j.Devaun Photography

So Cinematic: My DIY Experience With Kodak Vision3 Film

I’ve shot a few rolls of CineStill color film (both the 50D and 800T) and I really like the results. It’s not film I shoot regularly since I consider it a tad expensive, but I like to splurge every now and then.

I also like DIY stuff. That’s why I started developing my own film in the first place.

Once I learned that CineStill is just Kodak Vision3 cinema film minus the carbon based “rem-jet” layer, I knew what I had to do.

The Film Photography Project sells 35mm rolls of Kodak Vision 3 with the rem-jet layer still in tact. This means you can’t send the film off to most labs to have it developed; it’ll ruin their machines.

If you want to shoot this film, you’ll have to remove the rem-jet yourself. 

I mean, I can pay $11.99 for a roll of film that’s had the rem-jet removed for me, or I can pay $7.99 for a roll and remove it myself. How hard could it be?

Challenge accepted.

I bought two rolls from the Film Photography Project:

A roll of Kodak Vision3 500T, which is balanced for tungsten light.

A roll of Kodak Vision3 250D, which balanced for daylight.

Both were shot at box speed.

Roll number 1, the 250D, was shot with a Canon Elan 7ne with a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens attached. After weaving my way through DUMBO on a frigid afternoon, I headed back Uptown to reap the fruits of my labor.

I’d read that removing the rem-jet layer is simply a matter of rubbing it off in hot water after the blix stage of development, so that was the method I used.

Wearing latex gloves, I began rubbing the black gunk away from the film. After some time it appeared as though I’d removed all the carbon-y substance, but I couldn’t be entirely sure. 

I ran the film through a final rinse, stabilized it and hung it to dry. 

Then came the moment of truth: time to scan.

My scans showed that I had not, in fact, removed all the rem-jet. The shots were a bit grungy but I wasn’t too too upset because I sort of like the look.

So…on to the second roll — the Kodak Vision3 500T. This one was shot with a Minolta XE-7. I alternated between a couple of lenses: the Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 and the Minolta 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5.

This time I shot around the Sea Port District on a day that turned out to be even colder than the day I shot the previous roll.

Once I made it back home and could feel my face again, I figured I’d take a different route to getting rid of the rem-jet.

Fingers crossed (I’m not actually superstitious), I put this roll of film through a baking soda bath. I dissolved about a teaspoon of baking soda in 500mL of warm water, poured it into the developing tank, shook vigorously for 30 seconds, then emptied the tank. I repeated the process until the water ran clear. Then I developed as usual.

What did the scans show?

No grunge! All the rem-jet layer had been obliterated by the baking soda bath (my XE-7 does have a light leak though, so there’s THAT).

I’ll be buying many more rolls of Vision3 film. That doesn’t mean I’m swearing off of CineStill — in fact, I’ve got a roll of CineStill 800T (120) staring at me, wondering when it’s going to be loaded into my Bronica SQ-a.

Soon. I promise.

But that $4 savings isn’t insignificant. Kodak Vision3 is a beautiful film and I’ll happily go through the extra step of removing the rem-jet layer myself just to shoot it more often.

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