I like to think I have an open mind when it comes to different film stocks, but it’s easier to write that than to practice it. Thankfully thanks to these reviews I’ve found that I have come to like several stocks that I once derided. It would be in that category I will place Kentmere 100. Kentmere, once an independent company saw purchase in 2007 by Harman, and today is manufactured by our friends at Ilford. My first couple experiences were fairly terrible, especially the first and second rolls, but in those cases, I’ll chalk it up to the camera and my own mistake in developing the film. However, by the third and fourth, I began to learn how to tame the film. While not a fine grain film, it certainly would be a good choice for those who have a budget on the mind.
Type: Panchromatic B&W
Film Base: Acetate
Film Speed: ASA-100, Latitude: 50-200
Formats Avaliable: 35mm
Roll 01 – Kodak D-76
Okay, so starting with D-76 may not have been the best idea, my second run through with Kentmere 100 saw developing in D-76, and I got a grain fest. But that could have been my fault. Originally I had planned to dilute the developer. But with December last year consistently providing us with distressed pewter skies, I had no choice, I had to push. But the results were not too bad, not my favourite, but for that, I blame the lighting conditions more than anything else. Overall the grain did not stand out too much, and the images were as sharp as they could be considering I was running my lens at nearly wide open and getting shutter speeds no more than 1/60. But the contrast and tone were right on the money. If I had to, I would certainly go and reshoot the film either at the ASA-200 or even ASA-100 and process in D-76, a worthy combination. Which given that the film is designed for students, it makes sense it responds well to an inexpensive developer. Also on that note, some of these images were shot by my lovely wife who enjoyed her first time out with the Nikon F2.
Roll 02 – Kodak HC-110
It was with HC-110 that I really found out what a great film Kentmere 100 is. The results are decent, with good tone, contrast, and sharpness. Sure there’s still grain, but it’s to be expected at this point. While I like the results I get from Dilution B, I think the film could do better with a lower dilution; even Dilution E might do a bit more good for the film. But still, it is one of the better performing combinations. And that despite the piss-poor light we got back when I was shooting these rolls.
Roll 03 – Pyrocat-HD
When I was first testing Kentmere films for the FPP, I ran the 400-speed flavour through PMK Pyro, so I decided to run some of the 100-speed through my current flavour of Pyro, Pyrocat-HD. There’s a brightness to these images, a wide range of tones, and decent contrast. I mean the whites are white, and the blacks are black, but nothing too strong. Sharp? You bet, I didn’t use Rodinal out of fear from a heavy grain structure, but Pyrocat certainly does a good job in taming the grain while maintaining an amazing sharpness.
Roll 04 – Kodak TMax Developer
I think we have a real winner here! Having some poor experiences in the past, I came into the review with an open enough mind, but I think the TMax developer performs beautifully! I mean, as soon as I pulled the negatives out of the tank I knew I had a winning combination here. All I can describe the film as is rich, rich in contrast, tone, and sharpness. Not to mention a serious lack of grain, the images have a dimension about them.
There’s nothing wrong with Kentmere 100, but it would not be my first choice to when heading out into the field. And that’s not to knock the film; I have a taste Ilford FP4+ or Kodak TMax 100 over Kentmere 100. I also don’t think the film got a fair shake with some of these images as back in December when these were being shot the weather here in Southern Ontario seemed to lay on the grey side of things. That being said, I would not turn my nose up to the stock if it was all I had access to, as for the best developing choice, I would have to say any of the four developers I used here will give you good options, if you are going with Rodinal, I would suggest a good stand development. You can pick up Kentmere at most speciality camera shops, here in Southern Ontario I’ve found it at both Downtown Camera and Burlington Camera. Not to mention your usual online shops. Also, it is inexpensive as a 100-foot bulk roll if you’re into that.