Monday 19 June 2023


I am showing some new and previously unexhibited work in two exhibitions opening in London this week, with openings on Wednesday & on Thursday. For 'Earthwise', an exhibition, event and publication by PhD and MRes students from the Royal College of Arts’ School of Arts and Humanities, opening this Wednesday, I am showing a photographic-text piece, not dissimilar to other recent work.

Wednesday 21st June–Saturday 1st July 12-5pm
Private View: 6-9pm Wednesday 21st June
Beaconsfield Gallery, 22 Newport St, London SE11 6AY

The other exhibition is 'Hopscotch' and forms the physical iteration of the RCA's Research Biennale, and opens on Thursday, in which I am showing a kind of 'sketch' for a photographic work, intended to be made in the darkroom, but which I never made as planned due to the pandemic.
Thursday 22nd to Saturday 24th June 10am–6pm
Private View: 6–9.30pm Thursday 22nd June
Closing event: 6-9.00pm, Saturday 24 June
Copeland Gallery, Unit 9, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, Peckham, London SE15 3SN

Saturday 29 April 2023

Ciné-Kodak Model K

Ciné-Kodak Model K 16mm camera
A leader for years, Ciné-Kodak, Model K, is deservedly still the favorite 16mm. motion picture camera of thousands of home movie fans. Moderately priced, Model K possesses such outstanding features as 100-foot film capacity, Kodak Anastigmat f/1.9 lens–easily interchangeable with a wide selection of accessory lenses, half speed and normal speed, eye-level and waist-height finder, and locking exposure lever.
Cine-Kodak 8mm and 16mm Home Movie Equipment, 1940

In my post on the Ciné-Kodak Model BB Junior, I summarised the evolution of Kodak's range of 16mm cine cameras, from the (retrospectively named) Model A, followed by the Model B, which represents a significant design rethink, and then the BB (and its derivative, the BB Junior), taking the general layout of the Model B, but, by using a smaller capacity spool, making the camera smaller and lighter. The next model, introduced in July 1930, was the Ciné-Kodak Model K. This represented a change in the Kodak ciné cameras' naming conventions, with the previous models named in something approaching a logical sequence. Possibly, the use of the letter 'K' is from Kodak itself, indicating that, when introduced, the Ciné-Kodak Model K was seen as the definitive design iteration of Kodak's 16mm ciné cameras; Kodak manufactured the Model K for 16 years, until 1946, longer than any of the other 16mm models (the next longest production run–15 years–was the Ciné-Kodak Special) and, as a result, ninety years on, the Model K is not a rare camera.

Ciné-Kodak Model BB Junior (front) and Model K (back)
Taking the general design and internal layout from the Ciné-Kodak BB, with a slightly longer and taller body, the Model K was designed for the larger-capacity 100ft daylight-loading spool–used in the first two Kodak 16mm cameras–that the BB had sacrificed for compactness. This would mean around 4 minutes of footage at the camera's normal running at 16 frames per second. With aspects of the BB's design, the Model K is smaller than the Model B, but with comparable specifications. After my initial experiences with the Ciné-Kodak BB Junior, I subsequently had an eye on the Model K for its capacity to take daylight-loading 100ft spools, rather than the BB Junior's 50ft spools; apart from the spool size, most of my caveats about contemporary use of the BB Junior apply to the Model K, particularly that it takes double-perforated 16mm film. However, I saw a Model K offered for sale on a well-known auction website for a starting price of just €3.50–from Germany. With postage this was just over £20 in total and no-one else placed a bid on the camera (this was in late 2020, before the UK left the EU, and before prices when buying from the EU went up considerably as a result). The Model K came with the f1.9 25mm Anastigmat lens, which was the higher-priced variant; it could also be bought with a lower-value f3.5 25mm lens. The camera came in its original case, which has space for a second lens, with mounting pins to secure it, and two rolls of film. It also had the key for the case's lock, attached to the ribbon inside.
Ciné-Kodak Model K in original case
Other than taking 100ft spools, the main difference from the BB Junior is that the Model K has interchangeable lenses. My version came with the standard 25mm f1.9 anastigmat lens (the Model K could also be bought cheaper with a f3.5 25mm lens); other lenses do show up from time to time, but seem to be rare. As a viewfinder camera, the interchangeable lenses each had a front viewfinder attached to the mount, so changing a lens also changes the viewfinder (the rear sight on the body remains). The Model K also has a waist-level viewfinder on the body, next to the lens, but the angle of view for this is unaffected by changing lenses. There was a wide range of lenses provided for the Model K: by 1940, there were 7 available in additional to the standard 25mm, from a wide-angle 15mm lens to a 152mm/6 inch lens. Early in 1940, Kodak abandoned the aperture plate guide around the lens with descriptions of lighting conditions and subjects as by then there was a wider range of film stocks available with a range of speeds, thus making too many exceptions; my camera evidently dates from before this, and did not later have its aperture plate replaced, as was offered as a service (it does intriguingly have two marks in the leather on one side which look as though it may had something taped to the side of the camera, which looks as though it could have been the new exposure guide which replaced the aperture plate, consisting of a dial with the aperture numbers and a slot for a card which came with each film, detailing the conditions and subjects particular to its emulsion).

