Kodak Professional Portra 400BW - Expired

On a recent walk around Princeton University, I exposed an expired Kodak Portra 400 BW 35mm film cartridge.

Kodak Professional Portra 400BW was a multi-purpose chromogenic black and white negative film designed to be processed in standard C-41 chemistry alongside rolls of colour  negative film and printed on standard colour paper. It was developed like a colour-negative film in the C-41 process and delivered monochrome images like a black-and-white film. The film was intended for exposure with daylight, electronic flash, and artificial illumination.

Kodak Professional Portra 400BWW was a versatile film for 35mm and medium format cameras. It was made with a Kodak T-Grain emulsion and had a wide exposure latitude. Production of the Kodak Portra 400BW was discontinued and replaced with Kodak Professional BW400CN, which was also discontinued. This film incorporated Kodak T-GRAIN® emulsions, which provided excellent grain and sharpness at a relatively high speed. This film was used for portrait and wedding applications and many commercial applications.

I awoke on Monday morning feeling out of sorts. Not physically but emotionally. I was conflicted about a difficult decision I had to make. I needed to clear my head. It was Presidents Day's federal banking holiday, so I had the day off. After breakfast, I grabbed my Minolta X-700, MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 lens and loaded an expired roll of Kodak Professional Portra 400BWW from the box of expired 35mm film that my friend had sent me. I mounted the setup to my Manfrotto tripod. It was an overcast morning, and I wanted to ensure I could expose frames at a lower shutter speed if needed. I tried to avoid motion blur.

As I walked around the Princeton University campus, I became more relaxed. The air was cool, but I was comfortable. It was still early, and the campus was coming alive. I focused on bicycles. They are easy to find on campus. I walked west of Olden Street near the School of Engineering and Applied Science on Shapiro Walk. Shapiro Walk took me to the Fountain of Freedom.

I exposed several frames to photograph the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, formerly the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Foreign Policy magazine ranks the Princeton School second in the world for international relations at the undergraduate level behind Harvard University and fourth at the graduate level, behind the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University, and Johns Hopkins University.

I exposed this 35mm roll of Kodak Portra 400BW at box speed. The scans exhibit a lot of chunky film grain. I think this is because I did not expose the film correctly. I had not yet learned about the "overexpose by one stop for each decade the film has expired" rule. I should have exposed the film at ISO 50, thereby overexposing each frame to adjust for the age of the film.

The film cartridge was developed at Boutique Photo Lab and scanned on my Epson Perfection V600 with VueScan 9. I made some minor cropping and perspective adjustments in Adobe Lightroom.

Name Kodak Professional Portra 400BW
Format 35mm
Features chromogenic black and white negative
Native ISO 400
Price FREE
Exposed ISO 400
Lab Boutique Film Lab
Process C41
Scanner Epson Perfection V600
Software VueScan 9, Negative Lab Pro, Adobe Lightroom
Garfield Way · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Princeton University · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Belle Mara · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Belle Mara · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400
Belle Mara · Monday 20 February 2023 · Minolta X-700 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 · ISO 400

Author: Khürt Williams

A human who works in information security and enjoys photography, Formula 1 and craft ale.

6 thoughts on “Kodak Professional Portra 400BW - Expired”

  1. Jim Grey says:

    Yes, these look underexposed. If these were my rolls I'd try ISO 100.

    1. Hi Jim, I’m learning from my failures. I have a few more cartridges of expired Portra 400 BW. I’ll expose one at ASA 50 and another at ASA 100 to see what happens.

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