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Rating New Portra 400 @ 800, 1600, 3200...
Old 08-23-2011   #1
umcelinho
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Rating New Portra 400 @ 800, 1600, 3200...

I've read a few reviews on the New Portra 400 regarding how it holds up when shot as a higher iso and then pushed accordingly. But what I haven't found is the outcome of shooting it 1, 2 or 3 (4 stops would be too much, i assume) but developing at box speed.

My current film workflow it so get all my color negs developed and scanned at a lab that doesn't do pushing. I do know another good lab who will push, when i need so, but their scans are awful. So I'm wondering if anyone has tried shooting at different exposures developing at 400, to get a better feeling on what i can expect. wondering if i could underexpose a bit on low light shots and still get a good IQ (varying exposure in the same roll)

I don't have Portra 400 available where I live, will be buying abroad, otherwise i'd be posting the results instead

thinking about how it turns out at 50-100-200-400-800-1600-3200-6400-12800-25600 (why not?)

if anyone has tried something in that sense, i'd appreciate to learn the outcome.

thanks!
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Old 08-23-2011   #2
Juan Valdenebro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by umcelinho View Post
I've read a few reviews on the New Portra 400 regarding how it holds up when shot as a higher iso and then pushed accordingly. But what I haven't found is the outcome of shooting it 1, 2 or 3 (4 stops would be too much, i assume) but developing at box speed.

My current film workflow it so get all my color negs developed and scanned at a lab that doesn't do pushing. I do know another good lab who will push, when i need so, but their scans are awful. So I'm wondering if anyone has tried shooting at different exposures developing at 400, to get a better feeling on what i can expect. wondering if i could underexpose a bit on low light shots and still get a good IQ (varying exposure in the same roll)

I don't have Portra 400 available where I live, will be buying abroad, otherwise i'd be posting the results instead

thinking about how it turns out at 50-100-200-400-800-1600-3200-6400-12800-25600 (why not?)

if anyone has tried something in that sense, i'd appreciate to learn the outcome.

thanks!
Hi,

The existence of Portra800 can give you a clue...

Your image will start degrading at 800, and will be losing blacks and showing muddy colors and grainy shadows past 800...

Some people get confused sometimes because of in camera metering: if you photograph someone dressed with dark clothes with your camera set at 1600 with Portra400, and you shoot at the settings your camera indicates, you'll be shooting close to 400 instead of 1600, and you'll think color negative can be pushed 2 stops. But it can't... The real speed you gain after a push2 by a pro lab is a bit less than half a stop AND you lose tonality... Color negative requires the best possible exposure... you can overexpose it (+1 or even +2) without losing image quality, but it's not a technology for considerable underexposure... You can see it very easily with one roll metered with an incident light meter doing the same image three times changing exposure... You'll find differences at -1, and you'll hate images at -2... Of course, it all depends on what you consider good... The best film for color in low light is Portra800: it can be shot at 2000 incident with a push2, and yet skins are great. At 2000 and 1.4 you can shoot most low light scenes...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-23-2011   #3
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I shoot the 400 from 100 to 1600 and have it processed normal. At 3200 i have it pushed one stop, and it still looks fantastic. 6400 i have it pushed 2 stops and also with 12,800. the 6400 is still good but not fantastic. 12,800 not great. The pics below are some examples. Make sure to check the bottom right. These are also are straight from RPL, I only resized them.

6400 pushed 2 stops in developing.


6400 pushed 2 stops in developing.


the one on the left is 6400 pushed 2 stops in developing and the one on the right is 12,800 pushed 2 stops in developing.

Last edited by cjbecker : 08-23-2011 at 20:17.
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Old 08-23-2011   #4
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I push Ektar 100 and Portra 400 by 2 stops, but I'm not a fan of Portra 800. I dunno, it's a color thing.

Anyhow, you lose shadow detail and you will see color shifts. Depending how good you are at the scanning workflow, the color shifts can be managed.

You may, or may not like the results of underexposing film and processing normal, +1 or +2. Only you can make that distinction, and honestly, there is no substitute for experimenting with your own cameras, shooting the way that you want to shoot. If you like the results, yay! If not, well, keep experimenting.
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Old 08-23-2011   #5
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i also use Portra 400 now from 400 to 1600 (in bright daylight i use a ND-filter) without pushing in the lab. Tried push 1 +2 in the beginning but didn't like the results.
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Old 08-23-2011   #6
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What is "2000 incident"? Sorry -- relative newcomer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
Hi,

The existence of Portra800 can give you a clue...

