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Kodak Portra Review - The View from The Phlogger

Posted on December 02 2018

Kodak Portra 400 Review

It’s quite clear that the team at Analogue Wonderland are doing all they can to showcase lots of different film. So when I went on the site and saw only 1 review I thought "what are we the customers and community doing!" So here we go, a Kodak Portra 400 review by yours truly, The Phlogger

I know the immediate thing most people see is the name “Portra” and assume it's just a portrait film. Well yes, portraiture is certainly Portra's strength, but there are plenty of other reasons to try it. For example, 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. 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!)

sample photo illustrating a kodak Portra 400 review  - Analogue Wonderland
Kodak Portra 400 review. The film doing what it does best; portraiture. - 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 Kodak Portra 400 as this gave 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 Portra 400 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. Indeed, if there's one thing I want to stress in this Kodak Portra 400 review, it's that the quality of images produced by this film is amazing.

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 Kodak Portra 400 is a no-brainer. It will cover you on most days and allow you to keep shooting even when the light starts dropping. If you are reading this near summer then obviously Portra 100 would be great to work with and will 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 that 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.

Thanks for reading my Kodak Portra 400 review. If you were previously unsure as to whether Portra 400 is really for you, hopefully you've found this post helpful in making up your mind. All I can say is that you really should give Portra 400 a go and see for yourself!