I suppose some of the reasons that motivated me to do analog instead of digital photography was the organic feel to film and the specific look (I expected) you’d get, that there would be less post processing (boy was I wrong), and that I didn’t have to look through hundreds of pictures shot at random with my digital camera to find whatever I was going for. I’ve shot several rolls of the above mentioned films but never really taken the time to compare them side by side. Which is what you will need to do to figure out which one you prefer – if any.
This is especially true if you scan them yourself. Reading about the different films and their qualities might be helpful, but considering you are likely to be using a different scanner and different software (and screen) it is not likely to come out the same way either… your knowledge (like mine) might be limited, and all of this will affect the end result. When I scanned these films I used SilverFast and did linear scans. I then used PhotoLine and ColorPerfect to do the post processing. I should mention that I’m quite new to both these programs. Originally I set out to compare just Portra and FujiPro but since I have three backs for my Hasselblad I figured I’d throw in a Provia and expose it as a 400 just to see what happens.
I expected the colors to come out more right straight away when using ColorPerfect, however, I might have gotten the exposure a bit off and this might have affected it. Nonetheless, I spent a lot of time trying to get what I felt was acceptable results with the negative films (while trying to keep what I perceived as the characteristics of the film). And more so with the Fuji than the Portra – and personally I tend to prefer the results I achieved with Portra over FujiPro (below). But scanning the Provia (above) was a very pleasant surprise. In my opinion it came out pretty much done. I adjusted the white balance slightly, but apart from that there wasn’t really that much more I felt had to be done.
I’m not gonna discuss the differences that much, as you can see them for yourself. Also, palette and tone is a personal preference so one is free to like whatever one wants to like, but for the record I will state that I personally prefer the look of Provia. What I also appreciate with Provia is that you have the positive as a reference, and that can be very helpful if you like me tend to second guess yourself in post production.
For this particular “test” I found it necessary to push the Provia to be fair. But, I did some comparisons of pushed and exposed normally. Clearly there is a difference and its a better film when exposed the way its supposed to be exposed. I like it both ways though and have found my favourite film.
Also what I find very attractive about positive film is that it all happens in camera, considering the developing of the film is already predefined. I find the very idea of this very appealing.