Are 5x7/10x8 negs appreciably better than 5x4??

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Tom Stanworth, May 28, 2004.

  1. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi,

    Sorry to start such a daft thread, but I am a semi proffessional photographer -printer now dedicated to 5x4 after using MF and 35mm, but wish to be able to produce larger and larger prints (such is the fashion today for large wall centre pieces). I own a 10x8 which I will gradually acquire lenses for, but need to resore the ancient enlarger before I can start. I own many lenses that will cover 5x7 and an enlarger (Durst 138) that will cover. My questions are:

    According to my calculations I can get a 23 Inch print for the same linear enlargment factor from 5x7 as a 16.5 inch off 5x4. Will this bear out in practice in terms of visual quality. Will 10x8 really give me double the print size for comparable quality to 5x4 - assuming lenses are equal etc?

    I am wondering whether I should trade in some of my less used kit and get working on 5x7 while my 10x8 gets its lenses ( I will be buying second hand hence the delay scouring e-bay for the right ones) or just sit tight on 5x4. I know it is subjective, but is there much of a real world quality leap with 5x7 over 5x4 with a given film? I do not particularly like modern films (exception being Acros in Dixactol ultra - fine grained and scalpel cut sharp, but expensive and still not as charming as the oldies!) and generally find that 5x4 is really running out of puff at 20x24 with traditional emulsions if sumptuous tonality is not to be sacrificed - not a problem if the shot is of a tangled wood, but if there are lots of smooth zones 5-6 yuk! 20 x 24 is the size at which I really need the extra quality right now.

    Subjective opinions wanted and ramble as much as you like (oh and 5x7 has a beautiful aspect ratio!!

    Cheers,

    Tom
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2004
  2. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Tom,

    If you want the ultimate quality in a print then there is no substitute for shooting large film and contact printing the negative. I utilize 4X5, 8X10, and 12X20 formats. I enlarge the 4X5 and my tastes limit the enlargement to 11X14 maximum. While it is possible to go to 16X20 the quality begins to really suffer after 11X14 in my opinion. I realize that others may disagree and I have no point of contention with their tastes. I would take 5X7 to 14X20 (slightly below 3X). By the same reasoning, if enlarging 8X10 my maximum print would be 32X40. While there may be certain people that would purchase or want such a large print, it seems that most collectors are inclined to purchase contact prints in the 8X10 size. After all there is a limited amount of wall space to hang a super large print. In addition to wall space, one might want to consider the viewing distance from the print. A 32X40 print would require a greater viewing distance then an 8X10 print. That is if one wants to enlarge negatives.

    I have recently had the opportunity to see Michael Smith's and Paula Chamlee's Azo contact prints and there is, in my opinion, nothing in a silver process that equals or exceeds the quality that one can obtain with those materials (paper/developer combination). It certainly changed my idea of things. I am back to shooting the big cameras and contact printing.
     
  3. Francesco

    Francesco Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Location:
    Düsseldorf,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Tom, when I started LF I went straight to using 8x10 and enlarging the negatives. That was 9 years ago. I have just recently sold the last remaining enlarging-type gear that I own and I am now completely commited to contact printing on AZO. All my 16x20 and 20x24 enlargements are in storage and will probably not be seeing the light of day ever again - except perhaps to remind me of why I like AZO so much. I have also began the process to move up to 12x20 contact printing. So if I were you I would use your 8x10 for contact printing and use the 5x7 for enlargements. By doing this you can make some meaningful comparisons of subjective print quality between contacts and enlargements. I do not feel that there is much of a difference between a 5x7 negative and 8x10 negative when enlarged to approx. 20x24.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,980
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Yes, there is a difference. Sometimes for practical reasons I shoot 4x5" or smaller and enlarge, but otherwise, I always prefer a contact print from 8x10" or larger, and even if you plan on enlarging, I think you can always see the difference between formats when the two are side-by-side and when the same practices are applied for both formats.
     
  5. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

    Messages:
    921
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbar
    I started with 45, but now mostly use the 57. I use 810 some, too. For 57 I like the aspect ratio and yes you can tell the difference in image quality and it is big enough to make a nice contact. 5x7 is also the largest size that can be done 'one handed'. By that I mean I can hold a piece of film in one hand during loading or processing. And I find that while shooting, I can carry all the equipment I need in one trip for 57, but not for 810. 810 and larger is two or more trips or next to the car.
     
  6. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Tom,
    If you are going to enlarge, I would argue that 5x7 is really the ultimate format.

    1. Assuming you like the aspect ratio, 5x7 provides more than twice the usable negative area of 4x5, and, in a 10x13 print the difference is obvious.

    2. You can use either 4x5 lenses or 8x10 lenses with your 5x7, depending upon which side of the weight/image circle delemna you want to fall on. A 210 Apo-Symar, normally considered a long normal for 4x5, becomes a wide normal for 5x7 with adequate movements for a field camera. A 240 Apo-Symar, barely adequate for 8x10, allows any possible camera movement on a 5x7.

