First of all, our own Walker (doubs43) has reported on this film already, back in May. His report prompted me to order some for myself, but I just got around to using & processing it. Short version - I like it.
This film is sold by Freestyle Photographic Supplies out of Hollywood, CA (Freestyle Photo
). Usual disclaimer - I don't work for Freestyle or have any connection with them whatsoever except as a retail customer. Arista is their 'house brand' name for their budget supplies - film, paper, chemistry, and so on. They don't make any of it themselves, it is all supplied by outside vendors and relabeled. Freestyle usually also sells the 'branded' version of the same thing - generally for a bit more. Freestyle most generally will not tell you what the 'generic' house brand really is - but it usually not very hard to find out.
Arista label film comes in several flavors - Arista Professional, Arista II, Arista.EDU, and Arista.EDU Ultra (whew!). Usually, a clue to the actual manufacturer can be found by the statement of origin, if one is provided. It would appear that Arista.EDU Ultra is made in the Czech Republic. Well, there is only one producer of B&W film in the Czech Republic that I am aware of, so that would mean that Arista.EDU Ultra 200 is in fact Fomapan 200 Creative (Fomapan 200 Creative
). Full disclosure - I have no connection to Foma, either (grin).
Now, I have had some experience with Freestyle's Arista.EDU (Fortepan) and I found that I didn't care to continue using it. Oh, the film itself is lovely, a bit on the grainy side but I like that - but the danged stuff is so curly you will not believe it - almost impossible to get the 120 roll film onto a reel to develop and it WILL NOT lay flat for insertion into a scanning carriage, either 35mm or 120. Even if you put a brick on top of it for a couple of weeks, it curls right up again. Terrible.
However, the Arista.EDU Ultra is NOT like that! Happy am I over that alone! It has some longitudinal curl - but no more than, say, Ilford HP5 Plus. It does not have that 'wrap around the axle' curl that I hate.
Now, the review part...sorry for the nonsense getting here...
I took some of this film with me on vacation to Gettysburg a couple of weeks ago. Just got around to processing the film today. I did 10 rolls of various types and speeds of B&W films. I ended up using good old Kodak D-76 mixed 1+1 because it was the only one that had times listed for each of the films I shot, so I would not have to fool around guessing at dev times or taking a chance on blowing my processing on these important (to me) negs. Next time I use this film, I'll try something more exotic and fun to process it with!
I had some difficulty with this film today. You see, when I process my film, I do it in the kitchen, and then after I wash the negs, I squeegee them and hang them up on a clothes hanger with a clippy thing on the bottom and I take them into my bathroom and hang them up to dry. But today, after I squeegeed my very important Gettysburg B&W shots on my Arista.EDU Ultra 200 film, I, uh, dropped the wet neg strip.
In the cat's litter box.
We have three cats.
My precious neg looked like Shake-n-Bake chicken just before you put it in the deep fat fryer. All covered in breading. Well, not breading. But it kinda looked like it.
I believe I yelled. No, actually, I think I shrieked. Like a little girl. I'm so ashamed.
Thinking quickly (well, as quickly as I could think with several beers in me), I gathered up my neg strip, scaring my cats in the process, and ran back into the kitchen.
I dumped the neg strip unceremoniously into the sink and began running cold water over it.
At which time, my beloved wife, who was on the phone with the pizza place ordering us dinner, asked me what I wanted on my pizza. I was not hearing her, being deeply fuh-tutzed over my gritty negs, and I thought she asked what was on my negs.
I replied "Cat turds!"
"On your pizza?"
"What do you want on your pizza?"
"I don't care, I have cat turds on my negatives!"
Which caused her to drop the phone and laugh like a mad thing. She does that sometimes. She says I'm insane and she loves it. Whatever.
So, I washed my negs again. Squeegeed them again. Hung them up CAREFULLY.
I guess a got a couple of keepers out of the roll. Damned good thing, too.
Taken with a Bessa R and Canon 50mm f1.4 lens, yellow filter. It was an overcast day, as you'll be able to see.
I really like the film. The negs looked very thin next to my Ilford HP5 Plus negs, and my Agfa APX 100 negs. In fact, I thought I had blown the dev times badly. But no, they scanned up really well. It seems to have great tonal range, good accutance, and some grain, but more middle-of-the-road than heavy or light grain. Less than old Tri-X, more than Delta 100. Somewhere in there.
I used a KM SD IV, Vuescan/Linux, as generic color, saved as TIFF. Then adjusted levels in Gimp/Linux (very little needed to be done), desaturated to B&W, got rid of a few cat turds, oops, I mean dust specks, resized, and applied USM. Then saved as JPG and here you go.
I will be buying more of this film. I believe I paid $1.99 per roll. Well worth it. I like it as well as my Ilford HP5 Plus, and better than my Agfa APX 100.