Kodak Portra 400 pushed to 3200 (Portraits) - A quick and surprising test!
I’m all about testing the limits of my film choices. Not a lot of people realize that the “box speed” of a film (the advertised ISO/ASA) is a recommendation…not necessarily the law.
Generally speaking color and black and white negative films have a pretty decent exposure latitude. Meaning you can over or under expose your negatives within a few stops and still get very usable results. Especially when you compensate for this under or over exposure with development time (a general rule is longer development for a push, and shorter development with a pull).
Since Portra 400 is my primary color film, I wanted to see just how far it can go (within reason)…I shoot a lot in low light. I have pushed B&W film up to about 6400-12800ASA with very acceptable results but never really tried my hand at pushing color negative film.
So, I shot a quick test roll of Portra 400 in 35mm (Nikon F100 w/50mm 1.4) right around dusk.
I sent the film to The Darkroom, they do a great job and have great prices. $10/roll flat. And $2/roll for push/pull (flat fee, regardless of how many stops you want it one way or the other). I send ALL my color film there for my personal and professional work. Try them out and tell them I sent you :)
The guys at The Darkroom pushed this roll 3 stops for me (400>800>1600>3200 = 3 full stops), a couple days after I sent the film I had proofs online.
And, whoa, was I impressed.
Bottom line here is:
The new Kodak Portra 400 with it’s whacky tabular grain structure handles pushing VERY well. Check out the example above! Notice the contrast, skin tone rendition, and tonal range. Very nice!
I would not hesitate now to shoot a paid assignment pushing this stuff 2-3 stops.
Now go try it!
© Andrew Pearson 2011