In thanks for a favor, reader Christopher May sent me a roll of Arista Premium 100 black-and-white film to shoot. This film is widely thought to be rebranded Kodak Plus-X, which went out of production in 2011. After that, Arista stopped offering its Premium 100 film as soon as stock ran out. This roll expired in 2011, but had been stored frozen.
I loaded the film into my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, a terrific little viewfinder camera with a coupled selenium light meter. I hadn’t used it in some time and it deserved some exercise. But also, its lens is put-your-eye-out sharp and I looked forward to what it would do with this film.
I shot most of the roll on a bike ride over to the cemetery next to a little country church not far from my home. I developed the film in LegacyPro L110, Dilution H (1+63), and scanned it with VueScan and my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II.
Things didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. Every time I pick up a viewfinder camera I forget to focus a couple photos early in the roll, and this time was no exception. It’s as if not seeing a rangefinder patch or split-image circle in the viewfinder makes me think the image must already be in focus, or something. I also misfocused a couple photos because I’m not the greatest guesser of distance.
But even then, almost all of these images were soft. Several were hazy, as well. I was able to Photoshop most of the haze out, but I was only able to improve sharpness only so much. The photos I’m sharing here all look sharp enough at blog size. The softness comes out at full scan size. If you’re curious, click any photo to view it on Flickr, and once there click the photo to expand it.
The photos above and below are the sharpest on the roll. They give a good sense of what this camera’s Carl Zeiss Tessar lens can do.
I had a lovely time with the Contessa LK, at any rate. I left its ever-ready case on and slung it over my shoulder and across my torso for this bike ride. The leather strap was still solid and strong despite the case showing heavy use.
I finished the roll on a walk with Margaret through the Garfield Park neighborhood in southeast Indianapolis. We’re starting to dream again of where we want to live next, and I’m drawn to some of Indianapolis’s old neighborhoods.
Houses on two streets overlook stunning Garfield Park with its sunken garden and conservatory. Garfield Park is a real hidden gem in Indianapolis.
Despite everything, it’s good to see the signature even tonality and smoothness of Plus-X again. Yes, I believe that’s what Arista Premium 100 is, just as I believe that the also discontinued Arista Premium 400 was rebranded Kodak Tri-X.
I think I need to give the Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK another spin soon, and see if I can improve on these results.
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