If there’s one debate that never seems to end when it comes to cameras, it’s “colour science”. Of course, these days, if you’re shooting raw and own a ColorChecker Passport, the debate is kind of irrelevant. But back in the film days, where your look was pretty much set depending on the stock you used, it was a big deal!
When Kodak released its Portra line of films in 1998, they sent out a promotional video to photographers and studios. That video has now been (mostly) made public, thanks to photographer Jamie Maldonado, who posted big chunks of it to YouTube. It’s about as 90s as it gets and even includes one or two people that some of you might find familiar.
The video was packed in a Kodak branded box along with four sample rolls of medium format Portra film; One roll each of Portra 160NC, Portra 160VC, Portra 400NC and Portra400VC. Jamie says he can’t bring himself to actually crack open and shoot the four rolls of film. For a start, he doesn’t know how they were stored, but he just likes having the complete set all neat inside the box along with the VHS tape.
But while he didn’t open the films, he did pop the tape into a VCR and captured some of it to include in his own video above, along with an unboxing of everything and some of his thoughts. Jamie didn’t include the entire film, editing it down for brevity and to avoid copyright strikes – yes, apparently some of the music still flagged up on YouTube!
The video is presented by then-CEO of Eastman Kodak Company, George Fisher. It also includes some thoughts and opinions on the film stocks from popular photographers of the day, including at least one that’s very much still around – Nikon ambassador, Bambi Cantrell.
The two big takeaways from the promotional video, presented by are the colour accuracy of the “new” Portra films and the fact that they’re the first films many of the photographers featured had used where the rated ASA (ISO) was actually that which was printed on the box. A lot of films often had to be exposed for a different speed than the box stated for best results.
A very cool retro look at some classic 90s marketing.