Best Film for the Vivitar XC-4
The best film to use in the Vivitar XC-4 should be based on the lighting, lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.
Taking advantage of an ISO 400 film or higher speed will enable you to eliminate being burdened with a tripod and/or flash.
If you intend to shoot pictures inside or anytime there is low light, make sure that you have a fast lens. For lens lens recommendations check out my short article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Vivitar XC-4.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - A great selection for a diverse range of lighting conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the XC-4 in almost all circumstances.
The photographs will have excellent colors and leans towards the warm side.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film can be more widely available. It’s an excellent alternative to Kodak emulsions.
Fuji photographs tend to have cooler colors with stronger greens and blues, when compared to Kodak.
Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color film, there aren’t many choices. This happens to be the only 35mm film emulsion focused on consumers.
Additionally, if you have a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also offered in 120 film format.
Kodak Gold 200 - A guaranteed option to get that mid-1980s through 90s look. Use an on-camera flash to get the “classic” look the film is known for.
To bring the ideal look out of the film, you will have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will produce the wonderful colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film enthusiasts online. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the rendering the film is well known for.
Kodak Portra is also offered in ISO 160 and 800 versions. Portra is also offered in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.
Black and White Film
These film stocks have low costs and more than acceptable quality, making them very popular for use in the Vivitar XC-4.
The largest appeal for photography students and budget minded photographers is the reasonable price. Even if you don’t put yourself in those groups, it’s good to have low-priced rolls of 35 film available for evaluating recently purchased used gear.
Kentmere 400 - Made by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is notable since that allows this to be the most broadly available 35mm film out of the 3.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Will be easier to obtain in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia inside of the Czech Republic.
A good quality film stock to work with for your first few attempts at home developing or analog photography. Also a good choice if you are trying out a camera to guarantee that it is completely operational.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best place to get this film is online directly from Ultrafine.
If you process 35mm color film at home, you could have done that with developer sold by them to develop your film.
The two most popular black and white 35mm film stocks are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. While they both possess individual styles, they have several traits in common that help makes them a favorite.
You can create very good results after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is less expensive. Lower levels of contrast can be beneficial because contrast can be increased when making a print or editing digitally.
The film has subdued grain and still looks good when pushed 2-stops.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock provides a more distinctive look to it. To bring out the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in D-76.
You’ll undeniably see greater contrast with Tri-X. That’s awesome if it happens to be the look you want to have because it means considerably less work when editing digitially or making a darkroom print.
Slide film, also known as transparency film or reversal film, creates a positive image. This means the photos can be displayed with a light box or projector.
This is unique from the more often used negative film emulsions that create photos that need inverting the colors for the image to be seen.
Slide films have substantially less dynamic range and latitude when compared with negative film and so they are believed to be tougher to shoot.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for great skin tones and fine grain. There is no hypersaturation of colors. It is daylight color balanced.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a exceptionally sharp daylight balanced transparency film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving photos a distinctive look. Out of all the reversal films you can get, it has the highest resolving power.
An ISO 100 speed is also available.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Delivers vivid and realistic colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It has ultra fine grain with a daylight color balance.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, described by Fomapan as having fine grain, very good resolving power, and elevated levels of contrast. It’s also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Professional film stock have better latitude, are easier to push, and expanded dynamic range, that is why they will cost you more.
There’s a significant difference in availability. Consumer films can oftentimes still be purchased from pharmacies and big-box stores in limited quantities. Professional film emulsions needs to be ordered from a specialized camera store or online retailer.
The speed of the film is displayed by ISO, which can also be regarded as the film’s light sensitivity.
The less light there is available to capture an image, the higher the ISO will need to be. Also, be prepared for larger film grain.
It is often a challenge to handhold the XC-4 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is because in the absence of full sun, the exposure times will likely be longer than what you’re able to handhold without causing motion blur.
To avoid motion blur you are going to need to use a flash, fast lens, and/or tripod. The additional gear might not be needed if you go with a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.
As a quick note, the ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Vivitar XC-4. The transition to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Film latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while holding onto adequate photographs. Professional film emulsions have a larger latitude along with a slightly increased cost.
Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is a reason it’s deemed to be more challenging to shoot.
Dynamic range is the difference between the shadows and highlights details of a picture that can be recorded. Sections of a picture that don’t fit in this range will be seen as completely white overexposed highlights or black underexposed shadows.
When shooting in a variety or quickly shifting lighting conditions, films with a bigger dynamic range is better.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
Reversal film is regarded as tricky to use because of the limited dynamic range. A fantastic time to test it out would be during the golden hour.
35mm film that is in canisters is used by the Vivitar XC-4. It can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most popular film format.
The only other type of film you are going to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras}.
One of the excellent things about film is that you can switch the film you work with and get a new look to your photographs.
DX Coded Film
Virtually all new 35mm film offered for sale currently has DX encoding on the canister. This will allow electronically controlled cameras to auto detect and set the ISO when the film is loaded.
DX-coding isn’t going to matter for the Vivitar XC-4 because ISO must be set manually with the ASA knob.
Vivitar XC-4 Resources
Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?
You will find a range of possibilities for where to have 35mm film developed. For a more detailed discussion of the possible choices take a look at my article on Where to Get Film Developed.
WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores no longer develop film on location. They send film off-site to be developed by a 3rd party. Because of that, you won’t receive your negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
The most convenient option and what I would suggest doing if you are just starting to shoot film is to send off your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. A drawback to this is that it will become expensive if you’re frequently using film.
So long as you are going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of actions that can be done to lower your expenses.
Bulk Loading Film
Certainly one of the common options to reduce costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and load canisters by hand.
After you have finished, you will find yourself with about 18 canisters of 36 exposures. Expect to see discounts of 20-30% based on the film you decide on.
Take into account that you’re going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black and white film. This is due to the fact black and white film is easier and more cost-effective to process at home.
Home Developing and Scanning
All film can be developed at home. It is a very good method to save money so that you can use more film with your Vivitar XC-4.
Black & white film is significantly easier to process at home. Chemical temperature and time are not as imperative to get correct with black & white film as temperatures and time are for color negative or slide film.