Back in July, the fine folks at the Film Photography Project announced that they were giving away rolls of Kodak's newest film, Portra 400. I'm always eager to try a new film, and having been delighted with Kodak's Ektar 100, I sent FPP a short email describing my blog and that I would be happy to test it out. A week or so later, I received a package in the mail..
I loaded the film into my Nikon N8008, and went out shooting with it over the next few days. I shot the film at box speed, with nothing special, no testing at ISO 1600, etc. Just shooting it like I would most films is my test. Why try something with it that I normally would not do, anyway? After I shot the roll, I mailed it to The Darkroom for the free processing that accompanied the roll from FPP. This evening, I received an email from The Darkroom notifying me that my scans were online and that my order was on the way back with the processed film and CD. So, I am selecting a few of the shots to share here - none have been post-processed by me - they are exactly as they appeared online at The Darkroom site.
My overall impression? THIS FILM IS REALLY, REALLY, GOOD. Granted, I did not do some exhaustive testing, but I did shoot the things I typically do. I love the colors, the smoothness of the film, and of course, although I did not scan this batch, I will scan the next roll that I purchase. The scans look very clean and this film is very fine-grained. Kodak has scored a hit with this film -- shadows are good, sharpness great, and grain negligible. In fact, I hate to say this -- but it almost is so perfect-looking as to appear digital -- but with a LOT more latitude -- see how the shadows are not blocked out the the street photo at the beginning.
My recommendation -- buy this film - buy a lot of it. Kodak deserves some praise for "getting it" when it comes to workflow, as for me -- and with most film shooters today, the scanner is a large part of the routine. Portra 400 seems to have all of the qualities we have been looking for in a C-41 color film - speed, latitude, color, and "feel." Kodak is producing this film in a multitude of formats - 35mm, 120, 4x5 (and maybe 8x10?), and I hope it hangs around for a while.
My thanks to the Film Photography Project for the opportunity to try out the Eastman Kodak Portra 400 and testing The Darkroom's services. Both are outstanding.