Best Film for the Vivitar 220 SL

Best Vivitar 220 SL 35mm Film

The best film to use in the Vivitar 220 SL is going to depend on the lens, lighting conditions, and type of film you want to shoot.

To eliminate having to haul around a flash or tripod, pick a film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you intend to capture photographs in low light, such as indoors, make sure that you have a fast lens. For lens recommendations go to my guide on the 5 Best Lenses for the Vivitar 220 SL.

Color Film


Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A good selection for a plethora of conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the 220 SL in the vast majority of circumstances.

The images will have wonderful skin tones and leans towards the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film could have greater availability. It’s a very good alternative to Kodak film.

Fujifilm photographs tend to have cooler colors with notable blues and greens, compared to Kodak.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color 35mm film, there aren’t very many options. This happens to be the only 35mm film geared towards consumers.

The film is sold in the 120 film format, for use in a medium format camera.

Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A reliable way to obtain that mid-1980s through 90s style. For the authentic shooting experience use an on-camera flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the best the film has to offer. This will provide the idyllic colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.


Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among enthusiasts online. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the rendering the film is well known for.

There are also ISO 160 and 800 versions of Kodak Portra. It is also offered in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Black and White Film


These film stocks have affordable costs and very good quality, making them very popular to be used in the Vivitar 220 SL.

The primary draw for budget minded photographers and photography students is the affordable price. Even if you don’t put yourself in those groups, it’s good to have comparatively cheap rolls of film on hand for testing recently purchased used cameras.

Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - Made by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is good because that makes this the most broadly available 35mm film of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Is likely to be easier to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.

A very good film stock to work with for your initial couple of attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Also a good selection if you’re testing out a camera to make sure that it’s fully functional.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the lowest price on this film by getting it from Ultrafine.

If you process color 35mm film yourself, you might have done that with chemicals produced by them to process your film.


The two most frequently used black and white 35mm film emulsions are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400. They possess several capabilities that are similar that make them a favourite, while preserving different rendering.

You can achieve very good photographs after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. A 35mm roll can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably versatile.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two films, HP5 Plus is more affordable and has lower levels of contrast. Lower levels of contrast can be advantageous because of the fact contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or through digital post processing.

The film emulsion has subtle grain and still appears very good when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film has a stronger style to it. To bring out the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in D-76.

You will undoubtedly see greater contrast with Tri-X. That’s awesome if that is the look and feel you are after because it results in a great deal less work when through digital processing or making a print in the darkroom.

Slide Film

Film stocks that create a positive image are referred to as transparency, reversal, or slide film. This means the photographs can be viewed with a light box or projector.

This is distinct from the more common negative film stocks that result in pictures that require inverting the colors for the image to be viewed.

Slide films are thought of tricky to work with because slide film has much less latitude and dynamic range than negative film.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for superb skin tones and fine grain. The colors won’t seem oversaturated. It is daylight color balanced.

Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a very sharp daylight color balanced film with high levels of saturation and contrast, giving photographs a distinctive rendering. Matched against all the slide films available to buy, it has the top resolving power.

There’s also another emulsion with an ISO of 100.

Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers natural and vivid colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It has ultrafine grain with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white reversal film, reported by Fomapan as having excellent resolving power, fine grain, and elevated levels of contrast. It’s also mentioned as a replacement for the long discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have improved dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed, that is why pro-film costs more.

You should expect a significant difference in business that sell it. Consumer films can quite often still be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in limited amounts. Pro film stocks will need to be purchased from a camera store or online.


The ISO signifies the speed of the film, which can also be thought of as the film’s light sensitivity.

The less light available to capture an image, the bigger the film’s ISO will be required. Additionally, expect to see increased film grain.

It is often a challenge to handhold the 220 SL with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). The will probably be longer will probably be longer than what you’re able to handhold without leading to motion blur unless you’re working in full sun.

A tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash are going to assist you with longer exposure times. The extra equipment might not be needed if you use a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The dial to select film speed is listed as ASA on the Vivitar 220 SL. The transition to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while still keeping satisfactory quality. Professional film stocks have a greater latitude to go along with a somewhat higher cost.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude than negative film. That is a reason why it is viewed as harder to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the highlights and shadows details of an image is referred to as dynamic range. Parts of an image that fall out of this range will be rendered as black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.

When working in a wide variety or quickly changing lighting situations, films with a larger dynamic range are a better choice.

  • Digital cameras 14+ stops
  • Negative film up to 13 stops
  • Slide film 6-8 stops

Transparency film is considered difficult to use on account of the constrained dynamic range. The best time to try it would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Vivitar 220 SL. It’s also the best-selling type of film and occasionally called 135 film.

The only other film format you are going to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras}.

Changing the film stock you are using will change the look of your pictures. This is one of the wonderful things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Most commercially available 35mm film sold at this time has a DX code. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film loaded.

The ISO (ASA) on the Vivitar 220 SL needs to be manually selected. So DX-coding is not going to make a difference.

Vivitar 220 SL Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a handful of possible choices for where to get 35mm film processed. For a more complete discussion of the possible choices go to my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies no longer develop film locally. They ship film off-site to be developed by a third party. As a result, you won’t receive your negatives back.

  1. Develop Film at Home
  2. Use a Local Photography Lab
  3. Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
  4. Pharmacy or Big Box Store

Sending your film to a mail-order photo lab to be developed and scanned is the least difficult choice if you’re just getting started using film. A disadvantage to this is that it will become expensive if you are frequently using film.

There are a couple of actions that can be done to help reduce the costs involved in using film, on condition that you are shooting a moderate to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Getting a bulk roll of 100’ of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is considered one of the leading options to get a better price.

All said and done, you will end up having about 18 canisters of 36 exposures. Expect to save 20-30% based on your choice.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you are limited to rolls of black & white film. This is due to the fact black & white film is easier and cheaper to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be developed at home. It’s a good option to lower your costs so that you can shoot more film with your Vivitar 220 SL.

Black & white film is by far the simplest to develop yourself. Developer temperature and time are both not as critical to do correctly with black and white film as temperatures and time are for color negative or slide film.