Generally considered Ilford’s budget brand, I’ve grown to love Kentmere’s two films, Pan 100 and Pan 400.
Because the films are somewhat newer (first released in 2009), and because it usually sits on the “student” shelf at stores, these great films are frequently neglected by photographers who would rather go to the more well known Ilford or Kodak B&W films.
But don’t let their lower price fool you, both are incredibly capable films. Neither has ever disappointed me, and depending on the look you’re going for they may be perfect for you.
Kentmere Pan 100
Just given it’s closeness in speed, Kentmere Pan 100 draws comparisons to it’s Ilford sibling, FP4+. While Kentmere 100’s grain may not be as smooth, I think it comes really close. All of the example photos were developed using stand development with Rodinal, which I’ve found results in a really nice, smooth grain, great sharpness, and fantastic tonal range here.
Kentmere Pan 400
Like Pan 100, Pan 400 draws comparisons to its closest Ilford counterpart, HP5+. And also like Pan 100, maybe the grain isn’t as fine or smooth as HP5+, but it can be imperceivable. The last three example photos are all pretty heavy on the grain, but I think that’s more from the subject than Kentmere failing, I can find some equally grainy HP5+ frames in my files too.
While I may think these two films are great, I don’t think you can get the best feel for a film just by looking at someone else’s photos. You need to figure out if it fits with your workflow and style. And thankfully in the case of both these films it’s really easy to try them out. Because they’re marketed as student or budget films, they’re some of the least expensive black and white films I’ve found (I haven’t found anything lower, and only found Fomopan and Arista EDU to be the same price).
Because of their low price, I highly suggest everybody who likes shooting in black and white give them a try. Worst case scenario they’re probably a little grainier than what you’re looking for, and best case scenario you may have found your new favorite film!