• Andrej Špilevoj

35mm film review: Kodak Portra 800

My name is Andrew and I am a fine art destination wedding photographer in Italy (Lake Como, Amalfi). In the weddings I work mainly digital and medium format but in my spare time I like testing various films and share my results with other people. So here we go... the 35mm film review: Kodak Portra 800

Since I have just posted a very similar review of the Kodak Portra 800 medium format it will be hard for me not to compare those films side by side but I will try. First I should mention that Kodak Portra 800 35mm film is one of the most expensive 35mm films available on the marked. I personally got this reel for 18 Euros with delivery charges but you can sometimes find it for 14-15 Euros in Germany or Poland. Again you will be charged for shipping so this pushes the final price up. Second, in contrast to my review of its big brother this film was tested in variety of locations inside and outside and it was also brought to the night club where I took some pictures of a well known singer Lemon Joy. As always with those pro films I used Mein Film Lab services for dev & scan. This is a German company but I don't mind shipping film and I am always very pleased with their results. 1 year ago my first 3 rolls were scanned by a local lab and it was really bad. I even stopped working with film after I saw the results - so much I was disappointed with them. However later I decided to give it a second try so I started with other films and tried different labs locally. However in the middle of the winter I arranged a photo shoot with Portra 400 medium format and I decided to send it to Mein Film Lab. And it worked! From now on I do not even think of any other lab when working with Fuji 400h and Portra.

One thing to mention about Kodak Portra 800 35mm film - I noticed that it provides its best results when pictures are taken inside but with the natural light (through windows). I also tested this film side by side with Portra 400 in one photo shoot in Ireland which I will post later - I noticed no difference if pictures are taken outside. So the main power of this film is when it is used inside. Pay attention at the images below, see which one you prefer more - inside or outside. In my next blog I will provide a side by side comparison with Portra 400 - hardly will you see any difference at all (photoshoot was outside in sunset). I should also mention that I was overexposing this film by 1 stop in camera (setting ISO to 400). So when would I buy this film again? - If I knew that the wedding or bridal preparation takes place in a dark place, like castle or hotel with smaller windows. If I knew the location was bright or it would be mostly outside - I would not waste my money and rather buy Portra 400.

Here are some images of Kodak Portra 800 and some more technical information on the bottom of this page:

Kodak Portra 800 35mm

Shop: local online store

Price: €18

Camera: Olympus OM-2n

Lens: Olympus Zuiko 50mm F1.8

Location: Lithuania, Ireland

Dev + Scan: Mein Film Lab

Total test price: €35 or €1 per frame.


The main and the only challenge I experienced was in Ireland. I arranged a sunset photo session with Paul and Edel but it appeared that the maximum speed of my camera (1/1000) and ISO400 is not enough to get nice blurs at F/2.0, so most of my shots on the beach were taken with aperture of F/5.6 and higher. Sometimes even up to F/11. This is when I wished I would rather use Kodak Portra 400 with ISO setting @200.

Personal opinion:

I am in love with Portra even more than with the Fuji 400h which is so adored by other fine art wedding photographers. I find Portra having no tint (green and pink) like Fuji does and it does not destroy the greens like Fuji does in some cases. So I am totally happy with this film except that I think that the price for this film is way too high. Recommend it to you if you plan working in darker conditions with natural light. This is an amazing film.

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