Review: Fujifilm Pro 400H

To see Fujifilm Pro 400H exposure tested alongside 10 other films, follow this link.

I have wanted so badly to like Pro 400H. My father picked up a Pentax Spotmatic back when he was in the service, living in Guam. Much like myself, he experimented with a lot of different film stocks to see what he liked best and eventually he settled on Fuji’s film over Kodak. To this day, he insists that Kodak still cannot mimic the beautiful blues and greens that you get with Fuji’s film. Though he exclusively shoots digital now, I still feel a bond with him over photography and film in particular. It’s because of that that I want to like Fuji’s fim. Being that Pro 400H is their flagship film, I really want to like it.

I do not like it.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H was released in 2004. Today, Pro 400H is often compared with Kodak Portra 400, though it has not reached anywhere close to the same hype.


I think that what I dislike most about Pro 400H is the color palette. It’s tough for me to put my thumb on what it is, exactly that I dislike so much. Tones that I know should be somewhat warm or outright warm are often made too cool for my taste and the saturation almost always feels like it’s cranked up too high for my taste. Through the years and attempts of shooting this film, I’ve started to wonder if in fact I’m just not shooting the film the way that it was designed. Every roll I’ve ever shot has been metered at 400 on the dot and again – I really don’t much care for it. Ive been told that it benefits greatly from being overexposed. That, much like each film in the Portra family, over exposure my a stop or so often leaves the film with a much saturated look.


Though I’ve not used this film at all in the studio, I’ve taken portraits with it and I dislike all of them. I’m a fair skinned person and most of the friends I’ve photographed with 400H are fair skinned and all of us look ghostly white surrounded by dark and saturated colors around us. It’s not a good look. I shot through a roll of 35mm on a work trip to Orlando where I got a few frames in of a good buddy of mine which far from fair skinned and the shots look okay. Not good. Just okay. One of my favorite portraits I’ve ever taken are of the same person so I can’t help but conclude it’s the film.

Dynamic Range

As you can see from the exposure testing article, Pro 400H has an amazing dynamic range. Truth be told, I think it’s a good deal better than Portra 400. I actually think that it looks better overexposed 1-2 stops. It’s weird.

I don’t have too much experience with this film. To date, I’ve only shot through 6 rolls of it. As such, I haven’t got too much experience with it in extreme circumstances. At least not like I do with Portra 400. Given the fact that it is now a good deal cheaper than Portra in 120, there’s a good chance that I will be giving it more chances for exploration as we move into the summer.


I do not like this film stock. I wish I did – I just don’t. I’ll admit that I haven’t shot enough of it to really feel like I’ve been giving it a fair shot but I will sooner than later. I currently have plans to do an experiment somewhat soon to compare it with Portra 400 in a range of scenarios, shot in duplicate – one for a neutral exposure and one over exposed by 1 stop. Hopefully with some experimentation, I can find where this film would shine in my work.

Review: Kodak Portra 800

To see Portra 800 exposure tested, follow this link. As a reference for Portra 400 shot at 800, follow this link. To see a more formal comparison of Portra 800 with the other two members of the Portra family (Experiment 2), go here.

I waited far too long to really give Portra 800 a fair shake. The main reason was the price – coming in at $15 more expensive for a pro pack of 120 and half again the price of a roll of 35mm, I considered more of a luxury than something I would regularly shoot. A couple months ago I caved and picked up a pro pack of both 120 and 35mm in order to write a review on it. I can honestly say that I won’t be defaulting to Portra 400 any longer. The colors of 800 are fantastic. The colors are quite punchy and given the additional speed from 400, the grain structure is minimal and pleasing.


Much like Portra 400, this film stock is great for shooting portraits. The tones are nice and warm with a lot of depth. At the time of writing the Portra 400 review, I had only shot one roll of 800 at box speed and a couple others at 500 or slower to intentionally overexpose as that’s what had been suggested to me. Some of the shots at box speed really turned out well but I don’t know that I cared much for a single shot from the rolls of it overexposed. So, naturally, when I decided to give it another go I wanted to shoot most all of it at box speed. I couldn’t have been happier with the results. The colors are more saturated than Portra 400 while not being quite as strong as Ektar. That said, compared with Portra 160 it’s got saturation for days.