    3. A 5x7 allows the use of moderate fstops, i.e., f22, f32, f45, whereas the same scene, photographed with an 8x10, often requires an fstop like f64 or even f90. This diffraction effect at f64 or f90 is significant when observed in a moderate enlargement. This is the crux of my argument - for an enlargement, the sharpness of the 5x7 blown up to 10x13 will often actually exceed the sharpness of an 8x10 enlarged to the same 10x13.

    I don't agree with others that 5x7 is a good contact print size, I think 8x10 is the minimum contact print size I would consider.

    The other downside of 5x7 is film availability, especially of color. For B&W, you should be fine.

    Take care,
    Tom Duffy
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

    Messages:
    5,270
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    In a word YES. Having just moved from 4x5 to 5x7 I can say that the 4x5 will hardly see the light of day, except in the fall. Color transparency film does not come in 5x7 quickloads and damnit I can't load tansparency in film holders with out screwing them up. For some reason I do not have that problem with BW. Maybe it is tougher, who knows. Any way. The one inch wider and 2 inches longer make a huge difference. Not only is the aspect ratio refreshing the size and clarity is a real difference. It surprised me. I did not expect to see much difference. I mean it is not that much bigger. Kind of like a 6x9 tranny looks better than a 6x6. That of course is a Subjective Opinion.

    Good luck finding lenses for the 8x10.
     
  8. clay

    clay Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,125
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Asheville, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    /propeller-head geek mode-on/

    Just remember that diffraction depends on the ABSOLUTE physical aperture size, not the relative aperture size (ie f/stop numbers). So for a longer focal length lens(say 300mm), the physical diameter of the aperture at f/45 is actually about the same as the physical diameter of the aperture of a 150mm lens at f/22! Diffraction is a physical phenomena having to do with the relationship between physical aperture size and the wavelengths of visible light. The light doesn't know the focal length of your lens!

    /propellor-head geek mode-off/
     
  9. DeanC

    DeanC Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    May 28, 2004
    Location:
    Mill Valley,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Um. 5*7 = 35, 4*5 = 20 and 35 = 1.5 * 20, right?

    I guess if you crop 4x5 to 5x7 proportions that could all fall out differently...

    Dean
     
  10. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Clay,
    Point taken. I have so few lenses that I've been comparing the sharpness of my 300 Apo-Symar for both 5x7 and 8x10. For both formats this single 300mm lens is my taking lens.
    But, in terms of sharpness, wouldn't a 150mm lens resolve more lines per millimeter at f22 than a 300mm at f45? Further, if a 150mm lens needed to be stopped down to f22 for adequate depth of field, I don't think f45 would be adequate for the 300mm on an 8x10.

    All other things being equal (same camera, different back), I'm always very surprised at how much fuzzier my 8x10 negs look through a magnifier than my 5x7's. Less magnification to enlarge to a given size, but still...
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  11. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks,

    The reason I asked is that simply working out that 10x8 has twice the linear dimensions of 5x4 therefore should allow a print twice the size never seems to work in practice and has not done so when moving from MF up to LF in my opinion. I was concerned that the 5x7 is not that much bigger than 5x4 and I want an appreciable difference. I agree with 5x4 starting to lose it at 20x16, but on the other hand it can look incredibly impressive if the subject suits it (lots if detail meaning there are no large areas of contiuous tone). From what has been said so far it looks like 5x7 is worth the kit re-shuffle, relagating the 5x4 to far flung places with ready/quickload to keep weight down. I normally end up cropping 5x4 to reduce its stubbiness, so will probably end up with twice the useable neg area on 5x7, which will be cropped very little in most instances. Problem with uncropped stubby 5x4 being that in landscape format, once framed with a thicker bottom edge to the mount than the top and sides results in a close to square frame which tends to lack elegance in my opinion. I do not often shoot colour, but 5x4 seems to be able to produce much larger acceptable colour prints than B&W. Once the 10x8 is up and running I will try contact printing, but still find that 10x8 is a little on the small side for an image. I can see why there is a market for 12x20s out there and have considered it myself, but for now it is not really feasible (not enough cash for camera, lenses and mandatory mule). I do not print large for tha sake of it, but get frustraed when an image wants to be large and I run out of quality !

    Thanks for your help,

    Tom
     
  12. clay

    clay Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,125
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Asheville, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The only reason for a difference in lines/mm would be a difference in the lens design. The degrading effects of diffraction on lens resolution would be virtually identical between the two lenses you mentioned in your example at their respective apertures (300 @45 and 150@22).

    As to your second question, there once again it would depend on how much you intended to enlarge the resulting negative. If you accept the same 'circle of confusion' parameter for both lenses, then the depth of field of a 150mm at f/22 would be identical to a 300mm at f/45. As others have pointed out, it will also depend on how large your final intended print will be and what viewing distance you expect the viewer to maintain.
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    It seems that you are equating negative size to linear dimension. Negative size is a matter of square inches of negative. 4X5 would twenty inches square, 5X7 would be 35 inches square (almost twice as large as 4X5), 8X10 would be 80 inches square (four times as much as 4X5). All things being equal a 8X10 negative could be printed four times as large as a 4X5 negative and maintain the same print quality.

