Leila Peterson ContaxT3 KodakPortra400

An Introduction to the Portra family

We love a good party and when we found out that the Portra line is about to celebrate its twentieth birthday next year (introduced in 1998!), we thought we would take the time to cover some ground (and after, perhaps raise a glass) when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line. Kodak Portra has put out a variety of film stocks from this line, some of which are discontinued, but three of which are now a staple to film photographers like those of us at Carmencita and yourself. We’re gonna cover some ground on those three that take the cake when it comes to Kodak’s Portra line: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 ISO.




As most of you may know, the arch famous Kodak Portra is a family of daylight-balanced professional color negative film aimed to render the best skin tones possible in basically every light situation you can imagine, making them perfect for both portrait and social photography. These films are known to produce natural skin tones, ideal color, finer grain and are available in 35mm, 120 (medium format), and large format sheets. The Portra film lines are known for their their natural warmth (Portra 160 has red and brown undertones while Portra 400 has undertones of orange and yellow). This means that colors will be rendered differently than other films such as the well-known Fuji 400H. You can see the difference most perceptively in the greens. The greens in the Portra lines tend to be warmer, while the greens in Fuji 400H are a bit cooler. This, of course, depends on the light situation but it’s usually the rule of thumb.


Kodak made some noise a few years ago when it introduced a new version of the Portra 400 film which replaced the NC (“natural color”) and VC (“vivid color”) versions in late 2010. The new film incorporated a number of technological advances from the Kodak Vision line of motion pictures films and essentially blended the NC and VC versions together. The results of the new Portra 400 has generated quite a following, though perhaps reluctantly at first. Now it’s praised for its latitude and its Vision-3 technology. One of our favourite examples of the improvements to the Portra line is seen on Jonathan Canlas’ blog in which he shot Portra 400, rated it at 3200, and pushed it 3 stops in the developing. The results are spectacular and we encourage you to check it out so you can see just how flexible this film is in low light situations. The Portra line has not only made some incredible improvements in technology, but additionally the color palette has made this series popular for portraiture and editorial work.


Exposing Portra

Here are a few guidelines we use when shooting these stocks that we think expose (pun intended!) each one in their best light. (Tip: If you need more information on exposing, we highly recommend that you read (and see the results of some testing we’ve done) from a past post we’ve written on how exposure affects film. That post visually demonstrates the latitude of color film and should aid in understanding the important role exposure plays in shooting film.)

Portra 160

We’ve found with this stock the preference is split; those who have tried it either passionately love it or passionately hate it. However the general consensus tends to be that this is an excellent film stock for portraits. Skin tones (whether light skinned or dark skinned) are soft and natural looking and the grain of the film is extremely fine. However those of us here at Carmencita have found that the window is narrow on how much you can overexpose or underexpose it. If you expose it too much it lends to look much like Ektar, very bright, punchy, and with not so flattering skin tones. It also requires a well lit scene to shoot in. So if you’ve not tried this film stock and you see some sunny days in your forecast, we recommend picking some up to give it a try!


Theresa Pewal Portra 160

Kodak Portra 160 by Theresa Pewal

Porta 400

Ahhhhhhhh Portra 400. What is there not to love? This film stock is one of the most used and most comprehensive films on the market when it comes to changing light situations. It is shot by nearly everyone from established well-known film photographers to film photographers who are new to the scene. This film stock is a staple to your film stash and frankly, there is not a single thing to not love about this film stock. Portra 400 offers excellent colors; is fast enough for the vast majority of purposes; and is fine grained enough that the speed will rarely betray itself.

On top of all this, it’s fun, it’s easy, and not the least because the latitude for over and underexposure is remarkable. You can do everything with it. Overexposing this film stock by two stops looks amazing (bright and colorful) and under exposing it a stop also looks good (moody and contrasty). Keep in mind, if you expose Portra 400 more than two stops the film may be a little more yellow-ish than usual, so overexpose with care. This film stock also loves to be pushed. In fact, if you have to choose between using Portra 800 and Portra 400 in a setting we recommend using Portra 400, and pushing it if need be. It will just love it and in return we love it for it.


