Trying Motion Picture Film

Like most 35mm film photographers, I ran out of traditional C41 colour film a while ago. I don't have any advantage over getting film stocks like people think I do, so I am in the same boat as you all. 


I decided to try re-spooled motion picture film.

Loading film into the Olympus Trip 35 35mm film camera

Trying Motion Picture Film


On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I wanted to take colour film with me. Being in the same position as most 35mm film photographers at the moment, I had no C41 film in my little hidey hole of personal film.


I feel like everyone has been respooling and reselling 35mm film in different formats, and a lot of them are crap. Some people are trying to sell what they call "new" films, but in reality are just respooled Kodak films. (Also, why would anyone bother buying a roll of film with 18 exposures on it?) 


The film industry is a bit wild sometimes, and it makes me sad to see people just trying to make as much as money as they can off of the 35mm film photography industry.

The Film I Used


Anyway, I decided to purchase some motion picture film from a respooler known as ThisishowIroll. I bought a few rolls of his respooled motion picture film. The rolls of film I got were Kodak Vision3 250D.


Motion picture film is sold in huge spools and intended for use on film sets to create motion picture movies. Respooling this film into 35mm canisters means that the average photographer can have a go at using it. 

Developing and Scanning


To be honest, I don't love the results. Partly because I didn't frame the images exactly how I wanted them, but mostly because it just seems really over contrasted. This may be due to the way in which the film was scanned, so I would be interested to see if I got very different results from it if I scanned it myself. 


For those that are curious, I got the film developed and scanned with The Film Safe, who offer ECN2 developing.

Our Results

I should probably caveat by saying that I am not a fantastic film photographer, and mainly photograph things to document the places I go and the things I get up to. 


Alas, here are our results.

View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera
View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera
View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera

I think the red tones are really high on these images, and also, as I said earlier, they are very contrasted. They, sort of, give the vibe of a phone photograph that has been heavily edited with a Lightroom preset. 


I do like the colours of the images. For example, the reds are really vibrant, and the browns are nice and rich. I am surprised that they are not more grainy for a 250 ISO roll of film, so kudos to it for that.

View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera
View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera

The images definitely give a vintage vibe (ew, I can't believe I said vibe), so that is quite nice. The Amsterdam canal houses look like gingerbread houses in most of these images.

View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera
View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera

I have a few more rolls of this film in my stash, so there will be other opportunities to use it. I would like to try some seascapes and other landscapes with the film to see how it handles blues and cooler tones. 

View of Amsterdam canal taken on the Olympus XA 35mm film camera

Overall, I like the film, and would use it again. I would be much more inclined to scan the film myself, and see what kind of results I get. My only reservation with the scans I did get was the high levels of contrast. It makes the shadows look so dark, especially around the eyes on the few portraits I did take (not included in this article).

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Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.

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