• Andrej Špilevoj

35mm film review: Kodak Portra 400


My name is Andrew and I am a fine art destination wedding photographer. In my spare time I work on different projects and one of my recent projects is a casual film test. This article is going to be about the most popular portrait film - Kodak Portra 400.

I was lucky enough to meet Paul and Edel on their wedding day several years ago. Back then I had a video studio in Ireland and I filmed their wedding which was amazing by all means. Five years later (which is now) I decided to contact some of my clients with the offer to take part in my current film review project. I was so surprised to get responses from all of them, but only Paul and Edel were actually able to meet for a photo shoot so I was very glad to see them again. I decided to arrange their photo session at Bertra Beach because of the amazing scenery and the well known Croagh Patrick mountain. It was March and it was very windy but sunny and warm enough to leave our jackets in the car. We walked, we chatted and we took tones of images on Portra film and digital. Here I would like to present to you the images from the well known film Kodak Portra 400 (35mm). On the bottom of this page you will find some more technical information. The film was overexposed by 1 stop, developed and scanned by amazing film lab in Germany - MeinFilmLab. Enjoy!!!











Kodak Portra 400 35mm

Shop: online store

Price: €8

Camera: Olympus OM-2n

Lens: Olympus Zuiko 50mm F1.8

Location: Lithuania, Ireland

Dev + Scan: Mein Film Lab

Total test price: €30 or €0.83 per frame.

Challenges:

The main challenge in the windy weather in Ireland - the cold. But talking serious -working with ISO400 was OK before the sunset but at the sunset my meter started showing me very low speed so I had to finish the photo session on digital instead. Keep in mind that my ISO was set to 200 since I intentionally wanted to overexpose the film by one stop. I actually had more challenges with the borrowed Nikon (I am a Canon shooter) digital camera, than working with the film and vintage Olympus.

Personal opinion:

First I should admit that this was my first photo session where I did not miss the focus in any of the shots. After 4 months of testing various films I finally reached that level of manual-focus-guru. What about the film? It is excellent film that preserves the skin color and in general I am very pleased with its looks (especially because it was scanned by such masters of this art). What's the funniest here is that exactly 1 year ago I was quite dissapointed with Portra but that was because my local scanners were unprofessional and they did not know how to manage such film in scanners. Now I rediscovered this film again and I doubt I will be using something else instead (especially for the paid photo shoots). Just one thing to mention - I am still on the side of the medium format film, the grain from 35mm annoys me a little bit even though it is nice if such images are mixed with digital. But looking only at grainy images makes me a bit frustrated. That's just my personal feeling, I guess.

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