Kodak Portra 800

Portra_800_Family_LR

With all the film I shoot it may be a little surprising that this is the first time I’ve used the well-regarded Kodak Portra 800 film.  I’ve seen what others have done shooting with it and particularly like the look when it’s shot in high key situations.  I made no special effort to do anything specific with it but instead just shot it like any other film I use.  One thing that is immediately apparent is that in some cases it could have benefitted from a little less exposure and a little more shutter speed but I was using my Yashica GX with its aperture priority and electronic shutter and just went along for the ride.  For an ISO 800 film though the performance is amazing it really has quite fine grain and a relatively small amount of colour noise.  You might be surprised that I refer to ‘colour noise’ when talking about film but any unwanted information in a transmission system can be considered as noise and a photograph is most definitely the transmission of information. In addition the very process of scanning a negative is a transition from the analog world to a digital one.

Here is a close up from one of the images with no sharpening or noise processing done, just straight from the scanner.

Portra800_detail-024

Not at all bad considering it’s ISO 800 film.  One thing of note and right in Kodak’s marketing literature is the amount of shadow detail that your able to retain and I agree.  The film captures highlights and shadows all in the same image while retaining detail in both.  For this reason the raw scanned images can be a little flat almost like a mild form of HDR but it provides plenty of information to work with, after all that is a reason to shoot with film particularly this one.

A comparison between an image from my Pentax Q at 1250 ISO and frame from the Portra 800 in the Yashica GX.  The field of view is slightly different as the GX has a 40mm lens vs the Q’s 50mm equivalent and I didn’t move. I have to say I prefer the film image and think that even if I had used a better low light performing camera like the Pentax K-01 it wouldn’t necessarily sway my opinion.

Portra_vs_Digital

And 100% crops from both images

Portra_vs_Digital_detail

Here are some of the images, I’m breaking this into two posts because of the number of images.


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