this film.

Truth be told, this is one of my all-time favourite 35mm colour films. Yes, I understand that there’s Kodak Ektar 100 and the Portra variants, there’s Fujifilm Pro 400H, Superia Premium 400 and many, many more…but there’s something about the way that colours render on Kodak 250D that wins it for me. Speaking of Portra, Portra 400 now includes the same VISION3 technology inherited by 250D from Kodak 500T motion picture film. More on that stock in a future review

Put simply, to my eye Kodak 250D feels like the best of every colour negative film rolled into a single package. A real chameleon, as the two images below show.

Making the Rounds - Shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207) at ISO500.
Making the Rounds Shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207) at ISO500.
 UNTITILED - Shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207) at ISO250.
UNTITLED – Shot on Kodak Vision 3 250D (5207) at ISO250.

It’ll go from bright, vivid, sharp and contrasty to soft and pastel-like in a flash. You can even cool it down if you know how to treat it right.

Greens, reds, yellows and blues are all vividly represented and as I mentioned above, it’s a daylight balanced film but will also handle the indoors rather well.

In high contrast situations, you’ll be glad for the (approximately) five stops of latitude. All manner of skin tones are handled with ease and you’ll also be obsessing over shadow detail for months.

Shoot at night and you’ll retain rich colours and deep blacks. In fact, if I know I’ll be wandering around after dark, I’ll go ahead and rate this film at ISO400 to get the extra stop of speed in-camera but process it normally – no push.

Speaking of which, if you feel the need to push this film, it’ll comfortably go three stops to ISO2000 but starts struggling at ISO4000.

My personal preference is to overexpose by half a stop and process normally or push two stops to ISO1000 for some lovely results.

Finally, it’s also cheap, really cheap. If you buy in bulk and roll your own, a single 36 exposure roll works out to about two dollars per roll – cheaper if you bulk load from larger 400 or 1000ft reels.

Wishful thinking - Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm motion picture film shot at ISO250
Wishful thinking – Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm motion picture film shot at ISO250

All in all, there’s not much bad to say about this film aside from the elephant in the room; Remjet.

Unfortunately, you can’t just send Kodak 250D (or most motion picture films, for that matter), to just any lab and be done with it. Like most colour motion picture stocks, 250D has a protective layer called Remjet, which helps deal with the tremendous heat generated while it’s being run through a motion picture camera at around 96ft (27m) per minute.

 Martyrs - Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm - shot at ISO250
Hallowed halls – Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm – shot at ISO250

This layer must be removed during processing and requires specialist developing equipment to do so. If your lab has access to a dedicated motion picture film developing system in-house, then you’re all set. A word of advice: most equipped labs will actually do a C41 cross-process, instead of a native ECN-2 wash.

The results aren’t really that different and if you’re into digital trickery, then they are easily corrected in Photoshop or Lightroom. Development costs shouldn’t be much more than a normal C41 bath.

 Flip flops Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm motion picture film shot at ISO250 Color motion picture film in 35mm format
Flip flops – Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm motion picture film shot at ISO250

If your local lab doesn’t offer a motion picture film development option then fear not, all is not lost.

There are many, many labs all over the world which will develop motion picture film in either native ECN-2, or C41. We’re currently putting together a list of labs which will accept motion picture film but if you need help in the meantime, drop us a line and we’ll point you in a few directions.

As noted up top, another option is for you to develop this film yourself using a C41 kit, or Kodak’s own HC-110 black and white developer. (Yes, this film will develop as a nice, contrasty black and white negative!)

If you’re opting for the C41 route, you’ll need to add in a filtration process (gauze/linen), to remove the Remjet particles before returning your chemicals to their containers. As HC-110 is a one-shot developer, you needn’t worry about that part when you wash as black and white.

Speaking of which:

 UNTITLED BW - Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm motion picture film shot at ISO250
UNTITLED BW – Kodak VISION3 250D 35mm motion picture film shot at ISO250

Aside from adding in a remjet filtration step (as needed), you will also need to add in an extra pre-bath step to your process.

Simply dissolve about 15 grams of store-bought bicarbonate of soda per 1 litre of water at about 30C / 86F. Soak your film for a few minutes, then give your tank a vigorous shake. Set the tank down, wait another minute or so and then repeat. Repeat this three or four times before discarding the solution.

You won’t need to totally remove the Remjet, just soften it up a little.

Once you’ve finished your pre-bath, rinse as normal and then process the film as you would. When the film has been stopped and fixed, you can use running water to wipe any remaining remjet off. Just be careful not to scratch the (admittedly hardy) film.

That’s it. It’s rather simple and needn’t put you off from trying this wonderful film.

