Ilford B&W negative alternative?
Ilford film is pricy but with high quality. If you are looking for low-budgeted film that allows you to shoot more extensively, Kentmere is the best option for you to take some nice black and white photos. It is cheap, reliable and has the “Classical” grey tone. This film only available in 135 format. It would be great if it has medium format too.
Film type: Black and white
Character: Broad tonal range, fine grain and good sharpness
Broad tonal range with good contrast
I would say the Kentmere 400 is with great price and quality. I discovered this film from Free Style Photographic Supplies back in 2010 (mainly because of the cheap price offered). After trying several of it I was quickly attracted by its tone, a classic mood with nice texture produced in the images, the tone gradation has so many layers. I have been shooting the film under daylight, indoor or even with studio flash, under different situation the film produced stable and unique character, especially the silver glittering highlight and it gives you a general nice grey tone. Overall, the white tone stands out more than other black and white film. Here is some images review below.
Fine grain and good sharpness
It is a relatively grainy B&W film. Even I developed it with Ilford DDX developer (Great pair with fast film). However, the grain makes the film quite special because it enhanced the micro-contrast and the grain is not heavily done. I would describe Ilford HP5 grain is “Heavy” and this Kentmere film grain is “Soft and light”. If you are looking for fine grain black and white film, I would suggest you to use Ilford Delta series. It has high sharpness and portrait every detail in the film.
Pushing the film
This film is not that flexible to push compare with Ilford Delta, HP5 or Kodak Double-X. It will lose details and textures in the highlight easily and also the darker shadow will become rich dark black. I have tried to use it at ISO800 or up to ISO1600.
What lenses did I use?
Leica Summicron 35mm f2 v1
Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Rigid type 1
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 v2
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v3