Comparing Portra Film Simulation Recipes to Kyle McDougall’s Lightroom Presets

“Kodak Portra Style Neutral”

Kyle McDougall is a great photographer who shoots film and also Fujifilm X cameras. He recently created and shared some free Lightroom presets for creating a Portra look with your Fujifilm files. Fuji X Weekly reader Ryan, who you might remember from the Hugh’s RV video, shot some pictures with his Fujifilm X100V using different Portra film simulation recipes from this website, and he also applied Kyle’s presets to some RAW files in Lightroom. He sent me the pictures, and graciously allowed me to share them with you. Thank you, Ryan!

The film simulation recipes that Ryan used are Portra 160, Portra 400, Portra 400 v2 (currently available to Fuji X Weekly Patrons on the Fuji X Weekly iOS app), and Portra 800. The two Kyle McDougall presets are Kodak Portra Style Neutral and Kodak Portra Style Warm. Kyle mentions that his presets aren’t intended to strictly mimic Portra film, but are his preference to how he likes his Fujifilm photographs to look based on his experience shooting the film. Portra can have many different looks, not only because there are different stocks that share the name, but also because how it’s shot, developed, and printed or scanned can greatly affect the exact aesthetic.

Let’s look at some pictures!

“Kodak Portra 160”
“Kodak Portra 400”
“Kodak Portra 400 v2”
“Kodak Portra 800”
“Kodak Portra Style Neutral”
“Kodak Portra Style Warm”
“Kodak Portra 160”
“Kodak Portra 400”
“Kodak Portra 400 v2”
“Kodak Portra 800”
“Kodak Portra Style Neutral”
“Kodak Portra Style Warm”
“Kodak Portra 160”
“Kodak Portra 400”
“Kodak Portra 400 v2”
“Kodak Portra 800”
“Kodak Portra Style Neutral”
“Kodak Portra Style Warm”

As you can see, there are some pretty significant differences between each recipe and Kyle McDougall’s Lightroom presets. Kyle’s presets create a bright picture with a strong yellow color cast. Portra can certainly be that way, particularly if overexposed. My first thought is that my Bright Summer (a.k.a. “Preetra 400”) recipe is probably the closest to Kyle’s Portra Style. My second thought is that I need to create a recipe that’s a closer match to Kyle’s presets!

Ryan explained, “At the beginning of this project I got kind of discouraged as the weather was transitioning into fall and was gray and dismal here on the west side of the Cascade’s. Sunlit scenes are what I had in mind. But I did my best to work with what I had, which helped my creativity, and one of those creative positives would be the fall colors that I tried to utilize. I loaded the recipes into my X100V, and when I saw an opportunity to take some images, I would take a pic, change to the next recipe, snap, load the next recipe, etc. In my camera, C2 is Portra 400 v2, C4 is Portra 400, C5 is Portra 160, and C6 is Portra 800. I found that when composing the shot, that exposing +2/3 is what I liked, so I tried exposing that way for all the images, though I can’t remember if I hit it the same every time, but did my best to keep the exposure the same between and for each image taken in a session, trying to keep things uniform. It was neat to see the differences between the different recipes. From what I understand, the different Portra films are unique in their own way. I’d say that the Portra 400 v2 was closest to Kyle’s preset. By the way, that recipe and Portra 160 are my favorites!”

Below are a couple comparisons of the Kodak Portra 400 v2 recipe and Kyle McDougall’s Kodak Portra Style Neutral preset.

“Kodak Portra 400 v2”
“Kodak Portra Style Neutral”
“Kodak Portra 400 v2”
“Kodak Portra Style Neutral”

Here are a couple comparisons of the Portra 160 and Portra 400 v2 recipes:

“Kodak Portra 160”
“Kodak Portra 400 v2”
“Kodak Portra 160”
“Kodak Portra 400 v2”

Thank you again, Ryan, for doing this project and sharing the results! It’s very fascinating, and I’m sure helpful to the Fuji X Weekly community. It’s helpful to me personally!

If you appreciated this article, let myself and Ryan know by leaving a comment!

12 comments

  1. yaro · December 7

    interesting, I like Kyle’s film pics in general, but these Kyle’s simulations are pretty much not even close to his film pictures, too yellow, when his film pics are usually pretty ‘whitey’ and kinda portra 160 like

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ritchie Roesch · December 7

      Thank you for the feedback! It seemed a little too yellow in my opinion, but people have different tastes, so I figured Kyle liked his Fujifilm pictures warm. I invited Kyle to try the recipes, but he didn’t seem interested. Maybe he someday will.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. neekeeteen · December 7

    i’d say that usually Kyle’s film pics are looks like pics with portra 160 simulation, these Kyle’s portra simulations are not even close to his photos that he share in his video / insta

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ritchie Roesch · December 7

      I appreciate the feedback! They seem a little too yellow in my opinion, but each have their own tastes. I figured Kyle just must like his Fujifilm pictures warm.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Khürt Williams · December 8

      Ritchie, I’ve shot Portra 160 and Portra 400 35mm film and compared to your Portra 160 and 400 film simulation recipes and presets from the Classic Film Presets Collection for Lightroom. I prefer the results of your 160 recipe in bright light compared to the 35mm film, but neither presets nor film simulations are like the real thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ritchie Roesch · December 8

        That’s a good point. It’s really impossible to completely emulate film exactly with digital, and that’s not always the goal, either. For instance, here is a quote from an interview with a couple Fujifilm managers:
        “Film simulations do not want to emulate film itself. Film simulations are not a copy of film.”
        And they went on to say that digital has limitations that are different than film, and film has limitations that are different than digital, and their goal is to create a more prefect image quality while working within the limitations of digital.
        So, for me, that creates a double limitation: Fujifilm isn’t trying to exactly copy film with digital, but to create something that’s not exactly possible with film using digital, and I’m attempting to use that to emulate a limitation within the constraints of a different limitation (I hope this makes sense).
        Still, it’s fun to try and get as close as possible.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Khürt Williams · December 8

        Wise words from Fujifilm managers.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Fujifilm X100V Film Simulation Recipe: Kodak Portra 400 v2 | FUJI X WEEKLY
  4. Pingback: New Patron Early-Access Recipe: Kodak Portra 400 Warm | FUJI X WEEKLY
  5. Oleksii · 28 Days Ago

    Awesome article!

    Now I’m really intrigued about recipe that would be a closer match to Kyle’s presets! Will be waiting for it 😊

    Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Svensun · 12 Days Ago

      Yes! i would like to see that too. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · 11 Days Ago

        The Kodak Portra 400 Warm recipe (currently Patron early-access on the Fuji X Weekly app) is closer to Kyle’s presets.

        Like

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