Film Photography

Kodak Portra 400 at the zoo

Where I work now, I have budget to take my team somewhere fun every few months. This isn’t uncommon in the software industry. It’s supposed to be a time for team bonding. After 30 years I could live without any more outings. But the young people who report to me are still enthusiastic about it. Fortunately, I have a delightful team and we know how to have fun together.

The weather was good, so we went to the zoo. I brought my Pentax ME with my big 80-200mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax-M zoom lens attached. Kodak Portra 400 was inside. This lens was made for trips to the zoo.

The ME isn’t enough body for this long, heavy lens. My fingers had to grip it hard. My larger Pentax KM would have been a better choice from a handling perspective. But it can’t do aperture priority, as my ME can, which would have slowed me down and perhaps made me miss some photos. But also, I still haven’t had the KM repaired after I dropped it on its Operation Thin the Herd outing. The ME is my only working K-mount body right now.

This is only my second experience with Kodak Portra 400 (first here). I like it a lot better this time than last. These colors are terrific. I’m leading with some birds because they’re so colorful, but the Portra beautifully handled the muted, neutral colors that are so prevalent there, too.

Birdie
Budgies
Budgie
Tortoise
Rhino
Bear
Giraffe
Giraffe
Primate
Flamingo(es)
Flamingo(es)

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Last updated on 19 March 2020 by Jim Grey

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22 thoughts on “Kodak Portra 400 at the zoo

  1. Hi Jim, nice images. Beautiful colors. It looks like you shot at box speed. Most (including me) usually shoot it a stop over-exposed. I just shot a roll at box speed and got very vibrant colors similar to yours, and it made me rethink how to use the film.

    • This is my second roll ever of this film and I’m still getting to know it. Several photo bloggers I follow routinely shoot this film at EI 200 and get delightful results. I’ll try that one day, but it’s my habit to get to know a film at box speed before experimenting. My last go with this film didn’t give me these same vibrant results; I wasn’t terribly impressed actually. Guess I need to keep trying it.

  2. -N- says:

    Nice write up about the experience, both camera and film. Nice shots, too. I have shot with Portra, and like your first experience, wasn’t that impressed. As with others, this post is making me rethink it!

  3. You are right about the colors – wow! How much does the result depend upon processing and scan quality, I wonder? “The ME isn’t enough body for this long, heavy lens” I found puzzling. I only hold heavy combos by the lens – the body is irrelevant. Thanks for the constantly interesting posts!

    • I held the lens with one hand and the body with the other, and the body always felt tenuous in my grip. Just not enough body to grip. I think a slightly larger K1000 would have been a better choice from a size perspective.

  4. Great pics! Love that tortoise!! Funny to see rainbow lorikeet, as I had a closeup chat with one yesterday. They are normally very timid, so I was surprised that it let me get close enough to see him very clearly. It turned out that there were at least 20 in the tree and they made a hell of a racket when I stopped. Safety in numbers, I guess, but the noise was probably them trying to get rid of me. You would think the bright colours would make them easy to see but somehow it is very effective camouflage, even in a sparsely leaved eucalypt.

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