Is the new Portra 400 much finer grained than Portra 400NC or VC?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have a Pen FT half-frame 35mm camera. Because the film area is so small, fine grain is important to me. I've been using Ektar 100 but it's just to slow to be versatile in a camera that goes 72 shots between film changes. I figured the new Portra 400 is probably the finest grain 400 speed color negative film, but it's not available at freestyle yet. Has anyone compared the new Portra 400 with the old 400VC/NC films? Did you find that it was significantly less grainy or about the same?
     
  2. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

    Messages:
    2,263
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    Warwickshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Perhaps this is a question which needs to be asked a few months from now. I've only seen a few examples of the new film, and those have been from people given early samples.
     
  3. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,706
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 15, 2010
  4. pentaprism

    pentaprism Member

    Messages:
    2
    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    OH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I just got my first rolls of Portra 400 back. It's slightly finer grained than 400NC and a bit more than 400VC. Nothing earth shattering though in my mind. The 400VC does appear to be sharper. Probably not a big deal for 35mm, but might have a bit more impact as formats get smaller.

    I think I'll be looking at it as a modestly improved 400NC, with a bit more saturation.
     
  6. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

    Messages:
    414
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2005
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been shooting the new portra 400 film since they first started shipping it out for testing. I think the grain is noticeably tighter than the previous 400 variations. When I really notice it is when looking at how cleanly it scans. Unfortunately, I can't comment on optical prints w/ it, haven't done any.

    I think it's a fantastic emulsion, hits a real sweet spot.

    I'd be excited if they made the same improvements in the 160 speed portras. Even if we lost the VC NC choice, I'd still prefer a single improved film like this.

    W/ that, Ektar is insanely fine grained, but it's also a very different palette/tone than portra. I think different enough, that if you shot them side by side, it'd determine your decision more than the grain would...even in half frame.
     
  7. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,706
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I haven't bought any because I have a few years supply of Kodak Portra NC and VC in 35m/m and 120 to use first in my freezer, I haven't seen any for sale yet,I mentioned it to my local pro dealer who told me they had stopped stocking Kodak film because it was getting too expensive, and so few of their customers shot film that they didn't want to have it left on their hands past the expiry date, I suppose it's a sign of the times
     
  8. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    OH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I agree with you on most parts. On the grain bit, maybe :smile: I'll have to do some more scanning of it myself before I make a final decision on that. I will clarify and say that I as comparing fresh 400VC-3 and 400NC-3 to the new stuff, all in 35mm. I found a noticeable improvement in grain between version 2 and version 3 of 400VC and 400NC.

    It's good stuff. I'd be ok with a single new 160 (and a new 800).
     
  9. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,706
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't think most people enlarge their negatives enough even on Portra 400 NC or VC for grain to be an issue anyway, especially not in 120.
     
  10. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    But with a half-frame camera, an 8x10 print is already an 11X enlargement.
     
  11. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

    Messages:
    2,263
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    Warwickshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've just printed the new Porta 400 for the first time this evening. Nice colours, but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to see for sure.I printed 10x8 from a 645 neg and there's no grain at all. But then the older VC & NC Portras also had no grain when I printed them at this size. The new film prints on a different filter pack than the older versions which is what I was expecting anyway, every different Portra type I've ever printed has needed a completely different pack. I wish Kodak would design the whole Portra family to print on the same channel as Fuji does with its pro line. Anyway, nice film, not sure if it's terribly different from Fuji 400H, mind.


    P.S. please excuse my non-subscriber status: my subscription lapsed earlier this week and I need to wait until next month to renew.
     
  12. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,706
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    Location:
    U.K.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes I know your question was about half frame and I apologize if I was deviating off the point a little, but I was speaking in general and Kodak Portra NC and VC is pretty fine grained now the NC 160 has about the same grain structure as the new Portra 400, and although I don't have a half frame camera I've had about half of a 35mm Portra 160NC blown up to about 8x6 with acceptable results but I understand your legitimate concern about half frame, the point I was trying to make was that too many people agonize about film having super fine grain when the maximum size prints they ever get is 6"X4".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2011
  13. lns

    lns Member

    Messages:
    434
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I got some this week from Freestyle in 35mm. I ran a quick test roll at a local lab, and the 4x6 prints look very nice. The grain is very fine at that small size of print. I did not run the new film side by side with the old film, but I looked at previous 400VC shots processed by the same lab, and I see a definite improvement in the grain, which already was very good.

