View Full Version : Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

6-Sep-2015, 00:02
I have not created any large format color negative portraits since the early 1970s. :( Mostly because I really like black and white film.

But this year I have an itch to try to sweet talk some of my clients who want family portraits into my creating them with my 4x5" Cambo. I will most likely use my awesome 300mm f/5.6 Rodenstock Sironar-N lens to do the deed.

As you folks know there is very little color negative film being made available these days and what is for sale is no longer inexpensive.

The questions I have for those of y'all who use color negative film these days are:
(a) what C-41 color negative film is still being made? (Kodak, Fuji, etc.)
(b) of that, what would be best for autumn colors?

I would assume Kodak Portra, if it is still being made. I have never used any Fuji film.

I can either go with 4x5" sheet film or 120 film in one of my Mamiya RB backs attached to my Cambo roll film slider. (Yes, I have GAS.)

Frankly, I'm more tempted to go the 120 film route because there is still one pro lab here in Atlanta that will process 35mm and 120/220 C-41 roll film: Dunwoody Photo Lab. Whereas if I used 4x5" film my cost per shot would be higher plus I would have to send the film out of town to be processed.

If I did use 120 film then I would probably switch to my Schneider 210mm f/5.6 lens because the 300mm Sironar might be a bit too long.


Dunwoody Photo Lab
5588 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, Georgia 30338
Please tell the owner Michael Beattie that I sent you. :)

6-Sep-2015, 01:22
For 4x5, you have the choice of Portra (160 and 400) or Ektar 100.

That is it. Ektar is more saturated.

Darko Pozar
6-Sep-2015, 03:27
I've used Kodak Portra 400 in outdoor portrait situations for years rendering a pleasant result with skin tones. I find it would have a slight gain in contrast compared to it's slower sister film. Portra 160 was too slow for my application especially with children and weddings. In addition, I've always used an 81A warming filter with all my colour portraits.

Weddings and portraits in Autumn were always magical to shoot.

6-Sep-2015, 04:33
If your final steps will be digital output, the portra 160 will be the most flexible. It's easy to bump contrast and saturation to taste. Generally the 4x5 has a smoother look than MF all things being equal.

Liquid Artist
6-Sep-2015, 07:06
I like Kodak Portra 160 for such work.

This is the only 4x5 negative I have scanned with it. However it should give you an idea how Vibrant it is.
Other than the scan and resize it's unedited.

16-Sep-2015, 12:50
Portra 160. And I use it handheld with my Crown Graphic. Such an amazing film.

Maris Rusis
17-Sep-2015, 15:58
The most extreme autumn colours I ever saw were done on Portra 160 shot with a Red Enhancing Filter on the lens. This filter selectively makes reds, yellows, and browns pop without twisting the other colours too badly.

Fr. Mark
17-Sep-2015, 18:17
Newbie add on question: I recently received some expired portra 160 said to be balanced for Tungsten light. Advice on how to get decent color out doors? I imagine early and late in the day the light is generally more like tungsten, but I think there are filters for this sort of thing or used to be.

Mark Sampson
17-Sep-2015, 19:04
Fr. Mark, Kodak never made a tungsten-balanced 'Portra 160' film. They did make 'Portra 100T' film, balanced for tungsten; it's been discontinued for close to ten years. If you want to get the best results possible with that film, use an 85B filter when working in daylight. You *can* shoot tungsten-balanced color neg film in daylight without the filter, and correct the color when printing, but it will never look quite the same... muddy colors and an overall brownish effect will be the result some of the time if not always. Although Joel Meyerowitz did very well shooting the old Vericolor Type L film unfiltered in daylight; see his famous "Cape Light" work. (I never tried scanning these films so can't speak to that.) Of course if your film is outdated, who knows? Try it and see, but don't commit important images to that film until you know how it will respond.

17-Sep-2015, 20:02
Forget the negative film and go right to Velveta, then scan it and push the Saturation slider to 11.

18-Sep-2015, 21:56
I imagine early and late in the day the light is generally more like tungsten...

I believe you will find that photos taken later in the day are very blue, something like 5,000 or 6,000 Kelvin or higher. Whereas Tungsten assumes a white balance in the area of 3,200* Kelvin, more or less.

If you have a digital camera to test with, set the White Balance to "Daylight" (not "Auto") and take a series of photos. Put it on a tripod, select a medium aperture such as f/4 or f/5.6 and let the camera set the shutter speed. Later, compare the results.

Jim Cole
21-Sep-2015, 08:19
Forget the negative film and go right to Velveta, then scan it and push the Saturation slider to 11.

I've never shot an image on cheese before.

21-Sep-2015, 08:20
I've never shot an image on cheese before.

Velveta is pretend cheese.

Michael Cienfuegos
23-Sep-2015, 10:04
Velveta is pretend cheese.

The stuff is terrible, even my dog won't eat it, and he loves cheese.