Fuji 400H with a Mamiya 645 Afd (medium format)
Shooting with a certain type of film stock is a conscious choice that the photographer makes. How do I want the colors to look? Do I want the palette to be pastel or more bright and punchy? Digital photographers decide this in post-processing when they edit the files that they took with their digital camera. But a film photographer decides this beforehand and chooses a particular film stock for the look it will produce.
I like to share the film love around and so I am not wedded to a certain stock. However, in the past two years I have been working at a more consistent color palette for my commissioned work from weddings and portraits. While I favored Fuji 400H in the beginning (this is the stock Jose Villa and Elizabeth Messina use), I have moved more towards Kodak Portra. Portra 400 has a bit more warmth in it and it is punchier to me. I feel the skintones are more realistic as sometimes Fuji can look too pink or take on greenish casts in the shadows.
In a recent portrait shoot for Janie Rocek, a Northern Colorado wedding hair stylist and makeup artist, I decided to test the two together. I used my Mamiya 645 Afd (a medium format camera) with the Fuji 400H film, and I used my Canon EOS 1n (a 35mm camera) with the Portra 400. I feel the colors are very similar but the Portra has a bit more punch to me. I wish my other 645 camera’s batteries were charged so I could compare the same scene and light with a roll of Portra 400 (medium format film looks a little bit different from 35mm film).
Which do you prefer? And does it really matter which film it is, or whether is film or digital? To me, it is the eye of the photographer and the poses and compositions. For sure, it is enhanced with the use of film (film photography oozes luxury to me!), but in the end it is the eye of the artist and how they interpret the scene.
Portra 400 with a Canon EOS 1n (35mm format)
I'm digging the Fuji in these examples! I tested out Fuji at my most recent shoot too :)
On our last trip to the Caribbean, I took both medium format (Mamiya Pro TL) and 35mm (Canon 1v) and used a variety of film stocks on both. My favorites were the Portra 400 and the Fuji 400H, and the Fuji 400H was the overall winner. My post is here: http://myirietime.com/filmroadtrip-road-test-anguilla/
I will bring both on our trip next month and try to correct some of my mistakes, but it's a lot of fun to do these experiments! Thanks for your post. It was nice to read your impressions and see your results. Beautiful images!
Thank you so much for this great article. I'm switching things up and becoming a hybrid shooter and, like you, I want a consistent look with my film and I'm so torn between FUJI and Portra. I like hearing that you find PORTA renders better skin tones. The greens in FUJI can look a bit unreal sometimes so this is good to know. Thanks so MUCH!
I love your comparison. Both sets of images are gorgeous!!