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Portra Films...

posted Feb 28, 2011, 5:47 PM by Jose Velasquez   [ updated Feb 28, 2011, 6:35 PM ]
A few weeks ago I had a fellow Canuck ask me which of the eight films that I tested was best for portraits. A very good question, and not an easy one to answer.

The truth is with the advent of the digital revolution they can all be good for portraits--each film has it's own little characteristics SOOC, but in post they can all be made to look alike in terms of tones and colors. Where they really differ is sharpness and grain--and that's where Kodak Ektar leaves other films in the dust--the fine grain can't be replicated or changed in post. 

Portraits are funny beasts--you want sharpness, but not to the extent where you can see pores in someone's face, and that's where a softer (coarser) grain can come in handy (that or a soft lens).

Having said that I must admit that I am partial toward Fuji ProPlus II. It's not available in North America, but can be easily found throughout Asia. It's got a dynamic range and sharpness that's incredible for the price, and produces pleasant skin tones on the warmer side of things. 

A couple of films that are very similar to it, and which I never included in my original test, are the Kodak Portra 160 NC and 160 VC. SOOC the NC produces much nicer skin tones--the VC was too cool (more on the blue side) for my taste in skin tones. Why didn't I include these in the original test? They're ISO160 and I was comparing ISO 100 films. 

So, Mr. Taylor, without further ado, here are some sample shots @ f/5.6 of the Kodak Portra--of the two I like the NC best because it has less of a blue cast, but I still would rather work with the Fuji Pro-Plus II. 

Portra 160 NC

Portra 160 VC