Your image will start degrading at 800, and will be losing blacks and showing muddy colors and grainy shadows past 800...

Some people get confused sometimes because of in camera metering: if you photograph someone dressed with dark clothes with your camera set at 1600 with Portra400, and you shoot at the settings your camera indicates, you'll be shooting close to 400 instead of 1600, and you'll think color negative can be pushed 2 stops. But it can't... The real speed you gain after a push2 by a pro lab is a bit less than half a stop AND you lose tonality... Color negative requires the best possible exposure... you can overexpose it (+1 or even +2) without losing image quality, but it's not a technology for considerable underexposure... You can see it very easily with one roll metered with an incident light meter doing the same image three times changing exposure... You'll find differences at -1, and you'll hate images at -2... Of course, it all depends on what you consider good... The best film for color in low light is Portra800: it can be shot at 2000 incident with a push2, and yet skins are great. At 2000 and 1.4 you can shoot most low light scenes...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-24-2011   #7
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ISO2000: just a bit more than one-stop push (1 1/3...) Color negative films accept a 1 1/3 underexposure from incident metering with a Push2 (as called by pro labs) without compromises in color, shadows or grain... Results are similar to perfect exposure ones, with a very small bump in contrast.

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-24-2011   #8
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This might be of interest. Portra 400 shot at various amounts of over and under exposure and developed at box speed. 'Proper' exposure in this set is defined as the exposure my incident meter gave me directly in front of the color checker. So you have a reference shot in which to compare the other shots. The scans were compensated for reasonably good images (courtesy of Precision Camera).

I ran the test in sunlight from a window, in tungsten light set at 3200 K, and tungsten light at 3200 K with a KB 6 filter on the lens.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/...7625883846979/
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Old 08-24-2011   #9
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That *is* useful!

Thanks for putting that together.
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Old 08-24-2011   #10
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I'm actually fairly impressed with the results at 6400. I have to try pushing Portra to see how I like it now.
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Old 08-24-2011   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Gray View Post
This might be of interest. Portra 400 shot at various amounts of over and under exposure and developed at box speed. 'Proper' exposure in this set is defined as the exposure my incident meter gave me directly in front of the color checker. So you have a reference shot in which to compare the other shots. The scans were compensated for reasonably good images (courtesy of Precision Camera).

I ran the test in sunlight from a window, in tungsten light set at 3200 K, and tungsten light at 3200 K with a KB 6 filter on the lens.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/...7625883846979/
Hi Tim,

I remember when you did that test (and shared it here on RFF) long ago... Any photographer using color negative film seriously (that means having fun and getting great color ) can chime in and confirm here -again- how easily you lose your clean shadows, your blacks, your fine grain, etc., when you underexpose it more than one stop, no matter if you develop film normally or for more seconds.

Besides, a scan is an autoexposure photograph of a negative frame, "a new creation", and those digital images don't really show differences very well.

How can someone be "impressed" on ISO400 color negative film shot at 6400? Why would the same company make the same film but with ISO800 speed? Why, being the best film company ever, can't they offer a version going to 1600? Not even a P3200 one?

Apart from that, at ISO2000 with a fast lens, we can photograph anywhere...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-24-2011   #12
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Wow, I am impressed. I have gotten far less useful results with Portra at 1600 -- lots of grain and noise in the darker sections of the frame. In fact I seem to be getting noise even at 400. I think that may be because of my scanner (Plustek).

Anyone has experience doing something similar with standard home scanning hardware/software (V600/Vuescan) etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Gray View Post
This might be of interest. Portra 400 shot at various amounts of over and under exposure and developed at box speed. 'Proper' exposure in this set is defined as the exposure my incident meter gave me directly in front of the color checker. So you have a reference shot in which to compare the other shots. The scans were compensated for reasonably good images (courtesy of Precision Camera).

I ran the test in sunlight from a window, in tungsten light set at 3200 K, and tungsten light at 3200 K with a KB 6 filter on the lens.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/...7625883846979/
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Old 08-24-2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
Hi Tim,

I remember when you did that test (and shared it here on RFF) long ago... Any photographer using color negative film seriously (that means having fun and getting great color ) can chime in and confirm here -again- how easily you lose your clean shadows, your blacks, your fine grain, etc., when you underexpose it more than one stop, no matter if you develop film normally or for more seconds.