    Color materials will print larger then black and white materials when equivalent negative size exists. Just the nature of the beast.
     
  14. lee

    lee Member

    Messages:
    2,913
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fort Worth T
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    "I was concerned that the 5x7 is not that much bigger than 5x4 and I want an appreciable difference. I agree with 5x4 starting to lose it at 20x16, but on the other hand it can look incredibly impressive if the subject suits it (lots if detail meaning there are no large areas of contiuous tone)."

    4x5=20 and 5x7=35 so it is nearly twice the square inches at 5x7. 8x10=80 square inches and is really 4 times the square inches of 4x5. It is a neat format but the film is rarer than either 4x5 or 8x10. But it is still available. I think it is too small to contact but I don't have an enlarger any more for that format. So for me, I contact 8x10 and enlarge 4x5.

    lee\c
     
  15. lee

    lee Member

    Messages:
    2,913
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fort Worth T
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Don must have been typing while I was. We are in agreement.

    lee\c
     
  16. John Sparks

    John Sparks Member

    Messages:
    20
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    About 7 years ago, I attended a workshop by the photographer Howard Bond. He works mostly with 8x10 and 5x7 but had a few prints from 4x5 and a few 11x14 contact prints. At the time I was using 4x5 almost exclusively. The prints he showed were mostly 11x14 and 16x20. There may have been a few 20x24 prints but nothing larger. I had a hard time seeing any consistant difference in quality between the prints from 5x7 and 4x5 but could reliably pick out which prints were from 8x10 negatives (I also could not reliably see a difference between 11x14 prints from 8x10 and 11x14 contact prints, but that's a different issue--I actually prefer 8x10 "enlargements" from 8x10 negatives to 8x10 contact prints they look a little sharper, but that's just me).

    Anyway, from that workshop experience, I decided I wanted to work with an 8x10. I eventually found a used 8x10 enlarger and bought an 8x10 camera. I mostly stopped using the 4x5 unless I was going on a trip by plane. At the time, I could easily see the difference in my prints from 8x10 and 4x5 negatives. My output in number of good negatives per year dropped dramatically. Carrying the camera and especially the film was a great burden. Going from basicly unlimited 4x5 film in readyloads to a very full backpack with only 10 sheets of 8x10 film made me more careful with every exposure and kept me much closer to the car. When looking at negatives and prints, I kept thinking that shooting more variations on each subject would have given me better results. When showing prints in galleries or friends and customers, I could see the difference between 8x10 and 4x5, but no one else could.

    After a 3 or 4 years with the 8x10, I bought a 6x7 Bronica SLR to loosen up my photographs. I generally would expose 4 rolls (40 exposures) with the 6x7 to every 4 sheets I'd expose of the same subject and time. The content of my photographs improved dramatically from ease of use and exposing much more film. Content differences are way more important than any subtle differences between 6x7, 4x5, 5x7 or 8x10). Friends and clients still can't see any differences in my prints, although I rarely print larger than 16x20 (and I do usually use Pan F in 120 vs Tmax 400 in 8x10). Larger prints are generally looked at from further away so don't need to be quite as sharp (too me a long time to get over this!).

    I eventually got a 6x9 Horseman view camera to get movements, but still usually use the 6x7 SLR for speed. The 4x5 has sat in a case unused for several years and the 8x10 comes out only rarely. I learned a lot from using the big camera and don't regret it at all.
     
  17. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Jdef,
    thanks for the reply. No, my 8x10 and 5x7 setups are identical, and checked, i.e., if focused on the same subject the infocus parts are equally sharp when shot at the same fstop with the same lens, as viewed through a 4 power magnifier. I maintain that the only difference is that I'm shooting at a smaller fstop with 8x10 and the loss of resolution is caused by diffraction.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  18. clay

    clay Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,125
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Asheville, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Out of curiousity, what are the focal lengths, f-stops used and type of lenses you used for this comparison? As I said earlier, diffraction is a factor related to the physical hole size, not the relative aperture.

    clay
     
  19. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Clay,
    I mostly use a Apo-Symar 300mm for both 5x7 and 8x10. With 5x7 I can often shoot at f22. With 8x10 I usually need f64 for the same approximate framing of the same scene.
     
  20. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

    Messages:
    446
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Location:
    Manhattan Be
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Your 8x10 negatives should be no less sharp than your 5x7s. Indeed, my 11x14 negatives are tack sharp unless the fuzzy fairies are at work. Camera movement (a given for 11x14s), poor holder placement, poor registration of the ground glass, or a poorly mounted lens may affect the quality of the larger negatives.

    Once you trace the culprit you'll find, like the rest of us, that size matters.
     
  21. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    DE,
    Again, the only difference is shooting at f22 vs. f64. Same camera, a metal monorail, same lens; same picture taken minutes apart. No focus shift. Size matters, but so does diffraction.
    Take care,
    Tom