I expected that Vision3 50D would be my favourite of the three Vision3 films I reviewed this year. The biggest reason is that I love a good slow film; they make you think a little more. After seeing what I could produce with 250D, I also expected more of the same from 50D. I also had the chance to try out the remjet removed version of this film, CineStill 50D a few years back and was impressed by the film. But I cannot say it’s my favourite; I don’t know if it was the ECN-2 processing or the lighting conditions, but I found the film super contrasty and a bit too saturated for my tastes.
Type: Colour Negative Motion Picture Film, ECN-2
Film Base: Acetate
Film Speed: ASA-50, +/- 1-Stop Latitude
Formats Available: 135
The first thing you’ll notice about 50D is the rich, punchy colours. Almost all the colours have that extra saturation, but your greens certainly have that extra vibrancy about them. And while you may think that this will skew the representation, the colour replication is accurate to life. Of course, being a daylight-balanced film (5500K) works best outside, and I only tested this film out; I have no idea how the film would handle artificial light. And it certainly shows that it works best under full bright sunlight; under more cloudy conditions, the images skew heavily towards the green colour bias. This is only shown more when underexposing the film by a stop (ASA-100) and cross-processing the film in C-41 chemistry.
It should come as no surprise that the image quality of this film is excellent. The images are sharp and almost grain-free, even at ASA-100. While not completely grain-free, the visible grain is pleasing and helps with the edge sharpness. I had always known that 50D would have sharp images, and for the most part, I got excellent results here. The trouble is that being a slow film, you do need to watch your lighting conditions. I got the best results when shooting under bright sunlight, where the tonal separation and ability to have faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures. When it comes to tonal separation, 50D has excellent separation and adds to the overall sharpness of the film, and it helps out with the film’s latitude. While not as comprehensive as, say, 250D, you do get plenty of options when shooting under high-contrast light without losing too much in your shadow and highlights. The one thing that stands out is the film’s high contrast. It’s a deep rich contrast that reminds me of slide film than colour negative film, especially the new version of Fujifilm Velvia 50!
Like the other two sets of Vision3 films, 50D suffers from the same cupping problem as 500T and 250D; I do put this down to the fact that you are processing at home in high temperatures than air drying them and that rapid drop in temperature combined with the thick acetate base will cup the film. Of course, in properly controlled ECN-2 lab environments, there are film dryers to prevent this from happening. Thankfully after letting the film dry for a good 24 hours, then backing rolling them for nearly a week, the cupping was reduced enough to let me scan the negatives in my V700. The V700 and Silverfast 9 handled the film well, but that’s where the fun started. And I mean fun in the most sarcastic sense. As previously mentioned, the film’s high contrast and saturated colours threw me for a loop. It took a lot of extra work to get the levels and curves to a good point without losing any of that punch, and that threw off the colour balance a lot more than I expected. And 50D is more challenging than 250D when managing the colours.
When it comes to the Vision3 line, 50D is probably the second least loved of all the film stocks. The least loved one is 200T (I didn’t even know about 200T until I saw it on the Atlanta Film Co. website). While most people scramble to get their hands on 500T (to photograph those gas stations), that was my least favourite of the three. While 50D certainly is not my favourite, I like it more than 500T. This is a niche film; it works well under a single condition, bright sunny days. Last year’s fall would have been perfect conditions to shoot this film and end up with a hyper-real look of the beautiful colours! You can find 50D through several resellers, the Film Photography Project is my top choice to pick up the stock, but you can also pick up the large bulk rolls and spool it down yourself.
Don’t just take my word on Vision3 50D; you can check out the reviews by other awesome camera reviewers!
Random Camera Blog – One Roll Review: Kodak Vision3 50D
Carlos Garcia – Kodak Vision3 50D Review
Dave Tacon – Thoughts on Kodak Vision3 50D Motion Picture Film