How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 by Samantha Stortecky

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
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Kodak Portra 400 Overview: Kodak Portra 400 is an extremely versatile professional film available in 35mm and 120. It loves light and handles highlights and detail retention extremely well.

Rating at ISO 200 and metering for the shadows or midtones will give beautiful, warm colors and natural skin tones.

You can pick up some Kodak Portra 400 on Amazon here: Kodak Portra 400 in 35mm or 120

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 - Kodak Portra 400 Film Review/>
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
Kodak Portra 400 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Kodak Portra 400 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky

Happy Spring everyone! It’s good to be back here chatting with all you lovely folks about film. Today, I’m going to cover one of the staples in the film world, Kodak Portra 400.

I’ll be completely honest, when I first started getting into film, I wasn’t even interested in Kodak. I was a Fuji 400H fan girl all the way. Those light and airy pastel tones were what initially drew me into shooting color film.

But as I got more comfortable in my film journey, I started to venture out into unknown territories, and Kodak Portra was my first one to try. And it is such a gorgeous film stock! I found I was never disappointed when I grabbed a roll of Portra 400.

Let’s jump into the details!

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
Grab the free Quick Guide to Choosing a Color Film Infographic!

Rating, Metering, and Pushing Portra 400

Nine times out of ten, I always overexpose Kodak Portra 400 by metering it at 200 and meter for the shadows or midtones. This, as most of you know, will give you a beautiful and colorful images.

One of the areas in which Portra excels in is with it’s color. The vibrancy is absolutely glorious, especially with the skin tones. I find that when I overexpose my images, the skin tones and greenery are more true to color.

I find that even when you overexpose this film, Portra 400 always has a natural warmness to it’s images. It gives me the warm fuzzies, and I love it.

Kodak Portra 400 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Pushing Portra 400

Portra 400 was actually one of the very first films I attempted to push, and it always looks so dang pretty.

I was starting a new portrait project and I was shooting indoors and decided, what the heck, I’m going to shoot it at 640 and have my lab push it by one stop. When pushed by one stop, Portra packs a nice punch in contrast, something I love in my images.

The yellow tints can sometimes be added as you push this film, but please don’t let this deter you from pushing this film! This is a setting that can easily be adjusted post process if you find that the extra warmth is something you dislike.

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Where Portra 400 Shines and Where it Struggles

One of the areas where Portra 400 truly shines is in it’s retention of detail. I know that film already does a fantastic job of not blowing out the highlights in images, but with Portra 400 I have noticed this especially.

Last summer, I was able to travel to Niagara Falls and document the stunning scenery. The details in the clouds and waterfalls were kept in perfect detail even when I shot it at a 2.8 aperture. How’s that for freakin’ awesome?!

This film really shines with skin tones, but definitely don’t knock it for landscape and settings because it’ll knock your socks off with how awesome it is!

Kodak Portra 400 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

An area where this film can struggle is with the red and/or yellow tints. Like all film, this particular film stock loves light, and I’ve found that if I shoot this stock in lower light settings indoors, I can tend to get an odd tint to skin tones.

As mentioned earlier, pushing Portra 400 can also accentuate yellow tints.

There are so many pro’s to this film stock that it makes the con’s pretty small and easily manageable.

How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Okey dokey guys, that’s it for me. Now go out there, see the world, and document it with this beautiful and vibrant film.

And if you do start shooting with it, feel free to share your work with me on Instagram (@splendidmusings). I’d love to see it!

Kodak Portra 400 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Thank you so much, Samantha! Samantha is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here, such as How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 and Fujifilm Instax Wide 300 Instant Camera Review. You can also check out more of Samantha’s work on her website, business Instagram, or personal Instagram.

Leave your questions about Kodak Portra 400 below in the comments, and you can pick up some for yourself on Amazon here!

Samantha Stortecky

Samantha Stortecky is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 and 4 Quick Tips for Shooting Better Landscapes on Film.

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Blog Comments

Hi,

Analogue noob here! Just purchased an Olympus OM-2n and am looking to purchase some Portra 160/400.

My question is regarding pushing/pulling/shooting at box speed. I plan to use it solely for shooting outside when the weather is nice so bearing bright sunny skies in mind, is shooting Portra 160 a better option? Also, just to clarify, “pushing” Portra 400 means going *down* in ISO to 200, and not upwards to 800? And this would have to be marked on the film for development as “-1”?

Sorry for all the questions but I really like that retro, grainy washed-out look that I can only seem to emulate so far on my X-T20!

Best,
Kyle

Hello Kyle,

I actually think that Portra 160 does a better job with indoor portraits where as Portra 400 is wonderful outside. As for pushing film, pushing is when you rate the film HIGHER than the box speed. So pushing Portra 400 one stop (+1) would be shooting it at 600 iso.

When you rate Portra at 200 you are overexposing the film and basically telling the film to let more light in. When you rate lower than box speed you do not need to tell your film lab. You only need to notify your lab when you are pushing your film to a higher iso (600, 800, etc) so that they can leave the film in the developer for longer.

I hope all this makes sense! If you’re going for a grainy washed out look in film, I would definitely look into different film stocks. Every film stock is unique and offers many different styles and variables. Have fun shooting!

I’m just confused about how or why you are setting your camera to ISO 600? I’ve never heard of a camera that has a ISO 600 setting. Do you mean ISO 640? And if so, that is only 2/3 of a stop push. Are you purposely telling your lab to push it 1 stop to make the exposure 1/3 brighter? Or is this a typo and you are you meaning ISO 800?

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