If you were to go to an online film shop, look at their range of 35mm stocks and sort the listings by price from Low to High, you’d likely find Kentmere Pan 100 and Kentmere Pan 400 right up there at the top of the page.
There are plenty of adjectives you could therefore use to describe them. Inexpensive. Economical. Budget. Cheap. But don’t make the mistake of thinking any of those translate to a poor product. As you can see on the box above, these are Harman films we’re talking about here.
And you know what else are Harman films? The iconic Ilford ones we all know and love. So whilst Kentmere isn’t being sold with that same branding, being produced by the same people is probably as close to a guarantee of quality as you can get in this industry.
Having shot some Kentmere Pan 100 myself, I can tell you whether or not it can hang with its Ilford cousins in this full review. And remember – if reading this inspires you to shoot some for yourself too, you can easily get some from Analogue Wonderland, from B&H Photo, or from eBay.
- 1 What is Kentmere Pan 100?
- 2 Is Kentmere film a repackaged Ilford-branded film?
- 3 Kentmere Pan 100 image quality and qualities
- 4 Street photography with Kentmere Pan 100
- 5 Architecture and landscape photography with Kentmere Pan 100
- 6 Kentmere Pan 100 specs and development
- 7 Where to buy Kentmere Pan 100 film
- 8 Final thoughts on Kentmere Pan 100
What is Kentmere Pan 100?
Kentmere Pan 100 is an ISO 100/21°, panchromatic monochrome negative film. With a fine grain structure and good sharpness, as well as wide exposure latitude, good dynamic range, and a broad tonal range, it’s suitable for use with a wide variety of subjects in good lighting conditions.
That there is the kind of information you can find anywhere. But I want to go a little deeper in this Kentmere Pan 100 review. And we’re going to start with an origin story. The origin of the Kentmere name and the brand.
Because you may be wondering why Harman don’t simply include these stocks under the Ilford umbrella. And also what even is a Kentmere anyway?
The answer to that question is a valley and a village in the UK’s Lake District. It was here that Kentmere photographic paper was first made, back when the company of the same name had nothing at all to do with either Ilford or Harman.
This was until 2007 when Harman acquired the photographic side of Kentmere’s business, leaving the latter to concentrate solely on their packaging enterprise, which is still in operation today.
Production of the photographic paper was moved to Ilford’s own factory and, a couple of years later in 2009, the first Kentmere branded films were released as a budget option into the world. Well, into the US at least. The full global rollout came later.
The Kentmere Pan 100 and Kentmere Pan 400 that we have today were once sold as just Kentmere 100 and Kentmere 400, and in a more basic box design too. As you can see in the image there, they used to have the Kentmere Photographic logo on them too.
However, Harman gave them both a facelift in 2018, adding that Pan to the name, removing the old Kentmere logo, and adding the same Harman branding to the box that you see on all of their Ilford-branded films.
The Pan added to the name is short for panchromatic by the way, which simply means the film is sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light.
Despite the redesign and slight renaming, the film inside the canisters remained the same. And a pretty good film it is too.
While Kentmere films are sold at a more competitive price than most Ilford-branded ones – not including the elusive Ilford Pan 100 and Ilford Pan 400 – their production does undergo the same quality control that Harman applies to all of those.
The lower price is achieved by differences in the make-up of the film, with a lower silver content being one example of where savings are found.
Is Kentmere film a repackaged Ilford-branded film?
One thing that’s always been endemic in the photography world is the repackaging and rebranding of films. Of course, none of Costco or Tesco or Boots or Jessops or whatever other supermarket or high street shop that used to sell their own branded film back in the day was actually making it themselves.
That situation remains the same to this day, albeit with those big names having long ducked out and been replaced by smaller enterprises.
For example, Kosmo Foto Mono is Fomapan 100, while Lomography Color Negative 800 is a Kodak stock – quite possibly the old Ultramax 800 that Kodak no longer sell as a standalone film but use in their disposable cameras.
So with all that in mind, it would have been easy for Harman to have taken some existing Ilford emulsion – whether it was still in production at the time Kentmere films were introduced or not – and simply rebadge it as this.
I even came across some speculation before that Kentmere Pan 100 and 400 were being produced from lower-quality offcuts of some other Ilford films.
However, as Harman’s own Simon Galley said in this forum post, “Kentmere film is absolutely brand new, 2 new emulsions, 35mm only, at a competitive price, it is not a ‘rebadged’ Ilford film, I think I have stated many times we do not supply private label even to a brand we own”.
