View Full Version : Portra 160 vs 400

31-Mar-2015, 13:36
Any portrait shooters here shoot the new Portra in 4x5? Curious if anyone has done side by side tests with 160 vs 400 and their opinions on the two? Any tried tried 400 @ 320?

Have not been able to find any examples of side by side shots. Wondering how, if any difference the contrast and color is.

Drew Wiley
31-Mar-2015, 14:11
400 is a tad more contrasty than 160 and obviously faster, but pretty much in the same family. I tend to think of 400 as more general purpose, and 160 as softer and better oriented toward portraiture. I'd avoid Ektar for portraits unless you're very comfortable with its own personality.

31-Mar-2015, 14:28
I use Portra extensively with my 4x5. I don't think there's much difference between the two except for the speed and obvious slightly more grain for the 400, but with 4x5, we are still talking about effectively grainless unless you enlarge a lot.

Drew Wiley
31-Mar-2015, 15:35
The impression of grain is remarkably fine for a 400 speed color film. Probably a non-issue for most commercial applications unless you're talking 35mm film size.
Not as fine as Ektar, but that's a different animal altogether.

9-Apr-2015, 11:56
400 is more saturated for sure and has a a purple/ blue cast in the shadows and flat light conditions that needs to be corrected for a bit more often with scanning. 160 seems to hit skin tones a bit more accurately. Each one definitely has a different look. I wouldn't prewash either film when developing. I agree in 4x5 there is no difference in grain. Both are excellent films. Both are far easier to scan than ektar, but ektar is worth the difficulty in scanning/color correction for high contrast landscape photos. The argument can be made that negative color is always interpreted, but if you shoot with a gretag Macbeth card and color correct, the prints will look different.

Drew Wiley
9-Apr-2015, 12:48
Not all color-cast issues can be post-corrected. With Ektar in particular, it's helpful to use warming filters to begin with if the scene color temp is way off (too blue due to overcast or hard blue shadows under an open blue sky). Portra 400 resembles the previous 160VC in this particular respect - kinda intermediate, and Portra 160 resembles the previous 160NC, being the most forgiving. Split-lighting within the same scene is difficult to deal with when Ektar is involved. You can preflash the film with a bit of warming filtration for around Zone III and help the problem. But generally if this kind of issue is routinely anticipated, it would be easier just
to opt for Porta 400 instead. I've had to learn all this the hard way. Kodak says next to nothing themselves anymore. But now it's starting to all make sense.