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.


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23 responses to “Kodak Portra 400 at the zoo”

  1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Delightful images Jim! I love Portra 400…wonderful film!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      This is only my second roll ever. I wasn’t wowed by the first roll but am by this one. I found the right subjects for it!

  2. Charlotte - 35mm Avatar

    I love the shot of the yellow budgie on the blue sign – looks like she’s told a secret and is blushing!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Indeed she does! I like that one a lot too.

  3. lasousa2015 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

      1. lasousa2015 Avatar

        It’s been around a long time for a reason!

  4. -N- Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Maybe Portra is just best on extra colorful subjects!

      1. -N- Avatar

        You may be correct there, but I have seen some lovely portraits done when shot at 100 iso.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I should try that one day.

  5. Photo A Day Avatar

    Portra and Ektar are the reasons I shoot film. Love them. Great rhino shot.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You know, I just keep being happy with Fujicolor 200 as my normal color film! But I do love Ektar in old box cameras.

  6. Kurt Ingham Avatar

    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!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  7. marcusterrypeddle Avatar

    Portra 400 is a desert island film, for sure. I find that I need to go a bit heavy with levels adjustment and add contrast to get the best colours.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was fortunate – these needed very little post processing.

  8. Photobooth Journal Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Is that what that bird is? I’m not at all good at identifying birds. He is a stunning specimen for sure.

      1. Photobooth Journal Avatar

        I’ve got a book but some I know by heart.

  9. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Great images, I need to order some Portra 400!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      And then go looking for colorful subjects!

  10. […] This lens offers a couple of great features, led by its consistent f/4 maximum aperture across the zoom range. It also offers a 1:4 macro mode, which you select by twisting a ring next to the aperture ring. I own an 80-200mm f/4.5 SMC Pentax-M lens and it doesn’t offer macro mode! (See images from that lens here and here.) […]

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