Best Film for the Vivitar XV-1

Best Vivitar XV-1 35mm Film

´╗┐The best film to use in your Vivitar XV-1 will depend on the lighting, your lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.

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

If you need to capture photos inside or anytime there is low light, ensure that you are using a fast lens. See my guide on the 5 Best Lenses for the Vivitar XV-1 for lens suggestions.

Color Film


Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - An excellent selection for an array of lighting conditions. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the XV-1 in lots of circumstances.

Expect photographs to look slightly warm with outstanding colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - An alternative to Kodak that could have better availability based on where you are in the world.

Fuji pictures appear to have cooler colors with an emphasis on greens and blues, when compared to Kodak.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - You’re limited to just a small number of choices if you want a color ISO 800 film. This happens to be the only 35mm film stock geared towards consumers.

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

Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that debuted in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 offers the look and feel of snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the “nostalgic” look the film is known for.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the best the film has to offer. This will provide you with the appealing colors people love Gold 200 for.


Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film shooting enthusiasts online. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is highly regarded for.

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

Black and White Film


With reasonable prices and very good very popular to be used in the Vivitar XV-1.

The biggest draw for budget minded photographers and photography students is the competitive price. Even if you would not put yourself in that group, it’s good to have comparatively cheap rolls of 35 film on hand for testing recently delivered used gear.

Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It’s produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good since that makes this the most commonly sold 35mm film of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be much easier to buy in Europe as the film is produced in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A pretty good film to choose for your initial couple of attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also a good option if you’re trying out a camera to guarantee that it is functioning properly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400

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

If you develop color 35mm film at home, you might have used developer produced by them to process your film.


Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the two most commonly used black & white films. While they both possess individual appearances, they do have numerous characteristics in common that makes them so well received.

Both film emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and while still creating professional images. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably versatile.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film stocks, HP5 Plus is cheaper and has lower levels of contrast. A lack of contrast can be an advantage due to the fact contrast can be changed when making a print or through digital post processing.

The film emulsion has subtle grain and still looks very good when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film has a stronger look to it. To bring out the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be developed in D-76.

Tri-X 400 certainly has higher levels of contrast. That is perfect if it is the look you are after because it means a smaller amount of work when through digital post processing or making a print in the darkroom.

Transparency Film

Reversal film, also known as transparency film or slide film, generates a positive picture. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to show the photos.

This is distinct from the more commonplace negative film emulsions that create photos that need the colors to be inverted for the image to be seen.

Slide films are believed to be very difficult to shoot due to the fact slide film has much less latitude and dynamic range when compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for wonderful skin tones and fine grain. The colors will not seem oversaturated. The film is daylight balanced.

Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Creates signature looking shots that have high amounts of contrast and saturation. It is razor-sharp and balanced for daylight. Out of all the reversal films that are available, it has the highest resolving power.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Delivers realistic and vibrant colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It’s a ultra fine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, reported by Fomapan as having higher levels of contrast, very fine grain, and high resolving power. It is also billed as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stocks cost more due to the fact they have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and expanded latitude.

There is a difference in supply. Consumer film stocks can usually be bought from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager amounts. Pro film emulsions will need to be bought from a online retailer or specialized camera store.


A film’s sensitivity to light is listed as the ISO.

The less light available to capture an image, the bigger the ISO will be needed. This comes at the tradeoff of more film grain.

It can be difficult to handhold the XV-1 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). The will likely take more time will take longer than what you can handhold without producing motion blur unless you’re shooting in full sun.

A fast lens, tripod, and/or flash can help you with longer shutter speeds. Using a fast ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will make the extra accessories not needed.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Vivitar XV-1. The move to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).


Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while holding onto tolerable quality. Professional film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a slightly increased cost.

Reversal film has less latitude in comparison with negative film. That is a reason it’s thought of more difficult to use.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the range between the brightest and darkest parts of a picture that can be captured. Parts of a picture that fall out of this range will be rendered as completely white overexposed highlights or completely black underexposed shadows.

A larger dynamic range is ideal due to the fact that it makes shooting in a wide variety of lighting conditions easier.

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

Slide film is thought to be challenging to shoot as a consequence of the limited dynamic range. Golden hour is the prime time to use slide.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in metal canisters is used by the Vivitar XV-1. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it’s the most popular type of film.

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

Switching the film emulsion you are working with will transform the look of your images. This is an example of the best things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Virtually all commercially available 35mm film sold currently has DX encoding. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the canister loaded into the camera.

The ISO (ASA) on the Vivitar XV-1 has to be manually set. As a result DX-coding does not make a difference.

Vivitar XV-1 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

There are a range of choices for where to have 35mm film developed. For a more in depth discussion of the possibilities look at my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores have stopped developing film at the store. They ship film off to be processed by a 3rd party. That is why, you will not be given your 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 processed and scanned is the easiest option if you are just starting to use film. If you frequently use film, this might be a downside because it can get expensive.

There are a couple of actions that can be done to help reduce the costs involved in using film, provided that you’re using a medium to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Considered one of the common methods to save some money on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100’ of film and manually load it into canisters yourself.

All said and done, you will get roughly 18 canisters of 36 frames each. Depending on the film you will probably save 20%-30%.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is easier and cheaper to develop at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It’s a smart option to cut costs so that you can shoot more film with your Vivitar XV-1.

Black & white film is much less complicated to process at home. Developer temperature and development times are not as essential to get correct with black and white film as temperatures and time are for color negative or transparency film.