Kodak Ektar 100 VS Kodak Portra 400 – What’s The Difference?

I’ve been shooting film for a long time and I’ve been able to shoot a lot of both of these film stocks! 

The main differences between Ektar 100 and Portra 400 are that Ektar 100 is very saturated whereas Portra 400 can have quite pastel colours. Ektar 100 is made specifically for landscape photography, so its low ISO makes it really sharp and clear, whereas Portra 400 is a little bit more grainy but still very sharp. Portra 400 has very natural skin tones, whereas Ektar creates fairly red skin tones for people with lighter skin.  

I’ll cover all these differences and more in a lot more detail throughout the rest of the article!

A Brief History

Kodak Ektar 100 was introduced in 1989 and it was produced in 35mm and medium format. It was actually made in 25, 100 and 1000 ISO (I’d love to have seen 25 ISO Ektar 100).

Known as a semi-pro film stock, Ektar was the film of choice for landscape photographers the world over.

Kodak Portra 400 is derived from Kodak Vivid Color, in 1998 it became Kodak Portra 160, 400 and 800 (although 800 has always remained an older emulsion, Portra 160 and 400 were ‘upgraded’).

Potra 400 has been a pretty professional film stock for a long time and its versatility and reliability have made it unbelievably popular.

Colour & Saturation

Portra 400 and Ektar 100 differ quite a lot in terms of colour and saturation. Ektar 100 is purely made to be a brilliant landscape film stock, so it’s quite saturated and it has quite a magenta hue. 

This is quite different to Portra 400 which has somewhat pastel tones that are more editable. Portra 400 is more low-key than Ektar 100 so it’s better suited to a variety of types of photography rather than just landscape work. 

So in short, Ektar 100 is far more saturated than Portra 400 but Portra 400 is made to be a much more editable and versatile film stock. They’re both great in their own rights but they’re made for different things. 


As Ektar 100 is a film stock made for landscape photography, it’s known for having some of the finest grain in film photography. At 100 ISO, it has barely any grain but it also means it’s not ideal for shooting in low light. 

Of course, you could shoot Ektar 100 in low light with a tripod but due to the lack of film sensitivity, it’s not the best for it. 

Portra 400 is of course a 400 ISO film stock but despite that fact it’s still really clear and sharp due to its fine grain. Portra 400s mid-level iso makes it more versatile than Ektar 100 but a bit more grainy. 

So in short, Ektar 100 is very sharp but not as versatile as Portra 400. Portra 400 is more versatile but not as sharp as Ektar 100! 

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is one of the most important things to me when I’m considering a film stock. I don’t put too much importance on the kind of film I’m shooting but dynamic range is something that shouldn’t be overlooked! 

Dynamic range is basically how much information is maintained in the highlights and shadows of an image. If your film has a good dynamic range then you’ll have a well-exposed image even if there are bright highlights and dark shadows. If your film has a bad dynamic range then highlights will be blown out and shadows will be muddy. 

Ektar 100 has a dynamic range of about 10 stops which makes it a really forgiving film stock. To put that into perspective, Kodak Gold has a range of about 2-3 stops, so Ektar 100 has a really good range that’ll allow you to get more evenly exposed pictures. 

Portra 400 is Even better with a range of 12 stops! Making it one of the best film stocks in terms of dynamic range.  

The difference between these two isn’t massive, both have a really good dynamic range but in my experience, Portra 400 has a noticeable bit of forgiveness over Ektar! 

Skin Tones

This is one of the clearest differences between these two stocks, skin tones are not Ektar 100s fortey. Ektar 100 generally makes light skin tones very red, so it typically ruins any portraits that you take with it. 

That’s just because Ektar isn’t really made for taking pictures of people, it’s made for nature and landscapes!  

Portra 400 is a very different story though since it’s made for portraits, weddings and editorials. 

Portra 400 makes natural skin tones that are warm and nice! This isn’t to say that Ektar 100 is bad, it’s just that it’s not made for portraiture. 


There seemed to be a period where Ektar 100 was considerably cheaper than Kodak Portra 400 but that period is no longer.

These days a roll of Ektar would set you back about £19.50 and a roll of Kodak Portra 400 is about £20 a roll, so there’s virtually no difference at all.

What They’re Best For

If it isn’t already clear from this article, Kodak Ektar 100 is the don of landscape photography. It produces beautiful, saturated colours and it’s also incredibly sharp.

It could also be good for other types of nature-based photography and it might be a good option for cityscapes too because of its incredible sharpness.

Kodak Portra 400 is quite different because it’s more versatile, it’s ideal for street photography, portrait photography, editorial photography, documentary and much more.

The forgiving nature and natural colour of Kodak Portra 400 makes it a complete winner for a lot of photographers and you can see why.

My Opinion

I actually love both of these film stocks. Ektar 100 would be my go-to film stock if I was a landscape photographer just because it’s so tailor-made for the job.

I’d probably love it for other kinds of photography if it wasn’t for the way it renders skin tones (yes I know you can technically bring down those reds in post-production but who wants to do that).

I’m definitely more of a Kodak Portra 400 shooter because I can shoot it in a lot of different circumstances. Sometimes I put a roll of film in my camera and shoot it over 2 weeks and I don’t know what I’m going to shoot in that time.

That’s why Portra 400 is much better suited to me in comparison to Ektar 100. Both are great, Ektar 100 is the landscape king but for me, I’d choose Portra 400 most of the time.

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