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  1. #1

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    Any advantage using Pro film for urban photography, or will cheap film do the trick?

    A subjective question of course.

    But, I tend to do... let's call it urban photography, for the sake of discussion. If anyone is familiar with Wim Wender's still photography (as opposed to his movies), then you'd be in the ballpark (other than him being better than me, probably).

    I've generally stuck with black and white film for my work and used digital for colour. But I have been thinking about trying a bit with colour film. I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on using Kodak Portra (or other pro film) for this kind of photography? Or, is Portra only really advantageious for skintones and suchlike, and will I be just as well off using something like Kodak Gold and saving my money?

    I always shoot 35mm, handheld.

    Also, I'm not a pro photographer, but I'm a digital graphics pro. So, I don't need the punchiest, brightest colours 'out of the box'. Nor do I want high contrast particularly (I can bring all of that out in post-production, if I want). Ideally, I want to capture, as much as possible, the widest dynamic range, image detail and colour subtleties. Then it's up to me to make a mess of it scanning, and in digital post-production.

    Thoughts welcome.
    Last edited by Roundabout; 09-20-2013 at 02:13 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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    I think a roll of Portra 400 is worth a try. To my eye it looks like a 100 ISO film in terms of grain, and it's very forgiving of mis-exposure. I personally think it's worth the extra over Kodak Gold, particularly for 35mm where you have to worry about grain more than with medium or large format.

    Worth the expense of a roll to try it out I think.

  3. #3
    TheToadMen's Avatar
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    You might find some groups on Tumblr or Flickr that show the kind of images you like and check what type of film is mostly used.
    This is what I do when I want starting tips for a new film in a new setting.

    I have seen some nice street photography lately on Tumblr, mostly shot with Kodak Portra 400, when I liked the colors too.

    I think that - next to film - your choice of lenses is important too.

    Good luck hunting and show us some images when you're done.
    "Have fun and catch that light beam!"
    Bert from Holland
    my blog: http://thetoadmen.blogspot.nl
    my Linkedin pinhole group: http://tinyurl.com/pinholegroup


    * I'm an analogue enthusiast, trying not to fall into the digital abyss.
    * My favorite cameras: Hasselblad SWC, Leica SL, Leica M7, Russian FKD 18x24, Bronica SQ-B and RF645, Rolleiflex T2, Nikon F4s, Agfa Clack and my pinhole cameras

  4. #4

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    Thanks. Yep, the lack of grain is tempting.

    I like grain in my black and white. Not so much in colour. Coming from a graphics backround, I'm quite a devotee of the 'garbage in, garbage out' school of thought. If Portra is really going to capture more of range and subtlety of colours, then I have more to work with later.

    As for lenses. I'm currently using an OM1n with a couple of 50mm, a 35mm and looking at getting a 28mm. Can't really afford some of the f2 primes, which I'd really like. But my view is that I don't use analogue for sharpness. My digital setup is generally going to win that one (for the most part). I like film cameras and lenses because they have an aesthetic of their own.

  5. #5
    Truzi's Avatar
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    Unless you are after a very specific look or are on a tight budget, I can't see anything that would contra-indicate using pro film.
    Truzi

  6. #6

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    Both will do a good job. It depends, of course, on the kind of subjects and the look you want. Gold has somewhat higher saturation than Portra, and a somewhat rougher look. It may be excellent for street scenes, rough urban architecture, and the like. Portra may be better for more pictorial shots and people where skin tone is of great importance. The obvious answer is to go out one day and shoot a roll of each, then see which one you like better.

  7. #7
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Take a look in my gallery if you want to see some examples of what Portra can do - a lot of my color work is shot on Portra. I've been mostly shooting the Portra 160 and been very happy with it, even (or especially, depending on your take on it) for night-time stuff. In my book it is well worth the extra cost. I suspect your disdain of film for sharpness comes from scanning color film - try optical printing sometime, or using a good scanner. You'll be amazed at how good film can be.

  8. #8
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    If you want minimal grain and you are scanning, Ektar is your best bet IMO. If you are reasonably capable with your exposures, the dynamic range will be OK.

    That is my 2 cents.

  9. #9

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    I find the dynamic range with ektar is never an issue. The following photo was exposed for shadows and the highlights in the distance are fine. Of course, if you need the extra speed, use Portra. I usually shoot it at iso 200.

    ektar_005.jpg by Jarek Miszkinis, on Flickr

  10. #10
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatchetman View Post
    If you want minimal grain and you are scanning, Ektar is your best bet IMO. If you are reasonably capable with your exposures, the dynamic range will be OK.

    That is my 2 cents.
    He said he didn't want "punchy bright colours". Portra is much more neutral in colour balance, and has a wider dynamic range.
    Ben

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