Leila Peterson ContaxT3 KodakPortra400

Kodak Portra 400 by Leila Peterson

Portra 800

If you find yourself in a sunny situation and you have Portra 800 on hand you won’t be disappointed. This film stock is divine if you overexpose it, even by 4 four stops! Out of this world divine, the colors tend to lean a bit towards Ektar (punchy and vibrant) but it is able to maintain incredible skin tones. However, if you underexpose it, it’s not very pretty at all. It quickly goes grainy and renders muddy colors. Even pushing it can’t save it entirely. It is essential to know that Portra 400 is based on Vision 3 technology, however Portra 800 is not, that’s why there are some major differences between how the two films handle underexposure.

Consequently, the  “ISO 800” marking is often misleading; while it certainly does the job at 800, we don’t think it performs best at that speed. In fact, we find that pushing Portra 400 one  stop usually gives more satisfying results than shooting Portra 800 at it’s box speed.


Christophe Boussamba KodakPortra800

Kodak Portra 800 Christophe Boussamba



Understanding when to push film is an incredible tool to have in your bag when you’re in low light situations or when you want a punchier look to your images. In our experience, Kodak’s Portra line handles pushing magnificently when shot in well-lit environments. So we’re going to break down the results of each when they’re pushed by your lab.

(You can read more about pushing film on a past post we’ve written a few years back.)


MaOrtiz Pentax67 KodakPortra400 pushed one

Kodak Portra 400 pushed +1 stop Ma Ortiz

Portra 160 and Portra 400

Both Portra 160 and Portra 400 are very pushable in a well-lit environment. Portra 160 rated at 320 and pushed one stop is pretty incredible. Portra 400 rated at 800 and pushed one stop is also equally great. For both, the results of pushing will increase the contrast on your images, bringing the highlights up and cutting detail on the blacks. It will appear brighter because of the contrast and brighter highlights, so if that’s the look you’re aiming for, perfect! But take into consideration that you won’t be able to go back to a low contrast look once it’s pushed. Also keep in mind there will be side effects of increased grain, color shifts in the shadows, and some general loss of details in the darkest parts of the image. A higher ISO isn’t for free 😉

Pushing can save the day with the caveat that you know what you are doing, however, if you don’t know what you are doing, the results of pushing are going to be less than desirable.  Have any questions or doubts about pushing? Feel free to call us up and ask! We are always willing to help answer your questions and help clear up any doubts!  

(Tip: if you’re in a low light situation and you only have Portra 400, rate it at 800 and ask your lab to push it one stop. While shooting keep in mind where the light is coming from and how your subject is lit, aim for the highlights and midtones and forget about the shadows.)


Garderes and Dohmen Contax645 KodakPortra160pushed1 CarmencitaFilmLab

Portra 160 pushed +1 stop by Garderes and Dohmen

Portra 800

Portra 800 was created for low light situations and it’s pretty handy for that. However it’s the only one of the Portra line that we think is the least pushable due to the technology behind it. As we mentioned earlier, we feel Portra 800 really shines best when it’s overexposed, however it still does the job rated at 1250 and pushed one stop.


Inside Linda 21

Kodak Portra 800 pushed 1stop Gema González

Color Palette


The color palettes for each one of the Portra lines do vary from stock to stock. But overall, the Portra line is known for having a little bit of a yellow-ish highlight with blue-ish shadow color crossover. In comparison to some of the stock from Fuji’s line, the Portra line is known for having better yellows, reds, and purples; whereas Fuji has better blues, oranges, and magentas. But in this section, we’ll easily break down each stock from the Portra line so you can see the difference for yourself.