In conclusion

It’s taken me almost as long to write this short conclusion as it did the entire review. If I had it my way and I was some kind of worldwide dictator-in-chief, every man, woman and child would be required to shoot a single roll of this film at least once in their life.

Unfortunately, that kind of talk raises eyebrows, so I’ll say this: put aside your worries about the Remjet, or finding a lab near you that will develop it. Just shoot a roll and figure it out later. It’ll be well worth your while, I guarantee.

Beautiful colors, amazing latitude and fine grain; Kodak 250D has it all. It literally eats light in a way that most “ordinary” color negative film stocks don’t.

Shoot at night, during the day, indoors, outdoors, this film will handle nearly every scenario you can think of. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re interested in developing Kodak 250D or any other motion picture stock in your own darkroom, check out this great movie film development guide from the talented Mr. D Cow Esquire.

~ EM

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  1. Hey, you stated in article that even if you shoot 400 ISO at night, you can develop normally – would this be in C-41? Does that mean you treat the film similar to those Lomo film stocks that have a ‘range’?

    I have some 250D, if I were to use 250 in daylight and 400 for night – lets say – should I process at normal C-41? I have done C-41 cross processing of motion picture film, primarly 500T, and its been excellent.

    1. C-41 or ECN-2, yes! 250D is very forgiving and underexposing by a stop even in low light will typically still yield decent results in my experience. Thanks for reading, and for the question!

  2. Thanks! I have been shotting a roll at iso 250. I will shoot the last 5 photos at iso 400 for night city and see how it works.

  3. Orwo is releasing an ECN2 35mm film in 2022. They’ve got the technology, the deep knowledge of film needed to do this, and an accountant with either a vision or on a pilgrimage to Tibet.

  4. I got a friend that makes all of the chems by himself, at home. He managed to create an ECH-II kit and we now develop this majestic film on out own, at home.

  5. I feel like this is maybe a stupid question, but… How do you shoot stills with this sort of stock? Is there a way to get it on a normal 35mm spool to use in 35mm still cameras?

  6. Thanks for the review! Is there any method of rolling the 400-1000 feet rolls into 100’ that will fit into the loader I have? Or dividing them to 100’ rolls somehow?
    Thanks again

  7. “It’ll go from bright, vivid, sharp and contrasty to soft and pastel-like in a flash. You can even cool it down if you know how to treat it right.” — could you please elaborate? I mostly got the pastel-like colors which I absolutely love, but what is the trick for more vivid colors?
    Also would love to know if there is an actual difference if you process it in ecn2 and if so where did you get yours? (Removing the remjet is very easy now I’ve did it a few times..)

    1. Of course there’s a difference processing it natively in ECN-2 and cross processing in C-41.
      3 things mainly:
      1. Increased contrast. Gamma goes up which means less detail in the shadows, easier blown highlights.
      2. Colour shift. The white balance of the film is engineered for the specific chemistry. You get a colour shift when processing ECN-2 in C-41, juste like when you process slides in C-41. The only reason it’s not that pronounced is because negative film is more forgiving and pliable.
      3. Reduces archival stability.
      Tbh for me the actual difficult part of processing ciné film is ECN-2 chemistry, not the Remjet.
      I shoot film for the dynamic range, the colour palette and archival stability. If I were to throw all that out of the window by cross processing ciné film in C41, I couldn’t shoot film in the first place.

  8. If you don’t want to search for a lab that can handle ECN-2 or develop it yourself. If you cant bulk roll the film yourself you can also buy CineStill film. CineStill is Kodak Vision 50D or 500T film but with the Remjet layer removed and put into a 35mm canister.

    1. Cinestill is an admirable project, which has brought the motion picture film look to still photographers without access to dedicated labs / home color processing.
      That said, by removing the remjet layer Cinestill have also robbed the film of any anti-halation, which is what lends Cinestill films their well-known “glow”. It’s a welcome result if that’s what you’re looking for but not a true representation of the original film stock.
      If you want to shoot “real” motion picture film, shooting unmolested stock is still the best way!
      It’s worth stating that this isn’t hate, I’m an active backer of Cinestill campaigns on Kickstarter / Indiegogo.

  9. Hi Emulsive, I’ve read that you tried developing 250D as B&W, can you pass de the EI and developing scheme you used. I’m now testing 200T and can’t find the right combination.

  10. Where can you purchase rolls of kodak movie film?
    Looking on ebay, I see 400 ft rolls but they seem like very, very old and probably expired.

  11. Having a heck of a time finding a lab that will only process a few rolls of ramjet backed film. Any suggestions?

  12. Is there an art to scanning VISION3 films? I’ve been experimenting with 250T, I get exactly the results colour-wise I’m looking for with a cheap film scanner, but with my Canon 9000F I get very strange results, even from the same negatives. This is working with RAW files straight from the scanner, setting the white point based on the film base color etc.

