#1332. Streetopia and Portra 400

By Ian Varkevisser | How-To

Dec 31

Today we test out an E-Film called Portra 400, created for Fujifilm by Ivan Yolo, on the street.

According to the manufacturer KODAK PROFESSIONAL PORTRA 400 is the world's finest grain high-speed color negative film. At true ISO 400 speed, this film delivers spectacular skin tones plus exceptional color saturation over a wide range of lighting conditions. PORTRA 400 Film is the ideal choice for portrait and fashion photography, as well as for nature, travel and outdoor photography, where the action is fast or the lighting can't be controlled.

Apparently Portra 400 is one of the most popular colour-negative films for film photographers. This super-saturated, ISO 400 colour negative film enables you to take photos in all sorts of lighting conditions while still maintaining accurate colours.

Kodak Portra 400 is a daylight-balanced color film available in 35mm, 120, 220, 4x5 in, and 10x8 in formats. Introduced in 1998 mainly for portrait and wedding use, with its emphasis on great skin tones. 

The modern version of Kodak Portra 400 was updated and introduced in 2010 to replace the previous Natural Color (NC) and Vibrant Color (VC) versions, with a more balanced color profile, with an emphasis on producing natural skin tones. Kodak also claims a finer grain and improved sharpness over the NC and VC.

Streetopia is a wide range of community based performances, music and art from AfrikaBurn ( think Burning Man ) and Cape Town-based artists are scheduled and displayed, whilst performances of music, dance, poetry, drumming and so on also take place at a street venue in a local suburb of Cape Town called Observatory.

The main street of the suburb is closed off for the duration of the day and in the tradition of Afikaburn outlandish attire is on display. A wide variety of street stalls and activities.  

We come across Keith Richards older brother, a mad max style motor bike, meet up with the koraborēshon liquorice man, have our model shoot with Burlesque dancer Lady Magnolia photobombed, get given an evil eye, bear witness to a hair raising experience, meet up again with our Hare Krishna friends, experience a very cheeky moment, view some melons in the shade of an umbrella, try an make a decision on some pronouns meow, experience some tongue, get smoked by a fish net stockinged harlequin, fly in the face of cheetahs and mockingbirds, consider asking Caleb if he is looking into the future but decide instead to  wash it all down with a humourous dose of ice cream soda float.

This Portra 400 E-Film is fine-tuned to not be too warm, less grainy, and lighter. It looks great and natural for portrait shots and doesn't affect the subjects face with a yellowish tone like some of the other Portra E-Films. It is highly popular with Fuji users.

Images straight out of camera with minor exposure adjustments.

Gear matters Fujifilm X-T30ii with TT Artisans 23mm F/1.4 manual lens with lens hood and circular polarising filter.

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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    One of the best selections of “street” I’ve ever clapped eyes on! I take it Ian, that you’re a Fuji/film/fanatic? It certainly lives up to your description, the skin tones are superb.

    Is it normal for motor bikes not to have a number plate, in South Africa?

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pete,

      Welcome back to the top of the list and all the best for the new year.

      Street legal motor bikes require a number plate. The one featured above would have been crafted specifically for the annual burning man festival held out in the desert on private land. It was just on show here.

      I have an interest in shooting jpeg in camera for the obvious benefits of saving on file size, and minimisation of post processing.

      While most in the Fuji community have spent a lot of effort in an attempt to duplicate old film stocks , there are many custom E-Films out there. At present I have readily usable collection of over 500 which I can upload to camera before going on a shoot. Mine in particular has 7 custom E-Film slots , selectable at the press of a button in the field, making it quite convenient.

      I have even dabbled in creating some expressive local E-Films just for interest sake. See this old post https://www.dearsusan.net/2021/07/09/10xx-a-recipe-for-disaster/

      Whilst they are commonly known as Fuji recipes in the community I personally think E-Film is a more apt description.

  • Jon Maxim says:

    Hi Ian, Happy New Year! What a wonderful, expressive and creative collection of true street photography!

    Question: Since I have only recently dipped my toe in the Fuji waters, I am not familiar with this Portra 400 profile (I love your term E-Film). Where does one obtain it?

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Jon,

      Compliments of the season to you too.

      Which Fuji model do you have ? Do you currently use their X-RAW studio to upload to the camera custom settings ?

      If so let me know the answers as I might have the 500+ E-film files for you model, with instructions for both windows and mac operating systems.

      I have most X-Trans models covered ( that can communicate with X-RAW studio ) and some of the GFX models too.



      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Oh – then this is not actually “film”? – it’s a kind of digi version instead? Not that I want to try a hundred different types of colour – I’d actually detest it, I put most of my photos in albums and although I prepared to go colour or B&W, I couldn’t tolerate umpteen different types of colour stock – it’d ruin the appearance of the albums!

        Still – this not about “me” – and you’re obviously having a whale of a time, doing something I actually DO do – exploring! I just don’t get why so many people simply want to follow a set group of “rules”, and churn out a stream of stuff that never goes anywhere. Stuck to the edge of the sidewalk – can’t take that first step, and step off onto the roadway!

  • philberphoto says:

    Ian, to be honest, your choice of Portra 400 may not be quite my cup of tea. But the images!! The mood! The soul of these images! Kudos and congrats. I will have jealous nightmares of your bike image for months to come.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Phillipe and Pete,

      Thank you for the comments.

      To be honest it may not be my favourite choice of E-Film either. I am sure that in the “OLD” days, you know in the time of the dinosaurs , no-one stuck to the first film they chose for the rest of their lives, did either of you ?

      I am sure you all tried out every new film that hit the market until over an extended period you settled on the film of your choice. Nothing new here in the digital age. No harm in trying a new film stock no cost involved. Besides if one has RAW images one now has the choice of developing and printing based on any E-Film type available to one after the fact.

      As technology has developed into the digital age though everyone is able to create their own E-Film leading to an explosion of choice, which in itself may be a good or bad thing i guess depending on how one views it.

      I am of course tickled pink that an expert like Pete’s first impression was that the images were shot on film. Must say something for the authenticity of the E-Film i guess 😉 Not that it was my intention to fool anyone.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Actually – no. What I stuck to was Ilford B&W, mostly 100ASA, some 40 ASA and some 400 ASA – and on very rare occasions, 1000ASA.
        Sometimes I shot a roll of colour negative which for most of 50 years was Fuji [negative] – I found the others too garish – Kodak in particular. I did like Ektacolor Professional [negative] as well. But I didn’t shoot it as much as Fuji.And on VERY rare occasions, I got a professional lab to print some shots at 16×20, but it was shockingly expensive and definitely “rarely”. All my B&W I developed & printed myself. As well as printing heaps of enlargements for several friends, from their negatives.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    What a great collection of colorful images which capture the lively street scene perfectly! Nicely done, Ian!

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