Portra 800-2 anyone?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by bill_tuthill, May 4, 2005.

  1. In the Sep/Oct 2004 issue of Photo Techniques magazine, Ctein raved about how well new Portra 800 pushes: "With push processing [compared to NPZ] Portra 800 was the indisputable champ." Unfortunately my local pro store didn't stock Portra before Nutcracker ballet season, so it wasn't until spring Musical season that I got to try it. Given that Ctein said it's faster than ISO 800, and 5-minute push processing increased shadow density by > 1/2 stop, I shot bracketed 1600/2000/2500 and requested push2 processing. When the negatives came back, it looked like a better test would've been 2000/2500/3200 because all the negatives had good density, except the last series when the lights were dimmed during bracketing. The base is grayer (less orange) than most C-41 film; I don't know why. Negatives are edge coded Portra 800-2. Grain seems about the same as NPZ @2000 developed push2, but skin tones are better due to lower contrast. Color fidelity seems good, although with stage lighting it's hard to be certain. Next time I need a film to push, I'll definitely choose Portra 800 over NPZ, although I might buy a DSLR before that occurs. I doubt Portra 800 @ 3200 developed push2 can compete with Canon CMOS. If anyone's interested I could evaluate the effect of 1600/2000/2500 on grain.
  2. ted_marcus|1

    ted_marcus|1 Ted R. Marcus

    That's pretty good, particularly considering that the "incorrect" tungsten light underexposed the blue-sensitive layer. The shadows are decently smooth and not "dandruffy" (did you increase the black point when scanning?).

    A DSLR only goes up to 1600 for usable images. It's hard to tell from the reduced image you posted, but a 350D at 1600 probably has more noise than the pushed Portra's grain. You can clean that up with NeatImage, but there's still unavoidable loss of detail at that speed.
  3. The main reason for lack of dandruff-grain is probably oversampling. Here is a crop from the 1200 dpi scan showing the worst grain, in the dark-magenta curtain. Of course at 2400 dpi, this would look worse. The blue background wasn't too bad, a hopeful result for Portra 800, especially in this yellow-biased tungsten-lit image. Which would help more, increasing the black point or decreasing the white point? Ted, you don't think Canon 20D images are usable at ISO 3200? They look acceptable to me. Maybe the 350D isn't quite as good; its dpreview.com test has not yet appeared. With film it's really a question of at what downsampled resolution images become usable. With NPZ is seemed under 1200 dpi, but Portra 800 seems usable at that resolution, moreover at EI 2500 instead of 2000.
  4. Before someone corrects me, let me say "oops" Dpreview.com has
    reviewed the 350D, which maxes out at ISO 1600. I'm surprised by that
    because the Minolta 7D (with noisier Sony CCD) goes up to 3200 and,
    if I'm not mistaken, 6400 with custom function.
  5. I'm not sure Bill since i don't have my camera with me, but I'm certain my 7D goes up to 1600 with 3200 having to be unlocked from the custom menu.
  6. I mean I am sure. I just can't confirm it right now.
  7. You're right, Vinh. Months ago I saw samples on Tweakers.net, but
    misremembered 3200 as 6400. According to the Dpreview.com review,
    a Minolta 7D has lower luminance noise than a Canon 20D, but higher
    chrominance noise except at ISO 200-800. The 7D achieves low noise
    above that point by softening the image. I could not find any high
    ISO sample shots in Dpreview's 7D gallery, and the ones on Tweakers
    are nothing to write home about.

    So again, film surprises us. Whether it's possible to get better
    high-ISO images from Portra 800 or Ektachrome P1600, I don't know.
  8. The gray cast that you see may be fog from the push2 process.

    Ron Mowrey
  9. Whether it's possible to get better high-ISO images from Portra 800 or Ektachrome P1600, I don't know.

    Konica Centuria Super 1600 would probably beat them both... assuming that you can find it! ;-)
  10. I find Portra 800-2 has better color (more saturated and accurate)
    than Konica 1600.
  11. I think you could have done with using an 80C filter.

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