New Portra 400 - 1st scan shows surprising sharpness, fine grain

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by zoltan_arva_toth, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. I've got my first roll of Kodak Portra 400 back from the lab, and scanned a few frames.
    Below you can see one of them. It's no work of art, but then it wasn't meant to be anyway ;-)
    First, the full frame, resized to 700 pixels wide:
    00ZBLh-389247684.jpg
     
  2. I originally scanned this at 3600dpi. Here is a 100% crop from the full-resolution scan (sharpened). The sharpness is almost puzzling - you can almost feel the texture of the wood -, while the grain is surprisingly fine for a 400 speed film:
    00ZBLk-389251584.jpg
     
  3. OK, that's what the highlights and the lighter midtones look like.
    The darker midtones should look grainier, right? Right, but I think they're not too bad either:
    00ZBLr-389253584.jpg
     
  4. Finally, a crop showing shadow detail. Remember, this and the other two crops are from a high-resolution, 3600ppi scan. This film really DOES allow for surprisingly big enlargements, even if shot in 35mm format.
    00ZBLv-389255784.jpg
     
  5. Zoltan, Which scanner did you use? What size film? 35mm (hinted at) or 120? Encouraging results. Thanks for the lesson. I like 160 NC (old version) so I am encouraged by this 400 ISO demo. Best, LM
     
  6. The film is even better without the noise added by the scanner (appears to be a flatbed). This is with a coolscan. Link for full size:
    http://shutterclick.smugmug.com/Photography/Portra-400-and-TMAX-400-G/15789423_WvenE#1429190919_x8zmj8H-O-LB
    Great film!
    00ZBPC-389319584.jpg
     
  7. Len, it's 35mm. I did shoot a roll of 120 film too, but it's still waiting to be scanned - I haven't the means to scan medium format myself.
    Mauro, it's not a flatbed (I'd be surprised if a flatbed could produce this sort of sharpness at 100%, at 3600dpi), but no Coolscan either. This scan was done on a Plustek OpticFilm 7500i. I agree that what you see here is an interplay of actual film grain (dye clouds), grain aliasing and perhaps scanner noise, but it's still encouraging.
     
  8. That is quite encouraging - I am thinking of buying a Plustek. Maybe not quite 100% of the Coolscan, but probably better value. :)
    I took a crop of Mauro's file and performed selective Gaussian blur in the GIMP, and compared it to the non-filtered version. This is the most primitive form of noise reduction but the results were not bad. I set radius to 2.00 and max. delta to 20. Top version is non-filtered. Notice how most of the fine detail remains in the filtered version.
    [​IMG]


    Some fine tuning could produce better results. And you could do even better with proper NR software (I'm still not sure which to buy!).
     
  9. You could blur the background but the original is 100% smooth on a 16x20 print from 35mm.
    Portra 400 is a breakthrough 400iso color neg. Thanks again to Kodak.
     
  10. The Plustex is not bad and it is only slightly soft. The only thing is the noise it shows appears to be film grain but it is not, I think it is a combination of digital noise and low DR in the shadows. Like I said, not bad.
     
  11. If you think the new Kodak Portra 400 is good try the New Portra 160 it's fantastic.
     
  12. Also the 160 at 100EI allows you to use fill flash in daylight. Both superb.
     
  13. Thanks for the great post, and particularly to Mauro for the additional info! And to Kodak!!
    Mauro, could you elaborate on the improvements that the new Portra 400 has over a film I've loved, and am fairly familiar with, Portra 400 NC? And particularly, do you think the new Portra 400 might be very appropriate for critical nature work? To give some background, I've been using E100g for nature for a long time, and love it. But of course, many times it would be nice to have a 400 speed film.
    Ben (and Mauro, of course), could you please elaborate on how the new Portra 160 differs from the old Portra 160 NC, with which I am slightly familiar?
     
  14. I find Portra 400 to have better colors (more vibrant but not overly saturated), much greater DR, much smaller grain, better contrast and sharpness than 400NC. No comparison.

