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Thread: Why 160 speed?

  1. #1
    JJC
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    Why 160 speed?

    After two decades of stagnation, three years ago my interest in photography was revived by the purchase and use of a TLR. My favorite film has become
    Kodak Portra 160 VC, but my nagging curiosity is ... Why didn't Kodak (and others) make this a nice round number like 200 so it would fit in a normal film speed lineup of 100, 200, 400, etc.? Is there some special circumstance in which the 160 speed offers an advantage?
    I'm not complaining, just wondering.

    John

  2. #2
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Plain and simple, because it works!

    160 has always been one of my favorites as far as print film shooting goes.

    It is still fine grained, gives you that little bit of bump you may need and prints out really nice..

    Dave

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    In my over simplistic mind, I would think that a fine grain film was made and tested and rated at 160 because thats where it fit.......

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    MattKing's Avatar
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    The 160 speed for Portra might reflect the evolution from its predecessor, Vericolour, which if I recall correctly was 125. I think it would have been unlikely to have gone down, to 100, because so much of this film is (was?) shot with either flash or reflectors, and a loss of speed would not have been appreciated by the wedding/portrait photographers who use (used?) a lot of it.

  5. #5
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Actually, I have used it at both 100 and 200 and the results are quite good. Surprise yourself. Try both and get matched prints. You might find that you are satisfied with either. I actually prefer the 100 just a bit.

    PE

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    What's interesting is that Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa all have "portait" film rated at 160. I assume Kodak came first and established the norm, then others followed.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJC
    After two decades of stagnation, three years ago my interest in photography was revived by the purchase and use of a TLR. My favorite film has become
    Kodak Portra 160 VC, but my nagging curiosity is ... Why didn't Kodak (and others) make this a nice round number like 200 so it would fit in a normal film speed lineup of 100, 200, 400, etc.? Is there some special circumstance in which the 160 speed offers an advantage?
    I'm not complaining, just wondering.

    John
    160 ISO/ASA does seem to be an odd rating for a films sensitivity but I like these films very much. Kodak Portra 160NC/VC & Fuji NPS 160 are colour negative films that are designed for optimum rendering of skin tones in portraiture and are very popular with Wedding and Portrait photographers.
    It is a pity that there isn`t a T-MAX or NEOPAN 160 B&W portrait film to compliment the colour emulsions.

  8. #8
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    The 160 speed is academic anyway - in my experience, as with almost all color negative films, the results are better if you increase exposure by 2/3 to 1 stop.

  9. #9
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    You'r Right

    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing
    The 160 speed for Portra might reflect the evolution from its predecessor, Vericolour, which if I recall correctly was 125. I think it would have been unlikely to have gone down, to 100, because so much of this film is (was?) shot with either flash or reflectors, and a loss of speed would not have been appreciated by the wedding/portrait photographers who use (used?) a lot of it.
    You're right Matt, unfortunately I am old enough to have shot lots of weddings and mugshots on Vericolour it was indeed 125 ASA .

  10. #10
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    It wasn't that long ago that so-called odd ISOs were common. Kodachrome and Ektachrome 64, for example. Agfa's standard C41 print film was ISO 80 for the longest time.

    ISO is an arbitrary rating scheme; there are no natural film speeds. So use your 160 film and don't worry so much.

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