Kodak portra 160VC for landscape?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by timpppa, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. timpppa

    timpppa Member

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    Hi!

    I'm curious about using portra 160VC for landscape photography.
    Is it really that bad as people write in those reviews?

    Is there any alternative to portra in 4x5?
    I want to print those too, so it would be nice that the film
    is color neg. In Finland ilfochrome stuff is way too expensive. :sad:
     
  2. Silverhead

    Silverhead Member

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    Well, there's always Fuji Pro 160S or 160C.
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Portra 160VC - the VC stands for vivid color, i.e. high saturation. Kodak states it is intended for use under controlled lighting conditions, i.e. in the studio. That said, I used it for landscape in 4x5" and liked the results. I am not aware of any terrible reviews - for people who do not like the film for some reason, there is the normal saturation NC (normal color) variant!

    Incidentally, I would probably have liked Porta 160VC a lot less if I had exposed it at 160 - as with all color neg materials, I cut the ISO rating in half and expose at 80 in this case.


    Regards,

    David
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Joe Cornish did an interview with a photographer who shoots color negative for landscape work. It is in the July 2006 issue of Outdoor Photography (UK).
     
  5. timpppa

    timpppa Member

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    Well yes! I just need to buy them either from Holland or UK, it seems that one can't buy it from Finland... :sad: I think I'll try both portra and Pro 160.
     
  6. JJC

    JJC Member

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    I use Portra 160VC for landscapes and like it. It accents warm colors a little, which is my preference. I wasn't aware of terrible reviews either...
     
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I first tried it w/flash doing portrait/people shots and liked the results.

    I'm hoping to try using it for outdoor, landscape-type shots soon to challenge its versatility.

    Given that the new Porta is optimized for scanning - the more uses possible, the better as far as I'm concerned.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Before a disagreement over this starts, can you give us some references to these bad reviews?

    Thanks.

    PE
     
  9. langedp

    langedp Member

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    I agree with PE. What bad reviews are you talking about? I use it exclusively for landscape photography in 4x5 and 8x10 formats. I think it's great stuff.
     
  10. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I ran across a guy's site awhile back that was using the NC variety for pictures of Venice. They were really nice, but then it was a style that suited the film, so I would say depending on the look/mood your after it might suit your purpose. Your going to have to shoot a roll in different lighting conditions and see for yourself. I've shot it and it looks good to me from an old TLR, but I have been preferring E100 lately and the slide is a whole different beast. Do a test and post it for us to see.
     
  11. timpppa

    timpppa Member

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  12. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    I use Portra NC for all my landscape work. It does a wonderful job with the sorts of pastels and saturated secondary colours you get on northern coastlines. Greens can go a bit yellow, but when I've looked again, the film is usually seeing a yellow that my eyes overlook. Saturated reds can block up, but that's relative to the subtle way Portra handles other colours. It is great for snow-dusted autumn scenery, where you want clean snow and good colour and shadow detail in the autumn foliage.

    The new formulation supposedly has worse reciprocity failure, but I am still working through a stash of the old film so I can't comment from personal experience. The old film wasn't accurate at, say, two-minute exposures, but it was pleasing.

    Unless you are shooting to tight commercial deadlines I wouldn't worry about not buying in Finland. I, and many other LF photographers in Norden, buy my film from abroad anyway. With the current low dollar it is very hard to beat B+H in New York, but if you want to stay in Europe film is much, much cheaper from Germany and the UK.
     
  13. timpppa

    timpppa Member

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    I will definately give it a try.

    I think calumet in germany has reasonable prices.
    Thanks!
     
  14. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I have seen some (mindless) web reviews on high saturation film like VC and UC where photographers tried to shoot portraits with it and complained of red faces, etc. I can't tell you where it was, just one of those retail sites with reviews.

    In the same thread of reviews were earlier posts by others who had done the same thing and were admonished to READ THE LABEL.

    I really can't decide whether to feel sorry or not for the sad reviewer in such cases. Instead of a 'post your review' button it should have said 'make fool of ones self' :O)
     
  15. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    I tried to find a 'normal' landscape scan lying ready to hand, but I tend to do my LF in twilight and deliberately go looking for colour palettes that are different from the usual blue-sky, green-grass, red-roses look. So here's a 6x6 shot of a clearing storm in Scotland.

    Portra does make lovely portraits, and it does have a distinct look, especially compared to traditional landscape slide films, but in no way is it a film for people only.

