Ugly Hedgehog - Photography Forum
Home Active Topics Newest Pictures Search Login Register
Film Photography
Praise of Kodak Portra 400
May 2, 2021 09:57:59   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
Praise of Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra is a relatively recent color film family, first introduced in 1998. Initially, the film came in two designations: NC for Natural Color and VC for Vivid Color. For a short time in the early 2000s, Portra also existed in a B&W format and UC - Ultra Color.

The early 2000s were a difficult time for film, with digital camera releases finally achieving full-frame professional sensors at 16MP and multiple entry-level DSLR models arriving from Canon and Nikon. First the UC format disappeared, I've never actually seen this film. The B&W version was replaced by BW400CN and the NC and VC versions were merged into the Portra that exists today at speeds 160, 400, and 800.

Along the Chicago River by Paul Sager, on Flickr


Kodak's Professional Portra 400 is officially described as a high-speed daylight-balanced color negative film offering a smooth and natural color palette that is balanced with vivid saturation and low contrast for accurate skin tones and consistent results.

St Augustine Pier


In the '90s most people were still processing their work in a darkroom, the inherent differences in color and contrast in the NC and VC films were a big help. However, as editing film scans digitally became more the norm, Kodak saw the benefit of combining the two slightly different stocks. In 2010, the separate Portra 400NC and Portra 400VC versions were removed and merged to became the singular Kodak Portra 400.

North American P-64


The Portra family (160, 400, 800) are Kodak's most popular color films. When returning to film around 2013, I found suggestions to shoot the 400 speed film at ISO-320 or even ISO-200 for a more pastel look to the colors. The look from ISO-200 is my preferred setting with this 400-speed film.

OCC Portra 400 2019


The Portra films are known for their color and fine grain. As a film intended for portraits, the film is optimized for reproducing skin tones. As shown in these examples, the film is plenty capable in all situations and lighting.

Canal Street railroad bridge


It took a few years and rolls and experiments to gain the confidence to load a 400-speed film as ISO-200. I now proselytize the idea that C-41 films should involve overexposure, rather than underexposure or using the box-speed exposure. The images shared in this post were either loaded as ISO-400 and adjusted with positive EC (Exposure Compensation), or were loaded as ISO-200 to the camera. The mild grain in the background sky of most of these examples show opportunities for still another +3/10 EC where Portra is capable of maintaining the highlights in the foreground.

Gabby on film


In my own experiments with different film types, the sharpness and fine grain of Portra 400 is a preferred result. For the colors, I've found like the more saturated look I can achieve from Kodak Ektar or the Fuji Superia options. I do plan to experiment with the sharpness of Portra 400 in 2021, especially during the annual visit with the Chicago Tunnel Spiders in September.

Chicago skyline


Details on the exposure and lenses are provided in the EXIF data from Flickr, just use the image titles as URL links to Flickr.

Reply
May 2, 2021 17:34:31   #
Cwilson341 Loc: Central Florida
 
Excellent shots, Paul!

Reply
May 3, 2021 07:28:38   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
Cwilson341 wrote:
Excellent shots, Paul!


Thank you Carol!

Reply
 
 
May 3, 2021 07:57:21   #
jaymatt Loc: Alexandria, Indiana
 
Excellent shooting there, Paul.

Thank you John! A few years ago, I loaded all my digital image files into LR. I've slowing been working to properly catalog and keyword all these image, as well as cull and edit / re-edit, as needed. Alas, the scanned film images have less opportunity to apply 'new knowledge' to the old images like I can do with the RAW files. At best, I can use those results, when I have the exposure data, to guide my film work in the present. Glad you enjoyed.

Reply
May 3, 2021 14:22:51   #
Curmudgeon Loc: SE Arizona
 
Nice set. Sure would like to see a full picture of the Cat.

Reply
May 3, 2021 23:14:34   #
Hawkowl Loc: Ithaca, NY
 
I've been finding your posts on the various filmstocks to be very interesting and educational. I will be bookmarking them for future reference. Thanks for doing this!

Reply
May 4, 2021 21:32:25   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
Thank you Jack, Hawkowl! I have post that looks again at digital to film for flowers over the last 6ish weeks, probably the end of the line after first posting the new images from film.

