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Faster colour negative film preferences


Active Member
Because there is no specific spot for film discussion here (other than the B&W forum), I thought that this would be as good a place as any for me to ask others' opinions on "faster" colour negative films.

Kodak's Portra 160NC is my favourite negative film in 35mm and 120 formats.

But, I am wondering if others share my view on relative attributes among "faster" colour negative films.

1. I tried Portra 400NC recently and found it does not scan as well as Fuji Press 400 or even the basic consumer Fujifilm Superia 400 I often use in 35mm shooting (typically in a Canon 1vHS with flash at parties etc).

I have found on 2 separate occasions that the Kodak 400NC scans by a Fuji Frontier come up quite grainy in PS. But looking at the negatives on a light box, the grain seems "normal" to my eyes.

So, what do others prefer to use as 400 ASA negative film (120 format of course)? How well does it scan for you?

2. Now I also have a problem with 800 ASA colour negative film. I have tried Kodak Portra 800 and been VERY UNHAPPY with it 35mm due to what is to my eyes a significant blue cast (outdoors with quite "normal" light). In some situations the blue cast is HORRIBLE! Interestingly it scanned reasonably well (except for the blue colour cast)- medium grain that I would expect.

So, then is Fuji Press 800 my only real option?

The unfortunately thing is that I hoped the Portra natural colour emulsions would be consistent with 160NC at the higher speeds but my experience is that they are not!

I really like its tonality and low to medium saturation and the way it still manages to show rich colours with great depth while maintaining natural skin tones.

Thanks for your time and help.
Are you evaluating based on the screen image or an actual print Simon?

Computer screen images of scanned higher ISO film are deceiving. They actually print much, much better.

I use Portra 400 and even 800 which I scan. My first attempts at it were dismal, since I was manuplating the screen image to much when it was unecessary.
Hi Simon,

Over time I have tried Portra 160NC, 160VC, 400UC (!) and 800. UC is just plain not nice in my eyes, 160NC and (maybe) 160VC do it. 400UC is 'over the top' in color rendering. 800 works for me, but only if I have no other options, I do not really like it.

As far as scanning goes, all work reasonably well with Silverfast on my Epson 3200.

On my last trip to the US I also used Fuji NPC160. I was given a box of 5 of that film. I do not really like its scanning characteristics I must say. In the past I used Fuji Superia 100 and that was much better in my experience. Color rendering of NPC160 is also less for my landscape/nature photography.

In general, the prescan of Silverfast should not be taken to mimic the final result, that is better by a *wide* margin!


I have the same problem finding a 400 ISO film that works.

Portra 160 NC (my favourite film too) is great. But the faster versions don't do it for me at all. (The UC and VC versions i hate. 'Cranking up' the 'chroma' a bit during scanning is easier, and produces better results.)

I have tried Fuji's 400 ISO films too, and though they clearly are different, i'm not sure i find them beter than Portra 400.

But i thought it was me. Glad (well...) to see that it's not just me.
Could it be possible that there is no good ISO 400 film?
I use Kodak UC 400 for shooting landscapes and red rock [southern Utah and Arizona]. I would not use it for portraits or weddings; I use VC 400 and NC 400 for that. This applies to 135 and 120 film.

I have used Fuji 800 for 135 and it was ok, nothing to write home about. For one stop I just as soon as stick to what I know.

I am shooting Fuji Neopan 400, Tri-X 400, and T-Max 400 in 120. I will get back on that later.

I am planning on trying out both Fuji Velia, Fuji Provia and the Kodak slide films in 120 soon.

Many thanks gentlemen - your feedback is a great help.

Marc, I will take a much closer look at the negatives on a light box and then I will get selected images printed and see how they come up. Very interesting points you make. Thanks.

Wilko, generally I find Fuji films too but am beginning bo feel they scan better - different emulsion structure to Kodak. Sure 400UC is an "acquired taste" and needs to be reserved for very specific use.

QG, I too am glad that it is just not me thinking this. I have used 400UC 120 film once for landscapes and was pleasantly surprised by it. But I think I'd just rather stick with NC type negative film in all speeds. That way I can control the saturation in PS. Funny thing is that the "bog standard Fuji Superia 100, 400 and (Press) 800 in 35mm format works well for me.

Steve, of the B&W films I really like Fuji Acros 100 and Neopan 400 in 120 film.

I have stopped using Velvia as it is too "chocolate box" like for my eyes. I use Kodak positive film now and they have some superb products I suggest you try.

Tanks again everyone.
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I use Portra 160 NC and am quite happy with the results.

I do not use any 400 film at all since most of the time I can control lighting conditions.

With Porta 800 I even had good results under impossible conditions like a mix of fluorescent and day light.
Thanks Paul. I gave Portra 400UC a run last week and the results were excellent - in the past I have not been impressed but suspected I used it for the wrong purpose. I shot Portra 800 too and was also pleased this time. So I am thinking I need to me more selective about the conditions in which I use each film.
Sorry QG!
But In the circumstances of what I was shooting I was very impressed with what to my eyes seem to be the "controlled" high saturation and especially how sharp the film is.

BUT, it is the only non NC Kodak print film I have liked and I would be very careful about what I use it to shoot. And all the same 160NC is my favourite film.

I'll try to post a couple of s&les which may be hard 'til I get my awful HP computer running properly again.