Making Images From Your Sony Camera Look Like Kodak Portra 160 NC

Something that I enjoy doing for fun is looking for a way to make my images emulate the look of film straight out of camera. Though I know that it’s never going to be perfect, I like to see just how close I can come. So recently after looking through a number of older scans of Kodak Portra 160 NC, I’ve found ways to get a look fairly close to what the older version of the film looks like. Of course, it’s again not perfect, but here’s how you can get the look from your Sony camera.

Daylight White Balance

First off, obviously, I’m going to recommend starting with daylight white balance. If you were to develop the film and add fixer, you may sometimes better a bit warmer tones simply because you’ll like the way that it looks overall. But either way, it’s important to start out with daylight at least. All film (or at least most of it) is balanced to daylight.

ISO 160 or 400

The next method that I recommend is shooting the camera at one of two locked ISO settings: ISO 160 or ISO 400. These are what the film would normally be set at to begin with. Now that’s not to say that you can’t go to other ISO settings, but this will all make more sense later on in my explanation.

Manipulating The Portrait Setting

In your Sony camera, go to the Portrait Creative style. Set your contrast to -2, saturation to -1, and sharpness to +1. This is how you’ll be able to start out. Kodak Portra is a low contrast film with not a whole lot of saturation like Ektar or something like Fujifilm Velvia. It’s again, designed for shooting portraits but a lot of photographers use it for everything.

Exposure Compensation

Remember how earlier on I said that you should shoot at one of two ISO settings? Well, if you’re a film shooter you know that if you’re shooting negative film that you’ll most likely shoot it at one stop slower and develop somewhere in between. With that said, ISO 400 will be shot at ISO 200 but developed in post to ISO 320. This can be done with exposure compensation or manual exposure settings. But it’s one of the ways that you’ll find a way to closer mimic the look of film overall.