    I purposely underexposed a few shots to see what the film can tolerate, and it looks fine at EI 800 and okay at 1600 without push processing.

    I think it's definitely worth a try. Both Adorama and Freestyle had it in stock when I was looking last week, as did a local store.

    -Laura
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Is is available at Freestyle. I saw it on the shelf when I was in there today.

    The 400 VC and NC were fine in grain. I would imagine that the new film is the same or even finer.
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,558
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I just put a roll of it through my Contax G2. Looking at the 4x6 prints, I can almost not tell the difference between it and Ektar 100. It's that good.
     
  17. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

    Messages:
    1,300
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is a crop(770x699) from a 2240x3360 Fuji SP2000 minilab scan of a 35mm neg. Looks pretty good. :smile:

    Edit: add techie data, Nikon F3, micro Nikkor 200 f4 AIS, Sunpak 622 with the ring flash attachment and F3 module for TTL metering.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2011
  18. Metroman

    Metroman Member

    Messages:
    113
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Location:
    On the beach
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have not shot a roll of colour film since 1969 but the new Portra 400 MF has piqued my interest especially after seeing this:

    Johnathan Canlas Photography he has some more pushed examples in his Personal work stream.

    I'm wondering how the 35mm variant would push.
     
  19. lns

    lns Member

    Messages:
    434
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just one person's opinion, but I found that, processed normally, an EI of 800 (or a one-stop push) gave very nice results. An EI of 1600 was useable but not great, although it probably would improve if push processed. I was very impressed with the film at 400 and 800. This was the 35mm film.

    Let's all help the cause and try it. :smile:

    -Laura
     
  20. Metroman

    Metroman Member

    Messages:
    113
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Location:
    On the beach
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks Laura.
     
  21. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

    Messages:
    1,786
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    OH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So here's what I'm basing my opinions on. I shot 3 rolls of Portra, one each of the new stuff, 400NC, and 400VC. All were developed normally and scanned at 4000x6000 by Precision Camera. You can see the full scans if you click through any of the pictures and look at the original sizes. I did a series of exposures on each film of some color charts, ranging from roughly 4 stops under to 6 stops over. I also shot each film under tungsten lighting (nominally set at 3200 K) with and without a KB6 (80D) filter partially correcting it. Unfortunately, the light shifted during the test, so the framing isn't the same for each roll, but it still might give you a sense of the films' differences.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/collections/72157625883911861/
     
  22. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

    Messages:
    476
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I think the new Portra 400 is based technology from Kodak's Vision3 motion picture stock.

    Kodak Vision3 is a true technological tour de force. Supposedly it gets 18 stops of range and the grain is astonishingly tight, almost non existent. I've always wondered why it took Kodak so long to use some of that technology in a still film.
     
  23. hrst

    hrst Member

    Messages:
    1,299
    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Location:
    Finland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Vision3's technology such as dye layering was added in 400NC-3 and 400VC-3 some years ago. They just improved it even more. So it didn't take very long.
     
  24. Michael Erb

    Michael Erb Member

    Messages:
    15
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Filter Packs?

    Can anyone tell me where I might find the filter pack information for making optical prints with this film? I assume that the filter pack is used to neutralize the orange mask of the processed negative.
     
  25. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,961
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Processed my first roll the night before last, the new Portra 400 is stunning. It may be a small difference on paper, but aesthetically imho it is a very large improvement over any other film in that category.

    Did they make the new Portra 400 thinner? It certainly feels that way when handling to load on reels.
     
  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't think there will be any doubt that any film made by Kodak, Ilford, etc. will not be a bad one. (Ektar 100 may be an exception. :wink: Not really "bad," just extremely far from my cup of tea.)

    It is just frustrating to see the palette reduced yet again for analog color printers. It is no big deal for those who don't use a darkroom. You just do your computer stuff and you can highly manipulate any film. The big appeal of Kodak's 400 color films over Fuji's was that there were two varieties.