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!

~ Alexandr

Submit your own 5 Frames With...

Get your 5 frames featured on EMULSIVE. Submit your 300-350 word article using this Google form. If you would prefer to submit another way, please use the @contact@ link at the top of the page.

This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

Your turn: submit an article

EMULSIVE is all about promoting knowledge transfer across the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas to inspire others reading these pages: check out the submission guide.

If you like what you're reading you can help this passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.

See also:  Research: is there really a difference between real and simulated film photographs?


  1. Beautiful images!
    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.

Join the discussion