ISO 160: Fuji vs. Kodak vs. Agfa

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by anbeck, Sep 19, 2004.

  1. Hi there,

    I plan to make some outdoor portraits in available light ("autumn
    light") and therefore look out for a nice portrait film. The film
    should be nice to enlarge (fine grain), and skin tones should be
    natural and soft. The portraits will be made outside to catch all
    these great autumn colors.
    All major film brands have their own ISO 160 film for this purpose,
    what are the differences? What are the advantages/disadvantages of
    these films?

    Furthermore I've heard that one should expose these films on ISO 100.
    Do I understand it correctly that I don't inform the lab about this
    (in contrast to "pulling", where the processing is also adjusted?)?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. Most colour neg films have lots of 'overexposure' latitude, but little if any underexposure latitude. The way film speed is defined more or less determines this. Therefore it is common to set your meter to a lower speed than the box speed to make use of this latitude to give better shadow detail, for example. Sometimes a third of a stop (which doesn't make a whole lot of difference), sometimes a full stop (which does make a difference). It comes down to the way you meter and 'whatever works for you'. One thing that works for me with Portra 160 NC for landscapes is to set my incident meter to 160, then to meter in the shade. Anyway, you don't tell the lab.

    I'll step aside for all that Fuji vs Kodak thing...

    Best, Helen
  3. Andre;

    Helen has it right.

    I have exposed Portra 160 VC at speeds from 25 - 800 and gotten very good results from 50 - 400 with ideal lighting. The real usable range is about 100 - 200, with the overexposure being preferred.

    You would need no pull or push from 100 - 200, IMHO.

    On the issue of the other films, I have used most all other color films from Agfa, Fuji, Konica, and EK. You would have to try them and make your own decision. I have found good points and bad points with all of the films from those companies. I suggest you try some of the ones you may feel best for your purposes, and pick the one that suits your tastes the best.

    Ron Mowrey
  4. Im sort of shocked at Ron's answer.I have never gotten "good results", shooting people with VC at any speed.Outdoors for scenics, I love this film, but its skin tones & contrast leave lots to be desired.

    If you meter correctly with negative films(for the shadows)you can shoot at "box" speed.(A concept lost on more than a few of the brethren).

    The best films for this in my ever so humble opinion, would be either Portra 160"NC" or Fuji NPS.The choice would depend on which brand of professional paper your lab uses.

    As for asking a lab to push or pull C41 materials.Try and find an honest lab, because most will "shuck your goobers" for a few extra bucks, and run it thru regular.

    If you use an averaging meter on scenes of moderate brightness ranges, it is prefectly fine to lower the exposure index, and have the film processed normal.However, over exposing too much (which isnt hard to do), will ruin detail in the highlights or whites of your scene.
  5. Fuji Superia-Reala 100 is worth considering. It has nice skin tones, with higher saturation than most of the portrait-specific films, while still maintaining moderate contrast. It might do a better job at capturing the nice autumn colors and yet still maintain attractive skin tones.
  6. Steve;

    I don't disagree with your answer. OTOH, I did expose a lot of VC recently and was satisfied with the flesh tones though. I guess the name Portra is reasonable from my standpoint.

    And the latitude of the film looked fine.

    Ron Mowrey
  7. I'm a big fan of most Agfa films; however I'd eliminate Agfa's 160 Portrait from this. It is an EXTREMELY low colour saturation film. Nice for some things, but not for capturing Autumn colors. You might consider Optima II 100 if you like Agfa films. As far as Kodak or Fuji it's largely a matter of personal preference. Both have passionate defenders. I happen to like the Kodak Portra line, but just because it happens to work well for me. I just do better with it. Others do better with Fuji. I don't think one is really superior, just a matter of taste.
  8. Andre,
    I agree with R.T. on using the Fuji Reala. I love this film for portraiture, especially outside with a fill flash. Colors are a little more "punchy", but skin tones remain nice, with tighter grain than the Portra films if you are doing enlargements. Use a fill flash that is anywhere from 1/2 to 1 full stop less than the ambient light on your subject and you will get great results. Good shooting!
  9. Thanks for all your answers.
    I'll probably try the Fuji Reala and the 160 NPS.

    I'd better test out the locations before I shoot the real pictures, to find out whether I need a tripod or such. Usually I think that a tripod isn't nice if you want to change your perspective quickly for a portrait, it just reduces the "ease" of the session. But when I shoot with a ISO 100 film in autumn light it might be better.

    Thanks a lot for all your responses!
  10. VC 160 works fine for skin tones provided you keep the film in open sun or combined with electronic flash. It's a studio film, so that's what it's going to excel at. Consider also that there are about 5,000 other print film on the market that are good with skin tones under open sun or in the studio as well. But of course Kodak says VC is 'strongly saturated film' so some people here actually believe it vs using films that have far more capabilities.

    The choices here are Kodak Portra NC 160 or Fuji Reala (or NPS in place of Reala). Nothing wrong with NPS, but it's redundant using both NPS and Reala when the two film are so closely related. As mentioned above, Kodak print films will excel with Kodak processing and not do so well at a Fuji lab.
  11. Scott, are you saying NPS is like a slightly faster version of Reala? If so, is there any reason not to choose NPS over Reala?
  12. I have fairly limited experience with NPS, but in my experience NPS is less saturated than Reala (which is a medium-saturation film). Aside from saturation, they seem to basically share a color pallette. Both seem very sharp and fine-grained, though I can't comment more specifically than that.
  13. I have used Agfa Optima 160 and Kodak Portra 160VC and NC a lot. Kodak Portra is my favorite overall at any speed choices, but since they offer a few speed choices (100UC, 160VC/NC, 400UC,VC,NC & 800) I do not bother with pushing or pulling for my tasks. I shoot it at the advertised ISO and have them printed at a Pro Kodak processor and the results are always consistent and colors are perfect! I have had excellent results with the Agfa 160 and usually rate it at ISO 125. It is sharp and has a neutral pallette, but I prefer the kodak flavor as does my pro lab. Fuji has good stuff, but I don't shoot it and leave the comments to those who do.

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