    PS: I have no idea where those red speckles in the sky have come from. Rest assured, they are not there on the film, or on the scan on my hard disk. I blame sRGB.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2008
  16. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Great shot and I'm not seeing the red thingies here - without "corrected monitors" etc. it's not surprising that "anomolies" occur.

    Your pic encourages me to do some more landscape shooting with Porta.

    Can I ask folk here what are the key differences b/w VC and NC for landscape / street shooting?

    Oh, BTW, PE thanks for 'fessing out the negative reviews. I'd never use a website "user review" of a film to decide this stuff! Gosh I wish we still had just one decent photo mag which would objectively review film and film gear! :sad:
     
  17. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    I'm afraid I only use NC, so I can't comment on the differences. In fact I haven't used a lot of other emulsions, so please don't mistake me for an expert. I started using Portra because I didn't like the pink cast the old Fuji NPS gave to everything, and I liked the way 400NC shots in 6x6 could be seamlessly matched to 160NC shots in 35mm. I've stuck with it because I have come to love the palette and the subtleties of its rendition.

    One caveat: machine prints of scenery can turn out too muted. For me, a hand-corrected print, or one of those d*g*t*l sc*n thingies, has always been able to recover the scene I wanted to photogaph, but if you rely on a distant automated processor you won't get the best out of this film. Or any film for that matter, but Portra shots of wildflowers often seem to need tweaking a bit from the default picked by the algorithms in the package printers.

    Another tip: Portra often appears more saturated when scanned than when printed in a conventional enlarger onto RA4 papers, even supposedly vivid ones. This is consistent between my Epson flatbed and Imacons. Since most commercial printers use a scan-and-print engine, you have to interpret such machine proofs in the light of experience if you are going to print yourself later. Not a biggie, but it's a bit like labs that would print B+W at the lowest contrast grade: you have to do some mental interpretation.

    That said, both the above caveats apply to the sorts of high-contrast, subtle colours scenes that are typical of a Scottish moorland on a sunny day. High key seems to need more care in printing than low key. More conventional views, or the diffuse-light dripping wetness of a Scandinavian early spring, reproduce beautifully on auto.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 27, 2008
  18. timpppa

    timpppa Member

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    Thanks everybody!

    I'm glad to see so many replies, and those nice pictures Struan attached.
    I can try to post some pics when I have the film and got some results.

    thanks again!
     
  19. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have found the old VC to be a half hearted attempt at a juicier colour film. It was very bad for portraits of grey haired people in dark clothes as the hair and clothes would go blue once there was colour in the the skin. For things it was ok, but it didn't have the contrast or the punch the name seemed to imply. PRN and fuji's NPC I felt were better films and offered better contrast and punch. PRN was far better than NPC in the shadows and had better latitude, but NPC had slightly better punch. The palette of PRN was a little earthier than NPC. For me VC was not truth in advertising and I never liked it. Whereas NC is an excellent film, with a lovely palette, great latitude and excellent reciprocity characteristics. PRN is long gone and NPC has been replaced with 160c. I have used a fair amount of 160s and I like it much better than NPS. I've yet to try the new VC, but I have been told that it is a worthy replacement to UC -- which I thought was excellent.
     
  20. bruce terry

    bruce terry Member

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    jd - There isn't any R detail on the Portra webpage past one-second of exposure and I'm about to experiment a little. Since Portra is T-grain I'm assuming it might have a pretty flat R in the 2-5 second range, requiring an additional half-ish stop but no more than that – and at between 6 to 10 seconds per metered b/v, maybe an additional one up to a max of, maybe, two seconds?

    I'd love to hear what you might have discovered concerning 160NC's reciprocity, might save me some time determining a useful 'baseline'.

    Thanks, Bruce
     
  21. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    I love Portra 160 VC for a variety of subjects. I'm not so keen on it for portraits, but for architecture / landscape / cityscape shots it's very nice.
     

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  22. mark

    mark Member

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    That church shot is OOOOhhhhhhh so nice.
     
  23. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I've only used one roll of 160VC, and it turned out quite well. But I've used a quite a bit of 400VC by now, and it works very well for Western landscapes. It is similar to 400UC, but finer grained and a little less intense. I find it a bit exaggerated, but not nearly as much as the Fuji transparency films.
     
  24. stevewillard

    stevewillard Member

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    Attach are few of my landscape images I photographed using Portra VC 160 film. They are cheap scans of the actual prints.
     

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