    1. Thanks Robin and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve never scanned my own Vision3, I’m afraid. My local lab takes care of it with their Noritsu but truth be told, I prefer results from their Frontier better. Let me see if I can get someone with a bit of first-hand knowledge to come in on this thread.

    2. Hi Robin
      Em asked me to drop by to see if I can help. Hopefully, I am not already giving you information you already know, but here are my thoughts.
      If you aren’t already a member, join the I SHOOT FILM SCANNER GROUP. There are a few folks there that can be helpful.
      Some questions:
      1. Are you using the Epson software? Recommended software is either Vuescan or Silverfast. Personally, I prefer Vuescan.
      2. Is your scanner calibrated with an IT8 target? Useful if you plan on having the scanner output a positive image instead of a negative RAW scan.
      3. Do you have access to Photoshop? If so, do some research with using the ColorPerfect plugin. This is my preferred method if I don’t use my dedicated lab film scanner. I also recommend shooting a Macbeth chart on your roll so that you can do more fine tuning with color calibration after you have converted the image to a positive after using the ColorPerfect plugin. NOTE: This workflow doesn’t need the scanner to be color calibrated, at least to my knowledge. Well, I haven’t seen the need to anyway.
      This is just the tip of the iceberg, but if you get on that Flickr forum I recommended, you may find tidbits there that will help. Good luck!
      Feel free to DM me on my Twitter account a well (@dizd).

    1. You’ll most likely find that the Remjet is 99% intact and still adhered to the film base even after stopping, fixing and rinsing.
      I normally run my thumb over the film after the its post-fix rinse and then rinse again. The remnants look like extremely fine-ground coffee! …that’s my experience but I still filter using coffee filters, as you rightly guessed. If you can, get a fine filter but even a coarse filter will do the trick. Thanks for reading, Phil.

  13. I am about to shoot my first rolls with 500T. I heard that the negatives won’t stay fresh after a certain amount of time. Can you tell? It’s been a while you shot these pictures. Did the negatives change? Faded colors or any other issues?
    I don’t plan to put them into a enlarger but to scan them, so this doesn’t bother me too much, but it is nevertheless interesting.

    1. Looking at then with a loupe doesn’t show any degradation but you raise a very good point. I’ll grab a few negs from the archive and get them rescanned (same scanner and resolution). Hoping for an identical result!

  14. hey, cool article! I especially like your photo of the dog/building. The colours overall are kinda pastel-like, yet seem ‘real’.
    I’ve got a question or two; how did you push it? I’m assuming that you used C41 since you can only get ECNII in 100L at the minimum.. (I think!). I found some very good value stock, but it’s ISO 50. My ideal speed is 400 (this is stills, of course!).
    A tip for you to get the most out of your film: hold the film can right next to the winding reel and thread/wind the leader, but don’t press the shutter. In the dark, pull the can over to the left and into the holder, close the back, and you’re on frame 1!

    1. Hi Ciaran, all the images in this review were cross processed in C41 but I have access to ECN2 processing, which I’ll be using going forward – I haven’t shot as much 250D as I would have liked these past few months!
      You mention ISO50 stock – Kodak 50D, or something else?
      Thanks for the tip, by the way. So simple I’m kicking myself for not thinking about it 😉

      1. hi!
        Wow, you got hold of ECN2 chemicals? You have to get such a large amount of it!
        Can you tell me how you would go about ‘pushing’ with C41? Is there some sorta rule, like add 30 sec per stop? It’s really bugging me, I can never get a clear and definite answer on this. I would like to get some 250D and use it +1stop.
        Yes, there’s 50D (probably just has finer grain, I won’t bother with it..)!
        You’re welcome for the tip. Only problem is it’s useless outside :p I can give you more ‘tips’, have you ever tried B&W reversal?

  15. I believe you have an error in your article. Motion picture cameras have the ability to run at very high speeds, but 96 feet per second, as stated in your article, would give about 10 seconds of film time to the normal 1000-foot roll of 35mm. This would also give a frame rate (and extreme slow motion) of 1500 frames per second. The correction should be that film travels about 90 feet per MINUTE @ 24/fps.
    Furthermore, rimjet (or more accurately the Anti-Halation backing) does provide lubrication, but that is not it’s main function. You can read more at the Kodak website for those interested. Rimjet is also only one of four possible ways to provide anti-halation in celluloid light sensitive medium.

    1. Jay, you’re absolutely right, our maths was right off. The article has been updated to reflect our poor maths and your keen eye. We’ll be sure to check out the other info about Remjet on the Kodak Motion site. Finally, thanks for taking the time to read the article and get in touch!