Kodak Ektar vs. the Portas

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by brian steinberger, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I've begun shooting some color again and have shot a few rolls of 120 Portra 400 and a roll today of Ektar 100. I know that the Portra films are excellent and always deliver stunning results. However, I have never used the new Ektar 100 before. From reading reviews on the internet it seems to be a "love, hate" film.

    So what differences besides speed can I expect in Ektar 100 vs. Portra 160 or 400?
     
  2. Franswa

    Franswa Member

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    Ektar is going to have more punchy colors and noticeably more contrast. If it's people you're shooting, Ektar may not be the best choice as it's not the best for skin tones.
     
  3. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Thanks, so the color saturation is higher as well as contrast. Something more like a transparency film, like Velvia?
     
  4. Franswa

    Franswa Member

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    Indeed, as close as you can get to transparency film, but with more exposure latitude :smile:
     
  5. CGW

    CGW Member

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    For me, it's been more like E6 films in terms of exposure latitude--namely, there isn't much. Ektar isn't very tolerant of exposure errors relative to Portra.
     
  6. Franswa

    Franswa Member

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    More means more, no matter how it's sliced :smile:

    I was speaking in relative terms to the exposure latitude of slide film, since that's what the OP and myself were currently discussing.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    More contrast, less latitude, less realistic color. If Portra is your full set of Crayolas with the sharpener built into the back, think of Ektar as the more basic 24 color back to school set. Far less subtlety of color, but what colors you do get are very bold. Because of the film's high contrast, exposure variations change results quite a bit, and proper color correction in camera becomes more important.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2011
  8. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Thanks guys, very helpful! So if you were shooting for scanning which film would you prefer? I'm thinking the Ektar would be great for nature, landscapes and the Portra great for people, industrial. What about reciprocity failure? Same?
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Both the new Portras and Ektar scan well with proper exposure+development.

    You might want to loosen your concepts about FilmX "is great for portraiture," but Film Y "is great for landscapes." Why? You're potentially cheating yourself out of great shots by following generalizations. Ektar works beautifully in high contrast lighting with strong primary colours, whether portraits or landscape. Same goes for the new Portras that can render more subtle colours and lower contrast far better than Ektar. I've done landscapes with the old chalky NPH when the colours and contrast just wouldn't work with bumped saturation and contrast. Shoot these films in different lighting to get a sense of what looks best to you, rather than accept the current dogma.

    Kodak data sheets are worth looking at, too.
     
  10. mikecnichols

    mikecnichols Member

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    Here are a few of my own Ektar examples.

    Low lighting (f2.8 - 1/30sec), 24mm Nikkor, Nikon FE, school cafeteria

    [​IMG]

    Nature

    [​IMG]

    Outside Portrait (24mm)

    [​IMG]

    Objects (24mm)

    [​IMG]
     
  11. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Mike, excellent examples! Thanks so much. I especially enjoy the gas pump. That's the style I like to shoot.
     
  12. stavrosk

    stavrosk Member

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    Ektar will pump up the reds which does not generally flatter people.
    So Portra is the best for Portra-its. (duhh)
     
  13. mikecnichols

    mikecnichols Member

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    I'm glad they helped. The gas pump is my favorite Ektar shot I've done so far...I'm looking forward to the fall colors and doing a family portrait amongst the trees.
     
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  15. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    I've been shooting Ektar and older versions of Portra in MF and would say that the color balance is different. Ektar is really superb for vegetation and scenery... (sort of like Kodachrome 25 of old), and Portra is a wonderful skin tone reproducing film (like Supra or Kodacolor of old). Both now have very fine grain but I got more much more excited about Ektar availability in 120 a couple of years back due to the it's better scanability at high resolutions needed from smaller formats like 35mm and 645.
    So long as you're into experimenting with these films you might also want to try adding to the mix some Fujicolor Pro 160S (or whatever it is they're calling it now). I find it has extremely nice neutrals and super fine grain much like Ektar and the long dynamic range of Portra. (Subdued contrast is not always ideal for punchy sunsets, however).
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Right on the Kodak website there are comparison charts between Ektar and the various Portras, both
    previous and current. It has about the same contrast as the now discontinued 160VC, but is slightly
    more saturated. Due to the level of saturation, it will seemingly exaggerate skin blemishes etc. But
    this is only in comparison to traditonal negative films, which are deliberately toned-down for pleasing
    skintone effect. It is NOT as contrasty as any transparency film; and it can reproduce a wide range of
    hue quite faithfully, IF you expose it at the proper color temperature. I've mentioned this on a variety
    of threads. If you don't properly filter for color balance, if things are too far out of whack, no amount
    of fussing around in PS is going to give you an ideal negative. All three color layers have to be correctly exposed in relation to one another to begin with. This is also true of Portra and other color
    neg films. But as the saturation curve goes up, so does the accentuation of any potential errors.
     
  17. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I can't find Fuji 160S anymore. The only color negative films I can currently find are 400H and Reala.
     
  18. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Learn to colour balance. Skin tones have huge separation from reds on Ektar.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    ^
    I hope that pilot aint stoned lol
    j/k
     
  20. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Nah, he was the front passenger. I was in the back in a harness with the door off.
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Emphasis added because this is very important with any contrasty and saturated material. The same characteristics that give it that special look also give you less room for slop than some other films. Proper exposure of all the color layers is very important with this film. That means you will have the easiest time printing if you filter it:

    - any time it is cloudy
    - any time it is overcast
    - any time your subject is primarily in the shade or in window light
    - any time it is more than a few hours either side of noon.
    - any time you shoot under artificial light that is not daylight balanced (i.e. most artificial light in our day-to-day lives)

    Given what many people tend to shoot, this means that most people should filter this film a good deal of the time. The same is true of any color neg material, but especially important with this film due to the fact that it's contrast lowers it's latitude for imbalanced color.

    "Learn[ing] to color balance" only works if there is enough density on all three layers to do the balancing. If not, you can balance brighter areas, but the lower tones will appear "wonky," or vice versa. So if you cannot or will not filter, at least give yourself some extra exposure to allow more workability in color balancing.
     
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  22. stavrosk

    stavrosk Member

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    Colour balance at scanning?
    I do not do my own scanning. I do not like to manipulate colour after I have shot. Thats the beauty of film.
     
  23. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Err no that is not the beauty of film, that is a misunderstanding. You cannot display a positive image out of a colour neg without colour balance. You are talking about it like it's a final product, which it is not. You can only do that with reversal film.

    You are not allowed to judge that a film is "x colour" or "too red" if you just leave the colour balance to chance.

    The same colour balance controls are found on an enlarger.

    eg as on my enlarger;
    [​IMG]
    Eurogon Dichroic Enlarger 2 by athiril, on Flickr



    It must be colour balanced in the scan, or in the enlarger while printing. Minilabs scan the film and print. You cannot judge the film off a minilab, as it is completely unrepresentative, and the look is completely determined by the scanner not the film, look at this thread - http://www.apug.org/forums/forum40/95369-beach-trip-fuji-160s-400h.html

    That is 160S and 400H, and a ridiculous of modification to contrast and saturation. Yet according to the OP, that is standard on the minilab scanner, as all optional changes are turned off. Don't judge by minilab results.
     
  24. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Are you talking about 81A, B, C filters?
     
  25. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Amen to the above. And for outdoor photography at least, 81A, 81B, and 81C warming filters will solve
    the vast majority of problems.
     
  26. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Would I really need all three? I'm used to shooting chromes where an 81A usually does the trick for most circumstances. Does color neg typically need filtered more than transparency film?