Just when I thought I had all my ducks in a row, I had settled on my favourite medium format ISO 400 B&W film, and then the fine people at Harman Technology decided to throw a spanner in the works, by re-launching the popular Kentmere Pan films, only now in the previously unavailable 120 format. What’s more they priced both the 100 & 400 ISO versions at a mere £4.92 per roll ! That’s around £2 per roll less than my favoured Ilford Delta 400. With that sort of price difference I had to take a look, so an order with Ilford Photo was placed tout suite.
Once it arrived, the film was to be used in a quick comparison vs Ilford Delta, and although the previous posts had concentrated only on 400 ISO film, on this occasion the 100 ISO versions of both Kentmere Pan and Ilford Delta would also be included in this comparison.
To be clear this is not a review, only two rolls of each would be used, and only two developers would be used, so it’s hardly a comprehensive evaluation, Rather a personal look, to see how the film performs in my hands with my usual processes. So please bear in mind that as usual your mileage may differ, and that for the new Kentmere Pan 120 films, I only scratch the surface of what can be achieved with these films.
The intention was to look at the two films in both subdued light and brighter conditions in order to see how they responded in those differing light levels. I would also use a larger medium format Mamiya Press 6×9 camera to try and get the best out of the films. For the slower Pan 100 it was decided to use the Mamiya-Sekor 100mm f3.5 for it’s extra speed compared to the 50mm f6.3 which would suffice for the Pan 400.
I had developing times available using my standard D-23 (replenished) developer for the Pan 400, so that was a straightforward decision to make. However for the Pan 100 I had no D-23 stock time available, and didn’t fancy wasting a roll trying to get an idea of what time to use, but HC110B times were readily available for both, so that seemed like a good way to go, introducing a secondary developer into the mix would could also add to the exploration of the films character.
Having shot the rolls of film locally in Storeton Woods and New Brighton, as well as in Connah’s Quay in North Wales, I found upon development that I had lost most of the New Brighton set of results, with the likely explanation being a shutter that had frozen during use, as we were going through a period of quite cold weather at the time of shooting. So for the Pan 100 I only ended up with images taken in bright weather, leaving me some room for further investigation.
Anyway, below you will see the results I obtained in each case you will see paired results, with the Ilford Delta result on the left, and the Kentmere Pan result on the right, just move the slider to the right to see the Delta image and move it to the left to see the Pan image.
Kentmere Pan 400 & Ilford Delta 400
Kentmere Pan 100 & Ilford Delta 100
First of all it needs to be noted that with these photos being made in both frosty and sunny conditions, getting those images to be perfect straight out of the development tank was unlikely, with much shadow detail and areas of highlight to convey, some post adjustment was always going to be required. So please note that this was carried out on each image individually and to my taste each time, so you you should take that into account when viewing the results. In addition there was a timelapse of approximately one hour between each image of the pairs, allowing me time to walk round the circuit and come back with the alternate film to take the shot again as best as I could remember it. So the pairs should not be looked at exact replicas, rather as guides as to what may be achieved.
Kentmere Pan 400
I felt the Pan 400 compared very well to Delta 400, particularly in good light where I felt it performed excellently. The only difference of any significance I noted was in the shadow detail in lower light conditions, where the Delta 400 had more detail to be recovered while retaining a good balance of contrast. I think it was this factor that also made the Delta images simpler to deal with in Lightroom.
Overall though I thought the Pan 400 represented really excellent value for money, and if I was shooting in decent light conditions I wouldn’t hesitate to use it as an alternative to my usual Delta 400.
Kentmere Pan 100
If the Pan 400 compared well to it’s Delta stablemate, then the Pan 100 took that to the next level. With the photos I took it would be very difficult indeed to tell them apart, only at a 400% crop on a big screen could I start to see any difference, where the added sharp detail of the Delta 100 just began to shine through.
I don’t often shoot ISO 100 film, I feel ISO 400 to be my happy place, but in the future I can see Kentmere Pan 100 be my go to ISO 100 film, not only for value for money, but also because it’s just a great performer. Subject to some further testing that is, remembering that I lost the roll shot in a freezing New Brighton, I’d like to see how the shadow detail is in lower light conditions, but then, if it’s that sort of day, who takes ISO 100 film out with them anyway !
So that’s it, my first experience with Kentmere Pan films in 120 format, time well spent I think exploring these great value films. In these times where we are pushed for spare cash and rising prices, it’s great to see a brand launch these affordable alternatives, and it’s much appreciated.
Hope you enjoyed sharing my experience, until next time, see you in 2023 !
© Copyright owner Steve Starr. First publication 17th December 2022