Best Film for the Vivitar XC-4

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 2, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Vivitar XC-4 will have to be based on your lens, lighting, and type of film you want to use.

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

Make sure that you have a fast lens if you want to shoot images in low light, conditions that are commonly found indoors.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A very good selection for a variety of conditions. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the XC-4 in just about all scenarios.

Expect pictures to appear slightly warm with outstanding colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film could be more widely available. It is an excellent alternative to Kodak emulsions.

Fuji photographs appear to have cooler tones with notable greens and blues compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are only a small number of possible choices. For film geared towards consumers, this is the single available option.

Furthermore, if you have a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A reliable option to get that mid-80s through 90s style. Use a flash to get the "authentic" film look.

To bring the best look out of the film, make sure to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will ensure that you get the attractive colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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 available for purchase in ISO 160 and ISO 800 emulsions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available to buy.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm emulsion that is most similar to Kodak Portra 400, but with a distinctive color appearance. Expect stronger blues and greens.

Sheets of 4x5 or 8x10 film aren't produced, but 120 film is available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film stocks have reasonable prices and more than acceptable quality, making them favorable to use in the Vivitar XC-4.

The main attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the low cost. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's great to have comparatively cheap rolls of film around for evaluating recently obtained camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is the parent company of Ilford. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most commonly sold B&W film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It's much easier to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A suitable film stock to choose for your initial few attempts at home developing or analog photography. Also, a good selection if you happen to be testing out a camera to guarantee that it's fully functional.

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

They make developer kits for 35mm color film, so if you process film at home you may have previously interacted with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the 2 most commonly used black and white 35mm films. While they both possess unique looks, they have numerous qualities in common that help makes them so well-liked.

You can create professional photos after pushing both films 2-stops. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them quite versatile.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two films, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper. A lack of contrast can be beneficial due to the fact that contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or through digital post-processing.

The film emulsion still appears very good when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having a subtle grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has got a stronger look. To create the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You'll clearly see considerably more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That's fantastic if it is the overall look you need because it requires significantly less work when making a darkroom print or during digital processing.

Reversal Film

Film emulsions that produce a positive image are known as slide, reversal, or transparency film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to view the pictures.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewable, contrary to the more prevalent negative film emulsions.

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

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for appealing skin tones and fine grain. The colors won't seem oversaturated. Ektachrome has a daylight color balance.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Makes signature looking shots that have increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is an exceptionally sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. Matched against all the reversal films you can buy, it has the greatest resolving power.

An ISO 100 speed is also available to buy.

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

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

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and expanded latitude, which is the reason they will be more expensive.

There's a disparity in businesses that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer films can frequently be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in limited amounts. Pro film emulsions usually need to be ordered from an online retailer or camera store.

Film ISO

A film's sensitivity to light is shown as the ISO.

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light is required to properly expose an image. This comes at the cost of more noticeable film grain.

It can be quite challenging to handhold the XC-4 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). They are going to be longer can be longer than what you could handhold without leading to motion blur unless you're out in full sun.

To prevent motion blur you are going to need to use a fast lens, tripod, and/or flash. Using a fast ISO 400 or ISO 800 film will make the extra accessories unnecessary.

As a quick note, the ISO dial is labeled as ASA on the Vivitar XC-4. The shift to using 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 retaining adequate photographs. Pro film emulsions have a greater latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude than reversal film. That is one of the reasons why it's viewed as more challenging to work with.

Dynamic Range

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

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting situations, film stocks with a bigger 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 thought to be challenging to use on account of the constrained dynamic range. An ideal time to give it a try is during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in canisters is used by the Vivitar XC-4. 35mm film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it's the best-selling film format.

The only other film format you are probably going to come across is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras.

One of the wonderful things about 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

Virtually all new 35mm film sold at this point has a DX code. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded.

DX-coding doesn't matter for the Vivitar XC-4 because ISO must be selected manually with the ASA knob.

Vivitar XC-4 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find a variety of options for where to have film developed. For a more thorough explanation of the possibilities, 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 ship film away to be processed by a separate company. Because of that, you will not be given 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

Sending film to a mail-order photo lab to be developed and scanned is the least difficult option if you are new to using film. If you consistently use film, this might be a disadvantage due to the fact that it can get very expensive.

So long as you are shooting a moderate to high-volume of film, there are two activities that you are able to do to cut back on your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100' of film and manually loading it into canisters yourself is considered one of the most widely used options to get a better price.

A 100-foot roll can fill up about 18 canisters of film with 36 frames. You should expect to save 20-30% based on your selection.

Be aware that you are limited to 100-foot rolls of black & white film. This is due to the fact black and white film is a lot easier and cheaper to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can easily process and digitize film at home. It's a smart option to save money so that you can use more film with your Vivitar XC-4.

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

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