Kodak Portra 400 Colour Negative Film

Kodak Portra 400 Colour Negative Film

Analog Film Review

Best Portrait Film

Kodak Portra 400 Colour Negative Film


Name: Kodak Portra

ISO: 400

Film type: Colour Negative

Character: Accurate skin tone, high sharpness

Portra 400 Film Review

Introducing you another essential film manufactured by Kodak and which is quite popular in the market with it’s well known character for natural skin tone and ideal for most lighting conditions. Kodak Portra is another popular stock film in everyone’s fridge including myself. Except Agfa Vista 400, it is the second film that I used extensively for my work.

Colour and Sharpness

It offers a natural skin tone which is great for shooting portraits. The most distinct character of it is that other film will result in a slightly reddish skin colour and it is quite obvious when comparing with different film using the same lens, such as Agfa Vista 400 and Kodak Ektar 100. The tone from Portra is definitely better as it has a more comfortable colour.

Trinidad, Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II 45mm f4)

Also, it is suitable to be used in different lighting conditions such as indoor, outdoor and low light situation (at night) and achieve its natural colour palette whereas Kodak Ektar 100 offers you more contrast and saturated colour. Personally, I like Portra more than Ektar as it is more “all-rounded” to be used for different kinds of photography except the landscape. I prefer Portra to be shot with street photography and portraits, while Ektar’s character is deeper and better to be used for landscape photos.

I normally only use Portra 400 during my trips mainly because it is more expensive than another colour negative film available in Hong Kong but I think its quality is much better. It is great for street photographers who want to achieve a consistent colour rendering. Especially if you are a warm tone person which chooses Kodak over Fujifilm.

Trinidad, Cuba (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 asph FLE)
Trinidad, Cuba (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 asph FLE)

Compare Kodak Portra 400 with Agfa Vista 400, Fujifilm Pro400H, Fujifilm X-tra 400 and Kodak Super Gold 400

Agfa Vista 400 has more reddish skin tone, super sensitive to red colour and saturated colour, sharpness is lower than Portra 400.

Fujifilm Pro400H achieves a more pastel colour palette but the grain is more coarse than Portra 400. So Portra 400 has finer grain. But both has really good highlight details without overblown and great to pushed with.

Fujifilm X-tra 400 has greenish tint and coarser grain but price is relatively cheaper than Portra 400 but it has discontinued in 2017.

Kodak Super Gold 400 results much warmer tone than Portra 400 but it is not as sharp as the Portra. But is is cheap bargain for serious film shooters.

Havana, Cuba (Hasselblad Xpan II 45mm f4)
Battambang, Cambodia (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 pre-asph infinity lock)
Battambang, Cambodia (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 pre-asph infinity lock)

Portra itself is very "Pushable"

I haven’t tried pushing the film or overexposing it at different ISO speed. But from what I have heard from other film users. They like it to be overexposed 1 or 2 stops to give you or pushed at ISO800 and still give you an optimal result.

Trinidad, Cuba (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 asph FLE)
Trinidad, Cuba (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 asph FLE)
Trinidad, Cuba (Leica M2 Summilux 35/1.4 asph FLE)

Using Portra at Night

Havana, Cuba (Leica MP Summilux 35./1.4 asph FLE)
Havana, Cuba (Leica MP Summilux 35./1.4 asph FLE)

More Images shot with Kodak Portra 400

Recent Posts

Prev Voigtlander 35mm f2 Apo-Lanthar Aspherical - First Impression
Next Kodak vs Fujifilm - Comparison between the Tones and Characters


  1. Every time I revisit this article, I am always amazed by the colors. Do you mind sharing the lab or post processing you used? As well as how these were scanned and edited? Thanks

    • Hi Ian, thanks for your comment. I use a local lab in Hong Kong called Colorluxe Express and they use Noritsu scanner to scan the images. All images are straight from the lab without further adjustments.


      • Thanks for the reply Anson, I wish live in HK. It’s funny how some “premium” labs in the US don’t even take the time to make the color adjustments when scanning, whereas some local labs do. I have had poor/inconsistent results from the labs I used previously. I have been thinking about scanning them myself on a flatbed scanner that I can make the adjustments myself though the quality won’t be as good as the noritsu. Your pictures made me fell in love with the Leica system as well although it a quite expensive system. Thanks again.

        • Thanks Ian. Scanning is definitely time consuming but also the process to get to understand more about your film stocks. I saw some application such as negative lab pro can make our lives easier maybe you can have a look at their website.


  2. Hey Anson,

    Really great work, congratulations!!
    Would love to ask you a question, because I can never get such good colors when shooting with Portra, especially under direct sunlight. Could I ask you how did you meter the scene were there is the man walking against the light blue wall? Do you use the camera meter? And do you rate the film overexposed? It’s so perfectly balanced!

    Thank you1

    • Hi Eddy, glad that you enjoy this place. Yes metering is always critical, in that scene I rated Portra 400 and 400 box speed and used camera meter to check the reading facing the wall as well as the group and I tend to underexpose it just a bit to make colour more solid. But it is more important to see where is the light coming from. Stay tuned and subscribe to my newsletter I will publish my second ebook about how to see light soon!


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.