Comparison of portra NC, VC and UC?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by raymondc, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Hi

    I am just curious about these. I intend to do some testing later
    this yr with them all. Just would like to know some opinons.

    Thanks.
     
  2. each has different uses...UC is a great all around outdoor film ( for me ) with good grain and nice colors. VC is lower contrast and works well with flash or outdoors in non-flat lighting...NC is (for me) a studio film focused on skin tone accuracy.
    www.antiquecameras.net
     
  3. Blast away! Check out KODAK.COM and read the spec sheets and professional
    recommendations for these films. Then go to their galleries and look at results.
    Personally I have used Portra NC~UC from Minox 8x11mm thru 6x7cm formats and
    have been pleased across the board! I love these films for people pix and candids at
    group functions, weddings, parties, funerals . . . you nameit. I have had great results
    with NC in difficult contrast situations outdoors, i.e. white dress vs. black tux in a
    hazy lit flower garden. OTOH: If I had to travel with one film only, it would be Kodak
    Portra UC! WOW! Brilliant colors and perfect skin tones! One caveat: I use a
    professional, KODAK photofinisher and do not feel the need to cheapen the process
    from exposure to final print. Portra is slightly more expensive, delivers very
    consistent results when processed via a Kodak portra channel. If one takes Portra to
    a 1-hour photo that specializes in FUJI, the end results may not be as good as the
    ones I have experienced. One other comment: Kodak Portra 800 IS outstanding for
    low-light situations! It's a true ISO 800 for me and the resolution is as good as ISO
    400 films of yesteryear.
     
  4. Portra NC is less saturated and lower contrast than VC, which still maintains an enormous contrast range compared to former films like Royal Gold 100. UC is more saturated than VC but noticeably less sharp in extremely fine details, such as on landscape photographs.
     
  5. Portra 160NC is superb for flash photography. The film seems to magically absorb artificial light, yielding excellent skin tones, great color, and white balance that approaches, dare I say it, digital.

    400UC is outstanding for outdoor portraiture. Pleasing saturation without going overboard.

    Both 160NC and 400UC are extremely scanner friendly. Strangely enough, scanning 160NC yields higher saturation than when printed straight.

    I used Portra 160VC once and was greatly disappointed. Very flat color rendition, scanned poorly, and exhibited a Saturn moon or two worth of grain.
     
  6. Ray, we shouldn't prejudice you in advance of your testing, but most
    photo.netters do not appreciate Portra VC. I hope Jay is comparing
    the sharpness of UC400 and 160VC (not exactly fair) because 400VC is
    noticeably less sharp, as the Kodak datasheets show, primarily due to
    grainyness. My take: 160NC and UC400 are great films, and 400NC has
    a niche as the lowest-contrast 400 speed film on the market, with the
    possible exception of new Agfa Optima.
     
  7. 400VC is my favourite. NC is too flat, UC is too funky.
     
  8. My favourite is 160VC. I sometimes wonder what the photonetters who do not appreciate it do wrong, or what I do wrong. Bill, count me among those who do not follow-the-leader of PN and use it as their main print film. Still, the archives have a lot of good examples for its use.
    160VC works under most lighting conditions, is perfect for outdoors with fill flash, is not flat under overcast skies and has great sharpness and resolution when enlarged. Prints best on Kodak Royal and Agfa Prestige. CA is still fine but boosts contrast.
    I also like 400NC and find 400UC a unique film, though I don't have too many applications for its increased saturation. Great colours though...
     
  9. <<I used Portra 160VC once and was greatly disappointed. Very flat color rendition, scanned poorly, and exhibited a Saturn moon or two worth of grain.>>

    Then you might have gotten film that was left out on the tarmac in 90 degree heat for a couple days, or else your scanner is a piece of crap, or your scanning technique is sorely lacking. 160VC has a beautiful color palette, superb sharpness for a print film, and no noticeable grain even in 35mm size at 11x14.