Ciné-Kodak Model K with lens removed
The lenses are removed by a button twist bayonet lugs plate with Each lens came with the front folding viewfinder element attached to the mount, in order that the viewfinder showed the correct angle of view for the corresponding lens. The rear viewfinder remained on the body of the camera: its lens can slide down out of the sighting aperture. This is for when the 15mm wide angle lens is mounted. As with the BB Junior, the viewfinder has parallax marks for the top of the frame at distances of 6ft and 2ft. 

Ciné-Kodak Model K detail of the standard 25mm lens and waist level finder
The Ciné-Kodak Model K also has a waist-level viewfinder built into the body, offset to the right of the lens from the operator's position. This has no parallax indications, and doesn't change with lenses of the different focal lengths. Evidently it was provided to facilitate using the camera held at a lower height, possibly against the body–very much like one might hold a Kodak Brownie. In addition, it's reversed laterally, which makes it less intuitive to use; after explaining laboriously how to follow a moving subject with the waist-level finder, Making the Most of Your Ciné-Kodak does offer the following encouragement: "Bearing this in mind, you will quickly master the trick and be able to keep up with the action. The reflecting finder will be found very convenient when taking pictures of children, pets and all subjects that are at waist level or lower." The waist-level finder does very much feel like it has been transplanted from a contemporary still camera, with Kodak's early ciné cameras being conceived in many of the same terms, functionally at least.

Ciné-Kodak Model K showing winding lever, shutter release and slow speed button
As with the BB Junior, the shutter release lever has two positions: pushed down lightly and the camera runs; push down further and the lever locks in the run position. At 16 frames per second, the effective shutter speed would be 1/32nd of a second, as close as 1/30th as practical. There is also a button on the side of the camera above the shutter lever which, when depressed, reduces the frame rate to 8fps, with an equivalent shutter speed of 1/16th. This has to be kept held down at the same time as the shutter lever, and does not itself lock. The reason for this slow speed is a result of the slow emulsions available at the time–Kodak's first 16mm film stock would have been around 10 ISO–Making the Most of Your Ciné-Kodak advises that "The half-speed feature is not intended for ordinary use, and should be resorted to only when the light is of such extremely poor quality that black and white pictures cannot properly be exposed at normal speed with the largest diaphragm opening (/.1.9 or /.3.5), or when it is desired to make Kodacolor pictures without direct sunlight." (It later states that it can be also used for comedy effects; with the projector only running at 16fps, any footage shot at 8fps would therefore by projected at twice its speed). The motor is wound by a handle which tucks into the body with a recess for its rotating knob when not in use. In comparison to the BB Junior's rather smaller key, the handle allows for the motor to be fully wound very quickly. When fully wound on my camera, the motor runs for about 40 seconds without film, audibly slowing towards the end of this. It runs twice as long at 8fps, as it's the revolutions of the sprocket wheel and pull-down claw–and therefore the number of frames itself–that determines duration.
Ciné-Kodak Model K opened for loading
Most of the description and comments in my post on the loading and use of the BB Junior apply equally to the Model K: the placement of full and empty spools is the same, opening the pull-down claw and sprocket clamps to feed the film through the gate and correctly form loops is exactly the same too, so there's no need to detail that here: one can refer back to the post on the BB Junior for a description of how to load the camera. There are just two differences with respect to loading the Model K to note: first, the lock on the Model K has two steps to open the camera: the button is rotated 180 before sliding into the open position to remove the side of the camera; the BB Junior's lock simply slides. Second, as the Model K accepts both 50ft and 100ft spools, there is a small lever to set a guide for the take up spool of the relevant capacity (one can of course use a 100ft take-up spool for a 50ft supply spool; vice-versa, one would end up with a lot of loose exposed film inside the camera). Opening my particular Model K, there is an engraved inscription "R.H.MACY & CO. INC."; interestingly, the serial number, normally visible on the crank arm when folded out has had the serial number removed with what looks to be the same tool.

