Shoot Portraits With Some Rock-Solid Kodak Portra 400 VC


Kodak Portra 400vc is a reasonably fast, extremely fine grain film. It has been specially developed to shoot portraits. At 400 ISO with Kodak’s super-fine T-grain technology, it is a versatile emulsion that Kodak claim is the “finest grain high-speed color negative film” in the world.

Kodak Portra 400VC 35mm was one of the first films I bought when I got back into shooting stills (and beginning my amazing lomographic journey). I felt like it was bursting the bank paying £31 for 5 rolls. With hindsight, I actually think it’s a pretty reasonable price now.

I used this stock in my Canon EOS300 SLR and usually keep the camera set to automatic. Once or twice I’ve set it to manual to take pictures in quite dark environments and the images turned out way better than I’d hoped for. This is a film designed for taking portraits and I was delighted with the portraits I took using it.

In Scotland, where I take the majority of my photos, we have a lot of cloud cover and often don’t see blue sky for several days at a time. This film is perfect for overcast conditions. The reds and skin tones REALLY pop and there’s a deep saturation to the high-contrast blacks. As a result, it suits cloudy/dark/stormy environments.

This emulsion also functions well indoors with a nice bright flash. It’s a film designed to make people look their best so I’ve used it at movie screenings, parties, Christmas time… those sorts of events when you want something a little more special than your bog-standard films. I also used it to take some close-up macro shots of plants. The translucency of the leaves and flesh of the plants blew my mind. I really can’t stress enough how fine a grain there is considering it’s the 400 ISO speed.

I currently have a roll in my SLR but it’s taken me a long time to use it. A fact that annoys me since this is professional stock and it should be kept refrigerated for best results. This is why it’s best to keep this emulsion for special occasions — there are more chances of using it up when it’s at its best.

I am certainly going to buy some more Portra when this lot is used up. I don’t think I could justify using it in my Holga or toy cameras but it’s stunning stock and yields brilliant results even in the hands of an amateur (me!). If you get some make sure you put it in the fridge to keep it at its best. I should also mention that as this is 35mm for C-41 processing, it’s a doddle to get developed and both labs I had mine processed at had no issues with it at all.

Here’s a link to the film on the Kodak site.

The Kodak Portra 400 VC 35mm is a true professional`s choice. This portrait film yields great contrast and slamming colours, giving your shots a subtle x-pro look (without the x-pro)! See the whole range of colour negatives in our Shop.

written by slumbrnghok on 2011-08-05 #gear #35mm #review #color #400-iso #portraits #print #kodak-portra-400-vc #vivid-colour #user-review


  1. aroninvt
    aroninvt ·

    Great shots! While it may be intended portraits, and skin tones do glow, I think the shots of the plants are the best!

  2. slumbrnghok
    slumbrnghok ·

    Thank you! I just thought if it worked on human flesh it might work for vegetable flesh!

  3. droogieboy
    droogieboy ·

    I loved this film! Then Kodak stopped making it :(
    They've replaced it with a combo of the Vivid Colour and the Natural Colour films for a Porta film somewhere in the middle. Better than nothing I suppose, but I've always prefered Vivid Colours!
    ( great pics btw )

  4. slumbrnghok
    slumbrnghok ·

    WHAT! I didn't know that. That's very sad news. There are still a few packs left in my local Jessops so might get my hands on some. VC is fantastic.

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