Okay so I’m pretty sure some of you might not agree with me about this one. But for my money Kodak Portra 160 is without doubt the best Medium Format Colour Negative on the market.
Keep in mind I’m only judging based on currently available commercially sold film emulsions.
Sorry Kodachrome lovers.
So what sort of criteria did I use to come up with such a definitive outcome?
Well it wasn’t that scientific to be honest, it’s just my opinion 🙂
Lets take a look at the image at the top of this post.
When people talk about how a photo has “that film look” this is what I think they’re talking about.
Only film can give you the tonal range to be able to backlight a subject like this.
I love the really low grain and high level detail provided by Portra 160, which also makes it ideal for scanning and digital post production.
Take a look at a couple of other photos from the same day in different lighting conditions.
I bounced light back onto the models face with a silver reflector in the above image.
Compared to the first image you can see the amount of shadow detail present in this higher contrast photo.
The next photo was in a bright but shaded spot against the painted wall.
Colour reproduction is spot on this pic with the different shades of green all popping just the right way.
Okay so it’s pretty awesome in natural light but what about in the studio?
This was shot using my Mamiya RZ67 & 180mm at f8, 1/125th.
Lighting was an Alien Bees B1600 in a 22″ Beauty Dish boomed overhead with another B1600 on the background.
The warm tones in this image are just beautiful, the fine grain and high detail make Portra 160 ideal for this kind of work.
(Keep an eye out for a Behind The Scenes video of this shoot, coming soon!)
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah but what about shooting people that aren’t models on location with mixed lighting???
Okay so this shot was taken inside a very, very, dimly lit hairdressing salon.
Camera settings on the Mamiya 645 AFDii were f5.6, 1/15th!
22″Beauty Dish on camera left and a gridded Sunpak 120J in the back right corner (behind model).
Mixing the ambient light at a slow shutter speed with the strobes provided a clean crisp look which is more like shooting the old fashioned way before you could just crank up the ISO.
It does ok with other types of photography as well…
Well there you have it. My completely unscientific approach to proclaiming the best colour negative film you can buy!
Do you think i got it wrong?
What would you prefer to use for MF Colour Neg film?
Want to share some of your own work on Portra 160?
I look forward to hearing what you think.