Kodak Portra 400 Capture One

Posted : admin On 1/29/2022

Kodak Portra 400 is great for autumn colours. This video tries to capture a feeling of my creativity using 35mm film photography and music. The colour negati.

Kodak portra 400 35mm

When Kodak announced that Portra 400 NC will be discontinued in September 2010, they stopped producing my most favorite film. I always really loved the very natural desaturated look of this particular film. While most people were raving about the new Portra 400, personally, it never really convinced me completely.

Loving a filmlike look in my digital images, I started working on incorporating the general attributes of film in my digital workflow a long time ago – with mixed results. I first published a tutorial in 2011 about how to emulate the look of film and then later an article on Kwerfeldein about film vs. digital in professional environments.

  • Classic Film Styles Capture One. The full Classic Film Style Collection for Capture One provides the chance to transform the look and feel of old film into our today´s technological possibilities. 35 different Styles help us to create the most popular colour negativ-, positive as well as black and white films of bygone times. Weather Kodak Portra 400 or Fuji 400h, Ilford Delta 400 or Kodak Tri-X 400 – one click.
  • The Portra 400 look for the X-Pro2. To build this recipe I have taken as a base the excellent one from Ritchie Roesch site with some variations that I found fit better to the look. As a guide I have tried to stick to the examples from the very well known Portra Original Pack for Capture one from Mastin Labs.

What I am working on at the moment is emulating Portra 400 NC digitally. I found for myself that emulating the general attributes of film is very different from emulating the look of one particular product. Today I would like to share a couple of impressions of where I am with that right now. My attempts are surely not scientific or claim to be perfect. But the workflow produces halfway reliable results and I thought it’s time to invite some criticism.

I shot a scene at Glebe Gardens, Baltimore on film last year and happened to go back there this year. I thought this would be a good opportunity to evaluate my status quo and share it. I ended up shooting almost the same scene again (under different conditions and with a different exposure… but still comparable).

Film – Portra 400 NC
This was shot in June 2011 with the Nikon FM2, 50mm 1.2 Ai-S on Portra 400 NC:

Digital – Emulating Portra 400 NC (JP Portra 400 NC)
This was shot digitally in June 2012 with the Nikon D700, 50mm 1.4 G and emulating Portra 400 NC:

Digital – SOOC
This is the unprocessed above image straight out of camera:

Please note that this is still work in progress.

I will publish a couple of more images processed with this workflow soon and I am happy to exchange thoughts and ideas with everyone who loves Portra 400 NC just as much as I do.

Update, 26.11.2012
I am getting good results now that look consistent and authentic (to me). I consolidated my workflow in Lightroom 4 and ended up with a self made color preset and a complimenting camera profile. Because of the camera profile the preset only works with the Nikon D700 at the moment, but I am already looking into a version for the Fuji X-Pro1/X-E1.

It’s usually not too complicated to color match one picture. It get’s a bit more challenging if you do that over one photography session that includes indoor and outdoor pictures and different lighting conditions. Trying to get consistent results that look authentically like one specific film is an interesting task.

A lot of people asked me why I don’t just use VSCO, so I posted a picture with VSCO’s Kodak Portra 400 NC Preset applied below as a comparison.

Digital – Emulating Portra 400 NC – (JP Portra 400 NC, Latest Version)
Nikon D700, 50mm 1.4 G, emulating Portra 400 NC digitally with JP Portra 400 NC in LR4:

Digital – Emulating Portra 400 NC – (VSCO Portra 400 NC)
Nikon D700, 50mm 1.4 G, emulating Portra 400 NC digitally with VSCO for LR4:

Going “retro”

Kodak Portra 400 Capture One

Lately I have been looking at several examples of film photography using Portra 400, many of them shot with the ever growing popular Leica M6, but also Olympus om4, Pentax 67, Mamiyas and the likes. Film has been back in favour from some years now and it is all the rage right now. Many photographers use it as a means of distinguishing themselves from the masses as a result of cultivating their own style. It is certainly enjoyable to see those classic retro coloured pictures. Even though the film look is old, the images themselves have a very distinctive contemporary look. That is because the modern lenses are so much technically capable than they where and as a result, the images are crispier than ever. It’s only when you deliberately use old glass that you get the true old look. But in my humble opinion sharpness, as overrated as it might be (a “bourgeois concept in the words of H. Cartier Bresson), is a goddess that is hard not to worship nowadays.

Creating the “retro” look

Kodak Portra 400 Capture One Review

As we already discussed here Fuji cameras offer a wonderful variety of film simulations that let you build your own recipes on top of it, thus giving you access to the wonderful word of retro film effects in jpeg straight out of camera without any further post-processing. This wonderful system lets you even set the intensity and size of the old school grain that you want to apply to your image. The possibilities are almost endless but you have to keep in mind that, as good as they might be, these re-creations of the old classic film are only approximations and won’t replace the original. That said it is pretty exiting to play with the settings trying to find the right combination and ”touch”.

The Portra 400 look for the X-Pro2

Kodak Portra 400 Capture One

To build this recipe I have taken as a base the excellent one from Ritchie Roesch site with some variations that I found fit better to the look. As a guide I have tried to stick to the examples from the very well known Portra Original Pack for Capture one from Mastin Labs. This is a setting tested on a X-Trans III sensor as is the case for my X-Pro2 camera.

In camera settings
  • Film Simuation: Classic Chrome
  • Exposure compensation : + 1/3
  • Grain effect: Weak
  • Dynamic Range: DR400
  • Iso settings: from iso 800 up
  • Highlight: +1
  • Shadow: +2
  • Colour: +2
  • Noise reduction: -3
  • Sharpness: 0
  • White balance: Custom, +1 red & -4 blue (or +2 red & -3 blue depending on the light conditions)

Kodak Portra 400 Capture One Manual

Here are some examples for you to judge

Kodak Portra 400 Vc

I hope you find it useful, let me know if it works for you !