I have tried Fuji a little bit, but it's kind of a moot point now that 800Z is gone. It is quite impressive how their film handles mixed lighting. By mixed, I mean mixed fluoro + tungsten, or fluoro + daylight. Kodak films handle mixed tungsten + daylight, or straight tungsten and straight fluoro very well in my experience.
My comments on the fluoros though was made with respect to the differences in the 400 and 800 Portras. I have some shots made in the same conditions where the 800 shows the green and the 400 doesn't. I just made two test shots on each film this week to test this explicitly, but haven't gotten them developed yet.
I don't think that Portra 400 pushed is better than 800. I could see where some people might think that, but they probably think that Tri-X at 1600 is better than TMZ at 1600. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I'm willing to have more grain for an extra stop of real speed.
In my testing, the new Portra 400 handles underexposure pretty much the same as 400NC, maybe a hair better. I have not yet tried a true push with it though, but I would think pushability is related to underexposure latitude...
It is wonderful news. Still have some 160NC to use up, but when that's gone I know where I'm going.
I really love Kodak films.
There may be a bit of culture in play here.
The film R&D and manufacturing people have spent their careers trying to make better films. If there is the opportunity to make an improvement they take the opportunity.
Will there be additional improvements? Wait and see.
Just going off what I've heard, the real speed of it is supposed to be better than the old stuff.
I see plenty of 800Z around, but I import, even some of the local shops have it (but $$$)
Yeah I've read the stuff on the internet about the new 400 stuff. I'll leave it at this: I think the new Portra 400 is a fantastic film and represents an improvement over 400NC, which was my most used color film. I'm very happy with the new stuff. At the same time, I feel like it's an incremental improvement, not a 'game changer' or revolutionary improvement like some people are making it out to be.
Here's a shot of the new Portra 400, 2 stops underexposed in tungsten lighting:
Portra 400 Tungsten -2 by ezwal, on Flickr
Here's a shot of 400NC, 2 stops underexposed, in tungsten lighting:
400NC Tungsten -2 by ezwal, on Flickr
While the Portra 400 looks a bit better in my mind, it's not much and it could be potentially due to differences in the scanning/post processing. (I didn't scan these and there was some inconsistency in the files from operator laziness). So, it's a great film, but it's definitely more like 400NC than it is different in my mind.
I looked at the Q&A for Portra 160 and judging by the scales it is even closer to 160NC than the new 400 is to 400NC. In fact, the only difference seems to be grain which is now finer (a moot point for me - I never see the grain on 100 speed films anyway). I printed another 400 Portra neg last night and got a really nice print. This was a photograph of elderly relatives and it did a good job of toning down the various blotches and ruddy marks that people get as they get close to 100.
Well, it's as I predicted when Portra 400 came out. That is too bad. Such a huge loss of four excellent color films within such a short span, and not too far behind Fuji's massive axing of C-41. So we have a 160 and a 400 C-41 film from Fuji and Kodak, plus Portra 800 and Ektar for Kodak and Reala for Fuji (with Fuji's single 160 pro film not on the market as of yet). We are down to six professional-quality C-41 films in existence, and one more (Fuji 160NS) supposedly forthcoming for about a year now. Portra 800 will be next to go, I would assume. C-41 shooters and analog printers have lost so much control just in the past 2 to 3 years that it is sickening. Finer grain be damned; how fine do we need it to be? There was nothing lacking in the 160/400 NC/VC films that makes their replacement by a single film with "superior technical qualities" an easy pill to swallow. And to top it off, I just found out today that when the photography department at school moves in to the new art building that is being constructed, analog color is being abandoned completely. What a crummy day!
160NS is available now, although I think it's only a re-branded 160S:
Again the sad thing for us is that scanning seems to be the main reason for the fine grain. Ektar, Portra 400, both advertised as being great for scanning, not printing. Scanners do indeed have a hard time with grain, the autosharpening algorithms often give you a real horror show for something which actually prints just dandy with a real enlarger.
I'd rather have a smaller number of films, than none.
I too will miss the choice of VC or NC, but really, it must have been difficult for retailers to stock twice the film. This is a batten-the-hatches market. Film is a product with declining sales. Most Western economies are in a prolonged recession that has hit the retail sector very hard. While they may be promoting these newer versions as "better for scanning," I'm sure the real reason for changing the line is to simplify distribution in the face of lower sales. As Fuji also has been forced to do. We are lucky, in my opinion, that Kodak also has improved the product. Because my use of Portra 400 demonstrates clearly, to me, that it is improved. And it was already an excellent film.
The only constant is change. I'm old enough to resent that, but I hope I stay young enough to adapt.