There were a couple of small repairs which I made to the camera. When it arrived, the carrying handle was missing its fixing on one end. I made a replacement from a D-ring (usually used for hanging pictures), drilling two small holes for the screws and then trimming it down to the right size. At this point, I gave the camera a general clean, removing some fixings in the process, including the cover of the footage counter. The footage counter has numerals for every ten feet of film, with marks in between, with stars for loading for both 100ft and 50ft rolls. 

Ciné-Kodak Model K film counter
Underneath the cover, the footage counter has a serial number–possibly matching that removed from the handle–but also "100'-BB": possibly, during its initial production phase, the camera was known as the 100ft BB camera, and only named the Model K when marketed on introduction–which only appears on the footage counter cover itself in relatively small letters. The counter has a movable pointer, moved by the round knob with the milled edge, which should be aligned with the start position when each film is loaded for accuracy, a feature which appears to have been dropped later in the production run.
Ciné-Kodak Model K footage counter with cover removed
The other repair was to the rear sight: the mechanism by which it clicks into place, either flat, folded against the body, or upright, in use, is a flat metal tongue the end of which sits under the hinge of the sight. This is fixed to the base of the sight with a small rivet, which sheared off relatively soon after I got the camera (in the BB Junior, this part is fixed by a small screw). To repair the camera, I replaced the rivet with a bolt, drilling out the rivet, then drilling a matching hole in the camera body to fix the bolt through.

My reason for acquiring the Ciné-Kodak Model K was for its 100ft capacity in comparison to the BB Junior, as well as the possibility of using interchangeable lenses; as with the latter camera, there was a notion that I could convert it for single perforated film, which would mean being able to use a wider range of film stocks still available–although most of the 16mm I've shot so far has been old double-perforated stocks of various types. This I have yet to do: for one reason or another, I have used the Model K very little, less than the BB Junior. I have also not found additional lenses at a reasonable price, at least in comparison to the low price I paid for the camera itself. The first short test roll I shot in the camera was Ilford Fast Pan film on an overcast winter's day, shot fairly wide open as a result.

Ciné-Kodak Model K test with Ilford Fast Pan film
Developing the film (above), the pressure plate has a square and round hole, which is some form of identification mark when the film is exposed (the BB Junior has three circular holes, two of which are joined). I did use the Model K to make a very short three-colur process film with the Ilford Fast Pan film again, right at the end of a roll. This was made in the same manner as in my post Three Colour Process 8mm Film, holding each red, green, and blue filter over the lens as the camera ran. I shot two sequences, one inside, with the filter factor, needed the lens wide open at 8fps; the second at the normal 16fps outside.

As with the previous three-colour film, I overlaid three versions of the black and white film and offset each so that the sections with red, green, and blue would synchronise, but without the complicated sequence of separation and repetition in the first film. The RGB colour rendition is less accurate than it might be as the blue filter has a different filter factor, but it was not practical to change the aperture during the exposure to compensate, as I wanted to film the sequence in one, rather than start and stop for each filter instead.

One wonders how the Ciné-Kodak Model K might have looked to a potential buyer looking for a home movie camera towards the end of its production run just post-war. The rate of technological development in just over twenty years since Kodak had introduced the 16mm format had meant that the Model K had begun to lose its purpose, I suspect: it no longer fitted any particular segment of the market. Kodak's introduction of the 8mm format in 1932 provided for a more cost-conscious entry into home-movie making, becoming the new standard; for convenience itself, the 16mm magazine format from 1936 took over from daylight-loading spools; for ambition–the 16mm format's direction after the introduction of 8mm, for the serious amateur, the artist, documentarist or educationalist–the Ciné-Kodak Special of 1933 had many more features than the Model K (in addition of course, Kodak's competitors were also developing numerous cameras for the film formats that Kodak had developed). Regardless, the Ciné-Kodak Model K's long production run attests to it durability and reliability as a design–Kodak had other 16mm cameras, the Model M and Model E, which came and went during that period–and as stated earlier, it's not an uncommon camera nearly eighty years after its production finished. Again, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are important caveats about its utility today as a 16mm camera, without modifications, but, given the relatively low prices that it fetches (usually less than a roll of new 16mm film in a typical used condition), it's also one of the more affordable entry point into 16mm.