From this we have to infer that the Kentmere Pan films are not just existing Ilford films repackaged into a different box with a different name.
That said, the word from Harman has always been that they don’t allow their Ilford films to be rebadged by anyone else. That doesn’t mean they don’t allow their Kentmere ones to be, though.
On that subject, I’ve seen chatter that the 100 and 400 versions of Rollei RPX, the newer AgfaPhoto APX, and FotoImpex CHM are all repackaged Kentmere.
As – potentially and I’m saying this with no concrete proof – possibly are Harman’s own Ilford Pan 100, its Ilford Pan 400, its Oriental Seagull 100, and its Oriental Seagull 400 films too; four films that are produced for smaller markets worldwide and aren’t officially sold in the US or the UK.
So while Kentmere films aren’t Ilford films in a new set of clothes, certain other films are repackaged Kentmere. Ironically, this might include an Ilford-branded one.
Let’s move on from that though and get to what you’re hopefully really here for. How Kentmere Pan 100 is to shoot and what kind of results you can expect from it.
Kentmere Pan 100 image quality and qualities
It’s taken me a while to get around to shooting some Kentmere Pan 100 – especially considering I first got through a roll of its ISO 400 sibling a few years beforehand when I was still living in China.
At the time, I found that to be a solid if unspectacular kind of film, with results that were just a little too flat and murky for me to want to shoot much more of it. Perhaps that’s one reason why it took me so long to give this ISO 100 version a go.
Not that it was necessarily a conscious decision, but when there are so many other films out there, trying another Kentmere one just wasn’t that exciting a prospect.
But now that I have and I’ve seen the results it gave me, I can tell you that I was very pleasantly surprised. The image quality and qualities are definitely more to my taste than those I found with the ISO 400 stock.
I don’t really mind grain, but I do like a clean monochrome film. I like sharpness and fine detail, and I like it when that comes with a good amount of contrast too. And that’s exactly what Kentmere Pan 100 gave me.
In fact, the first roll I shot gave me images that I liked so much more than the ISO 400 version that I had to shoot another one just to make sure. Let me explain.
That first roll was just a 24-exposure one I put through the Reto Ultra Wide & Slim – a very cheap point ‘n’ shoot camera I’d picked up and wanted to test out – and the first four shots below are from that.
Yes, it was bright and sunny, and the natural light and shadows were always going to be a huge part of the images from that day. But I couldn’t help but wonder if the plastic lens on the Reto camera had accentuated that contrast more than a normal one would.
So I loaded another roll into the Pentax MX and shot that to find out. As you can see in images five to eight below, it appears Kentmere Pan 100 is just inherently quite contrasty and with decent dynamic range. Clean too, sharp and detailed, and with minimal grain as you’d expect from an ISO 100 stock like this.
Overall, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I like Kentmere Pan 100’s image quality and qualities and found them to be noticeably superior – to my taste at least – to the ISO 400 version.
Street photography with Kentmere Pan 100
A lot of people like to use an ISO 400 film for their street photography, to give them more versatility and leeway with their shutter speed in varying lighting conditions. Grainy film is often favoured too, for that classic gritty look.
A clean ISO 100 film like this might not be an obvious choice for some people when shooting out in the streets then, but I wouldn’t rule it out as an option to try someday.
There are a few reasons for this, for me. First is that, as mentioned earlier, I do like a clean and contrasty monochrome film. I really enjoyed shooting Rollei Retro 400S for this reason, and even made my first zine from the shots I got with that.
You can buy a copy from here if you like.
Back to the matter at hand though, and the second reason I think Kentmere Pan 100 is a decent film for street photography.
Whereas ISO 400 films give you the freedom to shoot when the light isn’t so good, an ISO 100 one can only really be shot when the light is good. And because I believe the best photographs are generally shot with good light, you’re kind of forced to only do some street photography with Kentmere Pan 100 in good light – and that should lead to better-looking images.
In a roundabout way, the speed limitation of this film means you can only really use it when the conditions are right to give you images that show it off at its best.
That dynamic range will help you capture the light and shadows of a bright day, and even if conditions do fluctuate a little, Kentmere’s very good exposure latitude will help you out there too.
Finally, as this is Harman’s more inexpensive film brand, you won’t be spending as much cash per unpredictable frame as you would be with an Ilford stock or even a Kodak monochrome film.
Below are three shots taken out in the streets with the Reto Ultra Wide & Slim, followed by three taken with the Pentax MX.
