The reputation of Kodak Portra 400 precedes itself. Warm, forgiving, with a soft grain that shows up velvety. The colors that Portra highlights well are warm ones; reds, ambers, earthy browns, mossy greens, and turquoise. Skin tones are true and highlights can sometimes appear just a touch golden. It’s one of my favorite films, and it has been noted by many photographers that it is incredibly versatile and easy to shoot.  That is why I chose it when I wanted to do a test run with a Kodak M35. 

The Kodak M35 plastic camera, Kerry Constantino

The Kodak M35 is a very affordable plastic camera. An improvement from the disposable cameras of the late 90s, but still incredibly simple in its design. It has only one setting, you can turn the flash on, or keep it off. The aperture is set at f/10 and the shutter speed is 1/120 sec.  I would suggest starting out with a 200 or 400 ISO film to get a feel for how this camera shoots and get some decent results.

Using this camera was an exercise in letting go of the control that manual settings on an SLR camera can afford you while slowing down, really looking through that tiny viewfinder and making an image. I’ll be honest, I was worried that given the plastic lens and lack of control that this would be a waste of film, but when I got my scans back I was genuinely delighted. 

Using this camera made me feel like a kid again, it was reminiscent of the cameras that used to get passed around at parties when I was growing up. It felt good to just point and shoot and I was really surprised by how well the images turned out. I think this film is a great choice for this particular camera because of how forgiving it is. It’s not for perfectionists, but it was really fun.

~ Kerry

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About the author

Kerry Constantino

Kerry Constantino is a Southern Maine based photographer, specializing in documentary family photography. I began my journey into photography with a roll film, an old Diana F+, and a curiosity to learn...

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  1. I recently had a similar experience with a Reto plastic camera. Wide angle 22mm lens, Lomo 400, and zero control… Made me nervous it’d be a waste as well. I was very pleasantly surprised.