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  1. #1

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    Portra 400 @ 1600: Push or no?

    I have done multiple searches, and each thread seems to give conflicting information. I was called on (on short notice, nonetheless) to shoot a debate on my college campus. I was thinking of shooting Portra 400 at 1600, but therein lies the rub. Most people agree that it shoots well enough at 1600, but there's disagreement as to whether or not to push the film in development. I've heard no, +1, and +2. I've also heard to shoot at 1250 instead, to preserve shadow detail.

    Anyway, consider this a poll: When shooting Portra 400 at 1600, how should I develop it?
    "Panic not my child, the Great Yellow Father has your hand"--Larry Dressler

  2. #2
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    The essence of pushing is giving up shadow detail in exchange for speed.

    I'd give up as little exposure as possible.

    If you have a fast 50mm lens use it, I'm assuming 35mm film.

    Get on stage before the event and incident meter in the actual lighting.

    If you need and can, use a strobe.

    Shoot a couple extra rolls while you are there to test development with, develop the test rolls first, one at a time. Adjust as required.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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

  3. #3
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    Totally agree with Mark, except for one thing: Shoot one test roll, cut the roll into thirds, develop one section at at time at the chosen times. Why burn two or three rolls, when you can get the test done with one? (Unless of course you are going to shoot the test rolls at different ISOs, but then you're probably complicating things. I would bet that the on stage lighting, with a decent fast lens, is going to be pretty strong already. You might not have to go as far as 1600.

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    Is Portra 800 not an option? I know it is more expensive, but it will give you more shadow detail with more normal contrast, I think. On the main question, I cannot answer. My own experience is that shadows are difficult to extract if underexposed and developed normally. So I would lean towards pushing, based on my normal use of the film.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by nickrapak View Post
    Most people agree that it shoots well enough at 1600, but there's disagreement as to whether or not to push the film in development.
    This is not true! Portra 400 (or any color negative film) won't shoot well at all at 1600. A 1600 color negative film will do well shooting at 400 but not the other way around. So to expose Portra 400 at 1600 you must push develop otherwise your pictures will be very severe underexposed.

  6. #6

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    This is a good article showing Portra 400 at 1600 and 3200:

    http://www.twinlenslife.com/2010/12/...portra400.html

    Given the option, I'd still push in processing, but it does do pretty well it seems without a push.

  7. #7
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    I have done a lot of testing of portra 400, I have found that I could shoot it at 1600 and be fine either developed normal or pushed two stops. At 3200 i would normally push it one stop to save money over pushing it 3 stops. Most of the time for 1600 I would just develop it normal to save money and it was good. It had a red cast at anything above 400.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegman View Post
    This is a good article showing Portra 400 at 1600 and 3200:

    http://www.twinlenslife.com/2010/12/...portra400.html

    Given the option, I'd still push in processing, but it does do pretty well it seems without a push.
    The examples shown, of the facade of the Pantages, is a poor example for the OP.

    Taking pictures in the light of high luminance commercial facades is very different from stage light settings.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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

  9. #9

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    I would say it completely depends on who's developing your film.

    I shot an engagement session at dusk and asked the lab to push the film. One roll at 800, one at 1600, and one at 3200. I'm not even sure if the lab pushed the 800 roll or if they just faked it. The roll at 1600 was definitely pushed, but when compared to box speed, it was so different that I now question whether I'll ever desire to push color film again.

    I say, push B&W all you want, but color needs to be exposed properly near box-speed in order to look right.

  10. #10

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    I shot this roll of Kodak Portra 400 at ISO 1600 and pushed it 2 stops in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemicals. Time in the developer: 4 mins 25 seconds. Although shadow detail in some shots is not what I would like I think those cases were most likely my fault in poor exposure settings. I'm pleased with the results for the most part.

    http://www.lamarlamb.com/On-Film/Fil...5915&k=z3zp7bv

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