Saturday 25 February 2023

Lomography Fantôme 8 - single roll review

Lomography Fantôme 8 35mm film

Approaching two years ago at the time of writing, I posted a short 'single roll' review on the Lomography Berlin Kino 400 film. This had been one of the rolls of film that I had won as part of the #ShittyCameraChallenge prize (sponsored by David Walster - @196photo on Twitter), four different rolls of 35mm black and white film, all of which were new to me. One of the other rolls was Lomography Fantôme 8; like the other Lomomgraphy film, the box has the description '35mm KINO film', but unlike the 'Berlin' film, Fantôme 8's origins are not those of a camera film, used to generate a negative–which its low ISO of 8 indicates. According to Alex Luyckx, Fantôme 8 is Orwo DP31. Orwo's data sheet describes it thus:

ORWO duplicating positive film DP 31 serves as a film for the production of intermediate positives (master positives). Due to is panchromatic sensitisation this film can be used for duplicating from black & white negatives as well as from colour negatives producing well-balanced grey values referring to original colours. Special features of this film are the excellent resolving power and the extraordinary fine grain

As a very low ISO film, I had been anticipating that I'd want to use the roll of Fantôme 8 for something specific which would take advantage of its particular characteristics, rather than 'everyday' film photography. Last week I wanted to make an interpositive to create a print in negative from a negative, and naturally thought of the Fantôme 8 for precisely the qualities the data sheet describes (this, incidentally, was for the Undertow exhibition). I shot half the roll and developed it as needed, then decided that I may well as well find the time to use the remainder of the film. For the purposes of making the interpositive, I used a tripod and my Canon A-1 SLR; at 8 ISO, there are few situations in which hand-holding a camera with Fantôme 8 is practical, but I did expose a couple of frames hand-held, both of which were with the lens wide open at f1.8 and a fairly slow shutter speed. The second image below was at 1/20th, which will have probably introduced a small amount of camera shake, leading it to be less sharp as a result; the first image, silhouetting bare branches against a bright sky at a medium distance was rather easier 

Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8

Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8

The first image above was shot on the end of the half of the roll I had used first, and the high contrast of the image was fairly evident. I used Kodak HC-110 at dilution H, 1+63 from concentrate, with a time of 14 minutes at 20ºC (the Orwo data sheet, unsurprisingly for a motion picture film, gives D96 as a developer). The film has probably the clearest base of any I've used–and was also extremely curly once developed. Having used half the film first, and assessing the results, this gave me an idea of how to approach using the remainder of the film. Thanks to its high contrast, in terms of subjects, for most frames I avoided including much or any sky in the composition, concerned it would render almost entirely bright and featureless (as a panchromatic film, it would have been possible to use a yellow filter); the image below was one of the few with a significant area of sky in the frame.

Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8
I may have been cautious in this, but the few frames with bright sky and bare branches silhouetted against it brought up a different problem in scanning: the clear base introduced a form of halation in the  scanning of the negatives, with the light of the scanner passing through these clear areas and reflecting back inside the scanner. This is an effect I've noticed with a few other films, but this was particularly intrusive here. In the image below it is a rather disruptive artefact of the scanning process; I imagine that darkroom printing would not have the same problem.

Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8

Close-up crop from scan

Given Fantôme 8's characteristics, I had hoped for overcast weather conditions for photographing, not uncommon here in February, but instead I found it was an afternoon of intermittent, if hazy sunshine. To lessen the high contrast of the film, using the Canon A-1, with its double exposure capability, on a number of frames, I was able to use the technique of pre-exposure to raise the shadow values. To do this, I first shot a frame of a grey card without focussing three and a half stops below the camera's indicated exposure, then pushed in the multiple exposure switch before engaging the film advance, which, with the multiple exposure switch engaged, simply cocks the shutter without moving the film. After development, the frames which had pre-exposure were easily distinguishable on the negatives, although in scanning, with many frames the differences were not as great as I might have expected.

Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8
Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8 and pre-exposure
The most successful use of this technique is demonstrated in a pair of frames in which the subject was the low winter sun reflecting of a puddle, with the surroundings otherwise in shadow, which wouldn't be a subject easy to expose for a film with greater latitude: the pre-exposure here opens up the shadow detail just enough to define the landscape which becomes a little lost in the first image, where more exposure would lose detail in the highlights.

Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8
Canon A-1 with Lomography Fantôme 8 and pre-exposure
A better test would be to print from these negatives in the darkroom, to be able to properly appreciate the difference the pre-exposure has made. However, for some of the images here, it does appear to have benefitted the negatives. As a general preference, longer tonal scales in negatives I find easier to work with (which was, in part, the frustration I felt with Ferrania P30); for many or most subjects it's a general look that I prefer, and, as a technique, using pre-exposure with Fantôme 8 here has softened some of the film's particular qualities. Many of the examples of the film that I've seen online play on these high-contrast qualities, and, had I been wanting that look, and found subjects appropriate for it, Fantôme 8 would have been ideal: I do feel that I found it a bit more flexible than I had anticipated. With the some of the compositions in which I was mindful in not including the sky, I found that there was something–a little–of the 'ungrounded' quality of some of Muybridge's photographs of Yosemite (on a much less grand scale of course) which I had been looking at again recently, in which the lack of a horizon or discernible foreground places the viewer in an uncertain relation to the scene depicted. Having used the film initially for a purpose not dissimilar to its original usage, then, finding the right subject matter and an appropriate technique for the film's limitations, I found myself liking Lomography Fantôme 8 rather more than I had expected to.

Sources/further reading

Thursday 16 February 2023

Undertow at Unit 1 Gallery

Moving below the surface current and in a different direction, the subterranean emotion is held carefully under the surface, as the understated surface half reveals and half-conceals the turmoil beneath.

When prevailing discourses tip towards hyperbole, generalisations or simplification, there is a need to
swim against the current, to carve out a space that allows for ambiguity, correspondence, and a quieter
voice. In the employment of few words, a scale of action or use of minimal materials, understatement
can be both a way of confronting moments of crisis, or of evading them. Undertow brings together a
group of artists working in dialogue around these concerns. The Undertow research group's remit is
open, as is the shape it takes, and the work is rooted in the sensibilities of material and material
understanding. Our practices span the use of text, ceramics, wood, paper, paint, film, photography.

This exhibition is an opportunity to regroup, to re-open conversations and begin new ones, to test
ideas in the absence of pre-conceived outcomes, but with purpose and direction. What emerges in the
work coalesces around language, data, codes, a collapsing of scale, of how a still surface half-reveals,
half-conceals subterranean undercurrents.

†. Michael O’Neil, and Madeleine Callaghan, (editors), ‘Situated Sequences and Marginal Voices’, in Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry: Hardy to Mahon, 2011 

Alex Simpson
Alison Rees
Lauren Ilsley
Nicholas Middleton
Sarah Wishart
Tana West

Unit 1 Gallery
1 Bard Road, London W10 6TP
3rd-25th March 2023
Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm
Private view, Thursday 2nd March 6-9pm

Tuesday 31 January 2023

Kentmere Pan 400 - part 2


Kentmere Pan 400 in medium format

When I wrote my original post on Kentmere Pan 400 in 2019, it was then available in 35mm only; in December 2022, in a surprise announcement from Harman, the film's manufacturer, that the two black and white Kentmere emulsions were now to be available in medium format, having previously been available in 35mm only. I did write in my original post three years ago that "having been around for many years [Kentmere Pan 400] is unlikely to suddenly be offered in medium and large format, although this is not impossible: Ilford's Ortho Plus film, a niche sheet film emulsion for decades, has just been introduced in 35mm and 120." As described in the recent post on its slower-speed companion, Kentmere Pan 100, there's a logic to Harman complementing their Ilford brand with lower-priced films in medium format, to compete–in particular, it seems–with cheaper films such as Fomapan 100 and 400. The original post on Kentmere Pan 400 was written to compare the film with Ilford Pan 400, which I had been told was going to be discontinued (although at the time of writing, this film is still available), and one can see the logic in rationalising Harman's budget film lines. 