Portra 160

Portra 160 is described as having a natural color palette with low saturation and low contrast. It has breathtaking color, sharpness, and very fine grain. It seems almost ideal for portraiture as it delivers accurate skin tones and consistent results when exposed correctly, whereas if you shoot with Ektar you may get tomato-like skin tones. Like most films, Portra 160 loves to be overexposed but not too much and if you underexpose it the shadows in this film may have a blue-ish influence.

Examples of Portra 160:



Portra 400

Portra 400 at box speed has a very natural and neutral look, but it can also look warm, bright, and saturated when it’s overexposed. This film also handles skin tones, as well as natural landscapes, beautifully and at a 400 ISO it’s super handy in changing lighting conditions. Portra 400 has a warmer palette, whereas Fuji 400H has a much cooler palette. Portra 400 tends to be more yellow and Fuji 400H leans towards a more green color and turns  its blues more turquoise. Again, there is a lot of urban tales about how each film looks at the end, and the truth is that nowadays if you add retouching to any film stock you can make it look very different than what it naturally does. So, does that mean you’ll never see a warm picture shot on Fuji? Nope, we just mean that the “warmth” might go a bit more towards the magenta tones than the yellow tones.


Examples of Portra 400:


Portra 800

Portra 800 has a higher saturation and it’s slightly grainier than its counterparts, but it kicks butt when it comes to tough lighting conditions and bright colors. The colors in Portra 800 have a wonderful intensity and the blacks are very rich. It is ideal in capturing vivid colors and renders skin tones so creamy that this film stock will just melt like butter on  your screen. Many photographers love this film stock, with its only downside being  the cost of it.

(Something to bear in mind, if you shoot Portra in 35mm there will be an increase in grain and a slight loss in the depth of color, but if you’re shooting medium format that doesn’t really matter.)

Examples of Portra 800:





We know we’ve covered a lot of ground in this post and if you’ve made it this far, high five the closest human near you! Hopefully the information we’ve provided will be useful to you and in case you can’t remember it all, here’s a nice little summary of each stock from Portra’s line:



Portra 160

  • Low saturation
  • Extremely fine grain
  • Medium contrast
  • Ideal for controlled lighting
  • Less flexible on exposure

Portra 400

  • Medium saturation
  • Fine grain
  • Medium contrast
  • Ideal for most lighting conditions
  • Very pushable

Portra 800

  • Higher saturation
  • Fine grain
  • Superb sharpness
  • A lot of room for overexposing
  • Ideal for vivid colors while keeping skin tones in place


As of yet, there isn’t a film we’ve met that we haven’t loved and Portra’s line is no different. Between Portra 160, Portra 400, and Portra 800 you have a variety of options for different looks and lighting conditions. Each film stock from Portra’s line is versatile, unique in its own way, and compliments each other. If you’ve not tried one (or any!) from the Portra line order one immediately and get to snapping and creating great images! You will not be disappointed by the experience and certainly not by the incredible images you create!

As a film photographer, we feel it’s good to know the ins and outs of your craft and the tools and techniques available to you. That being said, don’t get cray-cray, good light is worth it’s weight in gold (or in this case film) and it will render incredibly in almost all film stocks. This doesn’t mean that because you choose one film stock over another all your images will be great. It is highly dependent on the quality of light you have to work with.

That being said, we believe every film stock has its own unique personality and when that goes along with the feeling of your work, it’s becomes a perfect match!


The most important thing, as always is to keep shooting, keep playing, keep pushing the boundaries, and keep exploring! Everything that you know and experience will eventually translate and show itself in your own work and that will only make it more interesting for the ones seeing it = )



Ilford Project Kathleen Frank 12

Ilford XP2 Camera – Single Use B&W Love

Disposable cameras don’t get enough love, so we thought we would take a moment to shine our spotlight on one of our favourite disposable cameras: Ilford’s black and white single use cameras. Ilford currently has two versions of these in either of their C-41 Black & White film; the XP2 Super, or the true Black & White HP5 Plus. Both of which are ISO 400 films. These little guys also feature a built-in flash and can shoot up to 27 exposures. We recently decided to take our own little joyride on the XP2 and here are our thoughts on it!

