Film Simulation Review: Kodak Portra 400 – New vs. Original

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

I have two different Kodak Portra 400 film simulation recipes. I created the original Portra 400 recipe two years ago on my old Fujifilm X100F. I created the new Portra 400 recipe just recently on my Fujifilm X-T30. Which one is better? Which should you use? How do they compare?

The original recipe requires a hard-to-achieve custom white balance measurement, and for that reason I never really liked it. Yes, it looks good, but to get the recipe right requires a vague setting. Some people, in lieu of the custom white balance measurement, use auto-white-balance, which is a fair way to deal with the issue. On my X-T30 I don’t think I have the custom white balance quite right, but it was as close as I could get at the time that I took the measurement. The original Portra 400 recipe is one of the most frustrating recipes I’ve created, but it also produces great results sometimes.

The new Portra 400 recipe is a little more accurate to the film, in my opinion. Of course, with film, depending on how it’s shot, developed, printed or scanned, results can vary greatly. While I think the new version is more accurate, that’s not to say that the original version isn’t accurate. It’s just a little different look. In this post are examples of pictures captured with both recipes side-by-side.

Which one is the better Kodak Portra 400 recipe? The new version is easier to program, overall a little more accurate to the film, and in many situations I like it better; however, sometimes I prefer the original Portra 400 recipe. I can’t tell you which one is better for you, but I can tell you for me, I like the new recipe better, yet I see that the original version has its place and shouldn’t be discarded. That’s just my tastes, and yours might be different. Hopefully seeing the two recipes next to each other provides you with some clarity on which to choose.

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

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New Kodak Portra 400

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Original Kodak Portra 400

See also: Film Simulation Reviews

My Fujifilm X-T30 Kodak Portra 400 Film Simulation Recipe

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Around The Bend – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Kodak Portra 400”

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.

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Blue Sky Day – Syracuse, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 “Kodak Portra 400”

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.

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR-Auto
Highlight: -1
Shadow: -1
Color: +2
Noise Reduction: -4
Sharpening: -2
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:

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Mountain in the Evening Light – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Reeds To The Sky – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Jensen Pond – Syracuse, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Water Beyond The Trees – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Paved Trail – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Spring Green & White – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Fries in the Sky – Syracuse, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Royal Lunch – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Evening Suburban Home – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Boy in the Striped Light – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Boy Sitting – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Sunlight Through The Pink Blooms – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Pink Tree Bloom – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

See also: Film Simulation Recipes

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