Red Cowboy, 2012. Los Angeles. Kodak Portra 400, 35mm // Leica M6, Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron
Red Cowboy, 2012. Los Angeles. Kodak Portra 400, 35mm // Leica M6, Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron

To build upon FILM 101: I wanted to review Kodak Portra 400, my favorite 35mm color film:

Where to buy Portra 400

Useful article: What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film After Waiting a Year >

1. The best 35mm color film

Red Cowboy, 2012. Los Angeles. Kodak Portra 400, 35mm // Leica M6, Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron
Red Cowboy, 2012. Los Angeles. Kodak Portra 400, 35mm // Leica M6, Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron

For street photography, Kodak Portra 400 is the best 35mm film. At a speed of ISO 400, it is fast enough for most scenarios. Also, the color tones of Portra 400 (Portra = Portrait) is optimized for red, yellow, and orange tones (skin tones as well).

2. Portra 400 x Flash

Film Leica, 35mm, Kodak Portra 400, flash. SUITS
Film Leica, 35mm, Kodak Portra 400, flash.

This is where things get fun:

Kodak Portra 400 film shot with a flash.

Colors become extra-saturated, and look fascinating.

Shooting with flash on Kodak Portra 400 opens ups a WHOLE NEW WORLD of photography. Why? You’re not limited by the film speed of 400 (which is generally quite slow):

3. Photo projects with 35mm Kodak Portra 400

For example, most of my SUITS project, it was shot (99% on Kodak Portra 400), much with flash:

4. Is shooting Portra or 35mm in general ‘worth it’?

Marseille. Film Leica M6, 35mm Leica Summicron ASPH, Kodak Portra 400
Marseille. Film Leica M6, 35mm Leica Summicron ASPH, Kodak Portra 400

My very basic thought:

If you spend thousands of dollars in film (or any camera equipment), and you make even 1 great photograph, it is worth it.

Photography is justified for even 1 great photograph.

Marseille contact sheet // Portra 400
Marseille contact sheet // Portra 400

5. Kodak Portra 400 vs Digital Color Photography

One thing that changed photography for me:

Discovering how great RICOH GR II with flash (positive film preset) looks!

These photos are shot with flash on digital RICOH GR II:

Therefore I encourage you to experiment shooting with film, just for fun! But ultimately, I don’t think that film photography is superior to digital photography. In fact, digital photography (at this point) is probably superior to film photography (in terms of of cost, convenience, dynamic range, color rendition).

6. Portra 400 for personal photography

Portra 400 looks absolutely beautiful. I really love it for personal photographyphotographing your loved ones (on film)!


7. Longevity

The great thing about film:

Even 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 years from now, the photos will still look good.

Its easier to keep a consistent aesthetic when shooting color film than with digital. Digital JPEG presets, filters, and RAW post-processing is constantly changing and evolving.