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Thread: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Atlanta, Georgia USA
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    Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.

    Thoughts?


    Dunwoody Photo Lab
    5588 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
    Dunwoody, Georgia 30338
    678.320.0202
    http://www.dunwoodyphoto.com/
    Please tell the owner Michael Beattie that I sent you.
    Last edited by AtlantaTerry; 6-Sep-2015 at 00:26. Reason: additional information

  2. #2

    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    For 4x5, you have the choice of Portra (160 and 400) or Ektar 100.

    That is it. Ektar is more saturated.

  3. #3

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    Mar 2012
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    NSW Australia
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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
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    May 2009
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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.

  5. #5

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    Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Other than the scan and resize it's unedited.

  6. #6

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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    Portra 160. And I use it handheld with my Crown Graphic. Such an amazing film.

  7. #7
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
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    May 2006
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    Noosa, Australia.
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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

  8. #8

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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.

  9. #9

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    now in Tucson, AZ
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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    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.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    Re: Of the color neg films now available what is best for autumn portraits?

    Forget the negative film and go right to Velveta, then scan it and push the Saturation slider to 11.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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