    I only use Portra for landscapes or cityscapes when I look for and easy on the heart feel - most cases I use Velvia 50 though. Portra does make me feel great, as it where fall time in the 1970's (in my mind).

    I used the new 160 just a little, very similar to 160NC finer grain perhaps.
     
  15. Jeff, having used both, the new one has less grain and for me comes out quite... not sure what the word ought to be...
    smooth, I guess. I find it requires a bit more effort with the color on the scans, it's not like the NC which is almost
    foolproof, but once you get it right you're rewarded.
     
  16. Thanks Mauro! As mentioned, I loved the old 400 NC, so now I'm really excited about this new one! I think I understand what you're saying about the look for landscapes and cityscapes... It might be too much to expect a single film to do everything, but I won't hesitate to use this for some scenic type images :). Maybe it's good that films like Velvia and Ektachrome still have a reason for being, too! Interesting what you find about the 160, also. I didn't even have a problem with the old 400 NC's grain, so I think I'll be perfectly fine with these new emulsions. Thanks again!
     
  17. Really interesting Andy, thanks! I have some new 400 ready to go, and can't wait to shoot it!
     
  18. Jeff, the new Portra 400 exceeded my expectations (and pretty much everyone else 's). You'll do great with it.
     
  19. Wow! Unfortunately, it's raining here today, but I will be shooting at the first opportunity!
     
  20. This is the best 400 speed color film I've ever used....ever. It brought new life to my classic film cameras! Amazing stuff!
    00ZBcA-389573584.jpg
     
  21. It converts to B&W brilliantly. So sharp, so smooth. Thanks Mauro, for the test rolls, I'm a convert.
    00ZBcL-389581584.jpg
     
  22. I love this stuff, especially in 120. Here's a shot taken of a friend of mine back in May. Rolleiflex 6006 with 800mm lens. Scanned using Silverfast:
    [​IMG]
     
  23. Very nice Vrod take.
     
  24. So nice Jim!.
     
  25. Louis, here is the same shot side-by-side with 400iso (portra vs TMAX). Can you please apply the same conversion you did on the Vrod? I would like to see how it does (personally, I cannot recreate b&w from color reliabily- unless I have the b&w shot as well to extract the color mixer and the texture).
     
  26. Side by Side (the texture of Portra 400 is definitely nice for b&w conversion indeed):
    00ZBch-389589584.jpg
     
  27. Hi Mauro, here is a similar conversion. I use the Convert-to-B&W Pro plug in from the Imaging Factory. They are not in business anymore but the plug-in is available free from the website. I say similar because there are many fine controls to the spectral response and contrast, I can't be sure I used the exact same settings. The V-Rod was mostly monochromatic, in open shade, which is why I thought it looked cleaner as a B&W image.
    00ZBfc-389653584.jpg
     
  28. That is better than I can do Louis - at least without using b&w film of the same shot for reference. Still true b&w seems to have a bit more punch of light.
    Portra 400 is nice all the way around.
     
  29. Nice fisheye and no purple fringing Les.
     
  30. Today I've finished one roll of this film. I'm absolutely a big fan of portra 400nc, it's so close to the natural colors of the scene. And I'm doing my scans with flatbed scanner (a canoscan 9950f). Most of the time results are so good, sharp and natural.
    This is the best negative film out there I believe, yet I'm wondering does anyone have a comparison to its equivalent film at Fuji? (I don't know if it is Reala or something else).
     
  31. In the C-41 battle, Fuji is starting to fall behind. Kodak, bad film market or not, has invested the considerable bucks to bring out three new C-41 films the past few years (Ektar 100, Portra 400 and Portra 160). They get my vote (and my hard-earned money).
     
  32. Jim Bielecki , Aug 14, 2011; 11:57 p.m.
    In the C-41 battle, Fuji is starting to fall behind. Kodak, bad film market or not, has invested the considerable bucks to bring out three new C-41 films the past few years (Ektar 100, Portra 400 and Portra 160). They get my vote (and my hard-earned money).​
    If you shoot as-rated, the Kodak is the best. I like the Portras ... supposedly Ektar is great for 4x5, but I found it to be pretty unimpressive in roll film format. If you overexpose, Fuji wins by a mile. The Kodak gets a pretty serious yellow tint overexposed, while the Fuji goes to a soft pastel look that is actually quite pleasing.
     
