Prior to purchasing my first roll of Kentmere, I had never much taken an affinity to black and white photography. Or rather, I had made a habit of using it very sparingly. I didn’t want to slip into a cliche of slapping on a black and white preset. The novelty of black and white photography was (and still is) something special which I don’t want to lose by applying it at every possible turn.
I wasn’t expecting fireworks from this roll when I first bought it, mainly owing to its bargain price. It comes in at the lower end of the price spectrum, running around 7000 won ($6.50) for a 36-exposure roll. In particular, I was curious to see how it handled highlights and dynamic range. Digital has always – at least in RAW format – delivered questionable single-shot dynamic range. The technique when shooting digital is to usually meter for either highlights or shadows, and then adjusting those levels in post. With film removing that from the equation, I wanted to see how this stock would handle bright situations involving shadows.
The results were largely satisfactory, although it became clear that this is a stock which needs light – lots of it. When exposed to sunny skies, Kentmere 100 does a beautiful job of cutting down highlights to a point where they almost become flat, melding with the shadows to produce a very low-contrast image in some cases. It’s a look which I quite like as I value shadow detail but at the same time loathe blown-out highlights.
Because of the way it handles shadows and its box speed, I found it to be suitably sharp with low-ish grain detail. It struggled in twilight situations though, producing images which were rather lifeless and muddy.
That said, I could absolutely see myself using Kentmere 100 as a regular stock for shooting genres like street photography or just in cases where I crave the novelty of black and white. I would summarise it as an ‘honest’ film stock. There are no real fancy tricks or surprises here, it’s just a reliable stock which gets the job done in the right conditions and with the right camera.
Do you share my sentiments? Take a look at the gallery and let me know your thoughts.