Reply
 
 
Jul 8, 2021 10:15:08   #
colt4x5 Loc: Central Connecticut
 
Wonderful run-down of a wonderful film. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and observations!
I shot a box of Portra 400 in 4x5 in early spring (mostly trees with that super "new" green) and was happy with the colors and definition. Now it's time for 35. I will try it at ISO 200, as you suggest, as soon as Elsa has passed over our heads here in Connecticut, and the skies have returned to a pleasant shade of blue.
Best regards ... John

Reply
Jul 8, 2021 10:25:37   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
colt4x5 wrote:
Wonderful run-down of a wonderful film. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and observations!
I shot a box of Portra 400 in 4x5 in early spring (mostly trees with that super "new" green) and was happy with the colors and definition. Now it's time for 35. I will try it at ISO 200, as you suggest, as soon as Elsa has passed over our heads here in Connecticut, and the skies have returned to a pleasant shade of blue.
Best regards ... John


Thank you John! I went on a buying spree of expired film over the winter, so much so, I've lost too much freezer space; I now need to shoot only expired film to 'buy back' some much needed space in my freezer. I'm holding some fresh Portra400 for some macro / close-up work this fall when the spiders in Chicago reach their end-of-summer monster size. I want to show / confirm the visual sharpness of Portra vs other options.

All that said, my notes say I had one of these fresh Portra400 rolls out last week for evening shots along the river in Chicago. I haven't shoot at night with Portra400 in several years, so here too I want some fresh examples of the results for comparison to older work and to compare to other film stock.

Reply
Jul 15, 2021 07:58:21   #
ebrunner Loc: New Jersey Shore
 
CHG_CANON wrote:
Praise of Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra is a relatively recent color film family, first introduced in 1998. Initially, the film came in two designations: NC for Natural Color and VC for Vivid Color. For a short time in the early 2000s, Portra also existed in a B&W format and UC - Ultra Color.

The early 2000s were a difficult time for film, with digital camera releases finally achieving full-frame professional sensors at 16MP and multiple entry-level DSLR models arriving from Canon and Nikon. First the UC format disappeared, I've never actually seen this film. The B&W version was replaced by BW400CN and the NC and VC versions were merged into the Portra that exists today at speeds 160, 400, and 800.

Along the Chicago River by Paul Sager, on Flickr


Kodak's Professional Portra 400 is officially described as a high-speed daylight-balanced color negative film offering a smooth and natural color palette that is balanced with vivid saturation and low contrast for accurate skin tones and consistent results.

St Augustine Pier


In the '90s most people were still processing their work in a darkroom, the inherent differences in color and contrast in the NC and VC films were a big help. However, as editing film scans digitally became more the norm, Kodak saw the benefit of combining the two slightly different stocks. In 2010, the separate Portra 400NC and Portra 400VC versions were removed and merged to became the singular Kodak Portra 400.

North American P-64


The Portra family (160, 400, 800) are Kodak's most popular color films. When returning to film around 2013, I found suggestions to shoot the 400 speed film at ISO-320 or even ISO-200 for a more pastel look to the colors. The look from ISO-200 is my preferred setting with this 400-speed film.

OCC Portra 400 2019


The Portra films are known for their color and fine grain. As a film intended for portraits, the film is optimized for reproducing skin tones. As shown in these examples, the film is plenty capable in all situations and lighting.

Canal Street railroad bridge


It took a few years and rolls and experiments to gain the confidence to load a 400-speed film as ISO-200. I now proselytize the idea that C-41 films should involve overexposure, rather than underexposure or using the box-speed exposure. The images shared in this post were either loaded as ISO-400 and adjusted with positive EC (Exposure Compensation), or were loaded as ISO-200 to the camera. The mild grain in the background sky of most of these examples show opportunities for still another +3/10 EC where Portra is capable of maintaining the highlights in the foreground.

Gabby on film


In my own experiments with different film types, the sharpness and fine grain of Portra 400 is a preferred result. For the colors, I've found like the more saturated look I can achieve from Kodak Ektar or the Fuji Superia options. I do plan to experiment with the sharpness of Portra 400 in 2021, especially during the annual visit with the Chicago Tunnel Spiders in September.

Chicago skyline


Details on the exposure and lenses are provided in the EXIF data from Flickr, just use the image titles as URL links to Flickr.
Praise of Kodak Portra 400 br br Kodak Portra is ... (show quote)


That's a lot of information and background to go with those fine photos. I think I'm going to have to shoot some Portra. I've been using Ektar.
Erich

Reply
Jul 15, 2021 08:17:31   #
CHG_CANON Loc: the Windy City
 
ebrunner wrote:
That's a lot of information and background to go with those fine photos. I think I'm going to have to shoot some Portra. I've been using Ektar.
Erich


Thank you Erich! They're both very sharp, the richer saturation of Ektar and the slower speed is the most obvious difference I'm seeing from my camera.

Reply
If you want to reply, then register here. Registration is free and your account is created instantly, so you can post right away.
Film Photography
UglyHedgehog.com - Forum
Copyright 2011-2021 Ugly Hedgehog, Inc.