Some of the absolute most popular Film Simulation Recipes for Fujifilm cameras are those that mimic Kodak Portra film. I have a number of Recipes that are modeled after Portra, and with so many choices it can be difficult to know which ones to program into your camera. I thought I’d take this opportunity to compare six of them, with the hopes that it will help you decide. There are actually several more Portra-inspired Recipes than the six here, but I chose to compare these because they’re all X-Trans IV Recipes compatible with my Fujifilm X100V, the camera I used to capture them on a recent trip to the California coast.
Kodak introduced the Portra line in 1998, with two ISO 160 versions, two ISO 400 versions, and an ISO 800 emulsion (plus a short-lived ISO 100 Tungsten film, for those keeping score). Portra saw a couple of updates by Kodak, and in 2010 the two ISO 160 versions were merged into one, as well as the two ISO 400 versions. The film has become iconic, with its warm yet natural colors. As the name implies, it was meant for portrait photography, but is popular for many genres.
One film can produce all sorts of various looks, depending on a host of factors, including how it was shot, developed, printed and/or scanned. The Kodak Portra 400 and the Kodak Portra 400 v2 Recipes are very similar, but they were modeled after two different photographer’s Portra film pictures, and so their rendering varies just a little. Kodak Portra 400 leans a little more towards red-orange, while Kodak Portra 400 v2 leans a little more towards yellow-green. Kodak Portra 400 Warm, which is a modification of both Kodak Portra 400 Recipes, is intended to better replicate the results of Alex MacDougall’s Portra-Style presets. To create Reggie’s Portra, Reggie Ballesteros modified my Kodak Portra 400 Recipe to better suit his style. Because it uses Auto White Balance and a slightly more neutral WB Shift, it is much better than the others in artificial light situations; also, because it has Clarity set to 0, it is the best option for fast photography (Clarity set to anything other than 0 causes a short “storing” pause). Kodak Portra 800 is the grainiest of these Recipes. To create Kodak Portra 800 v2, which is the least vivid of these six, Thomas Schwab captured side-by-side images with a Fujifilm X-Pro3 and an analog camera loaded with Portra 800 film.
While each of these Portra-inspired Film Simulations Recipes are different—some only slightly so, others more significantly so—they all produce a distinct Portra-like aesthetic. Looking at the results, it’s easy to understand why these are popular options! Because they are a little different from each other, you can find the one that most closely matches your style. Or you can choose different ones for various scenarios. Perhaps you prefer something like Kodak Portra 400 for sunsets, Kodak Portra 400 Warm for midday light, Kodak Portra 800 v2 for soft portraits, and Reggie’s Portra for indoor pictures. If you’ve never tried any of these Recipes, be sure to pick at least one to program into your camera today!
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