How To Shoot Kodak Portra 800 by Jessica Love

Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review
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Kodak Portra 800 Overview: Kodak Portra 800 gives nice, saturated colors and loves to be overexposed. Try rating around ISO 200 for beautiful colors and skin tones. If underexposed, it will have more of a muddy and grainy look. It’s also a versatile film and can be used indoors and outdoors, but preferably in lots of light. You can pick up some on Amazon here: Kodak Portra 800 in 35mm and Kodak Portra 800 in 120

Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review

Kodak Portra 800 Film Review by Jessica Love

For me, choosing a film stock is like when you first get a digital camera and the POSSIBILITIES of HOW TO EDIT your photos hits you like crazy. There are just so many different options! In my first few months of shooting film, I shot and shot and shot, experimenting with various film stocks looking for my favorites.

I tried Kodak Portra 800 pretty early on, and, to be honest, I hated the results. The images came out muddy and grainy. It’s a film that has a bit of a learning curve. After some fine tuning and learning to rate it between 200 and 400 ISO, I now love the results! Bright, punchy, beautiful colors!

What To Expect From Portra 800

Kodak Portra 800 will give you more saturated colors than either Portra 400 or Portra 160. It’s more similar to the vibrant colors of Kodak Ektar 100. It’s also a wonderful stock for skin tones. It’s difficult for a film with more vibrant, saturated colors to maintain skin tones, but Portra 800 walks that line perfectly!

Watch out for underexposure, though. If underexposed, it will lean towards those muddy colors and grain I mentioned early.

Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review
Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review

How To Shoot And Meter Portra 800

I like to meter Portra 800 around 200 ISO. This film loves light and handles overexposure really well. For those bright, vibrant colors, rating around 200 ISO consistently gives me good results.

I love it most on a sunny day and backlit. When shooting digital, white balance and color tone are often a struggle, but when I get my film back, I’m just amazed at how well this film does with light.

Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review
Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review

Where Portra 800 Performs Best and Where It Struggles

Portra 800 performs well when it has a lot of good quality light. I shoot it inside on a bright day, outside in the sun, and backlit. I love it all!

It does tend to struggle in low light, though. It isn’t as low light friendly as the 800 ISO might suggest. It needs to be overexposed quite a bit, which really limits it’s low light capabilities. Shooting it in lots of light will make you so happy with the results!

Shoot It With Film Jessica Love Portra 800 Review

Thank you so much, Jessica! Please check out Jessica’s work on Instagram and her website, and if you have questions about Kodak Portra 800, leave them in the comments.

Click here to check out all of our film reviews, and if you want to pick up some Portra 800 for yourself, click here to buy it on Amazon!

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Blog Comments

What do you mean rate 200 or 400?

Like the opposite of pushing it?

Pushing film is done in the developing process by the lab (or if you develop your own film at home). It’s a way to compensate for under exposure by adjusting the time the film is in the developing chemicals, and will make the film appear brighter with more contrast and more color saturation.

Pulling is the opposite of pushing film, where you adjust the time in developing chemicals to compensate for over exposure.

Rating is done while you’re shooting. You can see the last comment for an explanation of rating film. 🙂 Rating is a way to under or over expose your image while shooting. Pushing/pulling is a way to adjust your exposure during the developing process instead of the shooting process.

Rating means what you set your ISO to when you’re calculating your exposure, either with an external light meter or with the metering settings on your camera. Portra 800 is ISO 800, so if you didn’t want to over or under expose your image, you would set your light meter to ISO 800 and then use the corresponding shutter speed and f-stop. But Portra 800 looks great over exposed, so Jessica will often set her light meter to ISO 200 or 400 instead of ISO 800. Does that make sense? Please let me know if you have more questions!

What about processing?

Gor, thanks so much for your comment! What is your question about processing? I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your question.


Your the best. This is the first article i’ve read on this blog. it’s a great blog and very imformative. I’m curious which camera you shot these pictures on. I’m currently using a Nikon L35af. I’ve been really into point and shoots lately. THANK YOU for the explanation in push/pull/rate. I always assumed those definitions and while they weren’t far off, it was nice to read them in cut and dry context. thank you!

Hi! Beautiful pictures – those colors are amazing! I found a few of these for dirt cheap, but I’m concerned as to how well they’ll perform with flash, indoors, in very low light. Do you think the photos will be overexposed?

I’d like to confirm one thing about the Jessica’s pictures, if I rate 200 or 400, and then develop film with regular process(No pushing or pulling), is it correct?

Yes! You got it! You can rate Portra 800 at 200 or 400 and then develop normally without any pushing or pulling.

It’s 120. Not 120mm.

Good catch! Thank you! We corrected it 🙂

Wow. That photo in the room with the kids and the toy train is so amazing. Very good photos in general, but this particular one stands out.

Hello! I just read your article about shooting with Kodak Portra 800. I’ve got a roll of it in my 35mm, and I’ve taken about 10 photos so far, with the settings of iso 400, and i’ve been taking the photos with the exposure levels and f-stop suggested for 400 iso. Do I continue doing that, or do I adjust to actually taking the photos with exposure and f-stop levels of 800 iso, with only the iso setting changed to 400?

Feedback is appreciated, thank you!!

Hi Natasha! You’ll want to keep doing what you’re doing! The only reason to set the ISO on a film camera is to get the fstop and shutter speed for that ISO. So you’ll want to set the ISO for 400 and use the fstop and shutter speed that match ISO 400. That will give you a stop of over exposure, which is great for Portra 800.

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