Portra 400, which is a color negative film, was introduced by Kodak in 1998. It was redesign in 2006 and again in 2010. As the name implies, it’s intended for portrait photography, but can be used for many other types of photography. It’s similar to Portra 160, but with more contrast, saturation and grain. Believe it or not, ISO 400 was considered “high ISO” by many photographers back in the film days, and Portra 400 was one of the absolute best “high ISO” color films ever made. Like all films, results can vary greatly depending on how it’s shot, developed and printed or scanned, and even which version of the film you’re talking about. Interestingly, Kodak briefly made a black-and-white version of Portra 400!
I’ve been meaning to revisit Kodak Portra 400 for some time now. As you may know, I already have a Kodak Portra 400 recipe, which I created two years ago, but it requires a difficult-to-achieve custom white balance measurement. I was never really satisfied with that recipe, even though it can produce interesting results. I have been eager to create a new Portra 400 recipe, and, In fact, I’ve tried a couple of times, but without success.
A Fuji X Weekly reader suggested to me that if I use my Kodak Portra 160 recipe, except increase Shadow, Highlight and Color by one, that should be pretty close to Portra 400. Indeed it is! I liked what I saw, but I played around with the settings more to see if I could improve on it. Turns out not much needed to be tweaked. I liked the results better with Color Chrome Effect set to Strong, but if you have an X-Trans III camera, which doesn’t have that feature, you can still use this recipe, but it will look slightly different. The only other change that I made was I set Grain to Strong.
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
White Balance: Daylight, +4 Red & -5 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this Kodak Portra 400 film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X-T30:
See also: Film Simulation Recipes
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Loving this new Portra 400 recipe.. You put so much time and effort into your work.. I alone appreciate your time & effort and applaud you sir!
Thank you! I appreciate your kind words of encouragement!
Thank you, I’m very happy with this recipe. And bought you coffee via PayPal.
I would love to see you mimic a recipe of Jon Siegel’s Tokio night shots. https://www.flickr.com/people/jonsiegel/
Thank you so much, I really appreciate it! I’ll take a look at Jon Siegel’s pictures.
Wow Thank you! I will definitely try this recipe!
You are welcome!
Even though I have never shot a roll of Portra, I just put this in my camera to try this weekend and I ordered a roll of Portra 400 to try in my Pentax ES II.
Awesome! You’ll have to let me know how it goes.
Thank you for sharing all you’ve learned and making these recipes available. Much appreciated. I am interested to see that you leave the sharpening levels quite low for most combinations. Do you recommend, generally, keeping sharpening below 0 for fujix jpegs?
The different sensors handle sharpening differently. X-Trans IV is a little better than X-Trans III in this regard. With X-Trans IV you can set Sharpness to +4 and it still looks fine (although that might be too sharp), but on X-Trans III you’d see artifacts at +4.
This library is such a gem!
The Portra 400 recipe (for X-t30) has a WB setting set to ‘DAYLIGHT’, do you adjust this to INCANDESCENT when you move indoors? Otherwise the WB seems off. Portra400 is just an example, the question applies to more recipes. Thanks in advance!
That’s a great question! Actual Portra film is daylight balanced. Back when I shot a lot of film I used to carry a warming and cooling filter for when the light changed. You could do that with your Fujifilm camera, but that’s not particularly practical. My recommendation is to “season to taste” the recipe, so if the light is different and you’re not getting the results that you want, try using Incandescent or Fluorescent or Auto and see if it produces something more pleasing. I hope this helps!
How can I use or download this recipes for lightroom? Thanks
The recipes are for programming into your camera and shooting JPEGs. They’re not compatible with any RAW editor (aside from X RAW Studio).