Kodak Portra is Kodak's most versatile color film. Film, like a person, has a personality. We all do well in some situations, but not others. But, maybe you are one of those people that can always go-with-the-flow; you can handle any situation and be just fine. If that's the case, I salute you! Kodak Portra is kind of like that person. Take a photo with this film in any circumstance and there's a good chance it'll do fine. In fact, it'll do great.
Why is Kodak Portra so versatile? Its latitude, sharpness, and ability to be scanned is unmatched by any other film in production. Using the C41 process, this film is a color negative, which means its latitude (or ability to forgive) is close to that of black and white.
One of its most notable features is its wonderful ability to effectively handle people (skin tones) and landscapes together. Skin tones are tough. It's rare to find a film with this duo capability; and it is the primary reason its so popular amongst portrait, wedding, and fashion photographers. I marvel at the works of wedding photographer Jose Villa and his incredible use of Portra Film. Check his work out if you get a chance.
Portra, in general, is warmer in tone than the similar Fuji Pro 400H. This is correctable in Photoshop; however, a lot of people prefer the film's warmers hues. Wedding photographers really rave about Portra's warm tones.
Kodak claims its "The world's finest grain high-speed color negative film". I agree; it's tack sharp on my Mamiya 7. You have to enlarge your image well over a 27 inch computer screen before theres any noticeable grain.
I mentioned it has a wonderful ability to scan well. I don't mean that it always comes out right in the scanner, that's really up to the abilities of your scanner. It can, however, withstand a lot of adjustments before it starts to give up any image quality.
I scan my own negatives with a Fuji v600 scanner. This film, as well as any other C41 processed film (color negative), requires adjustments after being scanned. This is not true of slide film. I was initially frustrated by the results of scans, but soon realized a little adjusting and the colors and depth really came through. If you get them processed and developed at a lab, the results will vary depending on the skill set of the lab.
While Kodak Portra is not my favorite film, it certainly delivers the quality of film with an high degree of forgiveness. The film's quality, versatility, and forgiveness is what makes this film the most popular color film on the market. Give it a try.