ultimo febrero – Kentmere 400

As always, if you have questions, objections, worries or praise, and especially if you found your picture and want it removed, feel free to contact me. I will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also read my full disclaimer, if you are interested.

 

I have been playing with Kentmere 400 for over a year now and I shot around 30 rolls of the stuff. I have tried it with D76, Rodinal, Tetenal Ultrafin and finally Caffenol-CL. After all of this testing I have to say that it’s clearly impossible to judge a film by shooting it once or twice and trying it in one developer. It took me ages to figure this one out in Ultrafin and I almost gave up shooting K400 altogether, but now I’m finally happy with it after at least 15 rolls. In my opinion it’s only mediocre at box-speed in Rodinal stand, very flat, but pushed it’s actually amazing. Semi-stand in Rodinal is still flat, but not quite as much. It is rather grainy though, so I mostly use this for special projects that need a bit more grit, like my Progress through Demolition project. I was also rather unimpressed by my results in D76 and never felt inclined to bother with it again. My single attempt in Caffenol was overdeveloped by accident, but even overdeveloped I liked the results much more than most of my other results of K400 at box-speed. Although my last film order didn’t include a single roll of K400 I will definitely come back to it now that I’ve finally got some really promising results. I will probably use it mostly in Tetenal Ultrafin and Caffenol-CL in the future.

My conclusions about K400 so far are these:

  1. It tends to be too flat in some developers – Rodinal and Ultrafin – and too contrasty in others – D76 for example. I myself prefer it more flat, because it’s easier to scan. It also can be remedied more easily in post-processing / darkroom work.
  2. It generally seems to have little highlight resolution, which makes it a difficult film to shoot in San Sebastian with the white pavement and the bright sunlight. Taming the highlights while retaining enough shadow detail is usually my main problem in most of the developers I tried. Caffenol-CL seems very promising here, but I haven’t tested it enough to say anything definitive yet. It still works best on cloudy days though.
  3. Developing times can be roughly calculated by using HP5+ development times if you can’t find a listing for a more unusual developer. For example, in Ultrafin I calculated 16 minutes where HP5+ takes 13 minutes. After a lot more testing I came to the conclusion that 15.5 min seems to work best for me, but it was a good starting point nonetheless.
  4. It has a thin base which means that it’s economical and fast where fixing is concerned. However, this also means that it tears more easily in certain cameras. When it gets cold or wet it therefore becomes hugely annoying to shoot in my Zorki with its metal sprockets. If you don’t shoot a beast of a camera though this should never become a problem.
  5. It is actually my favourite film for pushing. I’ve pushed it to ISO 3200 in Rodinal stand with very little grain and according to what I’ve seen from other people it also does amazingly well pushed in Caffenol-CL.
  6. It dries very flat and is therefore relatively easy to scan even without ANR glass.
  7. Generally it’s cheap, but doesn’t have the quality problems of some of the other cheap emulsions. Like most Ilford film it’s even cheaper when bulk loading.

If you haven’t tried K400 yet because you’re sceptical about cheap film, then let me assure you, this stuff can keep up! It might not be as easy to fall in love with as other films, but once you’ve found a developer that works for you, this is actually a very decent emulsion, especially if you consider the price. If nothing else, then at least try pushing this film in Rodinal or Caffenol-CL. I was definitely amazed by it!

All pictures taken with: Olympus XA, F.Zuiko 35mm f/2.8.
Kentmere 400 stand-developed in Rodinal 1:100, 60min.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

One of the many shops that had to close down due to the crisis.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Yes, that bag is actually between his legs for no reason.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Shopping spree?

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Apparently the phone is more interesting than the lady. Even the dog seems bored.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Little girl, little dog.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Puppy being taught the first tricks.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

This is the interior of a very strange shop or company or whatever. I still haven’t figured out what they actually do in there.

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

A bar for Apple users?

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

© Lilly Schwartz 2014

Faceless people looking out, faceless person looking in. This is my favourite for some reason.

Comments

  • shutteroo

    Great summary. Thanks. 🙂

    • Lilly Schwartz

      Thanks, I’m glad you like it!

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