5 Frames… With Kodak Portra 400 (EI 400 / 120 format / Bronica SQ-B) – by Allyssee Riordan

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In early June it was one of my best friend’s 30th birthday. As part of the weekend’s celebrations, I was invited to Paris as a surprise guest. We were due to meet in Montmartre before heading out by the Seine for a picnic, followed by an evening at the Moulin Rouge. I flew over with my Bronica SQ-B. The choice of lens was easy. I only have one, a Zenzanon PS/B 80mm f/2.8. As for the film, I grabbed a roll of Portra 400, the last from a pack of 5 I purchased a while ago to decide if I enjoyed this film stock.

I was not interested in capturing any of the street scenes, instead, I wanted to record some of the moments spent together with my friend. And I mostly did, apart from our time at the Moulin Rouge where photography was banned. Inevitably though, some of our surroundings captured my attention as we meandered through the French capital. I wasn’t going to record fast-moving city life with the Bronica SQ-B and Zenzanon PS/B 80mm f/2.8 lens. So I focused on tableaux that caught my eyes, quieter scenes that are more in line with my slow style of shooting.


All of the shots came out well, even if some suffered from a little light leak. I suspected this would be the case as the wheel to wind the film is a little loose.

The soft pastel colours of Portra 400 are very pleasing to the eyes, rendering Paris in a glamorous light that matches its reputation. But there is something a little too delicate in the photos for me to go back to Portra 400 as a regular film.

So far I prefer the colours and results of Fujifilm Pro 400H and 160NS. But I still have Lomography stocks to try before I make up my mind on a favourite negative colour film for my medium format photography.

~ Allysse

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