Portra 160?

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rayonline_nz

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I have been using more color slide and b/w film. Looking at using a bit more color neg film.

I can see that the Portra 400 is more versatile. If one was using a tripod, what about Portra 160? Would it be that tripod isn't so versatile for portraits and you would still use Portra 400, and if it isn't portraits Portra 160 might be OK or Ektar 100 for the stronger colors?

Also how often do you overexpose these film? Do you do it all the time (including the 160/100)?

Like to hear your views. Cheers.
 

Lachlan Young

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Portra 160 is pretty much dead neutral, 400 is a somewhat warmer & little more saturated, Ektar is remarkably colour accurate & bumps up the saturation. Portra 800 is very nice too. All are somewhat different in tonality from E6, mainly in terms of being far more colour accurate to the original & with a generally more pleasing 'feel' to the images. The faster Portra films seem to benefit from a bit more exposure than the slower ones, but don't overexpose Ektar. My choice of which Portra is driven as much by the colours I want rather than most other factors, no matter what the format is.
 

Paul Manuell

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I use Portra all the time (apart from my rare forays with unusual films such as Lomography Purple or Ilford SFX200 etc.); nearly always the 160 but have very occasionally used the 400 when shooting indoors, for instance. I expose the 160 as 125 and the 400 as 320. I use a tripod all the time, no matter what film I'm using (even once on a night shoot with Delta 3200). It's a habit I'm totally used to, and lugging it and all my camera gear around has never bothered me. I really enjoy the process of it all. Whether or not you should use a tripod is totally your choice; if you're using 35mm gear, for example, in bright light and getting reciprocal or faster speeds, then you probably won't NEED to use one, but nothing wrong with doing so anyway if it doesn't hinder the type of photography you pursue.
 
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Ektar 100 is my favorite film because of color vibrance and grainlessness. Portra 160 is my #2 favorite film for its color rendition. Yes, use a tripod. Portra 400 is very flexible; I normally expose at EI800 and develop normally or push one stop. I expose Portra 160 at box speed and process normally. Same with Ektar.

4x5 Portra 160
 

mshchem

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I still print color optical enlargements. I am amazed at how well the Portra 160 and 400 films print. No photoshop, just straight prints. Expose for highlights in sunlight and open shadow prints appropriately. Scanning and doing some simple adjustments in photoshop, print on a decent inkjet, results in great prints.

I'm not big on 35mm, to me that's where digital works. But medium and large format Portra and Ektar is amazing.

Look at the flower above. Wow
 

DREW WILEY

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Most of my experience with these films has been in 8x10 and 4x5 sheet film; but I've done enough with 120 and 35mm roll films to be comfortable stating a few basics. Portra 160 is low contrast, but better color balanced than most older color neg films. A safe bet for portraiture. Portra 400 is slightly more saturated, and obviously faster, but only a tiny bit grainier - good stuff, but like 160, engineered with an artificially warmed palette favoring pleasant skin tones. Ektar is a different animal, sharper, more contrast, and significantly more saturated, but in a relatively balanced sense - the closest thing I've encountered in a color neg film to the look of slide film. But for that very reason, it's not as forgiving in portraits, and you realistically need to use corrective filters for out-of-balance color temperature problems; therefore it helps to carry a pinkish
skylight filter and 81A amber warming filters to counter excessively blue shadows. Overall, this trio provides the best selection of color neg films ever.
 

MattKing

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1/250 @ f/11 is easily handheld on a bright summer day, so Portra 160 definitely doesn't always require a tripod.
And it works really well with flash.
The two slower Portras are great films.
 
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rayonline_nz

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Thanks for that. Given a choice are you guys shooting more Portra 160 or Portra 400 and what are your reasons? Thanks for Lachlan_Young for his response re: color.
 

Paul Manuell

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Thanks for that. Given a choice are you guys shooting more Portra 160 or Portra 400 and what are your reasons? Thanks for Lachlan_Young for his response re: color.
160, and the reason is that all my work is tripod mounted so the slower shutter speeds compared to those with the 400 are irrelevant. As mentioned above, the only time I've used the 400 instead of the 160 was shooting indoors where the slower shutter speeds of the 160 might've captured motion blur in the subject.
 

John Galt

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Ektar 100 is my favorite film because of color vibrance and grainlessness. Portra 160 is my #2 favorite film for its color rendition. Yes, use a tripod. Portra 400 is very flexible; I normally expose at EI800 and develop normally or push one stop. I expose Portra 160 at box speed and process normally. Same with Ektar.

4x5 Portra 160


WilmarcoImaging. that image is stunning. Although currently I work in B&W, I am inspired to include color in my repertoire. Thanks for the inspiration.
 

DREW WILEY

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It's important to carefully meter with Ektar, and don't overexpose it. If you can expose color chrome film (slides) correctly, this should be easy. But don't rely on so-called latitude like amateur color neg films; it's not engineered for that, but for better color punch with higher contrast. But it does gives you about a stop of range each direction (over / under) more than typical slide film. Use that fact for extra shadow or highlight content, not for being sloppy with exposure. I can explain why, but not briefly. Portra films can handle a modest amount of bending the rules in terms of box speed, preferably meaning a bit of overexposure when in question.
 

jim10219

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My two most used C41 films are Portra 400 and Ektar 100. I don't do a lot of portraits though. And when I do, it's usually in B&W. Portra 160 is great for scenes with a high dynamic range and even skin tones. But Ektar has more vibrant colors and finer grain. So it's my preferred film for landscapes. Portra 400 is second for its speed and dynamic range. It's also really forgiving.

I'd say give it a whirl. Everyone has favorites, and everyone has reasons for that. You just have to find what you like, and the best way to do that is experimentation.
 
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Thanks John.

rayonline_nz, I shoot mostly Portra 400 in 120, and Ektar 100 in large format. That's just where my mood is at the moment. The slower films, both Ektar and Portra 160 are far more interesting to me, based on grain/sharpness and color, than the 400 or 800 speed films.

Portra 800 tends toward brownish and dark purple in the shadows in my experience, not appealing to me. Portra 400 at EI800 is a much better option in my view, if 800 speed is needed.
 

macfred

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Portra 160 is pretty much dead neutral ...
That's what I like about this film!
Examples for landscape and portrait with Portra 160:

Monschau by Andreas, on Flickr

Mia (wearing my beanie) by Andreas, on Flickr

... 400 is a somewhat warmer & little more saturated ...
Complements my own experiences.
Two examples using Portra 400:

Workum (harbor) by Andreas, on Flickr

untitled (Porta Girls) by Andreas, on Flickr

I tend to expose generously - Portra 160 @ ISO120; Portra 400 @ISO320.
 

macfred

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nbagno

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As another data point, here's a youtube video just published about pushing and pulling which includes portra and pro400h
 
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