For starters, we like the way this camera looks! Most single use cameras aren’t quite as snazzy or as retro as this little one, and we dig it! We are also head over heels in love with the weight (or lack thereof) of Ilford’s disposable XP2 camera. Typically when you’re shooting film on a regular film body set up (whether it be 35mm or medium format bodies), more than likely it’s going to have a little heft to it. But with a disposable you are allowed to forget that you’re even carrying a camera on you. It’s a carefree way of capturing beautiful memories in black and white 🙂


by Birgit Hart

The XP2 disposable camera uses a black and white film that can easily be developed using the standard C41 process. All this basically means is: you can have the film developed at any local camera shop or film lab that can develop ordinary color film. Cheaper developing, no dust and high dynamic range!

We tested this little guy in both indoor and outdoor light and what we found was that the XP2 film yields an amazing contrast and has an extremely wide exposure latitude making it suitable for a variety of lighting conditions. Some might say that this camera does better outdoors in bright light but we found that if you use the flash indoors we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how good the results can be indoors too! (pro tip: use the flash no matter what your lighting conditions are! You can’t go wrong using it and it will give your image an extra pop!)


by Joe Newmarch

We also did find that you will get a soft vignette on your film, which means the edges won’t be crisp, but, honestly we don’t think they need to be. This delightful result adds uniqueness and character to the image and coupled with black and white film just makes it timeless!

Our staff has unrestrainedly embraced this fun, portable, plastic wrapped, stuffed with black and white film, piece of joy and we simply can’t get enough of it! It’s a fun and different way to get into black and white photography. It’s also ideal for those who want to get into shooting film but are intimidated by the learning curve, or even for those who have forgotten about how fun film is!


by Kathleen Frank

In our experience, we can say without a doubt this is the perfect gift, both to give and to get. Got a friend going on a long trip and want to give them something meaningful? Throwing someone a birthday party? Got a friend that likes photography but never really takes pictures? Perhaps you want to capture the behind the scenes at your next workshop?

There’s no doubt the Ilford’s single use camera is an ideal way to capture those moments with a timeless black and white flavour.

We were terribly excited when Ilford announced these single use guys back in 2012, and we have to admit, little by little we came to love them. In fact, every time there is a event at the lab we have to bulk order them! Not to sell them, but to use them ourselves 🙂

It’s a nice throwback to the old family days, when single use cameras were queens and you had to wait a good week after coming back home to see any of your holiday memories. But more importantly, it’s our favourite way to carelessly capture the most ordinary memories in our lives, which, more often than not, are the most unique ones.


by Kathleen Frank

*Want more information like the specs of this single use camera like focal length, aperture, and more? Check it out on Ilford’s technical information here.



You can get yours in our little shop too!


KodakEktar Contax645 Mosbacher CarmcencitaFilmLab 2

Kodak Ektar Film Spotlight

Hi there everyone!

In our continuing effort to bring film photography education to everyone in the world we came up with a bunch of new strategies.

One of the many ideas that came to mind was creating a repository of images associated with a couple of the more used currently available film stocks. Needless to say there are a million factors affecting an image besides the particular film stock used (over/underexposure, type of light on the scene, scanning preferences requested, etc), but still we believe there are some main qualities that shine in some particular film stocks and we thought it’s a great idea for everyone to be able to grasp them by taking a quick glimpse through our favorite stuff that has come through the lab.

Of course this isn’t meant to be a “scientific” film stock visual dictionary ’cause we don’t have light meter readings for each photo and how much (if any) overexposure was applied by each photographer. But still, we do feel there is a common thread in all images.

For the particular film stock we’re featuring today (Kodak Ektar 100) these common characteristics are quite obvious: very strong saturation and high contrast.

