Monday, September 15, 2014

Pushing and Pulling Arista Premium

I don't know who actually makes Arista film, but Freestyle Photographic Supplies sells it. Many claim it's repackaged Tri-X, and I'm inclined to agree with them. But whatever it is, it's very reasonably priced ($2.69 for a roll of 24 exposures (or 26 if you use a Leica)) and is a very good black and white film.

The images here were shot on a Leica M6 with a 35mm Voigtlander Color-Skopar, or on a Canon with a 17-35mm L Series lens. I tank processed all the film in HC110 Dilution B. Scanning was done on an Epson V600.

I started out shooting Arista at 1600. I shoot a lot of low light, and tend to need the speed. Fast lenses have much less depth of field on film than they do on digital, so a faster film can be a necessity.

Arista @ 1600 is still capable of a wide range of tones.

Pushing two stops requires doubling the development time. At 1600 there is grain, but it's not excessive, especially considering the length of soup time. The shadows have some detail, and the highlights aren't too blocked up.

Arista @ 1600 has lots of fine detail.

I think Arista is fine at 1600, but I think a different developer (like Ilfotec DD-X) would be better to ease the grain down. I also think that for 1600, a tabular-grained film like TMax or Ilford's Delta 400 would push better.

Although I don't mind the grain of the Arista at 1600, I've switched to shooting it at 400. It has better latitude at its rated speed, and it's wiser to shoot Delta 3200 when the light is low. That said, the grain at 1600 doesn't seem that much different to me than at 400, even though the development time drops from 16 minutes to 7.5 minutes.

Eraserhood on Arista @ 400.

Arista @ 400 gives rich contrast.

Arista @ 400. The sun is coming in from the top left of this image, and the highlights are blown out.
I was disappointed there wasn't more latitude than that.

In fact, that very small difference is what led me to try pulling Arista to 200 to see how the grain would change. Surprisingly, it didn't much. Pulling it a stop improved highlight detail, but not to the point that I'd pick Arista at 200 for that purpose.

At 200, Arista draws more out of the highlights.
The clouds on the right were no less bright than the clouds in the factory image.

The lesson I've learned thus far is that Arista 400 is a great general purpose film with a Tri-X look. Pushing and pulling doesn't get much, if anything, and I think it's best to keep it at 400 and let the film's inherent latitude handle the rest.

Arista @ 200 has lower grain than at 1600 and better highlight detail,
but the improvement over shooting it at 400 is marginal at best.