Properly exposed it actually doesn’t have a terribly different rendering that Portra 400 underexposed. The warm tones are spot on with this film and even the cool tones may by favorite of any other color negative film. The greens are just unreal…


Similar to Portra 400, it’s literally in the name. It’s crushes portraits in daylight, low light, and while I haven’t experimented with it in the studio, I expect it too would be great.

Dynamic Range

To see a head to head comparison with other color negative film stocks, please refer to the exposure testing article. I was truly blown away by Portra 800s ability to retain detail while being underexposed. While being the highest speed color negative film we tested, it keep good detail even at 3 stops underexposed – that’s metering at 6400ISO!!! While I wouldn’t personally shoot it at this speed on the regular, it gave me a lot of confidence in really low light situations to open up the lens and shoot as slow as I could go while trusting the outcome to be solid. Well.. relative to any other color film shot at 6400ISO, I had confidence.

As for overexposing, I don’t much care for it. I think this is where I had the problems before… It gets too yellow and all around too saturated for my taste. for now, I’ve learned my lesson in intentionally underexposing this film. In fact, if I find myself in tricky conditions (which isn’t uncommon hiking in OH) I may in the future meter for half or even a whole step underexposed. Maybe… I only say that because I’ve still had too many shots come out undesirable because some parts of the frame were still too bright and the whole shot was lost to unattractive colors.


I haven’t done either as of yet. I fully expect that at some point I’ll try both as 800 speed gives enough to move in either direction and still be fine.


I love this film. Plain and simple. If it was less expensive, it would be my go to film probably. But it isn’t… It’s almost half again as expensive as Portra 400 on all fronts and that’s a real concern – it adds up fast if you’re shooting a lot. So for now, I’ll continue to shoot with it as much as I can and play around with it in different situations to really get to know it. But I don’t really see the day where it takes 400’s place in my heart or freezer.

One caveat to all of this: I’ve not yet brought up but is a consideration of mine is ease to travel with. As an 800 speed film, this film must be hand checked if you’re flying. As it happens, Portra 400 doesn’t need it at all – I’ve gone through security 4 times with the same rolls and not had a single issue with it. With everything I’ve ever read (in addition to the TSA website and signs in the airport) about traveling with 800 speed or faster film, you have to hand check it and that’s just a pain. More of a pain than I typically feel like dealing with. Perhaps if I was going on a huge trip and needed a lot of fast film for whatever reason and I knew I’d want to take Ilford Delta 3200, maybe then I’d go through the hassle. Otherwise, I’ll likely keep leaning on Portra 400 and Ektar when I’m flying.

Review: Kodak Ektar 100

To see Kodak Ektar exposure tested along side 10 other film stocks, follow this link. To see my first (substantial) attempt at shooting Ektar while in Banff, follow this link.

In the fall of 2018 I headed to Arizona for the second time and intended to see the Grand Canyon for the first time (btw, it was as grand as the name implies. Lots and lots of grand.) and when deciding what film to take, Ektar never crossed my mind. I thought to myself – I’ve shot a couple rolls of Ektar before and hated it. A lot. Then I found the work of Pete and David and decided I didn’t give Ektar a fair shake in my previous attempts. Albeit, I believe now that what I didn’t like was in fact the scans from the lab I was using moreso than the film itself.


Ektar has bold colors that, coupled with the high sharpness, make it an incredible film for landscapes. Compared with Portra 400, I find this film to have a bit less blue in the shadows and bit more yellow in the highlights. Granted, I’m basing this exact assessment on the exposure testing experiment but so far my personal experience has not turned up any conflicting evidence.

So far, the colors that have really jumped out at me and made me fall in love with this film are light turquoise and deep blues. The turquoise values are truly unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. When I see good examples of this (heavily based in Banff) I wonder if the film actually rendered a significantly different color than reality. I mean… Was it ever actually that beautiful? As for the deep blues, I’m just a sucker for that color range and I think this film does a tremendous job at it.

The only colors I haven’t fully grown to like from this film are greens that don’t have a blue tint. I felt like the closer the green got to blue, the more I liked it. Conversely, the less blue it got, the less I liked it. The light greens were a bit too quick to have a yellow-ish tint and the darker greens didn’t have the same “pop” as everything else. Still though- this is all relative and I recognize my experience may just be limited. As such, I’ve kept a roll of Ektar in at least one camera at all times and I’m experimenting to see if this opinion persists or limited to only my first couple pro packs.