    <<I hope Jay is comparing the sharpness of UC400 and 160VC (not exactly fair) because 400VC is noticeably less sharp, as the Kodak datasheets show, primarily due to grainyness>>

    No, Jay is not comparing 160VC, and 400VC is noticeably *more* sharp than UC. Sharpness and grain are two completely different issues as anyone who ever shot Kodachrome 200 knows from practice.
     
  10. Admittedly I haven't tried Portra VC in years, but I didn't like it back when. My Battle Creek page was done on 400VC and I detect bottom-rung shadow detail, murkiness or muddiness in overcast conditions, and white-measles grain in blue sky. Unlike Eliot N, I do not own a large format camera. Jay, if you compare the Kodak datasheets you will see that 400VC's MTF falls below 50% at about 28 and 45 cycles/mm for red and green, versus UC400's MTF at about 35 and 62. Grain can improve sharpness, but at some threshold it reduces sharpness by causing jaggy lines. I found Supra 800 @ 640 less grainy than 400VC as rated.
     
  11. I like 160VC as a people film; great skin tones, yet colours have some snap to them. I tried 400VC but found it way too grainy. I shot a friend's wedding on 400NC and the pictures were lovely - it retained detail in both the white dress and the black tux, and had beautiful skin tones. I haven't tried 160NC.
    400UC is no longer part of the Portra family but it started out as a Portra film. I like it as a general-purpose film. I haven't taken many people pictures on it so I can't really judge that, other than to say the few people I've had in the pictures have turned out reasonably well - but I think 160VC or 400NC would have done better.
    It's also important to note that what you're going to do with the negs after they're developed is important. I have had no problems scanning any of these. They all print well on Kodak Royal paper (which is very similar to Kodak Supra professional paper, and Supra is one of the recommended papers for Portra films). 400UC seems to print well onto Fuji Crystal Archive via a Frontier; the other Portra films do not work well with this combination.
     
  12. <<Then you might have gotten film that was left out on the tarmac in 90 degree heat for a couple days, or else your scanner is a piece of crap, or your scanning technique is sorely lacking.>>

    Since the same scanner was operated with pleasing results by the same person (me) for the other two films under consideration, it must be an issue with the 160VC film roll I bought.
     
  13. Eliot, George, Jay, and others who like 400VC: do you rate it at EI 200 to reduce grain, leverage its huge overexposure latitude, and compensate for its minimal underexposure latitude? Do you find it is cosmetic for people with freckly complexions?
    For samples, take a look at Benjamin Cromwell's portfolio, all done with 400VC. The first (chronologically last) shot is excellent, but the last has too much skin contrast if you ask me.
     
  14. Bill, I am not very experienced with 400VC. As I said above, my favourite is 160VC. I shot five rolls 400VC only in medium format 6x6, and that was two years ago. Obviously I had no issues with grain. The few enlargements 20x30cm looked clean and very sharp. Sharper than the slower Agfa XPS I had used earlier.<br>
    I am sure I did not overexpose. As I posted yesterday, I always shoot colour print films at nominal speed, but measure for the shadows without being overly careful or precise, trusting the forgiving nature of pro print films.<p>
    Regarding your other question, my daughter has pale skin or "a freckly complexion" as you said, and 400VC flatters her. But I mostly shoot 35mm format in 160VC and it has an equivalent, smooth colour palette.
     
  15. 400VC rated at 200 (just to be on the safe side).

    Although I shoot portraits, I'm less interested in a film's rendition of skintones, than
    in its overall rendition of colour. (But having said that, I don't like Fuji's rendition of
    caucasian skintones - too pink).

    If you want reality shoot 400NC.

    400VC has a more painterly palette.

    (Though you wouldn't know it from that link you posted.)

    It's a film that fits in with my workflow, from idea to print. I wouldn't wish it upon
    anyone else.
     
  16. i'm all about 400nc - i LOVE the nc series. vc is just too much for me. i can't imagine uc..
     

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