My first year of shooting film Part 11
After shooting 13 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 I thought it was time to give Ektar a try, as was suggested by some people who read my previous posts. A couple of weeks ago I loaded a roll in my M2 with the intention to try it on my regular daily photography. But after a day or so my man and I decided on a last minute trip to Karpathos (a Greek island in the Aegean Sea) since the Dutch summer wasn’t really taking off properly. As I wasn’t sure yet on the outcome of Ektar, I took a some Portra 400 with me as well, and concluded that it was a good opportunity to compare them both. We were only in Greece for three days, so I more or less shot one day with Ektar, and one day with Portra. The weather was very much the same over those few days: clear blue skies with only a very small hint of cloud if you looked really hard.
So here are a few comparisons, I tried to match the used lens, time of day that the photos were taken, and viewpoint with respect to the sun. They are not exactly the same, sometimes even different, as I didn’t take the exact route for my photography expedition each morning. But I am confident that there are enough similarities for a fair comparison. I rated Ektar at box speed or EI 100 (after reading this and this), and I rated Portra 400 at EI 100 too. I metered with the iPhone app myLightMeter PRO. The top photos in the comparisons are taken with Portra, the bottom ones with Ektar.
The early morning, before sunrise shots:
Again: just before sunrise, but a different angle:
Just after sunrise, with the first light hitting the rocks:
A bit of rising sun on Greek churches. Although they are different churches, the photos were taken at a very similar hour, and in the same direction.
Midday, hard light. Again, I didn’t have a the same location, but it is in the same direction with respect to the sun, so I think they can be compared.
As expected, Ektar has deeper, more saturated colours, specifically in the blues. The Ektar photos also seem to have a hint of red haze over them. But generally the results are closer than I expected. Of course it is a matter of personal preference, but I generally prefer the Portra colours over Ektar. However with the shots that are taken before sunrise Ektar helps to bring out the very subtle colours. And somehow when an object like a boat is in the photo the pop of colour brings a fun element, while I prefer the softer tones for the landscapes.
Next a couple of photos that show what I perceive as the strength of each film. First some landscape photos on Portra with the subtle colours that I really like. This might sound in contradiction to some earlier comments of mine where I was looking for more colour, but the photos below do not look pale to me, just more desaturated. The colour still feels dense enough to me, if that makes sense.
And finally some images where the saturated colours of Ektar work really well (and the top featured photo of this post was also shot on Ektar):
I want to add that I had these photos printed, something I didn’t do before. And I must say that the prints look much better than the scans. It started with an experiment done by AG photolab. In one of my previous posts I mentioned some dots in the scans of my photos of Curacao, and AG photolab printed a few of those photos to check the negatives. Those prints looked absolutely beautiful (also showing that the issue was in the scan, not in the handling of film). This inspired me to order more prints, which I did for the film I shot in Karpathos. Soon I will have a real retro/nostalgic afternoon when I am going to put them in an album (also called ’empty photo book’ ).
All photos were developed and scanned by AG Photolab.
Thanks for reading, and Hamish, thanks for having me!