After the announcement of the film's new availability in medium format, I bought a couple of rolls and used the film, cut down, for last week's 127 Day (I used the 16mm off-cut in a subminiature camera, but this suffered from successive overlapping exposures due to issues with the film advance, and so not worth illustrating here); I shot the other roll on New Year's Day, with the Ica Icarette II/L. The reason for choosing this particular medium format camera was simply not having used it for a while. As with the comments in the last post on 127 Day, with overcast winter weather, a one-stop push might have improved the contrast of the negatives; the Icarette's Tessar lens–99 years old–is uncoated, and the somewhat hazy conditions were no doubt emphasised in the results thanks to the low-contrast of the uncoated lens.

Ica Icarette II with Kentmere Pan 400
The image above, directed towards the sun, just about discernible on the day through the clouds, shows this quite well (thanks to the weather conditions, there may also–just–have been some haze as a remainder of the fireworks a few hours before). In the original post on Kentmere Pan 400, I did test both pushing and pulling the film, and used Rodinal (or a Rodinal clone) and Ilfotec LC29 for developers, and in particular, having used Rodinal for many years, I was familiar with it and what to expect; with the medium format Kentmere Pan 400, I used Kodak HC-110 (at dilution B here), a developer new to me: with one or two rolls of film and a new developer, there wasn't the opportunity to work out how exactly to tailor the developer to exposure to get the particular result I wanted–or to use a different camera, which might have produced better results for these couple of rolls of Kentmere Pan 400 in medium format (as with the roll shot on 127 Day, the low contrast of the negatives was notable). As with my summary in the original post from just over three years ago, I feel there's nothing really distinctive about Kentmere Pan 400: I ended by writing then that the film is "a perfectly good, competitively priced, all-round 35mm black and white film with a certain flexibility in exposure and development"–which it is, but also now very welcome in medium format too.

Ica Icarette II with Kentmere Pan 400

Ica Icarette II with Kentmere Pan 400

Ica Icarette II with Kentmere Pan 400

Ica Icarette II with Kentmere Pan 400

Sunday 29 January 2023

127 Day January 2023

Baby Ikonta with Kentmere Pan 400
Last Friday was the first of the year's calendrical 127 Days, and I had time during the early afternoon to expose a roll of cut-down Kentmere Pan 400 in the Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 520/18–the 'Baby Ikonta'–a favourite for its small size, relatively good Novar lens and Compur shutter. I used cut-down medium format Kentmere Pan 400. The weather was mostly overcast, and having a 400 ISO film certainly fitted the lighting conditions typical this time of year in the Northern hemisphere. Even then, in a few situations, such as under the dense branches of bare trees, the light levels were pretty low, and I didn't accurately guess-focus as accurately as I might in a few frames, with the aperture wider than I might have liked to provide little assistance in careless focussing. Developing the film in Kodak HC-110 (at dilution E, 1+47 from concentrate) provided low contrast negatives, no doubt compounded by the uncoated Novar lens of the Baby Ikonta, some flare in a few frames (such as in the second image below), on top of the lighting conditions. In retrospect, a one-stop push might have benefitted both the contrast, as well as being able to use a smaller aperture in some situations. However, regardless of the results of this one roll, having an inexpensive 400-speed film newly available in medium format is ideal for the purposes of being cut down to 127 size–a rather cheaper alternative to the few films currently available in the niche 127 rollfilm format, which, somehow, still survives in 2023.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Kentmere Pan 100

Kentmere Pan 100 35mm film

It's become something of a commonplace to describe how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has altered the perception of time, simultaneously stretching and squashing it, making everything from 'before' feel unusually distant, separated. I wrote a post in November 2019 about Kentmere Pan 400 after its rebranding, with the prominent 'pan' added to the name, and in it I compared this to the Ilford Pan 400 film I'd written about previously (being one of two cheaper Ilford films which had only recently then become more widely available in the UK, while the point of comparison being that the Kentmere films are made by Harman, Ilford's parent company at a similar lower price than Ilford's other films); having heard that these-the Ilford Pan films-were to be discontinued, naturally, I then wanted to write about Kentmere Pan 100 as a logical comparison to Ilford Pan 100 and as a companion to the Kentmere Pan 400 post. I hadn't used the slower Kentmere film as much as the 400 previously, and I began as I would with any other film new to me, by exposing a roll for a latitude test. This was done on the day (check) that my work announced that they were moving from being face to face to online for the forseeable future, a week before the UK government issued its general 'stay at home' order.

