My Fujifilm X100F Kodak Portra 400 Film Simulation Recipe

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Jump – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

Fuji X Weekly reader Luis Costa asked me if I could create a Kodak Portra 400 film simulation recipe for the Fujifilm X100F. I liked the idea and thought it would be a fun challenge, so I agreed. What I didn’t realize is that challenge was the keyword, as this was extremely difficult to figure out. I gave up a couple of times, but then some inspiration pushed me forward, and eventually I got it right. Or, at least, very close to right.

Portra 400 is a daylight balanced color negative film made by Kodak. There have been four different versions made since it was introduced in 1998: the original film (1998-2000), 400NC and 400VC (2000-2011), and the current version (2011 to present). I’ve used Portra 400NC (“neutral color”) and 400VC (“vivid color”) in the past, but I’ve not shot on Portra film for at least a decade, and I’ve never used the current one. There isn’t a huge difference between the different Portra 400 films, but there are small distinctions as they each have a slightly varied look.

As the name implies, this film is designed for portraits, and has a warm tint in order to enhance skin tones. Being daylight balanced means if you use it on a cloudy day, indoors, under artificial light, etc., it will look different. It’s designed for use in daylight, and using it in other circumstances will skew the white balance (which could be good or bad, depending on the image).

White balance became both the key to this film simulation recipe and the problem. I first tried auto-white-balance (with a white balance shift of +2 Red and -5 Blue), and I got good results a few times and not good results a bunch of times. Next I set it to Daylight (using the same shift) but it wasn’t quite right. Then I tried setting the Kelvin value, starting with 5600K, but couldn’t find one that was correct. Finally, I used Custom White Balance, but it took seven or eight different measurements before I got it right. I did get it right, though.

The measurement that worked was out the back door of my house midday, slightly back-lit, partly cloudy with a lot of green in the scene. Interestingly enough, once I got it right I then tried to get the same custom white balance on my X-Pro2, but it measured slightly different. My suggestion is to use auto-white-balance, and once you capture an image that looks right, use custom white balance to make a measurement of the scene and set it. I think that should work, anyway. Otherwise, just keep trying to get the custom white balance right by taking different measurements until you find one that looks good.

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Hello Summer – S. Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Edited using RNI Films app, Kodak Portra 400 preset.

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Country Red – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Edited using RNI Films app, Kodak Portra 400 preset.

Nailing down an exact Portra 400 look is tricky business because it depends on which version of Portra 400 film you are talking about, plus whether it was scanned (and which scanner) or printed (and which chemicals and paper). To verify that I was close, I put a couple of images through the RNI Films app on my phone using their Portra 400 preset, and compared it to my Portra 400 film simulation recipe. It was very close, but who knows how accurate their Portra preset is and what exactly it is supposed to be simulating (which film version and process). It was good verification that my recipe is at least in the ballpark, as I’m sure their preset is in the ballpark. I also examined images captured with actual Portra 400 film. I don’t think any film simulation is going to be an exact match because there are too many variables, but I think it’s perfectly alright to not be 100% spot on, as long as it gives the right impression, and this recipe does just that.

There are a few of the settings that I’ve debated, going back-and-forth over what’s most accurate. I think that the white balance shift gives the right color cast, but perhaps a bit too strongly. I’ve tried changing it, but, to me, this is what looks most correct. I’ve tried the shadows at +3 but think +2 is better. I’m still not completely convinced that highlights should be at -1 as sometimes 0 looks better, but more often -1 looks right to me. Sometimes I think that color should be at -2 and not -3, but -2 almost looks too saturated. There is certainly room to play around with the settings if one doesn’t completely agree with what I’ve chosen.

The most difficult part of my Kodak Portra 400 Film Simulation recipe will be getting the white balance correct. I didn’t find an easy way to achieve it. It’s going to take trial-and-error. With any luck you’ll get it on the first try. There are three custom white balance settings, and you can make three different ones and see which gives the best results. Just remember that Portra is a daylight balanced film, so measuring a daylight scene will give you a better chance of getting it right.

Here’s the recipe:

Classic Chrome
Dynamic Range: DR400
Highlight: -1
Shadow: +2
Color: -2
Noise Reduction: -3
Sharpening: +1
Grain: Strong
White Balance: Custom, +2 Red & -5 Blue
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +1 to +1-1/3 (typically)

The photographs labelled “Portra 400” (which are all of them except for the two RNI Films examples) are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs. I did slightly crop a couple of them, but no other adjustments were made, just minor cropping.

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Greens of Summer – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Summer Wildflower – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Tiny Bugs On A Rosebud – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Bloom Alone – S. Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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A Coffee Cup – S. Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Obligatory Cat Pic – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Hanging Prints – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Window Box – S. Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

 

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Bottle Vase – S. Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Ground Coffee Beans – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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May Clouds Over Wasatch – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Window Clouds – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Standing Tall – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Tonka – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

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Bike Repair – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X100F – “Portra 400”

Click here for my complete list of Fujifilm X100F film simulation recipes!

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16 comments

  1. Pingback: Fujifilm X100F Film Simulation Settings | Fuji X Weekly
  2. Hi there! thanks for the recipe! i will try it on my xt20! Do you have any aproximate recipe for non classic chrome models? i really enjoy shooting with xpro1 so i would really benefit from one! thanks again! great job! keep them coming!

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · May 31

      I’m not sure how you would accomplish this look without Classic Chrome. Maybe start with PRO Neg. Std and figure it out from there, I’m sure there will be other adjustments to make it work. Thank you for the comment!

      Like

  3. Pingback: My Fujifilm X100F Kodak Ektar 100 Film Simulation Recipe | Fuji X Weekly
  4. dsda · June 18

    thank you ! you are genius….

    Like

  5. jamiechancetravels · July 23

    Amazing thank you for doing this! Any thoughts on how to get the look of the portra 800? I thought simply more grain but to me the greens look deeper!

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · July 23

      Thank you! As far as Portra 800, perhaps change shadow +3, highlight 0 and keep the ISO at 1600 and higher. The color shift might need to be adjusted but I’m not sure exactly to what.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jakob · September 7

    please do gold 200!

    Like

  7. Manuel · September 10

    Thanks for all the work you put into these posts 🙂
    But i have one problem: the photos you post are soooo small…. i cant see any of the nice organic grain you talk about all the time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · September 10

      I agree with that, and I apologize. I’ve had my photos stolen many times, and using low resolution copies on this site helps to deter that. I would love to post full resolution, unfortunately people will just copy my work illegally. Maybe I can makes some crops to show just how nice some of these images look close up. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

      • Manuel · September 11

        Weeellll, post them full resolution then and register them with copytrack.com and earn a nice amount of cash everytime they get stolen and used somewhere in the web 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · September 11

        If it was only that easy. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with thieves in foreign countries there’s not much that one can do, especially depending on the country. And, besides, not all stolen pictures get used on the web, in fact a lot aren’t. One day a few years ago I was flipping through the newspaper and realized that an image in an ad was mine! I have in the past made money from stolen pictures, but it was never a pleasant experience. Thank you for the tip, though.

        Like

      • Manuel · September 11

        Have a look at copytrack. They operate in 140 countries and you don’t have any work or costs. They’ll find the photos on the web, notify you, you decide if it’s a case or if it’s legal. Lean back and wait for your money.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: My Favorite Fujifilm Film Simulation Recipes | Fuji X Weekly
  9. Pingback: My Fujifilm JPEG Settings - jamiechancetravels

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