Testing Kentmere 400 Film

I’m not sure why I’ve never really heard of this film – most online discussion refers to it as a “cheaper” film produced by Ilford Photo, but I was quite impressed.

Paying Attention in Class

I found the tones and the grain very pleasant, and found the results nicely balanced despite having shot both day and night, indoor, outdoor, and with and without flash.

I received a roll of this in the 2017 Emulsive Santa gift exchange, and it’s sat in my freezer for nearly a year. In December 2018 I took it along in my Nikon F100 on a trip to New Orleans and carried it along well after dark in the French Quarter.

Entertainer Double Portrait Singer

About half the night shots came out blurry. I didn’t use the flash a whole lot, and I simply wasn’t holding the camera still enough. But I like the balanced results – you can tell it’s night, but you don’t see a lot of noise or crushed blacks like I’ve seen in other films.

At the other extreme, daytime shots in sunlight were equally balanced. I tend to prefer a bit more contrast, but I think that’s something I’ve subconsciously absorbed from looking at too many post-Lightroom digital shots where people have slid the ‘clarity’ and ‘detail’ sliders too far to the right. Once I successfuly fought the urge to push the contrast slider to the right, I found the grays grew on me – and this is how black and white exposures should look, I think.

Motorcycle Gang Royal Enfield Family Photo

A little online research reveals that Kentmere 400 (and 100) are indeed among the cheapest films available – less even than the Arista EDU I like to use when I’m testing a camera’s functionality. And aside from a bit less sharpness than I’ve seen in some other black and white films (I actually find the fuzziness pleasant) I don’t really see why I should be paying double for higher end films, as a hobbyist – and even as a professional, depending on the effect I’m looking for. Will definitely check this out again!

Taking a Load Off
Grandmother takes a load off and soaks her feet in the cool laundry while holding her grandchild. Antananarivo, Madagascar.
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