How To Shoot Kodak Portra 160 by Sarah Collier

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 160 by Sarah Collier on Shoot It With Film
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How to Shoot Kodak Portra 160
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 160

Kodak Portra 160 Overview: Kodak Portra 160 is a very versatile film perfect for portraits, landscapes, and everything in between. It will give you beautiful contrast and color with little grain, creating a very clean and professional look. Rate at box speed and meter for the shadows for best results. You can pick up some Portra 160 on Amazon here: Kodak Portra 160 in 35mm, Kodak Portra 160 in 120

Kodak Portra 160 Film Review by Sarah Collier on Shoot It With Film

Kodak Portra 160 Film Review by Sarah Collier

Kodak Portra 160 is a versatile film and does incredibly well in situations like snow, desert, and beach scenes. 

It has a great dynamic range, deals well with direct sunlight, and the color and smoothness of the grain is just absolutely beautiful. You can expect vibrant colors and smooth grain from this film.

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 160 by Sarah Collier on Shoot It With Film
Kodak Portra 160 Film Review by Sarah Collier on Shoot It With Film

How To Shoot And Meter Portra 160

I rate and meter Kodak Portra 160 at box speed, since Portra can color shift when over or under exposed.

If it’s overexposed, it can cause unflattering skin tones and stronger colors. Underexposure can lead to more brown and red tones. So I prefer to meter at box speed. 

I mostly spot meter for shadows, which you’ll see in the example images here, but occasionally meter for highlights depending on the look I’m going for.

Metering for highlights can be appropriate in high contrast lighting situation with a lot of variation between the highlights and shadows. Metering for highlights will give you a more dramatic look with deeper blacks.

This is a helpful read if you’d like to know more about the different ways to meter film and how metering and rating work together: How Metering and Rating Film Go Hand in Hand

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 160 by Sarah Collier on Shoot It With Film

Where This Film Performs Best And Where It Struggles

Portra 160 does best in very bright scenes and handles direct sunlight very well. It is such a versatile film that it really doesn’t struggle in any situation, making it perfect for portraits, landscapes, and general shooting.

Since it is a slower speed film, it won’t be ideal for low light situations. If shooting it in darker situations, add lighting and it will be just as beautiful.

Such awesome info, Sarah! You can see more of Sarah’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions about Kodak Portra 160 in the comments, and if you want to pick up some Kodak Portra 160 film for yourself, check it out on Amazon here!

Click here to read all of our film reviews, such as How to Shoot Fuji Pro 400H or Guide To Choosing A Color Film.

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Blog Comments

WOW! These colors are unbelievable! I really REALLY need to try 160!

Yes you definitely do, it’s such a beautiful film! Do make sure to meter at box speed to get the best results.

Good stuff Sarah. I love Portra 160!

Thanks so much!

What’s your scanning process like? Do you edit the colors?

Every time I shoot Kodak Gold or Portra, my colors are green and blue and I’ll maybe get one decent shot – but it’s nowhere near the warmth and clarity as seen above.

Ektar is usually ok.

I shoot with a Mamiya rz67 pro ii and scan with an Epson v600. I’ve tried scanning the negatives and using ColorPerfect, and I’ve used a clean batch of c41 to develop a single roll.

It should be noted that I have no issues with slide film – velvia and provia look beautiful every time.

Hi Jake,
I use Pro Photo Irvine and either get basic scans or have them edited by the tech who knows what I like. They use a Noritsu scanner which from what I’ve seen and heard from them is by far the superior scanner. I also edit them in Lightroom to finalize. Basic scans are still edited in scanner, so they are not the same as straight scans which should not be touched at all in scanner.

It seems to me like it could be the scanning. I would send PPI some negatives to do on Noritsu (I personally don’t like Frontier and it doesn’t have as high quality of a scan) and ask for straight scans to compare to your scanner’s straight scans. I do sometimes add a little bit of warmth and contrast in Lightroom, but it totally depends on what I was shooting, what the light was like, and how much PPI edited them. Definitely don’t underestimate how much you’ll need to edit scans though. People have been editing film since it’s inception, there are rarely perfect straight negatives.

I second that reddish cast if underexposed, awful especially in shadow detail if shot in interior. And it is slower speed film not “faster speed film” – regards to your sentence about performing best/struggling 🙂

Thank you so much! We made that correction!

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