Portra 160 vs 400

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Shootar401, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    If you are in a controlled environment like a studio and have the lighting power to use Porta 160 would you see any difference using that instead Portra 400? I hear people love Portra 400, but I never hear much about 160.

    I have very little experience with Portra since I shoot chromes.
     
  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I'd imagine that it is possible with a 135 film and a print at a big enlargement. With MF then I'd love to see how big the enlargement has to be to spot the difference

    pentaxuser
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I do not have a studio to use. I take photographs in "the real world". I use Portra 400 so that I can cover a large light range.
     
  4. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    Generally speaking you have better luck enlarging finer grained film.


    Kent in SD
     
  5. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I don't know about larger format but since I shoot only 35mm I never use Portra 400. It's way too grainy for me. I use Portra 160 even when the light is low.
     
  6. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    I should have expanded on my question.

    The camera in question is medium format, Rolleiflex to be exact. I bought two pro-packs each of Portra 400 and 160 today at B&H. Just trying to figure out which will work best for scans and enlargements to 11x14, possibly bigger.
     
  7. ww12345

    ww12345 Member

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    If you have the light, go with the 160. I know people say that the 400 is nice, but at decent size enlargements the grain looks pretty ugly to me. I can't explain it - it just looks "off." I use a Hassy 500 and have never had a problem with 160, even in low light situations.
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Both have been optimized for scanning.
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I have shot a LOT of Portra 160 in a wide range of lighting conditions - mostly night photography. It's a terrific film and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it in medium format. I don't use the 400 much just because the 160 is so versatile, and when I need more light, I need a lot more light and I either throw that bad boy up on a tripod or I go to Portra 800, which is surprisingly low in grain for as fast a film as it is. Personally, I don't think you'll find the grain objectionable on any of the three emulsions (160, 400 or 800). And I have made 16x20 prints from negs shot with all three films, so I can say it does enlarge nicely.
     
  10. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I have been finding the same thing. The 160 is only 1-1/3 stop slower than 400 so not really that far away. The 400 can seem pretty slow once the sun goes down though.
     
  11. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. Looks like I'll open the box of 160 first, shot a few rolls and see how everything goes. I'll save the 400 for outdoors in the morning or evening. I 'll have to order a roll of the 800 still. I've heard it looked worse than the 400 pushed a stop. Guess I have some testing to do.
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    [​IMG]

    Would you call this "worse"? I'd say that looks pretty darned good. Portra 800, Rolleiflex 2.8E, hand-held, roughly 1/15th @ f5.6.
     
  13. Lamar

    Lamar Member

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    Portra 160 in 35mm using two SB-600 strobes through sheets of paper for diffusion. You can see I could have done with a bit more flash power to get a deeper DOF but if you have the flash power I like the grain better for the 160 if you can use it.

    12851754074_8a6d7872e1_o.jpg

    12851757924_fe6c4004aa_o.jpg
     
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  15. mweintraub

    mweintraub Subscriber

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    It's funny, because I hear that Portra 400 has a lot more latitude than the 160 counterpart. I've heard people shooting Portra 400 from 100/200-1600+ in a single roll without any processing changes.
     
  16. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    I still remember when these new Portras were introduced, Kodak claimed the following: "With Portra 160, focus was not so much on smaller grain, but on a more pleasing grain pattern". Whether they were right or not, at least we should not limit the comparison to sheer grain size.
     
  17. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The O.P wants to use the film in a controlled studio environment with strobes, extreme latitude is unnecessary because the light is measurable with a flash meter and under control, indeed 160 I.S.O. can be a problem in small rooms if you cant turn the strobe power down enough. I've used Portra 160 extensively for studio portraiture both in 135 and 120 and the fineness of grain, latitude, and natural skin tone rendition are perfect for the purpose, and I have no problem getting from my local pro lab. 20"X16" prints even from 35mm negatives.
    I was always taught you should use the slowest film practicable to do the job and not many years ago I.S.O. 160 was considered a fast film, indeed Kodak High Speed Ektachrome was only 160 I.S.O. I do have a stock of Portra 400 in 135 and 120 in my freezer, but I save it for marginal lighting conditions when I really need it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2014
  18. mweintraub

    mweintraub Subscriber

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    I agree, the OP was asking about studio photography, I was replying to the post I quoted to. So, I guess my answer was O.T.

    Yes, I agree that the slowest film should be used, but Portra 400 is no slouch when it comes to medium format in terms of grain.
     
  19. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I'm very impressed Scott, this is amazing, and bears out my hypothesis that the greatest advances in film photography in the last 25 years have been in the films, more than the hardware.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Yes. Portra 800 is a truly remarkable emulsion. It isn't quite as contrasty, saturated or fine-grained as 400, which isn't quite as contrasty, saturated or fine-grained as 160, but that's not saying much. I remember back a decade ago shooting some Fuji 800z and really feeling the grain, which is to me far more objectionable in color than it is in black-and-white. With this, I don't think I'd feel the grain until I got into some sizeable enlargements.
     
  21. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Another example, and this one with moderate cropping to boot-

    [​IMG]
     
  22. TimFox

    TimFox Member

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    To date, I have stayed with E-6, but with visions of my cold, dead hands I am considering C-41.
    What experience have others had with Portra 160 or 400 using tungsten light (3200 K)?
     
  23. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Scott,

    I've only used a bit of Portra 800 but the quality is remarkable as are the modern '160' and '400' films. Noticeably better grain-wise than the VC/NC line of films.

    Tom
     
  24. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I agree Tom, and batter still than Kodak Vericolor that I used to shoot portraits with.
     
  25. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    Shooting in tungsten light underexposes your blue by two stops. Contrary to slide film, you can correct this by overexposing by two stops and color correcting during enlargement.

    Your biggest issue will be the overall weakness of tungsten light and the resulting exposure times.
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    I've not shot any in pure tungsten, but the portras are champs at mixed light -
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Scratch that- I think the Opera Garnier auditorium is pure tungsten. No filtration and no exposure compensation for the lighting. Whatever the light source, it is 100% artificial.