Kodak Portra 400 VS Kodak Gold 200: What’s The Difference?

I’ve been shooting film for 7 years now and over that time I’ve shot a lot of Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak Gold 200.

There are a lot of differences between these two film stocks including colour, hue, grain, dynamic range and price.

I haven’t been able to do a direct side-by-side comparison of these two film stocks but I have got a tonne of shots from both of these. All of these were taken by me and I’ve shot a lot with both!

A Brief History

Kodak Portra 400 (1998 – Present): In the late ’90s, Kodak revolutionized colour-negative films with the introduction of Portra 400. Designed as a versatile option for portrait photographers, it quickly became a staple for various genres. Renowned for its fine grain and exceptional colour reproduction, Portra 400 adapted seamlessly to different lighting conditions.

Over the years, it evolved with technological advancements, solidifying its status as a modern classic. Today, photographers continue to rely on Portra 400 for its ability to capture lifelike skin tones and deliver a timeless aesthetic.

Kodak Gold 200 (1986 – Present): In the mid-80s Kodak unveiled Gold 200, a film that would become a timeless classic. Recognized for its warm tones, Gold 200 gained popularity as the film of choice for capturing everyday moments.

Its balanced contrast and versatility made it accessible to photographers of all skill levels. Its rich history and enduring appeal make it a beloved option for those seeking to infuse their photographs with a touch of vintage warmth.

Colour & Hue

One of the most visible differences between these two film stocks is their colour and hue. Kodak Gold 200 has a very recognisable yellow hue whereas Kodak Portra 400 is quite neutral and muted.

For a lot of people, Kodak Gold’s hue is part of the charm but others prefer the professional, neutral-ish tones of Portra. Gold is also more saturated and warm than Portra 400.

Portra 400’s job is to be fairly neutral and editable. It does have some warmth to it but nothing in comparison to Kodak Gold.

Skin Tones

Due to Kodak Gold’s warm hue, it produces skin tones that are quite warm which some people may find to be too much. A lot of people prefer to have more natural skin tones whereas Kodak Gold can produce skin tones that are a bit too yellow.

Kodak Portra 400 on the other hand does a great job of replicating skin tones. Portra does produce warm skin tones but not in an overbearing way like Gold does. It’s honest and true.


You might notice that Kodak Gold is more contrasty than Kodak Portra 400. This is because of something else that I’ll allude to in a moment.

Some people like their film to have contrast whereas others like to be able to get more details from the shadows.

Generally, Portra 400 gets a lot of details from the shadows. Kodak Gold isn’t the most contrasty of film stocks but it doesn’t get as much detail as Portra 400 does.

Dynamic Range

The difference in contrast as mentioned before is mainly down to dynamic range. If you don’t already know, dynamic range is basically how much information is maintained from the highlights and shadows of an image.

If your film has a bad dynamic range then it won’t be very good at picking up all of the information in an image. Your highlights will be blown out and your shadows will look ‘muddy’.

If your film has a good dynamic range then you’ll maintain much more information from highlights and shadows and that’ll give you a more evenly exposed image.

Kodak Portra 400 has a very good dynamic range, while Gold has a mediocre dynamic range. Most people would opt for film that has a very good dynamic range so they can get a well-exposed portrait.


The question of grain is a funny one with these two, Gold is a 200 ISO film stock so technically it should have less grain than Portra 400. However, the structure of the grain is not always built the same.

Kodak Gold 200 will have a fairly low amount of grain but it’s a bit more crunchy than Kodak Portra 400 is.

Portra 400 is known for having very fine grain for a mid-ISO film stock. This fine grain means it has more clarity and sharpness but it still maintains its charm.

Portra 400 definitely comes off better in the grain department. It’s mid-level ISO means you can take shots in a variety of different light situations while its fine grain means that you don’t really need to worry about it looking too fuzzy.


These two film stocks are miles apart when it comes to pricing. Gold is one of the cheapest colour films available and Portra 400 is one of the more expensive ones.

Here in the UK, Gold is £10.50 a roll still, which is pretty fair these days. Whereas, Portra 400 is £22 a roll, more than double the cost of Gold.

This price really establishes how different these two are and who their target audiences are.

What Are They Best For

This isn’t too hard because these are two very different stocks and they’re better for different things.

Kodak Gold is best for travel, day-to-day life and perhaps street photography if it suits your particular style of shooting. It’s much more of a budget/consumer film stock.

Whereas, Portra 400 is a much more professional film stock which is better for portraiture, editorial, landscape, street and documentary photography.

Of course, you can choose to use whichever film you like but due to each of their attributes, it’s much better to use this as a guide!

What’s My Opinion?

Kodak Gold is a pretty good option, especially if you’re shooting on a budget and you’re not as fussed about the shot being to the absolute highest standard. It’s looked at as being a bit better than Kodak Colorplus and Ultramax.

Personally, I’ve shot Gold quite a bit and I can’t really complain. However, if I’m really looking at shooting something to a high standard then it’s Portra 400 all day baby.

More Pictures

These are from a day where I was testing Portra 400 on an Olympus MJU I, so all of the settings should be reasonably reliable.

And below are more pictures from shooting Kodak Gold on the Olympus MJU I too!

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