Kentmere Pan 400 review: affordable black and white film photography

Potentially one of the last affordable films offers quality above its low price tag

Kentmere Pan 400
(Image: © Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The most important thing to note about Kentmere Pan 400 is its price, this is just one of the most affordable films currently available, which is a welcome relief to beleaguered film photographers' wallets. Kentmere Pan 400 is not held back by its low price point though and still produces lovely images that are better than you would expect from a "budget" film. Contrast is very balanced, which might upset some contrast-obsessive black-and-white photographers, but this allows the film to be very forgiving to wonky exposure metering. With the headache of price taken away, this is just a fun film to shoot with.


  • +

    Affordable price

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    Balanced contrast is easy to work with

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    Forgiving of incorrect exposures


  • -

    Subtle contrast not to everyone's tastes

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    Prominent grain is atmospheric but degrades images quality

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Back in 2007, Harman Technology (who also produces Ilford's films) introduced the Kentmere brand, designed to offer a more affordable alternative to Ilford products while still maintaining the company's high standards of quality. Kentmere Pan 400 35mm film was one of the first products to be launched under the Kentmere brand, and it quickly gained popularity among film photographers for its performance but mostly for its affordability.

Still today, Kentmere Pan 400 continues to be a popular choice among film enthusiasts who are looking for a reliable and versatile black and white film that won't break the bank. But is Kentmere Pan 400 just another budget film, or does its quality punch above its low price point?

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Kentmere Pan 400: Specifications

Film format: 35mm
Film type: Black and white negative film
ISO speed rating: 400/27º
Grain: Fine
Contrast: High
Exposures per roll: 36

Kentmere Pan 400: Key Features

Featuring an ISO speed rating of 400, Kentmere Pan 400 is an adaptable film, accommodating a wide range of lighting conditions including low-light environments, this is a film that can live in a camera and work in most situations. Even with its faster ISO rating the film should still produce a fine-grain structure maintaining sharpness and detail.

The film has a balanced contrast, so doesn't exhibit the harsh highlights and shadows usually associated with black-and-white film photography. This makes the film suitable for a wider variety of subjects including portraiture, landscape, and street photography, and gives a better starting point for playing with tones in development or editing scans.

Compared to other black and white films in the market, Kentmere Pan 400 offers a relatively accessible price point, coming in cheaper than Ilford HP5 or Ilford Delta films, and considerably lower than color films like Kodak Portra 400. This makes Kentmere Pan 400 a great film for beginner or student film photographers, or any film enthusiasts without deep pockets.

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

Kentmere Pan 400: Performance

Kentmere Pan 400 surprised me having never shot with it before, but actually pleasantly exceeded what I was expecting. Contrast, while balanced, was not as washed out as I feared, with some strong shadows coming through with optimal lighting and when exposed correctly. The highlights on occasion didn't pop as much as I would like, appearing a little grey, but maintained good detail.

Overall the film showed a good exposure latitude, I accidentally under and overexposed some shots (but let's pretend it was for the purpose of testing), however, this didn't turn out to be the disaster I expected with a lot of detail managed to be pulled back.

Valencia beach promenade. Shot on Kentmere Pan 400 35mm film using a Canonet QL17 G-III (Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)

I also shot outside in gloomy London and in sunny Valencia, and the Kentmere Pan 400 handled both environments really well, shots indoors were also strong, with slightly more grain coming through, but not negatively so.

The grain structure is interesting, the grain is actually fairly significant, although this is not necessarily a bad thing as it does add atmosphere to an image, and the film has that classic "film look". However, the grain does detract from the image quality, with areas, especially in the shadows but also some mid-tones losing detail to the coarse grain pattern.

Kentmere Pan 400: Sample Images

Kentmere Pan 400: Verdict

Kentmere Pan 400 stands out primarily for its exceptional affordability, making it a highly attractive option for film photographers seeking budget-friendly choices. Despite its modest price point, this film manages to surpass expectations by producing remarkable images that exceed what one would typically expect from a "budget" film. 

While some black-and-white photographers may find its balanced contrast slightly disappointing, this characteristic actually offers a notable advantage by accommodating variations in exposure metering. Consequently, shooting with Kentmere Pan 400 becomes an enjoyable and hassle-free experience, relieved from the burden of cost considerations.

Read more: Check out more of the best film for 35mm cameras in our guide. If you are looking for a vintage camera to get back into shooting film, then check out our guide to the best film cameras.

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.