UPDATE: After messing around with Color Efx Pro 4from DxO's Nik Collection 3, I think my criticism and reaction to the SOOC JPEGs from my Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 5: Kodak Portra 400 test was "user error". I think the exposure compensation dial may have moved during my photo walk. That would certainly explain the washed-out look of the SOOC image. As a test, I used Fuji X RAW Studio to reprocess the images with Ritchie's Kodak Portra 400 recipe and adjusted exposure compensation settings, and the results are much better. I think the photos were over-exposed by between EV +1/3 to +1. In the interest of transparency, I left the original blog post but included reprocessed images at the bottom of the post.
This blog entry is my fifth installment for Ritchie Roesch's Fujifilm-inspired Film Simulation Challenge. For this challenge, I chose Ritchie's Kodak Portra 400 recipe for X-Trans III sensors and went for an early morning walk around downtown Princeton. This recipe attempts to simulate the look of the Kodak Portra 400 Professional ISO 400 film. I've never used the actual Kodak Portra 400 Professional ISO 400 film, but I like the SOOC JPEG images on Ritchie's web page and decided to give it a try.
I walked north on Nassau Street toward Hogie Haven. I shot using Kodak Portra 400 until I got to Shouse, then switched to Kodak Portra 160. I shot RAW + JPEG and EV +2/3. The challenge is all about film simulation recipes and SOOC JPEGs, so I've included the best of the roll of 36. Many of the SOOC images have been cropped and edited for perspective correction only. Despite my best efforts with the built-in level of the Fujifilm X-T2, I tend to tilt.
What I learned from this experience is that Kodak Portra 400 was most likely designed and tweaked for Western wedding portraiture. It seems to work best with a white and grey and a generally muted colour palette. This film would not be my choice for colourful Asian weddings and events. While I like how some of these images were rendered, I had this feeling that the photographers singing the praises of Kodak Portra 400 must hate the colour.
In other words, this film simulation and Kodak Portra film would have been great for Erin's and Joe's wedding or Andrew's wedding but may not have been appropriate for my brother-in-law's wedding. Mastin Labs wrote an article about editing skin tones after applying their Adobe Lightroom film presets.
If your predominant market is light-skinned/Caucasian people, you can easily use any of the Portra packs or the Fujicolor packs.
If you're shooting mostly people of color or Asian skin tones, we recommend sticking with the Fujicolor packs and films.
I found Mastin Labs' article by searching for "best film for dark skin tones". Most of the results from Google were links to forums where photographers were asking the question. That's a good thing. Those photographers realise that not all skin tones are the same. But when I see any film described as "... delivers spectacular skin tones plus exceptional color saturation" I get this sick feeling inside that the writer meant white skin tones. When did white skin become the default?
Other entries in this challenge series.
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 1: Kodachrome II
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 2: Velvia
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 3: Tri-X Push
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 5: Kodak Portra 400
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 6: Kodak Portra 160
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 7: Fujicolor Pro 400H
- Fujifilm Film Simulation Challenge Roll 8: Vintage Kodachrome
These images were reprocessed using Fuji X RAW Studio with the EV adjusted Kodak Portra 400 Film Simulation Recipe.