Friday, September 19, 2014

Settling in to Arista

Now that the pushing and pulling is over, I've settled into using Arista at 400. I'm continuing to use HC110 Dilution B for the time being.

Assuming that Arista is some variety of repackaged Tri-X, it's significant that Tri-X has changed over the years. In 2002, Tri-X Pan was replaced by Tri-X 400. The name (and maybe the formula) changed again in 2005. Apparently Tri-X was changed to remove heavy metal ingredients that were deemed harmful to the environment. Those heavy metals were replaced by organic compounds that allegedly serve the same purpose.

Window light required f/2.5.

I suspect that Kodak found a cheaper substitute and packaged it in an enviro-friendly PR wrapper. It's a bit naive to think that anything involved in film photography is, or can be, "environmentally friendly." Processing a roll of film uses enough caustic acids to poison a small village, and enough water to saturate a decent sized garden. Film just isn't eco-friendly. Likewise, oil painting. Likewise, most artistic pursuits.

The result of Kodak's changes is a film base and emulsion that are much thinner than those before 2002. I can't imagine that reducing the amount of emulsion on a 24x36mm piece of film really helps the environment much, but I'm sure it helped Kodak's costs. (Less product, less production cost.)

Heavy shade in Chinatown gives a good view of the grain.

Working with film again, I've not been able to rely on my past knowledge. Tri-X used to be a very robust film, and it was easy to get a decent negative with even very absentminded handling. Not so anymore. Maximizing the film requires some tweaking.

The Massive Dev Chart provides a few different times. Kodak recommends 3.5 minutes, which seems absurd on its face, no matter how little emulsion is on the film. I didn't waste a roll to see what 3.5 minutes would[n't] produce, and instead started at 6 minutes. Even at 6 minutes, my negatives were too thin, with insufficient shadow detail. Kicking it up to 7.5 minutes (@68 degrees) seems to be about right for what I'm getting out of the Leica.

Sun and shade and David Lynch. The grain is looking nice with the 7.5 minute development time.

Shooting at ISO 400, and developing for 7.5 minutes, the Arista is proving flexible in a variety of light and is giving me better negatives than the shorter development time. All the images in this post are from the same roll. Poorly lit interiors have the expected contrast, but still hold up well. Daylight scenes have a nice range. The grain is very manageable.

I still have a half dozen rolls of Arista, and will stick with it until it's gone. After that, I'll see what some of the tabular grained films can do.