Goodbye Arista Premium 400

Arista Premium 400, a black-and-white film, has ceased production. I think. What I know for sure: the only place in the world where you can get it — Freestyle Photographic Supplies — will stop selling it for good when stock runs out.

Arista is Freestyle’s house film brand. What a value: a 24-exposure roll of 35mm Arista Premium 400 is just $2.69. Their other black-and-white 35mm film, Arista EDU, remains available in 100, 200, and 400 ISO versions, each for under $3 a roll. But while Arista EDU comes from the Czech Republic, Arista Premium comes from the United States. The only US manufacturer of film is Kodak. Rumor has it that Arista Premium 400 is rebranded Kodak Tri-X!

Don’t worry — Kodak hasn’t stopped making Tri-X, thank God. Whatever arrangement Freestyle made that resulted in Arista Premium 400 has ended, is all.

I’ve shot enough Arista Premium 400 to believe the rumor. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck… Here, take a look.

I walked along the canal downtown last year with my Pentax Spotmatic SP. This waterfall is part of the Indiana State Museum.

Sculpture in Water

The Spotmatic also went on a trip to Bridgeton to see the covered bridge.

Bridgeton Bridge

I used Arista Premium 400 to test my Canon AE-1 Program. Here’s a shot from my back yard.

Soccer ball

I took the AE-1 downtown to the Circle and photographed these carriages.

Horses and buggies

I put this film into my Olympus XA a couple years ago and took it to the Mecum old-car auction at the fairgrounds. I got some wonderful photos there.

Dual headlights

Here’s another. I so enjoy these late-60s Fords.


I tested my Voigtländer Vitoret LR with this film, which transmitted every bit of contrast that interesting lens delivers.

PRR Yellow River bridge

I took these Voigtländer shots in Plymouth, a Michigan Road town.


Finally, I shot this film in my Yashica Lynx 14e last month up in Auburn, where it captured the chrome teeth of this old Dodge Charger.

Chrome teeth

It also captured the gleaming hood ornament and winedark finish on an old Auburn’s hood.

Auburn hood ornament

Because I buy the Tri-X rumor, I’ve lost only Arista Premium’s low price. I can just keep buying Tri-X at about a buck and a half more per roll. Before I start doing that, though, I’ll finish the six rolls of Arista Premium 400 chilling in my fridge.

Other films I’ve said goodbye to: Fujifilm FP-3000B and Kodak BW400CN.

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8 responses to “Goodbye Arista Premium 400”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Isn’t it funny how, once upon a time, B&W film was pretty much all people could get… then it largely went by the boards with the advent of colour. Now we’re effectively digital and film stock is getting scarce, but there’s a sudden lock on B&W film again. I have to admit, I myself don’t personally miss or greatly lament the passage of analog photography… its practical restraints kept me from getting into photography till the 1990s… but when I look at the work you do here, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s art, and some of it rather enviable at that. Ironically, there’s a focused, stop-look-and-really-see aspect to monochrome photography that colour somehow lacks with its immediacy. You make me want to get back to it. Digitally, of course. ;)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      From shooting b/w film, I’ve learned how to see scenes in b/w, even how to look for scenes that would be right in b/w. I was surprised by this, and found it interesting to learn it. Sure, I can b/w-ize any digital photo I have, and many of them will look fine. Heck, I can now even go shooting digital with b/w in mind, convert the photos, and get great results. But it’s only because I’ve shot enough b/w film that I know how to see for b/w.

  2. Bob Dungan Avatar

    I have several bricks of Arista Premium 400 chillin in the freezer. I will miss the low price when it is gone.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You are set for bear!

  3. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    A great series of shots here Jim and a fine tribute to yet another vanishing film stock.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks John! It was fun to pick my favorite shots from several rolls of this stuff.

  4. Mike Avatar

    A lot of nice b&w shots in that collection. It is a bit disconcerting to be faced with the loss of some favorite film types. For those doing home processing, there are some similar issues with the availability and prices of developers. I’ve been happy with my recent forays into color developing with Freestyle Unicolor, but I’m apprehensive over the fact that Freestyle is the only place carrying it. If I can summon the energy, I may try some home-brew caffenol for b&w to have some kind of buffer against the disappearance of the commercial offerings.

    On the other hand, from looking at your work I see that while you have established some technical mastery in regard to the characteristics of the film, it is also apparent that you have a real appreciation of the expressive capabilities of b&w photography. That comes in part from hands-on experience, but I think it is also the product of looking critically at the work of a lot of other people to see what is ultimately possible in the medium.

    I spend quite a bit of time daily looking at people’s work on rangefinder forum,, film wasters, and flickr, as well as a number of photo blogs. I’ve also been pleased recently to see that the Guardian as part of its general design overhaul has started presenting galleries of great work from both the classic masters of the art as well as more contemporary stuff. That provides some hope that, even if film disappears, the continuing access to the the great works of the past will inform current work even if it can only have a digital form.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think that the pool of available developers and films is shrinking to a small but stable group. Your favorites may not be in it, but at least there will be choices.

      Thank you for saying such nice things about my black-and-white work. I wish I had more time to look at the work of others and learn. I have been influenced by some of the photo bloggers that I follow. From them I learned what I know about making pleasing black-and-white photographs.

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