Alternative Film Stocks for Fujifilm PRO 400H
Fujifilm has announced that they are discontinuing the production of their film stock PRO 400H which is the most favorite film stock amongst wedding photographers. Fujifilm mentioned that they had to make this hard decision because of difficulties to procure the raw materials needed to produce PRO 400H. This was a big shock for many photographers including me. Because it was so widely used and many film or hybrid photographers were relying their brand look on this film stock. Although many sources highlight that the stocks for PRO 400H will probably be available until the end of 2021. With the COVID situation and low-volume in weddings, it will surely impact the low consumption of the film. So I think it is logical to expect the film to be in the market for over a year or so.
Photographers are aware that they have to change their film of choice. Photographers are looking for alternative film stocks to achieve a similar look of Fujifilm PRO 400H. Stephen Wood of Photovision Prints mentioned that Kodak Portra 400 would be the best alternative to Fujifilm PRO 400H at the moment. He said that Kodak Portra 400 is easily closest in terms of exposure settings as 400H. He said that those who want to get PRO 400H look from Portra 400 should use a Noritsu scanner instead of a Frontier scanner. Because Noritsu has more flexibility in terms of adjusting the colors and contrast. He said that it is a good practice to shoot at box speed or rating Kodak Portra 400 at 200 ISO if you are shooting darker skin colors. Because Portra 400 has a yellow base and if it is not rated properly the color of the skin may look way off for darker skins.
Stephen Woods mentioned that Kodak Portra 800 could be another alternative to Fujifilm PRO 400H under specific light conditions like blue hour. He also said that Fujifilm's consumer film stock C200 could be a decent replacement for 35mm version of 400H. But it is not a good replacement for 120 format. Fujifilm C200 has fine grain and it is a bit contrasty.
The Find Lab made a blog post back in 2016 about making Kodak Portra 400 look like Fuji PRO 400H. It's like they read the future! In their blog post they are talking about pretty much the same technical details that Stephen Wood mentioned. Because Portra 400 has a yellow base and because Noritsu primarily works in the magenta and green channel, so there is less yellow in the scans. Check the sample scans below.
Richard Photo Lab made a blog post about "How to Switch From Fuji 400H to a Different Film". They suggest photographers to test different photo stocks to find out what works best for them. They mention that Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak Portra 800 are the strongest film stock options. The other option they suggest is Kodak Portra 160. Richard Photo Lab highlighted the features of each film stock.
Kodak Portra 400 has a warmer base than Fuji 400H. It has many similarities like; the speed, the fine grain, and the natural color saturation.
Kodak Portra 800 is a film stock that is being used by Fuji 400H users when the light is low and when they need higher speed film. Portra 800 compliments Fuji 400H quiet well. The reason why it blends with Fuji 400H so well is it has more neutral color base and tends to render less red tones than Portra 400.
Richard Photo Lab also warns the photographers about not to overexpose their Kodak films. Fuji 400H is a light hungry film. But you can not meter your Kodak film the same way. Overexposing your Kodak film increases saturation and it makes the red tones in the base more prominent—the exact thing that makes it different from Fuji 400H.
As other film labs suggested, Richard Photo Lab also suggests using Noritsu scanner over Frontier scanner, since it gives the lab more control over the final appearance of the scans.
The look of Fujifilm PRO 400H won't disappear overnight, of course. There are still many film emulation presets and profiles out there. Photographers will keep using them and we will be seeing more of 400H's beautiful color palette. Make sure to check my online course Hybrid Photo Editing Guide. In this course, I am talking about matching digital and film photos. And I have covered Fujifilm PRO 400H and Kodak Portra 400 editing in this course.
This is a hard time for film and hybrid photographers to take a direction for the future of their businesses. But the truth is, it is all about delivering beautiful photos to your clients. And cameras and film stocks are just tools to achieve beautiful photos.