It’s a known fact that Portra 400 is an addiction to film photographers! Whenever folks come in and visit us at Photodom, usually they ask “Hey do you have Portra 400?” It’s such a popular brand, and we run out of it often. So whenever anyone comes in and we don’t have it, I’m sad to see them walk away empty-handed! Also, film prices are constantly on the rise, as Portra 400 went up 13% from last year. Remember when film rolls were two dollars apiece? Times have certainly changed! So, if Portra 400 doesn’t fit the budget, here are five different types of film that are worth their weight in gold and won’t hurt the wallet.
Portra 160– This film is actually a diamond in the rough. There is a misconception that 400-speed film is the best option in daylight. In a lot of ways, 160 speed actually has many options to fit your lighting environment! This is especially true if you have an SLR camera because you can manually adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO based on the lighting you have working with you.
(Quick lesson: Your shutter speed controls the amount of light that comes into the camera. So if you decide to take some pictures one day, adjust your shutter speed depending on how much light you need to present a balanced photo. Higher speeds give you a shorter time frame for light to come into the camera, which is great to use when you have good lighting. Slower speeds give you a longer window for the light to shine through, which works perfectly for darker environments. Adjust these settings so that you can stretch the use of your film roll to the best of its ability. The aperture, or F stop, is the hole within your lens. You can also adjust these settings to widen or tighten it, therefore controlling the light you require on your subject. Also the ISO, is a feature that further brightens the subject when the aperture and shutter speed can no longer be adjusted. But a word of caution, increasing the ISO can cause more grain to appear on the photos.
Kodak Ultramax 400– The Underrated champion. The Jackie Robinson of film rolls. If you see this and Portra 400 is nowhere to be found, this is a fantastic option to capture your art. It has warm color saturation so that you can shoot people with ease and high color contrast, which is also great to take landscape pictures. You are pretty much guaranteed to get beautiful photographs with this film. The color composition is pretty neutral on this one, (so it doesn’t lean more toward green and red), which makes it very versatile. It’s also lighter on the pockets at $8 or $21.99 for 3 rolls.
Ektar 100– This one has really beautiful saturation and fine grain. If you are shooting in a place with fairly good lighting this is a great option. It is perfect to shoot with if you want vibrant colors and rich tones. It’s great for cityscapes as well as landscapes, as well as macro photography. This one also favors red tones a bit and has been noted to work beautifully on skintones that is a bit more melanin. It’s true that some films actually favor some skin tones more than others! More on that later.
Pro Image 100-It’s been said that if Ektar and Portra 160 had a child, it would be Pro Image 100. It has the fine grain of Ektar and the color saturation of Portra 160. The color accuracy is spot on, as it is very true to life. This one is a deal if you happen to take portraits, lifestyle or social photography It’s also incredibly affordable, so if you’re in a pinch, grab this at $5.50 a roll or $28 for a box of five.
Kodak Gold 200– Folks are sleeping on this one. This film is surprisingly high quality for the price. This one is great for bright and colorful situations and has a finer grain, making it suitable for portraiture. It’s also more neutral, which serves a variety of skin tones. It has a lot of bang for its buck could easily reside as a consistent force in your film supply.
Hope this helps when you are due for a restock! Portra 400 is the staple, yet I believe these other brands are worth a try and will also excel at giving you great shots for your photographic works. What are your favorite types of film to shoot with? Leave a comment below!