Friday, December 10, 2010

The New Kodak Portra 400 - Wasn't What I Was Expecting - A Short Review

Playing Sunset Hoops
From My First Roll Of The New Kodak Portra 400 Shoot With My Mamiya C220

It's not often these days of digital that a new colour film is released by a major manufacturer.

Last month Kodak released a new Portra film to replace both the Portra 400 NC and Portra 400 VC with just straight Portra 400.

What was I expecting? Maybe a ISO 400 film with the best characteristics of Portra 160 VC and NC with maybe some of the pizazz of the new Kodak Ektar 100.

What I got was a perfectly tame film. Good skin tones better then the old VC version of the film with slightly more saturated colours then the old NC version.

Scanning is extremely easy, usually I have to play around with the scanner black and white points for each colour to extract the whole dynamic range of a negative. Not so with this Portra even under difficult sun back-lighting it's one touch scanning. The problem with the scans is that they lack contrast basically dull with all the information packed nicely into a smooth histogram,unusable without further digital processing. Once processed the results are rather good.

Portra 400 is definitely not a replacement for Portra 400 vc or nc it is a entirely new film designed for the digital age. This film fits the needs of a professional photographer that needs a film that works consistently well with their digital workflow. It's not for those that want to develop and go directly to print. Yet with a bit of post both the new Portra and Ektar can make large prints that blow the DSLR out of the water in both colour and resolution.

Pros : Accurate skin tones, Sharp, Medium Saturation, Easy to scan
Cons : Needs post processing to bring out contrast update
Best Uses : Difficult Lighting, Batch Workflow

Fall Is Dead Long Live Winter

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