Harmon films: the boxes

A couple of months ago, I picked up two rolls each of four Harmon films: Kentmere 100, Ilford FP4 Plus, Kentmere 400, and Ilford HP5 Plus. At the time, I had recently acquired two rolls of long-expired Ansco Versapan and gotten some interesting results with it and the R3 Monobath. I wanted to get started playing with black & white photography, but first I needed two things: more film, and a developer that was more suitable for roll film.*

So I hemmed and hawed and looked at my limited toy fund and hemmed and hawed some more and somehow managed to justify buying 8 rolls of film.

Alhamdulillah and I couldn’t much justify buying chemicals too, though, so the film just sat for much of June and July. But then Eid al Fitr rolled around again, and I received a gang of D76, some Ilford RapidFix, and some Ilfostop, plus some jugs and accordion bottles—thanks Mom!—and the test was in business, sorta.

I still let it sit for awhile.

But now it’s time, more or less.

It’ll be a non-scientific test:just whatever I notice and decide to comment on. And if it’s not obvious by now either you haven’t been paying attention or you vastly overestimate my technical knowledge. This isn’t my first time shooting black & white: I shot some Tri-X at the lake a bit ago, and there’s the Ansco a couple of months back, and some Chromogenic something or other a long time ago.

But developing it is something new to play with, and that’s always fun: Alhamdulillah. I’ll just be shooting the film in my usual lackadaisical manner, processing it, and commenting on the results in whatever way I see fit.

Tonight: the boxes… boring, probably, but interesting to me.

I’ve shot through one roll each of Kentmere 100 and FP4 Plus (if you’ve been following, you know that already), and there’s a roll of Kentmere 400 in the LC-A now.

I was cleaning off my desk the other day (I didn’t get very far) and came across the HP5+ box.  I was all ready to drop it into the recycle bin when I noticed writing on the inside, so I opened it all the way up and found developing instructions for 16 developers at two different temperatures.

Ilford HP5

Helpful!

So I pulled the FP4 Plus and Kenmtmere 100 boxes from the recycle bin, and cracked open a box of Kentmere 400 to do a little compare/contrast. Here they all are.

First thing to notice, all four films contain suggested development times, but the cheaper, student-grade films contain instructions for 10 Ilford branded developers at one temperature (20℃/68℉) and times for box speed plus one stop over and one stop under. The two Ilford branded films contain instructions for the same Ilford developers, plus some popular developers from competitors, at two temperatures (20℃/68℉ and 24℃/75℉), with times for 1 over/under for FP4+, and 1 under/over for HP5+).

It looks like the hotter times on the Ilford box are fine for the Kentmere too, shot at box speed and developed in D76 at 1/1 anyway. In Texas in September it’s much easier to get a liquid to 75 than to 68.

Other than that, the remaining text on the inside of the boxes is virtually identical from box to box and the boxes are made of the same paperboard. The film canisters are identical too. The lab locator link is different, and the names outside are different, and I guess the film inside is different too, and that’s what matters, really.

I was going to share a couple of shots from the Kentmere and FP4 rolls that I finished up on the Road Trip, but this post is long enough already, so those will wait for another day.

*R3 is fine, but you need to fill the tank first, then go into a dark bag and insert the film very rapidly, bounce once or so to dislodge, and leave perfectly still for 6 or 7 minutes. Any agitation at all—like the kind you get by pouring chemicals into the tank—appears to cause problems similar to those that I encountered. You can read more in the comments at the R3 resource page.

**Was there ever an HP5 Minus (non plus?) or an FP3? Indeed there was… Well, maybe not the Minus, but there was definitely an FP3 and an HP3 and HPS too. And just for a bit of trivia, FP stands for ‘Fine grain Panchromatic’ and HP stand for ‘Hypersensitive Panchromatic.’

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