Arista 100 4x5 Film is Awesome (Except For One Thing)
rista EDU Ultra 100 4x5 film is one of the cheapest 4x5 black and white film options out there. At just $1.40 per sheet, is it even worth it?
Check out my vlog-style video below to see how I took four different shots (two portraits and two landscapes) to test Arista 100 4x5, and to figure out its one major flaw. The video is a bit more detailed than this post, and you can skip to the end of it for a quicker overview.
Whether you watch the video or not, the major flaw is that sometimes, the film will be covered in white specks that look like dust which can only be removed by soaking the sheets in alcohol. Even then, it's not guaranteed that the alcohol will remove the white specks.
Arista 100 4x5 is a cheap film that, overall, delivers a nice grain, good tones, good sharpness, and deep contrast. HOWEVER, the major flaw is that if you happen to get a bad batch of the film, your negatives will be covered in tiny white specks that look like dust but most certainly aren't. At first I thought maybe it was an issue with bad fixer, but I quickly confirmed the white specks issue with a handful of other film photographers who said they see the same thing happen with theirs (one person even theorized that he thinks Fomapan labels their bad batches of film as Arista and ships them out to the US while keeping the better batches branded as Fomapan. Multiple sources confirmed that they've never had an issue with Fomapan 100 despite the two films supposedly being the same emulsion). I've heard that this issue does not happen with Arista 200, and rarely happens with Arista 400. It's also not as much of an issue on 35mm or 120 film sizes.
Check out the example photos below and see the issue for yourself.
Here's the bottom line: Arista 100 4x5 is great for experimenting because of how affordable it is. Most of the photos in this blog post and in the video would look fantastic on social media where people are viewing a 2-inch version of it and wouldn't see the specks at all. However, if you plan to make any prints from the photos you make, Arista 100 4x5 is definitely not the best choice. Stick with the Ilford and Kodak options for that.
Have you had the same issue with any of the Arista film options? If so, reach out and let me know!