Kodak New Portra 400 at 400 and 800

Hasselblad 500CM
Zeiss 120mm Makro Planar

Kodak New Portra 400 @ 400 and 800, both developed at 400
The following images were taken for a watch magazine I work for. They feature the Michelin Star Portuguese chef, José Avillez while visiting the manufacture Jaeger-LeCoultre.

I wanted to use color film with the Hasselblad but, at the same time, I was afraid of not having enough light as I don’t use a tripod and I don’t use artificial light.

I decided to use Kodak New Portra 400 and I read some discussions about using it at 800 or even higher ISO and different ways of developing it and I’m glad I did. It is an amazing C41 color film with very fine grain. I wanted some detail of course and even at 800 ISO the New Portra delivered good results. It becomes more saturated with beautiful colors under a good natural light and I like the results at 800 ISO over the ones at box speed.

Well, it was good trying out something new.
I don’t home develop color film and I always send them to Raúl in Oporto. He’s the owner of Câmaras & Companhia and he always deliver immaculate, beautifully developed C41 or E6 film. So, thank you Raúl.

Kodak New Portra 400@400, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@400, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

120mm Zeiss Makro Planar with 21mm extension tube + Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

120mm Zeiss Makro Planar with 21mm extension tube + Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@400, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@800, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@400, developed @400

Kodak New Portra 400@400, developed @400

  1. Tito said:

    Na segunda fotografia a objectiva estava demasiadamente aberta. O tripé não teria sido, afinal, má escolha, sobretudo porque o sujeito está a sustentar a cabeça com a mão, o que teria permitido uma exposição maior. O rosto do sujeito não está em foco.
    Os meus parabéns, e possa o filme continuar a marcar o futuro.

    • Sem dúvida. Foi uma situação limite. Não quis passar dos 800 ASA e como tal sujeitei-me a f3.5 já a 1/60. De facto o foco está no relógio, se tivesse sido a 2.8 (que lamentavelmente a 120mm não permite) e desfocado mais ainda a cara da pessoa notar-se-ia mais o efeito, ou, ao contrário, uma abertura de 5.6, teria permitido que a cara ficasse também em foco, assim ficou claramente no meio termo…

      Vou continuar a usar cor pelos resultados conseguidos mas, concordo em absoluto, um tripé torna-se fundamental.

      Cordial abraço e obrigado pelas excelentes observações.

    • Thank you so much Phil.
      At least using the “old” Portra VC I did it a lot, using it at 400 and developing at 160 or 400. The grain is non-existent and if you decide to use it at 400 and develop at 400 you will get this “glow”. A bit hard to explain…

      Here’s an example of the Portra 160 at 400 and developed also at 400.


      Thank you for the kind words my friend.

      • Oooh, that looks great! I’m shooting a project in the Arctic in a couple of weeks, so due to the brightness of the snow and ice, I ordered 100 rolls of 160. I’m now thinking that I should have gone 50/50 on 160 and 400, but your example proves I can rate it at 400, no problem.

        What do you use to scan?

      • Oh yes Phil, you will have no problems rating it at 400 and you can trust on the outcome.
        My scanner is a Canon 9000F and I always scan 1:1 at 2400 dpi. A 6×6 negative will turn into a 90MB file with 50x50cm at 300dpi.

        Arctic you say? Sounds just great my friend. When the whites turn into those gorgeous light blue… 🙂

  2. Steve Barnes said:

    It is a nice film, for sure! Very interesting. It shows the great latitude it has, that you can set it to 800 then develop at 400. Good to know. I like to use Portra 400 in the winter, and now on the same roll you can just switch up the iso to 800 when it gets dark, then back to 400 in better light, and not worry! Thanks for the post!

    • Yes, yes indeed Steve!
      Being able to switch from 400 to 800 back to 400 in the same roll is an amazing advantage.

      Take a look at this sample.
      He used it even at 1600 and still developed at box speed. Looks great right?

      Man With Bag

      It’s really amazing and after all we are talking about color film and we know black and white is much more forgiving but this New Portra allows an amazing tolerance.

      Thank you Steve.

      • Steve Barnes said:

        Yes, that 1600 photo is pretty impressive! Let’s hope Kodak survive and keep producing this film for as long as possible! 🙂

  3. Steve Barnes said:

    Although, of course, you was shooting medium format. Grain is not too much of a problem on such a big negative. I wonder how it performs on 35mm, shooting at 800 then developing at 400????

    • That’s a good question but I have not tried it in 35mm format. Still Kodak claims it has the finest grain in world… It’s worth a try I say. 🙂

      • Steve Barnes said:

        Yes, it is worth a try, for sure!

      • Chris Ledford said:

        First, just wanted to say I really enjoy your work–very inspirational.

        Second, I thought I would offer my limited experience with shooting Portra 400 at 800 in 35mm format. The grain/noise is definitely noticeable, though I don’t think it would be
        bothersome unless you’re planning on enlarging past 8×10 or so. I have a couple more rolls of the 35mm, but I think for pushing I’ll stick to the 6×6 format, which seems so much more forgiving.

      • Thank you very much Chris and that’s valuable information my friend. I also got a couple of 35mm Portra but I think I’ll stick to box speed.

        Next step: pushing and developing at box speed but using the Fuji 400H 120mm… I like the cold tones of Fuji film and let’s see how the grain comes out. But let me tell you my friend, this New Portra really got me. Already got another box. 🙂

        Thank you again.

  4. I shot 4 rolls of 160 today, all rated at 400. I’m going to have 2 developed at 160 and 2 at 400. Can’t wait to see the results!

  5. Para além do filme ser um dos filmes melhores para retrato, o ambiente e tons ajudou muito. Gosto imenso do ar tenso da segunda e do ar descontraído da terceira!

    • Obrigado amigo. Filme a cores sempre me assustou sobretudo pela revelações que fui apanhando… vale o nosso Raúl para fazer milagres 😉

  6. Borja said:

    The colors are so natural. I like Portra film, too. Now I should unpack my Hassie, grab some 120 film and get back to basics. You have inspired me to rethink my film photography. Thank you for sharing these lovely images.

    • Please don’t say that, you are much too kind.
      I was feeling so disappointed by the terrible results in using color that I almost gave up.
      For me, it is still one of those situations when I must trust the “lab”part and I’m always nervous about that. Luckily a friend is restoring my faith in color film one amazing developing job after another. 🙂

  7. gunston said:

    using portra 400, some shot taken with setting ASA 800 but developed in 400, means without asking the lab technician to do extra pushing at all, yet the result is pleasing ?

    • From my experience I can tell you that, if you push color film, let’s say from 400 to 800, and if you develop it at box speed (400) the colors will become more saturated but you might also lose some detail on the shadows. Dark parts easily become too dark. Again, colors will saturate and contrast will increase.

      You can try it on the same roll. Load your camera with a 400 ISO color film and take some shots at 400, some at 800 and some at 1600 and look at the results. And yes, for the lab they will develop it as a regular 400 ISO film.

      • gunston said:

        Alright, thanks for your sharing

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