A photo showing the Leica M4 and CV21/4 combo.

5 frames of Kodak Vision3 500T pushed to 1600 at home

Earlier this year, I calculated the price of purchasing a roll of color negative and the develop & scanning fee in the local labs. It would cost $16 USD per roll, approximately, quite expensive for a street photography hobbyist like me. I don’t want to be restricted by the high expense of every shutter I pressed, so I decided to quit film and go for digital.

Home development reduce the cost drastically!

However, recently, my just-retired father is gaining interest in self-developing all kinds of film. We realized the cost per roll of 500T/250D could be reduced to around $6 USD by bulk-loading, home developing and scanning! My father was interested in photography and darkroom when he was young. I majored in Chemistry, and I have already experienced developing black and white rolls when I was in high school ten years ago. So the return to changing bag, developing tank, and water bath is very natural for us. More importantly developing at home gives us the freedom to experiment push or pull process without paying extra money to the labs. One lab charges 50% more of the original develop & scan price for each stop, crazy!

To take a leap for the first time: Push 500T to 1600

We have got successful results from shooting and developing 250D @ EI 400 and 500T @ EI 800. This time we went out in a gloomy afternoon in Guangzhou to test if the 500T could handle exposures and developments at EI 1600. I took the Voigtlander 21/4 Color-Skopar out with the Leica M4. It was such a great pleasure to use this combo. Smooth as butter. Although the 21mm viewfinder occupied the cold shoe of M4 and no place to hook my TTArtisan cold shoe meter, the light conditions were quite stable in an overcast afternoon, and I have been quite familiar with metering with my “eye” and experiences. Sometimes when I was not sure about the exposures, I took out the cold shoe meter from my pocket and measured for my palm and the ground.

The results turned out to be great! The densities of the negatives are very appealing, no clues of the thin and transparent part from underexposures. We added 90 seconds to the developing time, because the official ECN-2 document suggests 100 seconds for full two stops of pushing.

Here are 5 frames selected from the roll. Scanned with Plustek 8200iSE, SilverFast 8.

A streetphotograph
Pulling the threads.
Leica M4, CV 21/4, Kodak 5219@1600
A streetphotograph
Beat it
Leica M4, CV 21/4, Kodak 5219@1600
A streetphotograph
Kids with the luggage
Leica M4, CV 21/4, Kodak 5219@1600
A streetphotograph
An unhappy boy sitting down on the street
Leica M4, CV 21/4, Kodak 5219@1600
A streetphotograph
Piling boxes
Leica M4, CV 21/4, Kodak 5219@1600


The exposures and densities of the negative feel quite nice. The 500T indeed has a large latitude. Although it was underexposed for 1 and 2/3 stops, the pushing process recovered lots of details in the darker tone. However, a tint of blue seems to be dominating the whole roll. We suspected it was due to the prolonged manual rotations of the developing tank out of the water bath. The rotation enabled us to develop the film with half volume of the tank, but resulted in more heat loss. Hence, the color shifted during the deviation from the 41.1 degree Celsius requirement. We prepare to fix this issue in the next trial of ECN-2 pushing process, and I will surely report it in the future!

With the lower cost and possibility of pushing color film to EI 1600 and even more, shooting film for street photography becomes available to me again. I want to try pushing 500T to EI 2000/3200 to do street photography at night next time. And I find handling the M4 is much more pleasant than the M10-P…though my M4 is sent out for a replacement of the shutter curtains and CLA now.

You can find me on instagram: @greenhillboss

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13 thoughts on “5 frames of Kodak Vision3 500T pushed to 1600 at home”

    1. It was a kit supplied by a Chinese film development lab on Taobao. However, we have switched to another kit, also sold on Taobao, which claimed to be optimized for small batch, inverse tank process. It saves more time and just needs replenishing every solution every time. You don’t need to bother with “extend XX seconds after X rolls” things. I have developed 12 rolls with the new kit and the results are very consistent. Will write a new post to update my progress in the future!

  1. Hi Tony,

    Are your estimates accurate for development in China? I can get a full 36exp roll + develop + scan at $11 in Beijing.

    1. That’s a lot cheaper in terms of develop & scan cost in Beijing. The cost for full 36 exp roll should be consistently around 42RMB (less than $6) throughout China, if you stick to buying the fresh batches of 5219. I have tried some charged for 36RMB but it turned out that those were the batches from 2019, and they performed pretty bad even shooting at ISO500. The remjet layer on older 5219 is also thicker and harder to be wiped off under the same pre-bath procedure. Then in Guangzhou I have to pay 60RMB (around $8) per roll for ECN-2 to a reputable local lab, and you have to count the delivery fee. And it is just the price for scanning with the notorious SP-3000…if you choose scanning with Hasselblad Flextight X5 it gets way more expensive.

    1. Cheers! It was a photo out of surprise. I was keep shooting from the hip at that time for a few frames because it was very crowded and we were forced to move forward following the flow. No time and space to make it deliberately.

  2. Very nice images. Yes there’s a blue cast which under overcast skies in not natural – you could adjust in post but in the context of the article best left as you did. Incidentally where do you send your M4 for repair? I’m based in Japan and there’s a year long wait for the reputable (and expensive) repair firms.

    1. I’m based in Hong Kong. This time I sent to Panda Camera Repair, a reputable repairman for analog cameras. He said it needed 20 days at most but I could expect it faster. So I contacted him on day 14 and it was already done! By the way what’s the issue with your camera?

    1. From the experience of my 10 more rolls of 500T, its blue cast is far less prominent than people would imagine. On bright lit outdoors, the blue cast is just a little. It becomes most prominent at overcast or cloudy days, where the color temperature reaches 7k—the other end of the spectrum. Overexposing one more stop can reduce the blue cast in shadows when you’re shooting in overcast and cloudy days. From what I gathered, the truly blue cast demon is the 200T.

  3. Loved the write Tony. It’s so awesome that youre able to pursue it with your dad as well. I live in Wuxi, Jiangsu and absolutely love street photography. If I ever come down Guangzhou, Hong Kong way we should go out and shoot together or vice versa if you ever come to Shanghai, Suzhou or Wuxi.

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