Kodak Ektar is actually a tricky film and it’s no coincidence we decided to make it our first featured film on the blog. Famous for being “the world’s finest grain” and at 100 ISO it’s a typical go-to film for beginners and/or amateurs. But make no mistake, this film needs to be very carefully exposed or else it won’t deliver the results we feature here.

Most of these examples are metered for shadows (incident light hitting the shadow area), a few have overexposed this shadow metering and a few with very harsh light seem to have made an estimate between metering to highlights and shadows. Kodak Ektar looks great when correctly metered for shadows, but it can get extremely contrasty and otherworldly saturated if very overexposed, so if you’re used to overexposing the hell out of Fuji 400H relax, this is a totally different beast.

While we couldn’t recommend it per se as a “portrait” film due to it’s high saturation it can effectively be used for human  subjects providing you appreciate orangy or redish skintones, but hey, it’s no coincidence this film is called Ektar, since it’s meant to be a substitute for the now discontinued Kodak Ektachrome slide film, and if you remember that film those were some serioulsy saturated skintones (and nobody ever complained!). Of course if you want peachy and creamy skin tones we now have Kodak Portra and Fuji 400H films that are specifically designed for that (among other sutff). It is true however that when color correcting in-scanner for very red skins the backgrounds can get a little cyan, but hey that’s part of the Ektar magic, learn to appreciate if you’re gonna use it 😛

So yeah, you guessed it right: Kodak Ektar is a winner in landscape photography and generally in any scenes with high contrast and vivid colors.


Hope you appreciate these examples we compiled for you. We sneaked in two of our staff member’s photos… hope you don’t mind. Hey, we’re photographers too and some of us love Ektar!


Enjoy and hope this compilation is useful 😉

KodakEktar Pentacon Six tl PedroTerrinha 5
Pentacon Six TL + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Pedro Terrinha

Mamiya645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFilmLab kjrstenmadsen
Mamiya 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Kjrsten Madsen

09Vovies-Pentax67ii-KodakEktar100-CarmencitaFilmLab-17Pentax 67ii + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by DungVo “Vovies

KodakEktar Contax645 Mosbacher CarmcencitaFilmLab 2
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Mathias Mosbacher

KodakEktar PimVan Mamiya645 CarmencitaFilmLab
Mamiya 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Pim Van Boesschoten

ContaxG2 KodakEktar SpeakingThroughSilence CarmencitaFilmLab 2
Contax G2 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Speaking Through Silence

CristophZoubek Contax645 KodakEktar100 CarmencitaFilmLab
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Christoph Zoubek

KodakEktar Contax645 Mosbacher CarmcencitaFilmLab 1
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Mathias Mosbacher

BuenaventuraMarco Contax645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFilmLab 1
Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Buenaventura Marco

Contax645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFilmLab Teva

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Teva Cosic

KodakEktar Contax 645 StefanHellberg 5

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Stefan Hellberg

KodakEktar Canon1V CarmencitaFilmLab IvanSanchis 1
Canon 1V + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Ivan Sanchis

KodakEktar ContaxG2 CarmencitaFIlmlab JoaoMascarenhas 2

Contax G2 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Joao Mascarenhas

Contax645 KodakEktar CarmencitaFIlmLab ToniRaper 1

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Toni Raper

KodakEktar Contax 645 StefanHellberg 3

Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Stefan Hellberg

KodakEktar Canon1V CarmencitaFilmLab IvanSanchis 2Canon 1V + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Ivan Sanchis

KodakEktar Contax 645 StefanHellberg 4Contax 645 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Stefan Hellberg

BuenaventuraMarco ContaxN1 KodakEktar CarmencitaFIlmLab 1 Contax N1 + Kodak Ektar 100
photo by Buenaventura Marco

How Exposure Affects Film

OK, so for a while we’ve been wanting to explain a couple of film technicalities that we’re pretty sure will change many people’s understanding of film and exposure.
Alright, take a deep breath ‘cause this stuff is easy but sometimes difficult to explain in written communication.

