Best Film for the Vivitar XC-3

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 3, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in your Vivitar XC-3 is going to depend on the lighting conditions, lens, and type of film you want to shoot.

Taking advantage of an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will let you skip being burdened with a tripod and/or flash.

If you have a need to capture pictures in low light, such as inside, ensure that you are using a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film handles a wide variety of lighting conditions well and is a terrific selection for a color 35mm film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the XC-3 in most scenarios.

The photos will have extremely good skin tones and lean towards the warm side.

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

Fuji photos tend to have cooler colors with notable blues and greens when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are only a few possible choices. This is literally the only 35mm film emulsion targeted towards consumers.

Lomography 800 is sold in the 120 film format, to be used in a medium format camera.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 has the look and feel of family snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "authentic" film look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best the film can achieve. This will provide you with the exceptional colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most popular color negative 35mm film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is well known for.

Additionally, ISO 160 and 800 emulsions of Kodak Portra. As well as in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equal to Portra, but with a different color appearance. Expect stronger blues and greens.

It is sold in rolls of 120, but not in sheets of 4x5 or 8x10.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With affordable costs and very good quite popular to use in the Vivitar XC-3.

The main draw for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable price. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in that group, it is nice to have low-priced rolls of film around for testing recently delivered camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is great due to the fact that allows this to be the most commonly sold B&W film out of the 3.

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

A decent film stock to work with for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or film photography. Additionally, a good choice if you're trying out a camera to check that it's totally functional.

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

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

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the two top-selling black & white films. They do have quite a few traits in common that helps make them so popular while maintaining unique appearances.

You can obtain professional images after pushing both films 2-stops. 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 primary differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper in comparison to Tri-X. Lower levels of contrast can be nice because contrast can be added when making a print or through digital processing.

The film stock still appears great when pushed 2-stops. It is also known for having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film has got a more distinctive style. To reveal the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in D-76.

You'll unquestionably notice greater contrast with Tri-X. That is great if it is the overall look you are after because it results in a great deal less work when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.

Reversal Film

Reversal film, also known as slide film or transparency film or slide film, gives you a positive picture. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to view the photographs.

This is different from the more commonly available negative film emulsions that result in photos that need inverting the colors so that they can be viewed.

Slide films are thought to be very hard to work with due to the fact slide film has much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for fine grain and picturesque skin tones. The colors won't be seen as oversaturated. The film is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces distinctive-looking images that have substantially elevated amounts of saturation and contrast. It is a remarkably sharp daylight balanced film emulsion. Matched against all the transparency films available to buy, it has the best resolving power.

An ISO 100 speed is also out there.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Creates realistic and vibrant colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is an ultra-fine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, noted by Fomapan as having fine grain, very good resolving power, and increased levels of contrast. It is also mentioned as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have better latitude, are easier to push, and larger dynamic range, which is the reason pro-film costs more.

There might be a disparity in availability. Consumer film emulsions can commonly be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager amounts. Professional level film stocks should be bought from a specialized photography store or online retailer.

Film ISO

A film's light sensitivity is listed as the ISO.

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light will be necessary to get a photograph. This comes at the expense of more film grain.

It is often difficult to handhold the XC-3 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). They will likely be longer might be longer than what you’re able to handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you're out in full sun.

A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens will help you with longer shutter speeds. The additional equipment might not be needed if you use a higher speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is labeled as ASA on the Vivitar XC-3. The shift to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while still having good quality. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a slightly increased cost.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude in comparison with negative film. That is one of the reasons it is regarded as harder to work with.

Dynamic Range

The range between the shadows and highlights parts of a photograph is known as dynamic range. Areas of a photograph that don't fit in this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, films with a bigger dynamic range are a better choice.

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

The limited dynamic range of slide film is an additional reason why it's regarded as tough to shoot. A very good time to give it a try is during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Vivitar XC-3. 35mm film can also be described as 135 film, and it's the best-selling type of film.

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

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

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all available 35mm film made at this time has DX encoding on the canister. This lets cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding doesn't make a difference for the Vivitar XC-3 because ISO is required to be selected manually with the ASA knob.

Vivitar XC-3 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a few possibilities for where to develop film. For a more extensive explanation of the possibilities, look at my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film does not get processed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They ship film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. As a consequence, you will not get your processed 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

The most convenient solution and what I suggest using if you are just getting started shooting film is to ship your film to a photo lab to be processed and scanned. If you consistently shoot film, this might be a drawback because it can get expensive.

There are a few activities that can be done to decrease the costs required to use film, provided that you're going through a medium to high-volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Considered one of the most widely used options to lower your costs on film is to buy a roll of 100' of film and manually load canisters yourself.

Once you have finished, you will end up making approximately 18 rolls of 36 frames. Expect to see savings of 20-30% based on the film you choose.

Keep in mind that you're only going to be able to buy rolls of black & white film. This is because black & white film is easier and more affordable to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It's a good method to spend less so you can use more film with your Vivitar XC-3.

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

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