In the never ending pursuit to shoot film on a budget, I decided to give Arista EDU Ultra 400 black and white film a try.
At under $6 a roll in both 35mm and 120 versions, Arista 400 is a full $1.50 cheaper than my beloved Ilford HP5+. And after putting a couple of 120 rolls through my Hasselblad on a trip to the east coast this spring, I am really excited to have Arista 400 as a cheaper 400 speed film option for me in the future.
Arista 400 is a traditional panchromatic film, meaning that it is a b&w film sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light.
I generally gravitate toward 400 ISO films for their versatility for a wide variety of subjects and lighting conditions, and Arista 400 definitely checks that box.
It’s advertised as having a wide exposure latitude, and after shooting this film in some pretty harsh lighting conditions, I was really happy with how it retained shadow detail without blowing out the highlights.
I didn’t test it much in situations with less light, but there are options on the Massive Dev Chart app for developing it at 800 and 1600, so you can always push the film if you need to.
As with most 400 ISO films, the grain is definitely visible on Arista EDU Ultra 400, but it is by no means harsh, and, side by side, looked very similar to Ilford HP5+.
And despite the presence of grain, I found it to be really sharp for a 400 film. In the landscape photos I took, I was really impressed with the details that were visible, even on subjects that were really distant.
In terms of contrast, I found Arista 400 to be closer to Kodak Tri-X 400 than HP5+. I like my images to be contrasty, and I was really happy with the tonal range I got out of the Arista film.
Developing Arista 400
I developed the rolls of Arista 400 I shot at home in Kodak HC-110 dilution b, which Massive Dev Chart app listed at 7 minutes. This is 2 minutes longer than HP5+ with the same developer, which feels like a long time for my 21st century brain that has trouble waiting for anything. But all in all, it’s not a huge difference.
One thing that surprised me during development is that when I poured out the developer it came out bright green. Apparently this is normal, but it could catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it.
If you are planning on reusing the developer, you may want to pre-rinse the film.
I noticed two things about the physical qualities of the film once the negatives had hung to dry.
One was that the film felt thinner than other 400 stocks I’ve developed. Almost flimsy. The other thing was that the negatives curled A LOT when I went to scan them, which is always annoying when trying to get them to lay flat in the scanner tray. Neither of these things affects the quality of the images. But are things to note anyways.