So the thing is that exposure on film (unlike in digital photography) is not equivalent at all to overall brightness of an image. For example, in the digital photography world when someone speaks of an overexposed image you instantly imagine a bright, all-white image with (probably) clipped highlights. In the film world this is not necessarily so.

Color film’s latitude is huge. Like 2-3 stops for underexposure and up to 6 spots for over-exposure (depending on the film stock). Also clipped highlights are literally impossible on film (straight from the scanner).
Add to this awesome characteristics the fact that brightness can be controlled during the scanning process.
Now this “overexposed = bright all-white” and “underexposed = dark black” rules of thumb start to make less sense right?
So then what’s the big deal with all that “overexposed 1 stop” etc film talk you read everywhere on the Internets?

OK, so we’ve had so many questions about this and we’ve told so many customers on our Wetransfer feedbacks that we decided to shoot some stuff and show you guys how this thing works.
Here’s a shot of our colleague Héctor we shot on Fuji 400H film and a Contax 645 medium format camera.
We metered with our handheld (incident) light meter below his chin with the bulb out facing the shooter. That shot will be considered our “anchor” or “box speed” example, meaning it was shot at 400 ISO not over or under-exposing.
From there we shot in one stop increments down to 6 steps under (all the way to the left) and up to 6 steps over (all the way to the right… yeah, 1/15 handheld at f2 right there!).
We then scanned these on our Fuji Frontier SP3000 at the same brightness level (important).
Make sure you click on the images to view larger and even the upper right hand icon to for full size 😉

Here’s the full spectrum of the 13 stops of the test
Now zooming in on the Overexposure side
And finally the Underexposure side of the test. (yeah, the -6 was Héctor’s profile pic for a while 😛 )

We did the same thing for these shots of our colleague Gloria , but this time in a totally different light situation and on Kodak Portra 400 film.



What conclusions can be made from this test?

Well… first of all… 6 stops overexposed? And it still looks amazing? That’s pretty sweet.
Overall, there seems to be a higher number of usable shots on the overexposure side than on the underexposure side. So what does this tell us? Film LOVES overexposure. Unlike what happens in digital photography, with overexposure film gets a little more saturated and you get more details on the shadows, but definitely no clipped highlights or “all-white” burnt images. That’s why it’s totally safe to say that if you’re in doubt between two possible camera values for your exposure you’ll always be safer on the “over” side than on the “under” one.

It must be noted also that underexposure brings out grain and colors shifts and extreme overexposure will make images flat, contrast-less and with magenta or yellow highlights.

So again, remember that for these tests we scanned all images at equal brightness, so that’s why you get a -6 image full of grainy shadows and a +6 image that’s less bright than you’d expect. So underexposed images can be brightened by “bringing up” grainy shadows (hello VSCO look!) and overexposed images can be “brought down” so they don’t look hyper white-ish.

Also bare in mind that these were scanned and then posted UNEDITED. It goes without saying that with very basic edits the -1 shot can be made to look maybe similar to the correctly exposed one and for example the -3 can be scanned darker and slightly edited to look more “chiaroscuro”-like, but you get the picture, right? (no pun intended;) )

So that’s a lot of info to digest!
Hope this clarifies some doubts that so many of our customers have written to us about and that it helped you somehow to be more confident when you’re shooting and getting you closer to the look you want out of your scans.

Happy shooting!

Carmencita Team

CineStill 800T Film

Hi there!

Hope everyone’s having (or about to have) a great Spring Break, Easter or Semana Santa (as we call it in Spain).
Today, by popular request,  we’d like to do a little post on a film that’s quite unique for many reasons: meet CineStill 800T.

