Aperture and Shutter Speed Film Comparisons - Radian Photography

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Aperture and Shutter Speed Film Comparisons

When Fujifilm announced that they were no longer going to produce Fuji 400H, we decided to go ahead and make the switch over to Kodak’s Portra 400 and ran some aperture and shutter speed tests to see what images would look like.

We have dabbled in using both film stocks and really had not been able to decide which one we liked better for our work, so it was kind of nice that Fujifilm made this decision easy for us at the beginning of 2021! Still, we wanted to see what Portra 400 colors looked in one setting shot at different apertures and shutter speeds, almost as a reset for ourselves. The scans surprised us and we have actually changed some of our shooting preferences based on them! Read on to find out what we learned:

aperture and shutter speed film test
Photos shot at f2.0
aperture and shutter speed film test
Photos shot at f2.8
aperture and shutter speed film test
Photos shot at f4.0
aperture and shutter speed film test
Photos shot at f5.6
aperture and shutter speed film test
Photos shot at f8.0

The Process

  • We shot a small vase of flowers against a backdrop with side light coming from a window and sent off our film to Richard Photo Lab for developing and scanning.
  • For each aperture we shot (f2.0, f2.8, f5.6, and f8.0), we tested out by setting our meter’s ISO at 200, 320, and 400. We kept our bulb out on the meter. I noted on each image what the meter told me to set the shutter speed to, and I also noted what I actually set the shutter speed to on the camera.
  • There were two images where I accidentally forgot to change the shutter speed, and the shot was taken at a shutter speed wildly different than what the meter told me to do. I noted those and images and included them in the comparisons anyway. It’s amazing how great film is at still looking good even when you mess up a bit!

What we learned

We were surprised by this aperture and shutter speed test and are so glad we did this when switching over to Portra 400 film. The bottom line is that we regardless of where you are in your journey with film, we definitely recommend doing this on at least one roll of film to see what your own preferences are. Here are some of our takeaways:

  • We shot these photos using the Contax 645 + Zeiss 80mm 2.0 lens. Because the Zeiss glass on this particular lens is so beautiful, we often shoot at f2.0. What a rookie move! While we love that very soft, dreamy look in our images, seeing these images shot at different apertures really showed us how beautiful things can look at even f8.0! Our personal favorites were f2.8 and f4.0 and since running this test, we have been shooting at those apertures a lot more frequently!
  • The second big thing that surprised us was how much latitude Portra 400 film has! We are used to shooting on Fuji 400H which is a very light-hungry film stock. Not only would I never meter using my bulb out normally, but I would never tell my light meter that my ISO was at box speed. This makes me feel SO great about lower light situations in family homes and on wedding days because it means that I have more flexibility in how I shoot in those situations and can be underexposed by a stop or two without much impact on the resulting image.

What are your thoughts on these images? Leave any comments or questions for below, or if you want to chat, send us a message hello@radianphotography.com!

aperture and shutter speed film scan tests

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