Kodak Portra 400 Film Profile/Review
This tech page is for Kodak Portra 400 Film, or PORTRA_400, which is it’s film code. Kodak PORTRA_400 Film is a professional grade film and Kodak touts it as the worlds finest grain high speed color negative film with very good skin tones and excellent saturation over a wide range of lighting conditions. PORTRA_400 is an ideal choice for portrait and fashion photography as well as nature and travel photography. PORTRA_400 is available in 135 (35mm) format, 120 format, and large format sheet form.
If you send your film in to us here at Simple Film Lab, we develop PORTRA_400 with Kodak’s Flexicolor line of C-41 processing chemicals. The C-41 process is very standardized, and we monitor our process with Kodak control strips to ensure that the process is within specification to ensure that the film is correctly developed.
C-41 color negative films are pretty standardized, where you have roughly 4 1/3 stops of shadow detail below middle gray and several stops of detail above middle gray, and PORTRA_400 is no different. It is recommended that you incident meter for the darkest part of the image where you want to retain detail and subtract 2 stops from that, or if you don’t have an incident meter, place your exposure compensation to +1, or manually set the ISO of your camera to ISO 200 and that will result in totally usable negatives. PORTRA_400 has enough over-exposure headroom to easily handle 4-5 stops over exposure.
Dynamic Range/Exposure Latitude
PORTRA_400 has excellent dynamic range. You have to get at least 3-4 stops over exposed in a high contrast scene before things start to get dicey in the highlights.
PORTRA_400 has excellent resolution for a 400 speed film. The grain is present, but very pleasant. Kodak’s tech sheet rates it’s Print Grain Index for a 4×6 print at 37, with 25 being the visual threshold, so it’s got grain, but it’s significantly less grainy than most other 400 speed color negative films. Kodak’s published MTF curve for this film shows the lowest resolution channel (the red channel) topping out at between 30 and 40 line pairs per mm at 50% contrast response with the green and blue channels significantly higher, so it’s got good resolution.
Here is a Flickr image album of images taken with PORTRA_400. It’s updated with new images whenever I shoot PORTRA_400.
Downloadable Sample DNG Files
As part of this tech sheet/film review I’m making a ZIP file available that contains some Adobe DNG files that are a sample of what you would receive if you sent your film into Simple Film Lab to process and scan. It’s relatively large, but if you want to see what you can get, worth a look. Click Here