All of the influencers are turning to Kodak Portra 400, but does it deserve its high standing in the film world?
I should probably preface this post by saying, or reiterating, that I’m by no means an expert on film or any other form of photography. I’m a newbie who’s in it for the fun journey, not to get stuck in the nitty-gritty seriously ‘science-y’ side of things.
So if you’re looking for an in-depth review of Kodak Portra 400 film, this probably isn’t the right place for you. Sorry! (There are some great blogs out there that break things down though, you’ll find them with a quick Google.)
What I can tell you about is how I found shooting with it and whether I like the results.
I shot the images in this post over the course of 2018 and 2019 on my trusty Olympus Trip MD3 point-and-shoot.
Kodak Portra 400 is the influencer’s film. The one that all of the Instagram influencers that I follow talk about ‘buying in bulk’ for their Contax T2s and Olympus MJU IIs. So, I had pretty high hopes for it. I managed to pick up this film along with a roll of Kodak Portra 160 (which I still haven’t used!) on eBay for a fraction of the price you’d expect elsewhere.
As an aside, I’m still getting to grips with the imperfection that you get with film. I’m so accustomed to digital shooting, that I still get a little irritated by the constraints. Although I’m learning to love the imperfections (I promise!) dropping my perfectionistic tendencies is hard.
Let’s face it, the Olympus Trip MD3 could be a little less out of focus, couldn’t it? It’s something that’s beyond my control yet annoys me so much.
Sample photos – Kodak Portra 400 taken on the Olympus Trip MD3:
My verdict on Kodak Portra 400
The colours honestly don’t look how I expected them to look. There’s a coolness to them that I wasn’t expecting. I always saw it as quite a warm-toned film, so to get quite stark blues in some of these shots surprised me. Skintones seem quite accurate, though, which I’m pleased with.
Frankly, I was a bit disappointed when I first glanced at these shots. Mainly because of the lack of focus, which isn’t the film’s fault, it’s due to the camera. Another disappointing feature is the line that’s present in nearly all of these shots – a scanning fault, I presume?
However, I love the first photo in this post. The colours that Kodak Portra 400 brings out of that sunset are gorgeous. But that was predominantly the only photo I was really happy with out of the 36 I walked out of that well-known camera store with.
I’d never say never to shooting with Kodak Portra 400 again. I think it’s earned its right as a well-loved film. BUT, I don’t think I’ll be popping it in the same camera – I’ll probably load it into my SLR instead. And I think the price, partly thanks to the influencers pushing up the demand quite heavily, makes it quite off-putting to a newbie film shooter like myself.
What do you think of Kodak Portra 400?