5 Frames… With Kodak Portra 800 (EI 800 /35mm format / Leica M6) – By Phil Harrison

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I know EMULSIVE is running a Portra Party, but me being a grumpy old-aged pensioner, I don’t have any social media accounts (although I do read some). So hopefully these 5 Frames… will be allowed.

I have, subconsciously, in the past month put Kodak Porta’s 160, 400 and 800, in that order through the Leica M6, one after the other. I bought a roll of Portra 800 specifically for a trip to the Harry Potter Tour at Leavesden Movie Studios, however, I put the film in the camera too early and took it to an Airfare first. This gave me a chance to look at how it copes with strong sunny lighting as well as movie lighting on the studio tour. The Portra films originate from the wonderful Kodak Vision Movie films, Portra’s 160 and 400 from the more recent VISION 3 and Portra 800 from the older VISION 2.


When Portra 800 works well, it is brilliant, when it goes wrong it’s not so good. 800 does not seem to like very bright overhead sun, it can go grainy, contrasty and have high colour saturation (especially red), this high saturation (but not grain or contrast) under these conditions seems to also be a trait with Portra 160 and 400. Under more soft lighting it’s wonderful, low grain and great colours.

Exposure doesn’t seem to affect the above issues and it has a wide exposure latitude, definition is always good. Despite what happens under direct sun, I still rate the Portra films highly, all have the same look with lovely colours, my favourite is Portra 400.

~ Phil

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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