NOTE: Every photo on this page was taken on Kodak Portra 400, developed at a professional film lab, and scanned with an Epson V600
Where I bought into the hype of Ektar and was disappointed I went into Portra skeptical and have been pleasantly surprised. I've heard a lot about Portra but hadn't shot it until just recently fully expecting to not enjoy it. The results I've managed to get out of Portra though have been pleasing enought hat I would be encouraged to shoot more if it weren't for the cost.
Portra is really a family of three films by Kodak offered at 160 ISO, 400 ISO, and 800 ISO. In this case I'm referring to the 400 ISO version as it's also the most popular version of Portra. Despite the high speed the film has a very fine grain, high resolution, and an even gentle contrast curve. Where Ektar has a narrow dynamic range Portra is incredibly forgiving. You have to really mess something up to get a bad photo on Portra 400.
I need to shoot more with the film but what I have been able to capture has been great. Even in some very challenging lighting situations the film holds up well and has captured some of my favorite photographs to date. I still have trouble swallowing the high cost per frame (over $0.30 each) but the results can be worth it.
The colors are beautiful with a gentle fall off to both black and white. Unlike other films which shift color wildly in mixed lighting situations Portra manages to keep things much more consistent. I can see how professionals would come to depend on that consistency - you don't want to risk problems if you're being paid for the shoot after all.
What has really blown me away though is how beautiful the film looks when pushed. I've actually shot the film most pushed +2 stops all the way to 1600 ISO and then shot it at 1000 ISO effectively overexposing by about 2/3rds of a stop. On top of that I was shooting this film in one of the hardest situations you can shoot color in (mixed stage lighting) and came away with tremendous results. I can't say enough about how this film enabled me to shoot images I never thought would have been possible on film.
Those Blizzcon 2019 photos in particular really say it all. Again that's a +2 push to 1600 ISO and then overexposed 2/3rds of a stop while shooting in that entire set above mostly shot indoors under a mixture of light sources. I challenge you to find fault with those images in terms of the film performance. If it weren't for the very high cost I'd shoot everything with Portra moving forward but alas that wouldn't make much sense financially given how much I like to shoot.
I can't speak on film durability or how it behaves expired - I just haven't owned or shot enough. It does seem like it should be a very tough film and I'd be willing to be that even expired with questionable storage it would probably perform well. At the costs though that Portra demands you really shouldn't risk it and just instead get it from a retailer. I wholeheartedly recommend this film if you can afford it and it should be your first choice for any professional color application.