#11 Love for Expired Portra 400NC, Portra 160 And Ektar 100

During this year, I was lucky enough to do some trips in the desert and test expired Portra and Ektar 100 in 120mm format. This is a perfect place for taking time, shoot film and think about the sense of life. I bought some rolls of expired Portra 400 NC and Ektar 100 for this trip and decided to compare it to a previous shot Portra 160.

My goal here is to capture differences, and show you some nice pictures of the desert. I mamiyated all these films with my Mamiya 645 at 100 ISO.

Why 100 ISO ? It’s box speed for the Ektar, I love the rendition of slightly overexposed Porta 160 and as the Portra 400 was expired since 10 years, 100 ISO is a good way to get nice colors. All the films were developed and scanned by Carmencita Labs.

Let’s start with a brief description of Portra and Ektar 100 :

  • Portra 160 : Portra 160 is the finest grain of the three Portra’s (160, 400 & 800).  Its low iso makes it great for daylight shooting especially under the desert sun.  It handles very well overexposure and comes with medium contrast and low saturation
  • Portra 400NC : A bit more grainy than the Portra 160, its a discontinued professional film usually used for portrait. It gives very nice skin tones, bright and nice colors. NC stands for natural colors, the perfect lifestyle films I would say.
  • Ektar 100 : Ektar 100 is a fine grain film with high contrast and strong saturation. It can give the feel of a slide film but it handles overexposure way better but not as well as Portra 160 for example. Ektar 100 is the ideal film for landscapes for some.

Portra 160 pictures

Any sunny day of the year, for colors, this one is my prefered one, either in 135 or 120.

Desert landscape shot on Portra 160 with a Mamiya 645
From the mountains to the sea shot on Portra 160 with a Mamiya 645
Dryland Plants shot on Portra 160 with a Mamiya 645
Desert Plants shot on Portra 160 with a Mamiya 645
Toyota FJ Cruiser on Portra 160
Toyota FJ Cruiser Shot on Portra 160 at 100 ISO

As you can see, this typical Portra colors, nice contrast, low saturation, low grain, and overexposure makes it really nice, at least for my taste

Portra 400 shots

Desert plants, shot on expired Portra 400 NC at 100 iso
Liwa desert plants, shot on expired Portra 400 at 100 iso
Walking in the sand, Shot on expired Portra 400 NC with a Mamiya 645
Little Walk, Shot on expired Portra 400 rated at 100 iso
Escalating Dune, shot on expired Portra 400 NC, with a Mamiya 645
Dune, shot on expired Portra 400 NC, rated at 100 iso

Whaouh was the only thing that came to my mind, incredible colors, low contrast, no grain. All the shots from this roll are amazing. I love these pictures, the way the colors are, the smoothness, the feeling, it really comes back to the feelings I had during this trip. It might be perfect for the skins tones, but it is so good on landscape.

Ektar 100

Exploring Liwa Desert, shot on Ektar 100 with a Mamiya 645
So far, Liwa Desert Ektar 100
Show me the way, Liwa Desert shot on Ektar 100 with a Mamiya 645
Plants alignment, Liwa Desert shot on Ektar 100
Sunset & MoonRise, Liwa Desert, Ektar 100 on Mamiay 645
Emptyness, Liwa Desert, Ektar 100
SunSet on emptyness, Liwa desert Ektar 100 with Mamiya 645
Flair, Liwa desert Ektar 100
Just follow the lines, Ektar 100 on Mamiya 645
Sunset in Liwa on Ektar 100
Camping in the Desert on Ektar 100 with a Mamiya 645
Time to Go, Liwa Desert, Ektar 100

Saturation, red tones, but it goes well with this trip. this is my first roll of Ektar 100 and will probably not be the last. I really enjoy the slide film look with the forgiveness regarding metering. It’s has smooth as Portra 400 but the punch of the pictures is so nice, especially for sunset.


Before this first benchmark, I was full on Portra 160, a bit overexposed. I still love this film, but shooting more with Ektar is something I can imagine now, especially on location with vibrant colors, nice contrasts and strong light. I still have some rolls of Portra 400 NC, and will for sure continue to use them as for me it was a really big surprise.

And you, what are you using ? which one do you like more ? let us know in the comment section.

2 Comments to “#11 Love for Expired Portra 400NC, Portra 160 And Ektar 100”

  1. Toby Madrigal

    I’ve used Ektar 100 for a few years now in my Leica R8 cameras. (I have three bodies as they can no longer be serviced or repaired) Some opine, as is often the case, that Ektar is unsuitable for portraits of white people as the results show a distinct reddening of the face. Rather, not a suntan. This is why Portra scores. You might like to review the Leica R8. Mine, all purchased secondhand more than five years ago, have been fine. I still have a pair of original Leicaflex bodies (1964 & 1966) to fall back on if they fail. I have around a dozen R lenses that would otherwise be unusable to me.

    1. Greg Author

      Hi Toby, I prefer Ektar for landscape or cityscape and Portra 160 shoot at 100 for portraiture. R cameras are built to last and the lenses are awesome, even on modern mirrorless.


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