Subsequently, I used Kentmere Pan 100 quite a bit over the next year and a half, in early autumn 2020, as the initial restrictions were eased and I went back to working face to face, as part of my plan to use the Olympus Pen EE3 half frame camera for the year leading up to the tenth anniversary of this blog, then at the start of 2021 when restrictions were back and I was recovering from my first Covid infection, taking allowed walks for exercise, and taking a camera with me. I had long planned to write this post after having used the film as much as I had; I had thought I should do so as the second anniversary of the pandemic and my first test of the film came around in March this year, but that came and went. 

Kentmere Pan 100 in medium format

Then, at the start of this month, on December 1st, Ilford announced that the Kentmere films were being produced in medium format, having only been previously available in 35mm. This provided the motivation to finish this post, and to add the medium format results to it, and, although I have so far only shot a single roll in medium format, all the tests made so far on 35mm film obviously are still relevant.

Kentmere Pan 100 latitude test contact sheet

I made the latitude test using the Canon A-1; compared to Ilford Pan 100, Kentmere Pan 100 does appear to show greater latitude, although the test was slightly marred by one set of frames being double exposed somehow. The top row of frames on the contact sheet above were exposed at 12-25-50-100-200-400 and developed in Ilfotec LC29 diluted 1+19 for 7 minutes at 20ºC. The lower three rows were rated at box speed, but with some bracketing. One stop either side of box speed scanned well; at 400, the shadow detail starts to look lacking, while at 25, two stops overexposed, the midtones and highlights start to look less separated, making scanning a little more difficult, but probably still printable with some care. In comparison with Kentmere Pan 400, the 100-speed version has less latitude, which is probably in part a function of its contrast, with higher speed films generally being lower in contrast by their nature.

As part of my usual testing of film stocks, I pushed–and pulled–Kentmere Pan 100. I used the film quite a bit during the winter months of 2020-21, and as a result, pushing the film often made sense in terms of working with available light. My first attempts at pushing one stop to 200 and used Ilfotec LC29, which appeared to provide a little more contrast, although most of the photographs taken on that first pushed film were in autumn sunshine, with bright light but relatively low, against deeper shadows. This did suit some of the subjects, as in the second image below.

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 200, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 8m 20ºC

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 200, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 8m 20ºC

The second roll of Kentmere Pan 100 at a rating of 200 was developed in exactly the same way, but using the Voigtländer Vito B, with an older lens from the Canon A-1's standard FD-fit 50mm f1.8 lens gave a different feel to the images. These photographs were taken on a couple of bright days in very early January, with very low sunlight, and it might have been more appropriate to pull the film to lower the contrast for many of these images (the top image being of a lower-contrast subject perhaps demonstrates this), but I'd decided to push the film without considering what the weather conditions might be: the results were not unsympathetic however.

Voigtländer Vito B with Kentmere Pan 100 rated 200, Ilfotec LC 29 1+19, 8m 20ºC

Voigtländer Vito B with Kentmere Pan 100 rated 200, Ilfotec LC 29 1+19, 8m 20ºC

As I used the Kentmere Pan 100 over quite a number of months, as well as the different tests, I also used a few different developers, not with the intention of comparing the results, but more simply being the case that I was using whichever black and white developer I currently had in use. It would have been instructive to have been more programmatic in this regard, but I hadn't thought that my testing of the film would have occurred over quite such a long period of time. Harman's own data sheet for Kentmere Pan 100 does not provide any timings for a two-stop push to 400 (the metal 35mm canister does have a box next to that 100 and 200 to mark an exposure rating, logically for 400), but this would be a good comparison to the Ilford Pan 100 film. For that particular film, I estimated an extended development time using Ilfotec LC29, with what I felt at the time were rather mixed results. I tried a different approach then with semi-stand development. I used R09 One Shot diluted to 1+150 for 3 hours, agitating on each hour interval (a method used previously with Ilford HP5 Plus: the theory behind using such a high dilution of Rodinal is to reduce the contrast that accompanies push-processing; no doubt most of the development has occurred by the one-hour stage, but I wanted to give the shadow areas as much opportunity to develop as possible). I did the same with Kentmere Pan 100.

