I’ve been loving Kodak Portra 800 for my specific needs, but it has become so expensive and hard to find recently. I wanted to share some photos I took downtown on Kodak Portra 800 and share my thoughts.
Last spring/summer, I used a ton of Lomography CN 800 because it matched the very bright green and saturated colors I was seeing around me. This summer however, has been a little bit different. The rain has been almost every single day and the colors I am seeing just weren’t matching the profile of Lomo’s CN 800 film. This year I wanted to use Kodak Portra 800 for the somewhat muted colors and to dial back the saturation.
Don’t get me wrong, Portra still has a fair amount of saturation. It is a little colder than Lomography’s 800 film in my opinion, and that was what I have needed this year. You can see in the example below of the lamp post on Lomography CN 800, the magenta is stronger making the photo a little warmer.
Why Portra When You Can Have Gold?
You may recognize this tree from my recent review on the new 120 format Kodak Gold 200. I mentioned in that video that I also had my Leica M6 with me and shot many photos of these Royal Poincianas with it. To be honest, while I love the resolution I got with the Kodak Gold photos I took, I prefer the colors and aesthetic I got from these photos on Kodak Portra 800. Let me show you some comparisons.
Here are two sets of comparisons. The pics on the left are from that Kodak Gold 200 article, and the ones on the right are from the roll I shot downtown on Kodak Portra 800. To me the Gold photos are just that, gold. They have much warmer, yellow tones, while the Portra is much colder with more red and magenta tones. I prefer these mostly because they match what I saw that day.
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You may be wondering why I wouldn’t just use Kodak Portra 400, since it is a bit cheaper and readily available when compared to Portra 800, but I have a few reasons. I tend to shoot higher speed films because I always shoot photos from the car no matter where I am going. Another reason, as I mentioned earlier, this year has been very rainy and gloomy. So that higher ISO comes in handy in situations like the photo below when the clouds and trees were casting a lot of shade.
Below is another comparison of Kodak Gold 200 on the left and Kodak Portra 800 on the right.
I don’t know how much Kodak Portra 800 I will be able to shoot this year with the price hike, and availability issues, but I’m hoping I can at least get my hands on a few rolls to last me the rest of the summer. If not I will just switch back to Lomography CN 800.
What about you? What are you shooting this summer? Have you had to cut back on film since the price rise? Let me know in the comments.
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6 thoughts on “Downtown on Kodak Portra 800”
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I’m definitely cutting back on shooting film, I just can’t afford the cost of buying it and developing. I shot a couple rolls of Ektar which I absolutely loved but it’s too expensive. Lately I’ve been shooting the new Fujicolor 200 but I think that’s just rebadged Kodak Gold. It seems to be cheaper than Gold though so who knows.
It worries me that film is going to decline again. I hope we see a change soon.
Awesome pics, as always, and thank you for the side-by-side comparisons that show the saturation and color temperature differences.
Have you explored lens filters? I think they have become an overlooked topic in today’s photography scene, since most people shoot digital, which is so easy to color-correct with the computer. But when film was the only way to take pictures, experienced hobbyist photographers typically carried a pouch of filters with them. A typical filter collection had a Skylight or UV filter to protect the lens (I preferred UV), a polarizing filter for situations where you needed to minimize glare, and several color-correcting filters. The color-correcting filters would allow you to choose whatever film you knew would work best for most of the photos you might take, and for shots where you knew the film’s color cast wouldn’t work well, you could screw on a filter to adjust the lighting in the film’s favor. In today’s case, filters would allow you to adjust for Kodak Gold’s yellow cast for those times when you can’t get or can’t afford Portra.
Pros also used filters, but would usually take several cameras on a shoot, and each camera would be preloaded and set up for whatever kinds of pictures the photographer intended to take.
Thanks Mark. I have filters for my canon fd lenses. I’m actually playing with them lately but on black and white film. I didn’t realize you could use them on color film.
Thank you for the comparisons. I like Kodak Gold, but Portra is my favorite.