At the beginning of my experiments with black and white film, I tried almost all modern (and available) films from different manufacturers. It was great fun to try different combinations of films and developers, a lot of experience but over the time I became to realize that if you want to have a stable result, you should concentrate on one film and one developer. Work with it until you achieve the desired result. So choosing an everyday black and white film my choice fell on Kentmere 400.
Why Kentmere? The answer is easy – it’s rather cheap and not too bad material. Why 400? Because I often shoot street, which often means shooting using scale focus and a wide depth of field. Something like “f/8 and be there”, you know… No need to push or pull this film, it’s an ideal ISO, but for those who aren’t afraid the grain.
I used to buy this film in 30.5m (100ft) bulk rolls – optimal if you’re sure about your choice and have a bulk loader or a friend with bulk loader (the latter in my case). This film doesn’t forgive mistakes as well as HP5 PLUS, but having a bit of experience, still allows you to meter by eye. The film seems like it’s closer to ISO 200 than 400, so I prefer to overexpose 1 or 2 stops. A little secret – overexpose any black and white film will only benefit.
You can both scan and print this film for sure. Maybe I forgot something important, but anyway if you’re interested in this film better to Google a bunch of reviews and compares with other films and look through examples on Flickr.
The photos above were taken during my last vacation trip to Latvia and Lithuania with an awesome Canon 7 rangefinder and 35mm f/2 lens has been my everyday combo for the last year or two. The film was developed in Kodak D-76 1+3 at 20 degrees for 28 minutes.
Thanks for reading!
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Great images! It’s certainly a somewhat demanding film in terms of expose latitude. I like Kentmere 400, and I found in the last roll I shot that it probably better one stop overexposed, as you stated. I’ve had underexposed shots here and there at box speed. Perhaps Kentmere 400 behaves better shot at 200 and developed normally.
I have never been interested in Kentmere because I always thought it was just a cheap version of Ilford without actually even testing it myself or even really looking at anyone else work. But after seeing yours in this post you have definitely got me interested in trying it.
The highlights look to blow out quite a bit but the tonal range looks superb.