I was looking into the story of how Kentmere Pan 400 came to be made by HARMAN/ILFORD in the UK. Fotoimpex who own ADOX, a well established film manufacturing company in Europe, asked HARMAN to make a film that they could sell to replace the Afga APX400 film after the Agfa factory closed. The formula was based on the old Adox CHM400 film. HARMAN produced the film in Mobberley and it ended up being sold under the HARMAN Kentmere Pan 400, AgfaPhoto APX400, Rollei RPX400 and Oriental 400 brands. I saw all these films when I visited the HARMAN factory a few years ago. Recently Fotoimpex/ADOX have restarted production of this film in their own European factory and are calling it Fotoimpex CHM400. Intriguing and a bit convoluted.

Kentmere Pan 400 seemed a very popular and ideal film to try. It is a low-cost film, the cheapest 400 ISO film out of the Mobberly factory. Manchester is lucky to have an artist supply shop that sells an extensive range of films, I paid my £5.08 and left with a 135/36 roll of Kentmere Pan 400 to load into my Leica M6. I had just treated myself to a used Leica 35mm f/2.4 Summarit-M and was keen to get some photos taken.

I visited the Castlefield canal area, which is now looking quite neglected and finished the roll inside Helmshore Textile Mill. Long exposures, up to a second, in the mill for low lighting meant balancing my monopod against various bits of machinery hoping for blur-free photos, too lazy to take a tripod. Also there were lots of unlit areas.

I prefer fine grain ISO 400 films, my favourite being Kodak T-MAX 400. Kentmere Pan 400 is half the price of T-MAX 400. I have to say that Kentmere Pan 400 is a very nice film with a pleasant fine grain and good definition at A3 print size. The light in the spinning room of the mill was from large windows and some overhead lamps. The film has handled the lighting range from bright to dark very nicely, there isn’t a lot of detail in the shadow areas because they were unlit and no film could cope with that.

I would recommend Kentmere 400 for its quality and cost, you can also get bulk lengths if you self-load your film cassettes.

Hope this was of some interest to you.

~ Phil

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About the author

Philip Harrison

Phil spent 25 years as a professional photographer after leaving Photographic College in the early 1970’s. In his early years, he worked as a medical photographer, based in a hospital in the north of...

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