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Kodak Portra Review - The View from The Phlogger

Posted on December 02 2018

Kodak Portra 400 Review

Guest article from The Plogger

It’s quite clear the team at Analogue Wonderland are doing a lot to showcase lots of film. So when you go on the site and only see 1 review I thought what are we the customers and community doing! So here we go, a review of Portra by yours truly.

I know the immediate thing most people see is the name “portra” and assume it's just a portrait film. Well yes, that is correct, but there are other reasons to try it. I have used it for colour street photography with (in my eyes) good success.

Street Photography

When I first bought my Bronica (medium format) camera I wanted to use it for something I enjoyed doing - street photography. Obviously I won’t bore you with the details, but shooting on a large and loud camera has its moments in the street! This film became my standard, the idea being to practise to improve my consistency. So I went out, shot some candid street stuff and street portraiture and by god the results were amazing (remember I’m only simple!)

photo on kodak portra 400 - Analogue Wonderland

 

Kodak Portra 400 Photo - Analogue Wonderland

As you can see the results are testament to this excellent film and the way it handles skin tones. In these examples I have shot only 400 as this gives me a little more speed to play with in those darker corners. The film felt great in the spool and winding, the results from my go to film lab came out amazing, so what more could you want?

So then I entered the world of portraiture too, just a few tests shots. These were only taken at the end of my session using the Bronica and a waist level finder, which is a bad combination (as you need to get high enough to see through it!)

Photo on Kodak Portra 400 - Analogue Wonderland

In retrospect, i come back to the image over and over, even in the darkroom and here is an example of this printed in b&w by yours truly (don’t be harsh I’m a beginner).

Photo shot on Kodak Portra 400 - Analogue Wonderland

For Weddings

Finally in 2018 I tested the Portra with a couple of weddings, boy it did not disappoint. These couple of images are taken from my first solo wedding using the Bronica again (50mm lens so very wide). I cannot tell you how great these images made me feel once they came from the lab. You simply cannot believe how great the results are using this amazing film.

Photo shot on Kodak Portra 400 - Analogue Wonderland

Value for Money?

With the team at Analogue wonderland allowing you to now purchase these individually please don’t hesitate to try it. For me 400 is a no-brainer, it will cover you on most days and allow something just before the light starts dropping. If you are reading this near summer then obviously 100 should be great and provide the “cleanest” image. However when you shoot 120 format, the size of the negative and detail is already vastly superior to 35mm. But also remember the 400 + 800 are good after a push too. Hopefully I will shoot some more soon to prove this to you.

Honestly do yourself a favour, buy a roll and test it. Even better buy a pack of 5, push a few rolls and see for yourself. If you consider a 5 pack costs ~£35 [as of Nov 2018] which equates to ~£7 a roll. Personally that’s a reasonable cost in 2018 for one of the best films you can buy.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me about this film or about my photography. You can find my work at phlogger.co.uk

1 comment

  • Filtr: December 03, 2018

    Couldn’t agree more – it’s my go to “all rounder” when it comes to colour firm. Sure, might cost you a couple of quid more than some of the stuff ou can buy on the high street, but it’s peanuts really given the improvement in quality you get.

    Yet to try the 160 or 800 yet but looking forward to giving that a go some time.

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