Best Film for the Vivitar 220/SL

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 6, 2020
Outside the Shot participates in affiliate advertising programs. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made through links on this site. I may also earn commissions from links to other online retailers. You can see the full disclosure here.
35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Vivitar 220/SL is going to be based on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to use.

To prevent having to haul around a flash and/or tripod, purchase a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you intend to shoot images inside or anytime there is low light, make sure that you have a fast lens.

Color Film


Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a variety of lighting conditions well and is a terrific selection for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the 220/SL in lots of circumstances.

Expect photographs to look slightly warm with outstanding colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film could be more widely available. It is a great alternative to Kodak.

When compared to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a small amount cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to only a few possibilities if you want a color ISO 800 35mm film. For film targeted towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the sole available choice.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, it is also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - An excellent way to get that mid-1980s through 90s rendering. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" look the film is known for.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the most popular look the film can achieve. This will provide you with the spectacular colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.


Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

Portra is also for sale in ISO 800 and 160 emulsions. As well as in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm counterpart to Kodak's Portra, but with a distinctive color appearance. Expect more vibrant blues and greens.

It's sold in 120, but not in sheets of 4x5 or 8x10.

Black and White Film


With reasonable prices and excellent favorable to be used in the Vivitar 220/SL.

The largest draw for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable cost. Even if you don't put yourself in that group, it is nice to have economical rolls of film available for evaluating recently obtained camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is great as it makes this the most commonly sold 35mm film of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is less difficult to get in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.

A suitable film emulsion to try for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Additionally, a good selection if you happen to be attempting to test out a camera to guarantee that it is completely operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price by buying it straight from Ultrafine.

If you develop 35mm color film at home, you might have done that with chemicals sold by them.


Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the 2 most commonly used black and white 35mm films. They possess a number of capabilities that are similar that helps make them a favorite while preserving different rendering.

Both emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and provide professional results. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

Box of Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400 35mm Black & White Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The largest differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is more affordable in comparison to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be a benefit due to the fact that contrast can be added when making a darkroom print or through digital post-processing.

The film emulsion still looks outstanding when pushed 2-stops. It is also notable for having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock features a more distinctive style. To reveal the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You will clearly see more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That is helpful if that is the overall look you need because it results in a great deal less work when during digital processing or printmaking.

Transparency Film

Film emulsions that make a positive image are referred to as reversal, transparency, or slide film. This means the photos can be showcased with a lightbox or projector.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewable, as opposed to the more commonplace negative film stocks.

Slide films have much less latitude and dynamic range when compared to negative films and so they are perceived as challenging to work with.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors do not be seen as oversaturated. It has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides beautiful looking photographs that have highly elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is astonishingly sharp with a daylight color balance. Velvia has the greatest resolving power of any available reversal film emulsion.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also available for purchase.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Creates realistic and vivid colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is an ultra-fine grain film with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, described by Fomapan as having high resolving power, fine grain, and increased contrast. It is also regarded as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional films cost more due to the fact that they have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and bigger latitude.

There is a disparity in businesses that sell rolls of film. Consumer films can quite often be bought from pharmacies and big-box stores in anemic amounts. Professional quality film emulsions need to be purchased from an online retailer or camera store.

Film ISO

The speed of the film is listed as ISO, which can also be regarded as the film's light sensitivity.

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the film's ISO will be needed. This comes at the expense of larger film grain.

It is often hard to handhold the 220/SL with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). They will most likely be longer will probably be longer than what you can handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you're out in full sun.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod will assist you with longer exposure times. Using a high-speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will help make the extra equipment not needed.

As a quick note, the ISO dial is marked as ASA on the Vivitar 220/SL. The transition to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while keeping adequate photographs. Pro films have a larger latitude to go along with a slightly higher price.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude when compared to negative film. That is a reason why it's considered challenging to work with.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the highlights and shadows details of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Areas of an image that don't fit within this range will appear as totally white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly changing lighting conditions, film stocks with a larger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

Transparency film is viewed as hard to use on account of the constrained dynamic range. The golden hour is the best time to use reversal film.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in canisters is used by the Vivitar 220/SL. In addition, it’s the most frequently used type of film and in some instances is called 135 film.

120 or 220 film, used by medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are probably going to come across.

One of the wonderful properties of film is that you can swap the film emulsion you work with and get a different look to your photographs.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film for sale currently has DX encoding. This allows electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded.

DX-coding is not going to matter for the Vivitar 220/SL because ISO must be dialed in manually.

Vivitar 220/SL Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find limited choices for where to have film processed. For a more detailed explanation of the possible choices, you can check out my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film is not processed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail film off to be developed by a 3rd party. This means that you won't receive your developed 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

Shipping your film to a mail-order photo lab to be developed and scanned is the simplest choice if you're just getting started using film. If you frequently use film, this can be a downside because it can get very expensive.

There are a few activities that can be done to decrease the costs involved in using film, provided that you are shooting a moderate to high-volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Buying a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the most popular methods to lower expenses.

A 100-foot bulk roll should fill up typically around 18 canisters of film containing 36 exposures each. Look forward to cost savings of 20-30% depending on your selection.

Bear in mind that you are only going to be able to get bulk rolls of black & white film. This is due to the fact black & white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It is a great option to lower your costs so that you can shoot more film with your Vivitar 220/SL.

Black & white film is significantly less complicated to process. Developer temperature and development times are not as essential to do correctly with black & white films as they are for transparency or color negative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright ©2020 Midwest Redistributors LLC