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  1. #1
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    Kodak Portra 160 & 400 compared to FujiFilm 400H and 160NS

    My friends have asked me to photograph their newborn baby.

    Traditionally, I have always used Fuji films, partifcularly Pro 400H (http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/fuj...400h-183-c.asp) and Pro 160NS (http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/fuj...60ns-184-c.asp).

    However, the cost of 400H for single 35mm rolls seems to have skyrocketted since I last bought any to about £10 a roll give or take unless bought in bulk.

    So, I thought I'd look at the Kodak Portra ranges. I've onyl ever used Kodak once and I found it to be a bit washed out so never used it again. The Fuji films I've used meanwhile have always looked really rich and vibrant. However I can't ignore what everything on the web seems to say about Portra and that is that it is amazing, great for portraiture and weddings etc. But I've never dared used it after my last effort.

    http://www.ag-photographic.co.uk/kodak-portra-112-c.asp

    Is it fair to say that my first attempt was just bad luck - perhaps the wrong kinds of lighting or improperly exposed?

    Put it this way - if were asked to photograph your best friends baby, would you use Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro? I've not decided whether to go 35mm or medium format yet - I assume there's only the usual differences to speak of regarding Portra in 35mm vs medium format and that the film itself is essentially the same regardless of format?
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

  2. #2
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I would happily use either without a second thought.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  3. #3

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    Go with the film you are familiar with (400h), don't try a new film for a special occasion - test first.

    Crazy prices for 400h these days, it's a bit cheaper at Mathers.
    Steve.

  4. #4
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I agree that a bit of testing is worthwhile to find the limits and special case uses of a film but IMO, with the films in question here, it would be really tough to get bad results if the film is fresh, the shots are metered competently, and box speed is used.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  5. #5
    pedrocruz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    I would happily use either without a second thought.
    Me too! Even though you're not acquainted with Portra, it's an easy going film: smooth skin tones, great latitude, and all of those things you're probably getting tired of read by now. From my experience, New Portra is a little bit more pale than Fuji 160NS, and may be a bit washed out for your standards; but there's plenty of samples of what it can deliver (like these, not mine), and it's up to you to decide whether it's good or not. But, being your best friend's newborn baby, maybe it's not a bad a ideia to spend a little much and get the pictures you really want. :)
    And yes, Portra seems to be the same on both 35mm and MF; but on MF you can push Portra 400 1~2 stops and get little to no grain. It's a great film!

  6. #6
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    I personally don't have a preference between them. Portra 160 was developed to be "neutral" for color, while Portra 400 was developed to make colors "pop" more. Ektar 100 is supposed to give even more contrast and saturation to the color palette.

    I would use Portra 160 in a heartbeat for photographing a child. And if available light is a problem, there is also Portra 800, which can be underexposed with good results. I think the Brothers Wright did a test of it in 2010.

  7. #7
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I would use Portra 160 without hesitation. I would NOT use Ektar 100 for a baby - it will make the child look alcoholic or in dire need of dermatological attention. Portra is my go-to color film for mixed lighting conditions, or anywhere that you cannot control the light. It is also probably the most flattering film for skin color out there.

  8. #8
    MattKing's Avatar
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    If you use a good quality lab, all four will give excellent results.

    There are differences, but they are subtle.

    Personally, I prefer the Portras.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  9. #9

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    Isn't NS an older emulsion which predates Fuji Pro S? I have lots of NS in 35mm, but unfortunately mine has lost a stop or so of speed. I find it to be grainier than Portra (but that could be because my batch has the speed loss). In my experience Portra 160 is more forgiving and produces beautiful, natural colors and in my experience thus far, with very fine grain. Portra 400 is very pushable - I got excellent results in a test in which I pushed it to 1600 recently.

  10. #10

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    I prefer Portra. Finer grain and I like the colors better than the pro Fuji stuff in most situations. I also agree with the pushability comments. Here is a roll I pushed 2 stops. http://www.lamarlamb.com/On-Film/Fil...4928&k=xcJ2HwV

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