Best Film for the Vivitar XV-1

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 7, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Vivitar XV-1 is going to depend on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to shoot.

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

If you have a need to shoot photos inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure that you are using a fast lens.

Color Film


Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - An excellent option for a wide range of conditions. Using this film you should be able to handhold the XV-1 in the majority of situations.

The photos will have very good colors and is on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that may have greater availability based on what country you are in.

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

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there aren't very many options. This is literally the only film stock geared towards consumers.

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

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that was launched in the mid-1980s. The film gives the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best the film can achieve. This will produce the gorgeous colors people love Kodak Gold for.


Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is the most frequently used color film emulsion. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is highly regarded for.

Additionally, ISO 160 and 800 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available to buy.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm emulsion that is closest to Kodak's Portra, but with "Fuji colors." Expect stronger blues and greens.

Sheets of 8x10 or 4x5 film are not produced, but 120 film is available.

Black and White Film


With reasonable costs and very good favorable to be used in the Vivitar XV-1.

The largest attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it's great to have comparatively cheap rolls of 35 film available for testing newly purchased used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It is manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most commonly sold 35mm film out of the three.

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

A very good film stock to choose for your first couple of attempts at home developing or film photography. Additionally, a good selection if you are trying out a camera to ensure that it's totally functional.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest place to get this film is online directly from Ultrafine.

They have developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you develop film at home you may have already done business with them.


Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the two best black & white 35mm film emulsions. They do have a large number of capabilities in common that helps make them so well-liked while keeping different rendering.

Both film emulsions can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and still result in great images. 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 main differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper when compared to Tri-X. A lack of contrast can be nice because of the fact that contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or during digital post-processing.

The film emulsion still appears very good when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized for having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

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

You're going to certainly see far more contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is great if that is the look and feel you are looking for because it means considerably less work when editing digitally or printmaking.

Slide Film

Film emulsions that create a positive image can be called transparency, slide, or reversal film. This means the slides can be displayed with a lightbox or projector.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be seen, in contrast to the more commonly available negative film stocks.

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

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There is not any hypersaturation of colors. The film has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a seriously sharp daylight-balanced reversal film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving pictures a signature look. It has the highest resolving power of any available slide film.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Produces realistic and vibrant colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It's an ultrafine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, marketed by Fomapan as having excellent resolving power, higher contrast, and very fine grain. It's also mentioned as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

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

There might be a disparity in businesses that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer films can commonly be bought in pharmacies and big-box stores in limited amounts. Pro film stocks need to be ordered from an online retailer or specialized camera store.

Film ISO

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

The less light there's available to capture an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be necessary. This comes at the cost of noticeably increased film grain.

It is often hard to handhold the XV-1 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is because if you do not have full sun, the exposure times will probably take more time than what you’re able to handhold without resulting in motion blur.

A tripod, flash, and/or fast lens are going to assist you with longer shutter speeds. The extra accessories might not be needed if you get a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The ISO dial is marked as ASA on the Vivitar XV-1. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while holding onto adequate images. Pro films have a greater latitude along with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is one of the reasons why it is deemed to be difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the difference between the brightest and darkest details of a photo that can be recorded. Parts of a photo that fall out of this range will be seen as totally black underexposed shadows or totally white overexposed highlights.

When working in a wide variety of quickly shifting 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

Reversal film is considered to be tricky to use as a consequence of the limited dynamic range. The golden hour is the best time to use slide film.

Film Type

The Vivitar XV-1 uses 35mm film that is sold in canisters. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it's the most often used type of film.

120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are likely to notice.

Switching the film emulsion you are working with will change the look of your shots. This is an example of the excellent things about film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film for sale at this point has DX encoding. This allows cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film canister is put in the camera.

DX-coding will not matter for the Vivitar XV-1 because ISO is required to be dialed in manually.

Vivitar XV-1 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find a range of choices for where to process film. For a more comprehensive discussion of the choices go to my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get processed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They send film away to be developed by a separate company. As a result, 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

Shipping film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the simplest choice if you are just starting to use film. If you consistently use film, this could be a disadvantage because it can get very expensive.

As long as you're going through a medium to high-volume of film, there are a few actions that can be done to cut back on your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Among the most popular options to lower your costs on film is to buy a roll of 100 feet of film and load canisters by hand.

A 100-foot roll should fill typically around 18 canisters of film with 36 frames each. Count on cost savings of 20-30% depending on your pick.

Take into account that you are limited to 100-foot rolls of black & white film. This is due to black & white film is less difficult and more cost-effective to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can develop and digitize film yourself. In fact, it's an intelligent option to reduce costs so that you can use more film with your Vivitar XV-1.

Black & white film is by far the least complicated to develop at home. Developer temperature and time are not as important to get correct with black & white film as time and temperatures are for slide or color negative.

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