Besides, a scan is an autoexposure photograph of a negative frame, "a new creation", and those digital images don't really show differences very well.

How can someone be "impressed" on ISO400 color negative film shot at 6400? Why would the same company make the same film but with ISO800 speed? Why, being the best film company ever, can't they offer a version going to 1600? Not even a P3200 one?

Apart from that, at ISO2000 with a fast lens, we can photograph anywhere...

Cheers,

Juan
You almost seem offended.
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Old 08-24-2011   #14
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Just like the other time, when I look at the N image, it doesn't look like a correct exposure, but more like an overexposure... (I'm not talking about the glare at all...) I mean a digital overexposure (as with levels)... Maybe Tim metered well but the lab uses to give some digital overexposure to their scans in order to help some people's dark images? Anyway on the test it's visible how image suffers after -1... The real way to see what's possible, and how much the images suffers, is printing to a decent size...

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-24-2011   #15
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Haven't done it, but have seen it pushed and processed to 1600 which looked like very good results, oddly, as good or better than my Portra 800 native shots. I think the lab used was a specialty one in LA, forget the name.
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Old 08-24-2011   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Creagerj View Post
You almost seem offended.
No Joe, I've really tried to use color negative beyond its limits... Indeed I wish I had not seen "internet tests" lots of times in the past, because they're not the best way to get close to reality... Color negative film is the most amazing technology... But its limit is underexposure... I wish Portra400 could be used at least @1600 remaining as good as it is, but that just can't be...

Cheers,

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Old 08-24-2011   #17
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thank everyone fo inputs. i am aware that shooting it at box speed should lead to the best results, but what i wanted to see is how it behaved, and i think it performs better than fuji x-tra 800, what i've been shooting lately.

i agree that pushing would be better, but instead of paying R$15 per roll developed and scanned (roughly $10) i'd have an extra R$8 ($5) to have it push developed at another lab to then scan at the other (price is the same as developing+scanning). it's not only an increase in cost per roll but also a PITA to take uncut film from one lab to another (also increases chances of scratching, getting dust etc... that's why i'm trying to find a good solution using just 1 lab.

i know portra 800, even though i haven't tried it yet, but i wonder if it would be too close to portra 400 in terms of speed, considering it's a stop faster. also, it may be that kodak releases the new portra at a new speed instead of 800, or an 800 with a higher latitude... who knows.

also, i've had better scanning experiences straight from the lab than when scanning at home with a plustek 7500i. so i sold it.
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Old 08-24-2011   #18
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Quote:
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Haven't done it, but have seen it pushed and processed to 1600 which looked like very good results, oddly, as good or better than my Portra 800 native shots. I think the lab used was a specialty one in LA, forget the name.
Probably Richard Photo Lab. It's the one lots and lots of famous photographers are flocking to these days. Jose Villa, Riccis, etc etc.
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Old 08-24-2011   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
How can someone be "impressed" on ISO400 color negative film shot at 6400? Why would the same company make the same film but with ISO800 speed? Why, being the best film company ever, can't they offer a version going to 1600? Not even a P3200 one?
I pretty much agree with you. While I never tested pushing with this film, I'd rather shoot Portra 800 than underexpose 400. I rather like Portra 800. Also remember whenever you see shots that have been pushed - you don't know how the person metered. Also people usually post the good results and not the bad ones

Yes, I think the lab scans a bit hot - most of my highlights on their scans are a bit brighter than I'd do myself. On the other hand, I don't particularly care for 95% of the shots I get scanned (certainly not for these). I know I can always rescan any important frames at home and there is PLENTY of info in the highlights in the actual negative.