This film has been brought to life by The Brothers Wright , who made it a reality to adapt to regular film camera use (and regular C41 developing) the amazing film stocks the cinema industry uses.
By means of removing the antihalation “remjet” layer out of Kodak 500T cinema film (and through extensive testing) they effectively adapted this amazing emulsion (which you’ve seen in countless Hollywood movies) to be processed in regular C41 chemistry and then scanned and/or printed like “regular” film stocks we all use on a regular basis.

CineStill 800T has been tested to be 800 ISO and is tungsten balanced, which means by default it renders tungsten lights as neutral white (which would traditionally be rendered yellow on all other C41 films, which are daylight balanced). Of course the magic of it being C41 allows for much color “interpretation” and thus we’ve seen pretty amazing results shooting it in daylight with no filters whatsoever.
On the F.A.Q. area of the CineStill website The Brothers Wright have compiled tons of info regarding proper exposure and all the discoveries they’ve made about this great new film.

From our experience this film works great under many lights but it really outshines other C41 daylight balanced film when shooting artificially lit situations, whether tungsten, fluorescent or a mixture of both!

As a lab we’ve seen all kinds of test by customers ever since CineStill started to be commercialized in Europe and we’ve seen that a common error is thinking that 800 ISO and great reproduction of artificial lights will get you away with anything, and it’s not necessarily so … we still need correct metering guys! The best results we’ve seen are by customers who meter with a handheld meter (hence incident light) at 400-800 ISO or maybe meter reflective/spot meter in-camera but for shadows. Evaluative in-camera metering for complex artificial light situations can very easily throw off the meter and make you underexpose your film to levels which will not bring out the best of this film.

A common “error” we’ve observed is pushing this film to 1600 , 3200 or 6400 ISO and shooting the same values that a digital camera gives you for theses ISOs . As is the case for any PUSH there has to be some kind of “quality” light source on the subject. If that’s not the case and there’s just a very dim ambient light those 2 stops of chemical push won’t bring out your subjects, even if theoretically the meter reading is correct. Again, this also happens when pushing  Portra 400 and has to do with how blacks, shadows and highlights behave when chemically pushing (pretty long explanation, you can read more about it here ).

So yeah, meter for shadows and/or overexpose (as with any C41 film) and you’ll get amazing results in the most varied light situations possible!

Oh, and by the way: we’ve got fresh stock of CineStill 800T available at our online film shop, so go out and do some testing!

We did a little compilation of a few of our favorite CineStill shots that we’ve developed and scanned recently.

Hope you enjoy these and Happy Easter everyone!


photo by Jan Scholz “micmojo” on CineStill 800T

2014-05_Feria_Cinestill_06_webphoto by Miguel Jiménez on CineStill 800T

BarlatierCinePushed3200-1photo by Benjamin Barlatier on CineStill 800T pushed 2 Stops

photo by Dominique Jahn on CineStill 800T pushed 3 stops

photo by Jan Scholz “micmojo” on CineStill 800T

photo by Dominique Jahn on CineStill 800T with an 85B filter

AlbertRoigCinestill800-1photo by Albert Roig on CineStill 800T

IsabelleCinestill800-1photo by Isabelle Hesselberg “2Brides” on CineStill 800T

photo by Siegrid Cain

“To Push” or “Not to Push” That is the question!

OK, so if you’ve made it this far it means you’ve been reading/hearing about this concept of “pushing” film for a while. You know it has something to do with “stops” but sometimes it feels confusing because you see all sorts of amazing pictures with stuff like “Fuji 400H shot @ 100” or “overexposed two stops” and then you see “TriX 400 shot and developed @ 1600” and it all just starts to sound closer to mathematics than photography. Confused? Then read on:

