Kentmere 400 is a budget black-and-white film from Harman Technologies, whick makes Ilford films. It’s available only in 35mm, as 24- or 36-exposure cartridges or in 100-foot rolls. At the time I’m publishing this article, you can buy a 36-exposure roll for about five bucks. That makes Kentmere 400 the least expensive ISO 400 black-and-white film commonly available today.
Fomapan 400 is another budget-friendly option, but it’s a dollar or two more expensive. My favorite ISO 400 black-and-white films are Ilford HP5 Plus and Kodak T-Max 400, but they cost up to twice as much as Kentmere 400. I’m happy to pay it when I’m shooting something serious where the output matters. But when I’m testing a new-to-me old camera or just shooting for pleasure, it’s nice to have less-expensive film options.
That’s why I bought a couple rolls of Kentmere 400 not long ago when I also ordered a brick of HP5 Plus. I loaded a roll into my terrific compact Pentax IQZoom 170SL in June and took it to my Downtown Indianapolis office. I often take short afternoon walks when I’m there, and it’s nice to have a small camera in my hand when I go.
As you can see, I shot a lot of architectural subjects on this roll. I developed the film in HC-110, Dilution B, and scanned the negatives on my Plustek 8200i scanner. Several of my film-photography friends get best results from this film when they develop it a little longer than what the Massive Dev Chart says, so I gave it about an extra minute. The negatives were appropriately dense when they came out of the tank.
The film dried fairly flat and scanned easily. I thought the scans looked pretty good right out of the scanner, but I boosted contrast on them all in Photoshop anyway.
I’ve shot black-and-white in the IQZoom 170SL only one other time, and that was a roll of T-Max 400 which I developed in Rodinal. Check out those images here. I think those images are a little smoother and offer better sharpness than these Kentmere 400 images. I suppose that’s an apples-to-dump-trucks comparison, however; not only did I use a different developer, but a different scanner, on that film. Regardless, these Kentmere 400 images are perfectly acceptable.
I hereby pronounce Kentmere 400 to be Perfectly Fine. I’d buy it again.
Some of my film-photography friends have gotten reasonable results pushing this film as far as EI 3200, which makes Kentmere 400 extra versatile. Check out one photographer’s results here.
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