View Full Version : Has anyone tried the new Portra 400?

Noah A
5-Jan-2011, 19:50
I just picked up a few boxes of the new Portra 400 Professional film. I'm excited to try it as it may well replace my current combo of 160NC/400NC. (I know it will replace the 400NC since it's discontinued, but if the grain is as fine as claimed I may not bother with 160, at least for travel when more film choices means I need more holders).

I currently like to overexpose my Portra film when possible. I tend to shoot the 160 at around 80 and the 400 at 200. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the new portra 400 actually works best if you don't intentionally overexpose it. Can't remember where I read it.

I don't hesitate to shoot the current 400NC at 400 when I need the speed, but I like the soft color and great shadow detail from slight overexposure.

Of course I'll run some tests before shooting important work--but it'd be curious to hear opinions from those who have tried out the film.

I'll be sure to post some drum scans once I've shot and scanned a few sheets.

5-Jan-2011, 19:56
Hey Noah:

Good to see you here, mate!

That is correct... It works best if you don't overexpose... Here is one my 35mm shots on a Widelux.



Noah A
6-Jan-2011, 06:39
Nice to see you too, and It's good to see you working with larger formats.

Have you tried drum scanning the new film?

I'll be shooting a few sheets today, light permitting.

6-Jan-2011, 09:37

I am having a blast shooting the Mamiya 7II and other MF and LF gear :)

I have not tried to drum scan it but the film is very flexible and looks great even at ISO 3200.


6-Jan-2011, 10:22
Looks good to me! Anyone got any more images?....

Noah A
19-Jan-2011, 13:31
I got my first sheets back from the lab last night, and I've been drum scanning all day.

During my normal shooting for a project I shot several scenes with Portra 160NC (shot at 80), Portra 400NC (shot at 200) and the new Portra 400 (shot as metered at 400).

I drum scanned the 4x5 negs at 4000spi. If you print at 240dpi on an epson, that works out to a print that's around 60x80 inches! Or it makes a very, very good 40x50 at 360dpi.

For fun, I printed some sections equal to the 60x80in. print. I was very impressed with the new film. First of all, some will say it's a flawed test because I overexposed the older NC films but not the new Portra. I don't care. That's how I shot the old films, and as Riccis said the new film does best at its nominal ISO.

I found that the new film matches the colors of the old NC films very easily when scanned. I was shooting on cloudy days in flat light, and the color doesn't seem any more saturated, or at least not much more. It's well within easy correction range.

The new film seems sharper than the other two, even than the 160NC, though this could be because it does have slightly more grain than the 160 which could increase apparent sharpness.

The grain is somewhere between that of the 160NC and the 400NC, though I would say it's closer to the 160. Honestly, even scanned with a 16 micron aperture which could emphasize the grain, none of the films showed much grain even at this huge enlargement size.

I have traditionally overexposed the Portra NC films because I like a little extra shadow detail and softer colors. But I noticed no real difference between the overexposed NC and the normally-exposed new Portra. As I said the color was also very similar between the new and old films.

I don't really know what I could post that would be of real value. If anyone wants to see some 100%crops or something I could post them. But prints are really the only way to judge.

After making a few test prints I've made my decision. The new Portra 400 will probably be my only film from now on. The film looks beautiful and the extra stop (over the way I used to shoot Portra 400NC) is much appreciated. The simplicity of only carrying one emulsion is nice, especially when traveling. And if you've been working on projects with the old NC films, you should be able to switch to the new film without problems.

Ivan J. Eberle
21-Jan-2011, 11:50
Noah, have you tried it v. Portra 160VC in high contrast/High SBR situations?

Noah A
21-Jan-2011, 13:55
No, sorry. I've never shot any of the VC films and frankly I don't shoot in high contrast light unless I absolutely have to.

I have to say, after living with the prints on the wall for a few days I'm struck mostly by how good all three of them look (160NC, 400NC, 400pro). The differences I mentioned were quite minor, especially considering that the prints I made were sections of 60x80in. prints!

The films are very similar to the NC versions but I think a bit more saturated, which is what kodak claims. It's hard to say how much more due to my test method. When I scanned I tried to optimize each scan. I didn't scan with the exact same white/black points, etc. I suspect optical prints would better show the true saturation differences between the new film and the VC/NC films. But I don't make optical prints.

In my epson prints, even without trying to match the colors, the colors are quite close between the different emulsions.

Like I said, my test wasn't scientific. It was just meant to decide two things: first, can I mix and match the new and old films within the same project and second, is the 400Pro good enough to replace 160NC even in good light.

In both cases the answer is yes.

21-Jan-2011, 22:45
I would love to see some more pics, I think I might put an order in.

Asher Kelman
24-Jan-2011, 15:30

I am having a blast shooting the Mamiya 7II and other MF and LF gear :)

I have not tried to drum scan it but the film is very flexible and looks great even at ISO 3200.

Tell us about the "ISO 3200" pictures! I'd love to see some samples? It seems the largest format is 4x5!


24-Jan-2011, 21:07
Tell us about the "ISO 3200" pictures! I'd love to see some samples? It seems the largest format is 4x5!


Check out this post (http://www.twinlenslife.com/2010/12/in-bleak-midwinter-new-kodak-portra400.html) by one of my friends from L.A... The new Portra is also available in 8x10, which should be available for purchase very soon.