Given how pronounced the colors are, I fully expected this film to bomb at portraits. Who wants a photo or themselves with the saturation turned way up? That said, I don’t dislike this film for portraits so long as its an environmental portrait. I felt like the more the photo felt like a proper portrait, the more I couldn’t get over how strong the colors were. While the more of the scene I got in the photo, the more I appreciated the coloring – it’s always a trade-off.

Dynamic Range

I can honestly say that I am beyond surprised with the dynamic range of Ektar. In the exposure testing experiment, I genuinely felt this film performed better than every other color negative we included. In the experiment, I thought it handled underexposure really well. My personal experience has been a bit less successful. I’ve found all of the photos that I knew to be underexposed a bit muddy with very strong saturation in the darker values, leading to an experience a bit less than I hoped for.

As for overexposing, I don’t much care for what happens to the coloring but given that I can rectify that in post, I am beyond surprised with this film. It’s such that if I meter for the midtones to shadows, I’m hard pressed to overexpose the highlights to a point beyond return. I think it is this very quality that makes it such a solid choice for landscapes.


I can count on one hand how many times I’ve ever pulled film and with this film being 100ASA, I don’t see it ever happening here. That said, I did once put through a roll at 400ASA in one of my F2s and didn’t much care for the results. So much so that I’ll not be providing examples. I really felt like the saturation was over the top (even on my scans) and the loss of the dynamic range was beyond my taste. I did it purely as an experiment and I suspect I’ll try it again at 200ASA and update.


In conclusion, I’ve really grown to love this film and have kept a constant stock of it since I bought my first pro pack. So much so that I’ve kept a roll in at least one camera since. While I don’t know that I’ll be going through much of it once the weather in Ohio starts going back to grey all the time, I’ll be enjoying it as much as I can while the sun is out.

Review: Kodak Ektachrome E100

Ektachrome was the first slide film I’ve ever tried. I bought a few rolls the day it came out and left on a trip to Arizona the next day. I shot Ektachrome in my Nikon F2 and Fujichrome Provia in my Mamiya 645 Pro TL at the same time while hiking through Lockett Meadow. Needless to say, for it being a first attempt, I went all in and bet everything would turn out alright.

For those that are not familiar with slide film, it is very temperamental. By that I’m referring to the exposure latitude (or lack thereof) and tendency to get blown out pretty quickly. As such, you have to get the exposure right on point and err on the side of underexposure. Yes- that’s the exact opposite of most color film.

Overall, my thoughts are very positive about this film. So much so that I’ve shot thru several rolls of it and I’ve continued to maintain a stock of it at home, waiting for the sunny weather and long days to come back. The colors are great – a lot warmer than Provia – to a point colors tend to lean towards yellows and reds in my opinion.

Review: Fujifilm Fujichrome Provia 100F RDP-III

If you’ve never shot a roll of slide film, you should absolutely do it now. The sensation you get from holding the diapositives (or slides if you’re shooting 35mm and you get them mounted) is exhilarating. I still get the same rush of looking at them the 20th time as I got the 1st time.

It’s hard to overstate how much I love Provia. My first foray into slide film was Ektachrome as soon as the new stock came last year. Since Ektachrome wasn’t available in 120 and I wanted the chance to shoot through a roll in my Mamiya on a trip to Arizona we were taking in October, I picked up some Provia. The vibe of it is just unreal. The tones are amazing and there’s so much clarity… I took a good scan of the first photos and printed it out into a 24in x 36in sheet and it couldn’t look any better. I honestly think it’s sharper than an equivalent shot on my digital camera (Sony a7).

That’s enough of the good; as for the bad, it suffers from the same qualities all slide film have and it can be a bit persnickety. Like all slide film, you have to nail the exposure and keep the scenes fairly low contrast or the scene or will get blown out in a hurry. That said, Provia has one the widest exposure latitudes of it’s slide stock peers. As for its quirks, it tends to be pretty cool. If you don’t have a warming filter on your lens, you will almost assuredly have to do some post processing white balance adjustments. For those that have warming filters, I typically use an 81A but if it’s particularly cloudy or closer to dusk, I’ll switch out the A for an 81B and everything tends to work out fine.

Those first shots are from my first roll on a visit to Arizona. The weather conditions were perfect – a lot of sun and crisp temperatures. The second set are from a quick stop in Hocking Hills one late afternoon. It was a lot more cloudy and all the shots came out with a bit of a blue wash that had to be corrected post.