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 400, 3 hours semi-stand development Adox Rodinal 1+150

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 400, 3 hours semi-stand development Adox Rodinal 1+150

The results (above) were comparable to the approach with the Ilford Pan 100 film, and there's a smoothness to the grain which suggests this to be sympathetic to rating the film at 400, given all the caveats one would want to make in relation to push processing. However, I've not tried a more conventional development regime for a two-stop push with this film to see what the difference might be against this extended semi-stand development.

There are probably more conditions under which one might push a film, compared to pull-processing, but I did also try this with Kentmere Pan 100. As regards the comments above with the one-stop push with the Vito B camera, the roll which I rated at 50 might have been better with higher contrast subjects–as pulling a film reduces its contrast–most of this roll of the film was shot under overcast conditions in January. I used the Kiev-4 rangefinder for this, and it may be a fortuitous combination of lighting conditions, reduced development, and the lens used (the Helios-103), but the results pulled one stop in Rodinal appeared to me to be both smooth and sharp, and possibly represents an achievable look of Kentmere Pan 100 that, of all the different exposure/development combinations I've tried while testing the film, I liked the most (the real test would be to print in the darkroom of course).

Kiev-4 with Kentmere Pan 100 rated 50, Rodinal 1+50, 9m 20ºC

Kiev-4 with Kentmere Pan 100 rated 50, Rodinal 1+50, 9m 20ºC

I also used the film with a couple of 35mm half-frame cameras, and the relatively fine grain made the film sympathetic to the smaller frame size, although the film used in the Olympus Pen EE3 coincided with that camera's lens becoming loose and providing slightly-out-of-focus images. This was part of my year-long re-engagement, an ultimately frustrating one, with the Pen EE3, with the Kentmere Pan 100 film being one that I had in my camera through the summer of 2020.

Olympus Pen EE3 with Kentmere Pan 100, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 9m 18ºC

Agat 18K with Kentmere Pan 100, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 7m 20ºC

As written about at the start of this post, what made me finally gather all the images together and write this post was the introduction of Kentmere Pan 100 in medium format rollfilm. As with the 35mm version of the film, this is clearly intended to compete with other lower priced films currently available, and no doubt it makes sense for Harman to be part of that market for medium format. Just over a week ago, on the shortest day of the year, I shot a roll of medium format Kentmere Pan 100 with the Voigtländer Bessa rangefinder. If it hadn't been for this particular post, a 400-speed film would have been better for the lighting conditions, as, on an overcast day in the middle of winter, I found I was having to use a slower shutter speed or wider aperture than I might have liked, and was using the camera hand-held too. 

Voigtländer Bessa with Kentmere Pan 100, Kodak HC-110, 1+31, 5m45s at 22ºC

However, medium format can be quite forgiving and returning to the film in that new format, the results of which were very promising–the film dried flat, and was easy to scan, and I suspect as a choice of emulsions, I'd be more likely to choose Kentmere Pan 100 in medium format perhaps more so than in 35mm in future. As a lower-priced film stock, Kentmere Pan 100 fits a gap, especially given the current circumstances as I write, but I generally feel it's relatively unremarkable–it doesn't compare to Ilford FP4 Plus or Delta 100 as Harman's similar speed films–but as I've written above in relation to pulling it to a rating of 50 with the Kiev-4, with judicious exposure and development the results can be better than one might expect for a 'budget' black and white film, which makes its introduction into medium format (as with Kentmere Pan 400) all the more welcome.

Kiev-4 with Kentmere Pan 100 rated 50, Rodinal 1+50, 9m 20ºC

Siluet Elektro with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 80, Rodinal 1+50 15m 20ºC

Olympus Pen EE3 with Kentmere Pan 100, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 9m 18ºC

Agat 18K with Kentmere Pan 100, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 7m 20ºC

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 7m 20ºC

Kodak Retina IIa with Kentmere Pan 100, Ars-Imago #9 (Rodinal formula) 1+50, 15m 20ºC

Voigtländer Vito B with Kentmere Pan 100 rated 200, Ilfotec LC 29 1+19, 8m 20ºC

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 200, Ilfotec LC29 1+19, 8m 20ºC

Canon A-1 with Kentmere Pan 100, rated 400, 3 hours semi-stand development Adox Rodinal 1+150

Voigtländer Bessa with Kentmere Pan 100, Kodak HC-110, 1+31, 5m45s at 22ºC