A Handy Guide to Kodak Portra and Choosing the Best One

Kodak Portra comes in three variants, and they’re each for different styles and looks.

The look of Kodak Portra has helped define so many aesthetics for years. Lots of the most popular portraits in magazines in the 90s were shot using it. It continued even through the early 2000s. Kodak Portra is a beautiful film that was specifically designed to shoot portraits. It’s arguably also the best when it comes to being scanned. Digital, even now, still can’t quite reproduce its look. Lucky for you, we’ve reviewed the most recent Kodak Portra film emulsions. And we dove into our Reviews Index to figure out which one you need.

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Sad News: Kodak Portra 800 Is Being Discontinued This Month

Kodak Portra 800 was the most true to the “analog look” film you could get your hands on, but it will be gone on April 15th.

It’s time to pour one out for another film emulsions–though I have to say we all should have seen the discontinuation of Kodak Portra 800 coming. The film, which is marketed nowhere as well as Kodak Portra 160 and 400, was a truly special emulsion that I wish was just marketed in a better way; that could have ensured its survival. For those of you who always want that “analog look” in your digital photos by applying some fake filer by InstaVSCTin, Kodak Portra 800 had a secret sauce that really, truly did the job.

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to Kodak Film for Professional Photographers

Kodak film is some of the best that you’re going to find on the market; and for good reason too!

The world of analog film photography is one currently experiencing a Renaissance; and at the forefront of it is Kodak film. Kodak is the last big company producing film that hasn’t cut emulsions but instead is bringing out new ones. Professional photographers used to use Kodak film for years and today the new breed of analog photographers does just that. There are a number of options for photographers to get into–with some of the tried and true emulsions being both Kodak Tri-X and Kodak Portra. Look around the web, and you’ll see tutorials and presets for digital photographers to get the look of these films. But no matter how hard they try, they just don’t recapture the magic of film.

We’ve reviewed every professional film emulsion that Kodak offers, and so we’re rounding up our reviews for you in one spot.

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Film Emulsion Review: Kodak Portra 800 (120)

Kodak Portra 800 is a film that truly surprised me.

I cut my teeth in the photography world amongst some really old school people–these were folks who probably would have never used Kodak Portra 800. Why? Well, they swore by the fact that everything over ISO 400 is way too grainy. And that grain is bad no matter what. This is wrong; and I only wish back then that I hadn’t let folks like that try to mislead my mind and that I was more experimental. Kodak Portra 800 is a gorgeous film that is obviously still around for great reasons. It’s a film primarily designed for portraiture in available lighting. With that said, it’s beautiful in 35mm but even more so in 120 with fast lenses. And considering that so many photographers out there love to work with natural light more so than working with a flash, it could be one of the films that stays in your film camera on a consistent basis.

Indeed, it has to be one of the best available light films I’ve ever played with.

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A Film Photographer’s Introduction to the Kodak Portra Family

We love a good party and when we found out that the Portra line is about to celebrate its twentieth birthday next year (introduced in 1998!), we thought we would take the time to cover some ground (and after, perhaps raise a glass) when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line. Kodak Portra has put out a variety of film stocks from this line, some of which are discontinued, but three of which are now a staple to film photographers like those of us at Carmencita and yourself. We’re gonna cover some ground on those three that take the cake when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 ISO.

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Phoenie Chen’s Magnificent Images of the Northern Lights on Kodak Portra 800

All images by Phoenie Chen. Used with permission.

“Truth to be told, I have never really gotten serious about photography,” says Phoenie Chen in an email interview with the Phoblographer. “I take pictures mostly when I travel, once or twice a year. Both of my work and studies have nothing to do with art or photography. I guess photography is more like an escape from reality for me.” Phoenie first got into shooting photos this way; and she loves to use Kodak Portra. In fact, these images of the Northern Lights were shot using Kodak Portra 800.

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