Architecture and landscape photography with Kentmere Pan 100
If shooting out in the streets isn’t really your thing, fear not. Because while I think Kentmere 100 is a decent film for doing that, if you analyse what it brings to the table, it’s arguably going to be an even better one for landscape and architectural work.
By that I mean the sharpness and detail, the low grain, and the clean look too. These will all help the elements stand out in your shots even if the light isn’t the best, while the dynamic range of the film will help you to retain details of the clouds and not get blown-out areas of your images.
And when the light is good, you can use that decent contrast that Kentmere Pan 100 gives you in those conditions. This specifically can add some drama and depth with the light and shadows in and around the buildings or your landscape scenes.
Again, the first four shots below were taken with the Reto Ultra Wide & Slim, followed by four taken with the Pentax MX – including a couple under a less-than-ideal overcast sky.
Kentmere Pan 100 specs and development
Kentmere Pan 100 is a medium speed, ISO 100 panchromatic black & white film that’s produced in 35mm format only. Both 24 and 36-exposure cartridges are available, which are DX-coded with the numbers 017702 and 017701 respectively, and you can find it in 100ft bulk rolls too.
Ideal for a multitude of applications in good lighting conditions, it brings low grain, good contrast, and the level of sharpness and detail you’d expect from an ISO 100 film.
Kentmere 100 also has decent exposure latitude and is said to produce printable results when shot anywhere between ISO 50 and ISO 200. And if you are printing, that aforementioned low grain and good sharpness make it an excellent choice for enlarging too.
Its acetate base is a little thinner than that of Harman’s Ilford-branded films, but the soft backing is great for easy scanning as it allows your negatives to lie flat as you work on them, rather than curling like plenty of other films seem to like to do.
Finally, Kentmere films can be processed using a wide range of methods, including using spiral tanks, deep tanks and automatic processors too, and using a wide range of chemicals also.
For all of the information you’ll need on that, you can check out the official Kentmere Pan 100 datasheet here, Ilford’s guide to developing all their mainstream films here, or the entry on the Massive Dev Chart here.
Where to buy Kentmere Pan 100 film
Whereas some of Harman’s other films that aren’t in their core Ilford line-up – the likes of Pan 400 or Oriental Seagull 100, for example – can be hard to find even in some mainstream markets, I believe Kentmere stocks did get a global roll-out.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be on the shelf in your local brick ‘n’ mortar photography shop next to the ubiquitous HP5 Plus and the Kodak Gold of course, but it should mean you won’t have too much trouble finding some online at wherever you order film from where you live.
Because different countries obviously have different options for this, I can’t list all options here. But here are a few that may be relevant to you anyway, from a small independent place to a national and an international behemoth.
You can check current prices and availability through the links below.
- buy Kentmere Pan 100 from Analogue Wonderland
- buy Kentmere Pan 100 from B&H Photo
- buy Kentmere Pan 100 from eBay
Final thoughts on Kentmere Pan 100
There are some photographic films that you just know are going to give you results that you’re going to like before you’ve even shot them. Some of these for me were street shots I got on Kodak Portra 400, indoor and night images on Fuji Natura 1600, and the slides – more so than the scans – I got after trying some Kodak Ektachrome E100.
And then there are films that you shoot with no real expectations and find yourself very pleasantly surprised by what they give you. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Kentmere Pan 100 is certainly one of those.
Having thought the ISO 400 version was okay, it took me a long time to get around to shooting this one. I’m just glad that I eventually did because now I have, I’ve learnt that it’s a very decent ISO 100 monochrome film indeed.
Of course, seeing as the lower cost comes from savings in the manufacturing process, it’s not going to be quite as good as premium Ilford stocks like Delta 100 if you’re shooting professionally or really care about every last detail in your work being optimally good.
For casual users though, I’m not sure the difference in image quality is going to be that significant. Depending on what you plan to do with your images once developed, of course.
It is, after all, still a Harman film.
So to be able to get it at the price it’s sold at – from the likes of Analogue Wonderland or B&H Photo or eBay or wherever you get yours from – makes it a bit of a bargain in the analogue photography world.
That lower outlay makes it terrific for beginners, and also for anyone who wants to learn, practice or experiment without burning through more expensive film.
Even if that’s not you, it’s a good option really for anyone who just wants a good monochrome film for a good price these days.
That includes me, and that – along with the results it’s already given me – is why I’d be very happy to shoot some Kentmere Pan 100 again in the future. 🙂
If you found this Kentmere Pan 100 review useful, why not take a look at these other fantastic films too:
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