I can provide a raw scan of one or two frames if people wish.

anerjee - If you know what you are doing, you should be able to get comparable results with a decent home scanner. I scanned a couple of frames with my Coolscan V to see if I got better/worse results, and they were close enough (ignoring sharpness) that it wasn't worth scanning them all for pictures I don't really care about. This was part of a larger test with 400NC and 400VC - I was interested in the relative differences.
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Old 08-24-2011   #20
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1600 looks good here:

http://www.landscapegb.com/2011/05/k...rtra-400-film/

and good exposure latitude here:

http://www.landscapegb.com/2011/05/k...rtra-400-film/
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Old 08-24-2011   #21
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When I look at Tim's excellent test series my first thought was "this film is EI 200 with some very nice latitude". I don't always understand why so many insist on destroying their images by underexposing AND overdeveloping. It's a double whammy you cannot win. Use the latitude and underexpose one or maybe two stops if you must and open up your fast and expensive lens.
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Old 08-25-2011   #22
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I am learning -- I use Silverfast to give me a linear 48bit negative scan, and then I invert it in Colorperfect. This always gives me better colors than Silverfast negafix. I import the inverted picture into Lightroom, where I do any other modifications.

However, even slight under-exposure introduces lots of color noise when I try and bring the exposure back in Lightroom. I do use Topaz de-noise sometimes, but I'd like to learn if there are better ways to expose and scan.

I do not want to push process -- it is expensive and the results not good. I use ISO 1600 only for contingencies -- where I'd rather have a noisy shot than no shot.

Any advise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Gray View Post
... anerjee - If you know what you are doing, you should be able to get comparable results with a decent home scanner. I scanned a couple of frames with my Coolscan V to see if I got better/worse results, and they were close enough (ignoring sharpness) that it wasn't worth scanning them all for pictures I don't really care about. This was part of a larger test with 400NC and 400VC - I was interested in the relative differences.
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Old 08-25-2011   #23
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I don't know about underexposure but Portra 400 seems to take overexposure really well. A while ago I accidentally shot a frame at f5.6 instead of f45 on my 4x5 because I forgot to stop down the lens and it came out surprisingly well. The image was lacking contrast but that could've easily been taken care of in post.
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Old 08-30-2011   #24
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Portra 400 is the best versatile film, it is exceedingly sharp and fine grained, and can go in both directions in exposure.

Portra 800 is faster, it is more so than the simple difference in their film speeds when you look at the curves, so Portra 800 should take pushing better than 400. The curves for pushing to 1600 and 3200 with 800 are published too.

In regards to the OP, I have pushed Portra 400 to 25600 out of curiosity.

The resulting image was exceedingly thin, meaning my calculated developing time of 7 minutes and 30 seconds was actually far undeveloped (+15% per stop falls apart after first 2 it appears), while I don't expect a normal image with any shadow detail at all, there should be better colour and a lack of scanner noise (from flatbed scanning), I'd estimate the time is probably double what I used.

Here is one of the best from that roll.

New Portra 400 @ 25600 by athiril, on Flickr




Pushing to 1600 looks great, I always try to incident meter in the main light of the subject when I can, which I point towards the light, not the camera, as I want a reading of the light, not an amalgamation of average of the light and shade, or another light.

OCAU Melb Photowalk Week 2 #6 by athiril, on Flickr



When pushing I would recommend exposing Portra 1/3rd of a stop slower than what you're pushing to, ie: shoot 1250 instead of 1600, 2500 instead of 3200. While it's only a third of a stop, it makes a lot more difference in pushing and it should help keep the margin for metering error on the positive side rather than possibly on the negative.


I scan in Epson Scan. Sometimes I colour balance in Epson Scan, other times I expand the levels to make sure nothing is clipped so I do not have to scan again later if I change my mind on how it looks. Then I colour balance through levels and then finely through colour balance tool in Photoshop, it takes about 10-15 seconds for an accurate balance.

Last edited by Athiril : 08-30-2011 at 19:34.
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Old 08-30-2011   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
Just like the other time, when I look at the N image, it doesn't look like a correct exposure, but more like an overexposure... (I'm not talking about the glare at all...) I mean a digital overexposure (as with levels)... Maybe Tim metered well but the lab uses to give some digital overexposure to their scans in order to help some people's dark images? Anyway on the test it's visible how image suffers after -1... The real way to see what's possible, and how much the images suffers, is printing to a decent size...

Cheers,

Juan
Portra 800 is actually a P1600 and P3200 film. It is the only one with curves published for pushing.

The curve for Portra 800 appears .4 or .5 better before hitting the toe of Portra 400 (this is @ 800 vs 400 too), that's 1 and 1/3rd stops to 1 and 2/3rds stops better underexposure latitude and assumably pushability, on top of that it's also a +1 stop faster.

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