New Classic EZ 400 is a medium-speed black-and-white film with plenty of sharpness, strong contrast, chunky grain, and an attractive price. This is not a new emulsion, but the packaging is redesigned — with 40% less plastic.
I learned about this film from Ribsy’s YouTube channel a few months back and decided to try the stock once it became available.
An affordable medium-speed monochrome film.
As of this writing, EZ400 sells for $7 USD apiece if you get a pack of five or $7.33 for a pack of three directly from the New Classic Film website. A few retailers sell singles as well, which go for slightly more.
I’ve been tracking 35mm film prices since 2018, and thus far, EZ400 appears to be the most affordable option for an ISO 400 black-and-white film. That’s if you get it directly from New Classic, but EZ400 is still one of the cheapest options, even if you buy from a reseller.
If you’re interested in film prices and would like to stay on top of them, the best way is to subscribe to the free semi-annual reports on film costs. I do all the hard work surveying a curated variety of film stores across the world on this and many other film stocks.
EZ 400 dynamic range and contrast.
If you’re looking for out-of-the-box character, EZ 400 delivers. This is a film with a strong contrast curve that lends photos ready to print — as long as they are properly exposed.
EZ 400 does not come with a spec sheet (I’ve asked); thus, it’s hard to determine its dynamic range with certainty. I advise you to pay close attention to your light meter with this emulsion. Scenes with medium contrast have no issue having all of their details show up in print; however, if your shooting in full daylight with harsh shadows, you are likely to lose something in the fringes.
Consider the photo of a starfish above. It was a bright day, and the surfaces were wet, which added to the contrast. As a result, information from some highlights and fairly large shadow regions is missing.
EZ 400 grain and resolution.
EZ 400 is pretty grainy but nothing out of the ordinary for an ISO 400 black-and-white film. The granules retain a decent amount of acutance, with the smaller-sized ones concentrated in the highlights, as expected. You’re likely to get the most resolution with this film with medium-low contrast scenes exposed at box speed.
Scanning and post-processing EZ400.
Over-exposures are less of a problem with EZ 400. Whereas the shadows that are lost won’t be recoverable, overblown highlights can be pulled without much hassle using something like Adobe Photoshop.
Not every monochrome film reacts well to digital manipulation. For example, the significantly pricier Fujifilm Neopan Acros II shows some degradation, whereas Kodak Tri-X renders harsher grain with even the slightest contrast increases.
Ribsy mentioned “blooming highlights” as another special property belonging to EZ 400. I think the image above demonstrates that effect reasonably well, which appears to be the result of the specific anti-halation layer underneath the photosensitive emulsion.
This effect is present to various degrees on all emulsions, but I must agree with Ribsy that EZ 400 appears to show it more than most. Thankfully, blooming highlights aren’t imposing, appearing just around specular highlights with most renderings unbothered.