Get Them Tones Perfect! The Best Film for Portrait Photography

There’s something wonderful about the way that film renders skin tones.

When you shoot portraits with film, you’re expecting a specific look. This is so yearned for that there are digital presets created to emulate the look. But it’s never quite the same thing. Shooting with film is a lot more involved. But the extra work you do is always worth it. The reward is something worth bragging over. So we dove into our Reviews Index to find some of the best film for portrait photography. Take a look at our favorites!

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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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Dewey Keithly Did the Coolest Thing with the Fujifilm GFX100

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“The driver was able to reach up to 142 miles per hour,” says Dewey Keithly to us in an email interview. “We mounted the Fujifilm GFX 100 and the Red Komodo to the front of the fastest camera car in Utah on the salt flats…The in-body image stabilization worked flawlessly on the GFX.” I’m sure that if anyone wanted a really cool COVID 19 pandemic photo project, this would be it. I mean, working with the GFX 100 is great. And Dewey says that it’s flawless. But they all worked with a 1966 Porsche 906 LH and the owner/driver. 

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What Film Emulsion Should I Choose? A Guide for Analog Photography

There’s never been a more exciting time to start shooting analog. In our latest original infographic, find out which film emulsion is right for you.

The reports of film’s death are greatly exaggerated. In fact, there’s never been a more exciting time to start shooting analog. If you’re new to the world of film photography, welcome! Plenty of film cameras can be had for a fraction of their original price. There’s bound to be one that will suit your particular needs (Check out our handy guide to the 6 Best Film Cameras for Beginners). Unlike with digital, you don’t get to change your ISO on the fly. Once you load a roll or spool of film into your film camera, you’re locked into that particular roll’s ISO until you finish the whole thing.

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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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Jacob Howard’s Gorgeous Landscapes on a Mamiya 7 II with Kodak Portra

All images shot by Jacob Howard on Kodak Portra film. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Kodak Portra is among the favorites of today’s film photographers for portrait and wedding photography. But if you want to satisfy your curiosity and see how it would perform for landscape shots, we have a fine example for you from Wellington-based photographer Jacob Howard. His series Last Stop Before Insomnia features a collection of landscapes shot in medium format using a Mamiya 7 II 6×7 rangefinder camera. Howard most likely used Kodak Portra 400 to render the scenes in the popular emulsion’s high saturation, low contrast, very fine grain, and high sharpness. The Portra film family is also known for producing accurate colors that render neutral skin tones. But these also prove to be great for the variety of scenes he captured. Carmencita Film Lab has found that Portra tends to produce warm greens compared to one of its counterparts, Fuji 400H.

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Lena Pogrebnaya Used Kodak Portra for this Stunning Fashion Editorial

All images by Lena Pogrebnaya. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Looking into shooting film for your next fashion portraits or editorial project? We’ve found just the right stuff to inspire you. Ukranian fashion photographer and architect Lena Pogrebnaya used the iconic Kodak Portra film to shoot one of her most recent campaigns for a clothing brand. The set is a fine example of why the look of Kodak Portra films remain sought after for today’s portrait and fashion photography.

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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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Reza Bassiri Captures Osaka’s Glow with Kodak Portra

All images by Reza Bassiri. Used with Creative Commons permission.

Japan never fails to amaze in many ways, especially when it comes to everyday scenes and city life to photograph. Tokyo is a crowd pleaser and firm favorite of travelers and photographers, but it’s just one of the country’s stunning cities to visit and experience. In his beautiful street set, Paris-based creative director Reza Bassiri shows that Osaka also glows, especially when captured on film.

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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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An Inquiry into Digital vs Film – Featuring the M10 vs M9 vs M6

This is a syndicated blog post from Horatio Tan, Street Silhouettes. It and the images here are being republished with an exclusive permission statement.

Modern digital photography gets a bad rap, when it comes to the way we assess the character of digital capture. We think it’s without character.

The problem with digital photography is the uniformity of rendering. But it is understandable why this is the case. In reproducing reality, camera manufacturers endeavor to produce optics and sensors that would optimize capture as close to real life as possible. That has become the yardstick of achievement. That is why digital photography looks more or less the same across different systems.

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Film Review: Kodak Portra 400 (35mm and 120, Various Formats)

Years and years ago, Kodak announced something that would endure for quite a while: Kodak Portra 400. Available in the 120, 35mm, and large formats, the film was and still is incredibly popular with photographers who like shooting portraits. It’s highly valued for its muted tones–which tends to go against much of what digital photography seems to offer straight out of the camera. However, Portra is in use for much more than just this. Lots of photographers use it as their every day film because they just like it. But this tends to be more the thought process of those that shoot 35mm. At 120, you’re getting far less shots per roll and often work to get the best photos you can in one single shot due to higher stakes–even more so than with 35mm.

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