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View Full Version : 160PortraVC vs. 400PortraNC



Bruce Watson
30-Oct-2006, 17:21
I just ran a test that gave what I think are interesting results. I was looking for the graininess and sharpness differences between 5x4 160PortraVC and 5x4 400PortraNC. I'm interested in the 400 speed film for when I need that extra stop of speed in windy conditions.

What I did was to expose a sheet of each to a scene that has lots of detail (leafless trees in the distance). I then printed a small section out of each negative that calculates out to about a 10.25x enlargement (that is, about a 30 x 23 cm (12 x 9 inch) chunk out of what would have been a print of about 130 x 104 cm (51 x 41 inches).

What I'm seeing is most notable for what's missing. And what's missing is any real difference between the two. Graininess is almost exactly the same (almost invisible -- I guess I should have gone for more enlargement, eh?). Tonality is nice and smooth from both films in the blue sky areas and clouds. And detail is about the same with the bare limbs of the distant trees. I would give just the slightest edge to the slower film, but mostly because I know it *should* be better.

Based on what I'm seeing, I could easily justify making 400Portra my only color film. Except for the $0.75 USD per sheet premium Kodak charges for 400Portra :( .

Still, the performance of the faster film is unexpectedly good. Am I just seeing things, or is this film really this good?

PViapiano
30-Oct-2006, 17:30
I'd be interested in a comparison of 160NC and 400NC. I've only used 160NC in medium format, and haven't shot any color neg film in 4x5 yet.

And, remember, Kodak has just reformulated Portra, so it will be interesting to see results from the new emulsion.

Ron Marshall
30-Oct-2006, 17:45
I haven't yet tried a 400 neg film, but after reading your post Bruce I will.

I recently shot 160 color neg for the first time in many years and was blown away by the improvements over what I had seen in the past.

Walter Calahan
30-Oct-2006, 17:58
400 Portra NC in 8x10 is awsome.

Bruce Watson
30-Oct-2006, 18:08
I'd be interested in a comparison of 160NC and 400NC. I've only used 160NC in medium format, and haven't shot any color neg film in 4x5 yet.

And, remember, Kodak has just reformulated Portra, so it will be interesting to see results from the new emulsion.

I know I'm comparing apples to oranges here - VC vs. UC. But I've been using the 160PortraVC in Readyloads in the field and that's what I had on hand. I had also bought a box of the 400PortraUC "just in case" and decided I ought to at least find out what it can do.

A controlled test would be more interesting, and one that compared UC to UC would be and even more informative. I'll probably get around to that eventually, but probably after the new emulsions make it out to retail. Could be a while. Maybe someone will beat me to it and save me the trouble...

Frank Petronio
30-Oct-2006, 18:31
Porta 400NC is Kodak's crowning glory. The engineer who designed it lives around the corner, he said it was the best, highest tech film ever made.

I agree.

Bruce Watson
31-Oct-2006, 10:43
Porta 400NC is Kodak's crowning glory. The engineer who designed it lives around the corner, he said it was the best, highest tech film ever made.

I agree.

Tell your guy that someone at least has noticed his hard work and is appreciative!

Lazybones
3-Nov-2006, 21:19
What EI yous guys usin' with the 400NC?

adrian tyler
3-Nov-2006, 23:00
these two films are my staple, you do see difference in in 35mm and 120, but as bruce says in 4x5 i think it is hard to see.

MJSfoto1956
4-Nov-2006, 11:02
Porta 400NC is Kodak's crowning glory. The engineer who designed it lives around the corner, he said it was the best, highest tech film ever made.

I agree -- I used to shoot 160NC because I felt the lower grain would translate into more sharpness. However my own tests mirror yours -- Not much of a difference at all when printed. 400NC is just one great film. It is now my standard.

Lazybones
4-Nov-2006, 11:47
Oků But what EI?

Frank Petronio
4-Nov-2006, 11:52
I just shoot it at 320 but will say it is 400 or 640 when I run out of light.

MJSfoto1956
4-Nov-2006, 11:55
Oků But what EI?

I always shoot at 400 -- no problems with thin negs (unless I metered wrong).

On a related question, anyone have any luck pushing 400NC? I tried it once as a test but the colors sucked and the grain was noticably higher. Perhaps the pro darkroom I outsourced to just didn't do it right. Thoughts?

Frank Petronio
4-Nov-2006, 12:00
I never saw pushed C41 work out

Lazybones
8-Nov-2006, 14:03
Not to be a turd, but I just shot some 400NC, and I do see increased grain over 160NC. On my lightbox, with a Schneider 6X, it is pretty obvious. These 4x5 sheets were stored properly, not expired, shot at box speed, and were processed by a professional custom lab.

In comparison to 160NC, looking at the film base, the 400NC looks much more grainy. Am I missing out on something here? I guess people who shoot 8x10 don't have to worry about this at all, but in 4x5... Or am I doing something wrong?

CXC
9-Nov-2006, 12:19
If it's not in ReadyLoads, I can't be bothered.

Bruce Watson
9-Nov-2006, 12:38
...I just shot some 400NC, and I do see increased grain over 160NC. On my lightbox, with a Schneider 6X, it is pretty obvious. These 4x5 sheets were stored properly, not expired, shot at box speed, and were processed by a professional custom lab.

In comparison to 160NC, looking at the film base, the 400NC looks much more grainy. Am I missing out on something here? I guess people who shoot 8x10 don't have to worry about this at all, but in 4x5... Or am I doing something wrong?

Interesting. I just pulled my two sheets and put them on the light table. With a 10x loupe, I can't see any increased graininess. I would be hard pressed to tell them apart. The prints I made are nearly identical in terms of graininess. My brother actually picked the 160 print as being more grainy, and he's not a stranger to this stuff either.

So either I got lucky, or maybe your lab did something interesting. I don't know what to tell you.

Bruce Watson
9-Nov-2006, 12:45
If it's not in ReadyLoads, I can't be bothered.

I know the feeling. I really do wish that Kodak would get their corporate head out of the sand and give us some 400 speed films (B&W and color negative at least) in readyloads.

Sigh... It's weird how we can wave money in their face and they refuse to take it. It's not like they have to invent anything new or build new packaging machines. It's not like they have to license anyone elses' patents. There's hardly any costs to them, and in return they get more than a $1.00 per sheet. I'm just shakin' my head...

CXC
10-Nov-2006, 10:05
Bruce,

Another thread suggested that there are technological reasons why neither Kodak, nor Fuji, for that matter, put faster film in quick/readyLoads: 1) static electricity problem loading film to envelope; 2) Envelopes not opaque enough for more sensitive fast film. Maybe it's not that both companies are staffed by complete idiots, maybe it's impossible...

Bruce Watson
10-Nov-2006, 10:51
Impossible? Surely you jest.

Don't wanna? That I'll believe.

johnnydc
12-Nov-2006, 01:50
I agree -- I used to shoot 160NC because I felt the lower grain would translate into more sharpness. However my own tests mirror yours -- Not much of a difference at all when printed. 400NC is just one great film. It is now my standard.

Another vote for 400NC. I shoot alot of trains and railroad equipment, and nothing renders rust better! I shoot it at 250 for portraits and 320 for everything else.

I started out using 160NC for my landscapes and I loved the look, but shooting in the windy autumn made such a speed impractical, so I switched. The only thing I miss is the slightly higher constast of the slower emulsion.