We call “Pushing Film” when we chemically increase the film’s exposure during the development process. There might be a couple reasons to do so. For example, let’s say you’ve only got Kodak Portra 400 loaded on your camera while you’re at a wedding, and you enter the church for the ceremony. You take a meter reading and for 400 ISO at apperture f2 the meter says you should shoot at 1/15 speed. Panic arises the moment you associate that shutter speed with blurry pictures either due to camera shake (hello shaky hands!) or the subject’s movement. Here’s one situation when PUSHING FILM would be quite useful. Imagine you had 1600 ISO speed loaded on your camera… That’d be cool.. those 2 extra stops would make such a difference… the meter reading would now say “1600 ISO at f2 1/60 speed”, and you know you’ve taken some decent shots at 1/60. OK, so no need to imagine that 1600 ISO roll, just shoot the Kodak Portra 400 like it’s 1600 ISO and ask the lab to push that roll 2 stops. Needless to say you should mark that on the roll somehow so that it won’t get mixed up with all those Portra 400 you shot before the ceremony at their regular 400 ISO.

So when your lovely package arrives to Carmencita HQ’s (along with those wonderful chocolate bars!) we’ll take that Kodak Portra 400 roll with the handwriten “Push to 1600” note and let it develop longer than the “unlabeled” Portra 400. That way you’re happy with your perfectly-exposed/non-blury church shots, your client is happy with their pictures and we’re happy we made your day! (again, thanks for the chocolate bars!)


So, as some of you might have realised, you are essentially UNDER-EXPOSING your Portra 400 by two stops by making it an “imaginary 1600 roll” and asking us to chemically compensate for that.

Is try the? A allegra 30 mg tablets applications much nipples Well trazodone without a prescription heart into is lotion.

Here is where the confusion might kick in, right? “Underexpose? I heard that’s bad… I usually overexpose.. But isn’t that done in-camera? At what ISO should I rate my film? Will this expired film be OK? Should I buy more chocolate for the awesome guys at Carmencita?”

Here’s the thing. Pushing is done chemically by the lab. Overexposing (or underexposing) whether it be by changing your ISO (rating film at different ISO than box speed) or not is done in-camera by the photographer. For example; we all know that color negative film looks great when overexposed. So you could meter your subject’s shadow and let’s say the meter says “1/1000 at f2” for your Portra 160: so if you wanted those creamier skin tones with more detail on the shadows you’d overexpose a stop and shoot that at “1/500 f2”. Needless to say you would have gotten the same results by “rating” the film at ISO 80 in your lightmeter and shooting exactly what the meter told you (hint: 1/500 at f2!)


Kodak Ektar 100 shot and pushed to 400. Photos by Nico Jenni


So all that being said: why push film? Our church example is a very obvious reason. With the very few high-ISO film stocks we currently have it’s great knowing there’s an alternative and no reason to be intimidated by low-light situations.

However it must be noted that pushing film has it’s “side effects”, most notably an increase in contrast/grain and general detail loss in the shadows. Some films lend themselves better to pushing; like most black and white films and the Fuji Provia 400 slide film. Pushed color negative film results vary a lot. In our experience Kodak Portra for a well-lit scene handles pushing pretty well. If the the light source is not that great (like distant tungsten lamp posts mixed with hallogen lights) the colors can get a little funky, but hey, sometimes you just don’t get to decide what light you shot in! 😉



Ilford Delta 3200 shot and pulled to 800. Photos by Buenaventura Marco

We call pulling when, let’s say you only have Ilford 3200 ISO film and you’re shooting a family session at bright daylight ( #truestory). Your camera only goes to 1/1000 speed and you’d hate to shoot the whole thing at f16… So you can shoot the roll like it’s 800 ISO and the ask the lab to PULL. That would mean we would develop that particular roll for less time, exactly the time needed for 2 stops less than the actual 3200 ISO that would be the “box speed”.

NOTE: Pulling is less common since it’s really not that frequent to have a higher ISO film than you wished for AND color negative film looks really great overexposed, so even if you shot a Portra 800 at noon and overexposed it like 4 stops it would probably still look great. Yes, film is awesome in case you were wondering!

OK, off to eat a couple more chocolate bars before lunch break…