  33. I have seen mixed results of Portra 400 at EI 3200 in 35mm. EI 1600 is just fine, but that extra stop seems to break it (not so much in 120, though, but that's not useful to me). If Portra 400 did as well at 3200 as it does at 1600, it could possibly replace my D700 (hypothetically!).
     
  34. Nice work. I love the 160, (my fall collection has quite a few shots of the stuff: http://photos.ferling.net/fall_collection). I haven't had the time to play with film much, (I still have a half-spent roll in my 645M, from six months ago). Guess this new film is reason enough to dust off the gear and give it a try, and with the new fall season approaching... :)
     
  35. Hope this is not hi-jacking the thread, but I've been out of things for quite a while, but would like to get back into film photography again in the next month or two. Already looking at cameras again. :)
    Could someone give me brief run-down on Ektar 100 compared to the new Portra 160?
    Over the past 5 years, there was a couple year span that I shot almost everything on black & white neg film, and then a couple years (my favorite images, I'll admit) that I shot everything on slide films. Perhaps now it's time to give color neg a go and see if I like it as well as the slide films? I never did like color neg before, but supposedly they are better now, and to be honest, I did not give near as much effort to "learning it" as I did to the slide films. :)
    Thanks!
     
  36. The Ektar is absurdly fine grained and best for when you want vivid color, but it's not as forgiving of exposure errors as other color negative films - if the exposure is good it scans very well, but if it's not it requires a lot of correcting, so if you're not used to the camera yet it's maybe not the right choice. I put some 5400 PPI Ektar scans here: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/21616771@N04/sets/72157627025417501/
    Portra 160 is less vivid, the grain isn't quite as fine, but it's somewhat more forgiving and the color reproduction is excellent, especially when shooting people.
    Both are fantastic. I'd lean more toward the Ektar for shooting landscapes and things, the Portra for shooting people.
     
  37. Thanks Andy, I will have to shoot a couple rolls of each, then. I like Ektar's ultra fine grain, but I am not a fan of weird colors / shifts that I see in some examples of it. Not blaming the film necessarily, because it could be people's workflow is introducing some weird colors in the scans, etc. However, it seems that the new Portra 160 is much more "accurate" color (or should I say "normal" to my eyes) in lots of different lighting.
     
  38. Was the Shutterbugs review the one where the guy who reviewed the 120 size hadn't shot film in so long he didn't
    know where to get it processed and forgot that flash sync on his Pentax 67 is 1/30 second?
     
  39. So far nobody has mentioned the considerable advantage of using the New Protra 400 & 160 for BW. Their finer grain makes even better BW conversions than the previous NC/VC versions. In LR/ACR or in PS, you have a full set of sliders to adjust individual colors in relation to one another. It's like having a filter kit for BW, except that you can use each 'filter' for the appropriate part of the image: Instead of a Y or R filter, use the B slider to darken skies; instead of a G filter to lighten foliage, just move the slider. Each color-area can be shifted along the gray scale, independently.
    (Within reasonable limits – move the sliders too far & you start manufacturing noise.)
     
  40. Zoltan, thanks - that is good to know.
    Well, I have just received a roll of Ektar back. Hmmm...it is good for a negative film. Does not quite have the "magic" of a slide film for me (I am a nut that likes to look at slides on a light box, LOL!), but the colors are very good in the prints. Definitely a high red saturation, I can see for example where a purple color becomes more red tinged than it really is.
    Overall outstanding for a color neg film. Bravo to Kodak on this one. Not sure if it will draw me away from slides just yet, but very nice.
     
  41. Kirk, true black and white is far superior in grain structure and tonal relationship than a conversion from color.
     
  42. How does the grain and color compare to one another in the 160 and 400 Portra films? Are they similar?
    Thanks
    Russ
     

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