Kodak Portra 800 — 35mm film review

Kodak Portra 800 offers stellar colors, great contrast and fantastic low-light performance, if you can live with a little grain.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://ramblingpolymath.com/2020/12/kodak-portra-800-reviewed/

6 posts were merged into an existing topic: iCloud Delivery Issue

Hi @Tobias_Mann, some of the outdoor scenes seem very bright. What were the cameras settings (aperture and exposure)? I’ve never use Portra 800 and I’m curious as to lighting conditions since my Minolta XD-11 has a max shutter speed of 1/1000 seconds.

I’ve had a roll of Portra 800 sitting on my desk to two months. Now that I’ve read your review, I am apprehensive about shooting this film. I dislike 35mm film grain. My XD-11 exposure is limited to 1/1000 s. I shoot indoors only during family events, none of which will happen until everyone is vaccinated. So, I think the Portra 800 will sit on the shelf until much much later this year.

I shot Kodak 400 and Kodak 160 earlier this year and I found this more amenable to “just throw in your camera and expect great results.”

@khurtwilliams Yes, Portra 800 can be a bit tricky in contrasty lighting conditions. Most of my mid-day shots were taken at F8 or F11 with a shutter speed of between 1/2000 and 1/4000 of a second as I recall, though some brighter scenes did pin my shutter at 1/8000 of a second.

Portra 800 is a film that I would recommend shooting during blue hour, with window light, and in open shade for best results. These are lighting conditions where 400 and certainly 160 speed films will be much trickier to maintain adequate shutter speeds. In golden hour it can work well, but in most cases you really don’t need an 800 ISO stock to make that work. What I will say is if the light during golden hour is contrasty, metering for shadows and overexposing the highlights should render a much more evenly lit scene. Color negative film generally handles overexposure much better than underexposure.

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Very nice images. I am glad to subscribe to and support your blog. It is a real treat. I often shoot Portra 800 in medium format, which leaves me with limitations because the cameras only have 1/500 shutter speed limits. I just got a fresh box and this has given me the spur to shoot a roll this weekend…Louis.

Welcome to the Rambling Polymath Community, @LASousa. Your support means a lot!

Medium format is definitely something I’d like to explore in the future. Portra 800 in 120 would be particularly interesting. How would you describe the grain compared to 135?

I’d imagine that 1/500 of a second probably is just fast enough that you can get away with shooting P800 in all but the brightest conditions, at least if you don’t mind overexposing considerably.

I’d love to hear more about your experiences with the film, and if you snag any keepers over the weekend please feel free to drop a link to them or embed one or two in the comments.

I haven’t noticed a difference in the quality of the grain and honestly I don’t pay much attention to it. If I am shooting 800 in an old camera, I will usually put an ND filter on to give more head room. It requires a bit of figuring for correct exposure, but not a biggie. For a good inexpensive MF camera, the Yashica 124G is excellent. The Minolta Autocord is superb, but its focusing lever is cast aluminum and prone to snapping off - this happened to me. There is a gentleman who specializes in repairing the Autocord in the US for very reasonable cost - he replaced the broken lever and restored the camera to like new condition - I think the total cost of repair was $200. The build quality of the Autocord is (the lever aside) better than the Yashica - the Yashica feels sort of tinny (superb lens) and the Autocord is like a swiss watch. The Autocord lens is the equal of any other TLR lens, bar none. I find that TriX is especially beautiful in medium format.

A great inexpensive system for MF is the Pentax 645 (first model). The N and Nii versions came with bells and whistles, but the first one is fine. The Takumar lenses are absolutely superb. I don’t own a 645 but I have a 67 (incredible image quality but a very heavy camera) and a Spotmatic. My friend Kelly Shane Fuller has a Spotmatic tatooed on his arm! Google Kelly, he is a hoot and very talented. He is a fellow member of the Film Shooters Collective. You should enter some of your imagery into our periodic “journal” calls for entry. It is quite a thrill to have one’s image picked out of the many submitted from around the world. What people can accomplish with a camera in the hand never ceases to amaze me.

Be well,

Louis.