First Look: Kentmere 400

Yesterday, the Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder camera returned to me after a three week  trip to a repair shop in New Jersey. Because I was anxious to shoot the camera, it seemed like it was gone for three months…

This morning, July 4th, the anniversary of the United States’ Declaration of Independence (basically a declaration of war against the British Crown), I loaded the Yashica with a roll of Kentmere 400, the higher speed version of Kentmere’s two 35mm black and white film offerings. I packed the camera in the saddlebag, then rode downtown to shoot the first roll of film since the repair and CLA. The light was diffused, something of a softbox. The overcast sky was the result of a marine layer cloud blanketing the Pacific coast in the morning, as it often does during June and July.

I wanted to get used to the camera and see how I liked the 400. Given my great satisfaction with the 100 speed film, I was expecting similar results with the Kentmere 400. There is nearly always something to shoot downtown and I was happy to get familiar with the Yashica after the “long” wait.

Wandering through the park-like mall was a relaxing way to start the day, except for the two panhandlers who asked me for spare change. I like the fact that so many people are now using debit cards, because I can just say, “Sorry. I only use a card these days.” 

After getting 37 frames out of the 36-frame roll, I returned home and developed the negatives. I used the same chemicals and times as I did previously on the Kentmere; 8 minutes of developer, 1 minute in the stop bath, 10 minutes in the fixer, then a twenty minute rinse with running water.

Above is an example of a frame from my “test” roll. Below is a 100% crop from that photo. The negative was scanned at 1200 dpi, then re-sized to fit this page, so it is not the same as looking directly through a 10X loupe at the negative, but it is clear enough to see what my results were like.

I was disappointed with the heavy grain of the 400. Of course, it is entirely possible that I did something wrong, but at this time I’m glad that I only bought 4 rolls of that version of Kentmere to try out.

Because of how much I like the 100, I think further “testing” of the 400 is called for. I’d hate to call the film substandard then find out later that I somehow caused the heavy grain.