Kodak Ektar 100 or Portra 160 in full sunshine?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by m_forest, Apr 22, 2015.

  1. I'm travelling to Southern Europe this summer and i'm planning to shoot a mix of landscapes and portraits - in both 35mm and 120 - for a college project. I'd like to keep the 35mm as fine-grained as possible so as to potentially mix it with the 120 (at a print size of about 11x14"). At the moment i'm sort of torn between Kodak Ektar 100 and Portra 160. I've shot Portra 160 on medium format in the past and i've always found it to be a very impressive film, is it worth going the extra yard for Ektar? Lighting levels won't be an issue as i'll be under intense sunshine, with the possibility of some use of flash indoors.
  2. They are very different films. I don't consider Ektar to be "an extra yard" ahead of Portra 160.
  3. I do like Ektar a lot, notwithstanding its very blue skylit shadows.
    However, much also depends on what cameras you're using.
    These are both 'fast' films by the standards of years gone by, and many old folders, for example, don't have fast enough shutter speeds to handle them well.
  4. Although I don't use as much as I used to I consider Portra 160 one of my go-to films in medium format and have for many years. I always keep a few pro packs in the freezer. I keep some for 35 as well and like the results but find myself shooting more B&W in that format lately. Bottom line is I think it will serve you well.

    Rick H.
  5. Ektar will be a more saturated - vivid- and higher contrast film. Portra is lower contrast, closer to neutral contrast, and is less saturated than Ektar.
    For the landscapes and informal portraits, Ektar is a great film; I like and use it in 35mm.
    If you will be shooting formal portraits, then Portra would be the film of choice. In bright sunlight with high contrast subjects, people or landscapes, Portra might be better, if you want to control the contrast.
  6. Agree with everything Brooks said. As much as I love Ektar, I don't find it flattering for portraits. It would be the one I would use for landscapes if I didn't have Velvia with me. I think the Portra is probably the better compromise film even if it may show a bit more grain.
  7. You've got the Alpha and Omega of C-41 color negative films there. Portra 160 is the lowest contrast, and the lowest color saturation. Ektar 100 is the highest contrast, and the highest saturation. Kodak's intent for Ektar 100 was to reproduce the look of Ektachrome 100VS (Vivid Saturation).
    Skin tones are a weak point of Ektar 100. Like slide film, it's fussy about exposure, where Portra 160 is forgiving (huge dynamic range).
    Ektar 100 is tricky to scan with good color balance. I've found SilverFast with the film profile for Ektar 100 works well. Raw Nikon Scan didn't work well. VueScan can work well with Ektar 100 as well.
  8. Earlier this week I shot a roll of Portra 160 in 120 size in a Bronica GS-1. If the light is even a little flat I seem to get better results rating it at 125 or even 100. With Ektar 100 in the same situation I would rate it at 64 or even 50. I have no problem getting the right exposure with Portra 400 or Portra 800 at box speed. With the old Fuji 160 speed color print films I always had to rate then at 100. In the case of the Portra 160 I shot this week I was working hand held in decent light. If I had been using a tripod I would have used Ektar 100. With an 11X14 and the 6X7 format I think I can see a difference between the Portra 160 and the Ektar 100.
  9. Full sunshine means shadows, and Ektar will exaggerate shadows more so the Portra 160. It's a decision as to what look you want, or like, or tolerate. I think the contrast issue with Ektar is enough that bites when shooting in contrasty light.
  10. Thanks guys. I'll stick with the Portra this time around but i'll probably shoot some tests with a couple of rolls of Ektar for future reference.
  11. From time to time here, and there I see amazing results with Superia films. I'll run some of my own.
  12. I would go with the Portra -- it's definitely the better film for portraits, and if you decide you need more snap and contrast in the landscape pictures it's easier to add contrast than to take it away. As for the portraits, get out of the sun and shoot in shaded areas whenever you can regardless of what film you use. At the very least, turn people around away from the sun and use the bright sun as a hair light or rim light and fill in the dark side of their faces with a reflector or flash.

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