Standard film sizes - Why?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ParkerSmithPhoto, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Where do film sizes come from?

    Meaning, why do we have 8x10 film, 4x5 film, 5x7, 120mm, 35mm? Or, how did these "standard sizes" become the standards?
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,471
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    While there were once several sizes of cine film, the industry finally settled on 35mm. Oskar Barnack determined the size for 35mm still film negatives when he designed what was to become the first Leica where the size was set equal to two film frames. The camera was initially designed to test new batches of cine film as to speed, contrast etc. Remember this was before accurate light meters were available.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,464
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sheet film sizes are obvious, but roll film sizes or designation, (IIRC) were set at Kodak as the sequencial number of the size developed for production. When you see film numbers such as 116/616 or 120/620, the size starting with 6 designates Kodaks smaller diameter spool versus the standard size spool. 35mm film is actually 135 film, and I see alot of people mistakenly identify 120 as 120mm film.
     
  4. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I must be missing something. Why did everyone decide on 8x10 instead of 8x8, or a Golden Rectangle of 8x13? 4x5 is 1/4 of 8x10, I get that, but 5x7?
     
  5. Steve Goldstein

    Steve Goldstein Subscriber

    Messages:
    614
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2007
    Location:
    MA, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    And where did 8x10 come from anyway? Back in the day there was whole plate (and half-plate and quarter-plate), which was based on a size standard for the manufacture of glass if I'm not mistaken. How did they get from whole plate (6-1/2" x 8-1/2") to 8x10? Yes, I know, add 1.5" to each dimension, but that's not a very satisfying answer...
     
  6. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

    Messages:
    4,589
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    İstanbul
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I dont know it is related but I watched at tv about A4, A3 sizes and their history and reason. If I am not wrong when you match 2 A4 to A3 , the proportions are the same. When you match more A4 together , they make a 1 square meter paper.

    TV guy explained that the obscure size and proportions of paper sizes by this way.

    May be when you match two 8x10 film , result is the same proportions .

    Reason is geometry , math , proportions , may be.

    And the other thing , may be required tooling of machine parts , best optimization to vibration or coating quality , availability of base plastic are among the reasons.

    Umut
     
  7. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,160
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Location:
    Connecticut,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Framers did it so we would have to buy custom frames for everything lol (not a real answer).


    ~Stone | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  8. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

    Messages:
    961
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2005
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    There's a chicken-vs-egg problem here for historical explanation. There was a blizzard of sheet film sizes available during the early part of the 20th century, but most of them went away. Did manufacturers stop making them because people stopped buying them (and if so, why did they)? Or did manufacturers make decisions about rationalizing their product lines for other reasons (and if so, what were they)? Or, more likely, was it a mix of both?

    Sounds like a PhD dissertation's worth of historical research to sort this out.

    Me, I wish the formats that survived in common use were 3.25x4.25, 6.5x8.5 and 7x11. Instead, we got 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. But nobody reached into the future to ask me.
     
  9. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,607
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Google "film formats" or "film sizes". There's a bunch of stuff out there on the history and chronology of film formats. Even with all that data, it may not answer your question, however. Settling on certain sizes, whether sheet or roll film, was probably arbitrary in large part.
     
  10. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,160
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Location:
    Connecticut,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I wish it were all in metric sizes personally...


    ~Stone | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  11. Jed Freudenthal

    Jed Freudenthal Member

    Messages:
    1,858
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2004
    Location:
    Bilthoven, T
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Stansards are used everywhere. The film formats, or glass plate film formats were most often 9x12 cm ( easily to see with your eye, an an harmonic relation: 3x 4). The 4x5" is near to hat but the harmonic relation is 4x5. This is, I think the basis, and has still most lenses available. The others are related, but still harmonic. the other formats, like the 120 film is not known to me. The 35 mm film is again harmonic , 2x3.

    Jed
     
  12. brianmquinn

    brianmquinn Member

    Messages:
    672
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Location:
    Cincinnati O
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Commie bastard! (not a real answer).
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    It could be questioned why we use rectangle and square frames at all. The picture produced by a lens is circular with fall off towards the edges. It is only our obsession with Euclidian geometry that makes us frame images the way we do.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,615
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    The circle is part of Euclidean geometry.
     
  16. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    OK, just the angle bit.
     
  17. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,160
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Location:
    Connecticut,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    The metric system was invented by communists? This is new to me LOL

    6x7mm is REALLY close to 4x5 inches, John would argue this, but whatever the theoretical exposed area, on both of my 6x7 120 cameras the exposed area is almost perfectly 4x5 ratio.

    Hehe


    ~Stone | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,239
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_format

    there seems to have been several things going on
    some of the sizes were based on whole plate sizes and some of them were based on manufactured plate sizes ..
    the sheet film sizes it seems were linked to dry plate / glass plate sizes
    so when manufacturers were making glass plates camera makers began to standardize
    on sizes ...
    and sheet film, is smaller than paper and plates because there were a zillion plate holders out there still in use
    and people who started using sheet film just bought a little metal sheath that slid into the plate holder and converted it
    to film ... when plates went by the wayside, there was no point in making new holders &c since everyone ( manufacturers, users &c ) had grown
    accustomed to the sheets beeing 1/16th" smaller than plates ...
    bigger than 8x10 seems to have standardized in both english and metric, but because there was never a mass-market business for ULF sizes
    they were just varied and sort of based on 8x10 and 11x14 ( guessing )
    ... 7x11, 11x14 ( half ) and 5x7 is around-1/4 a 11x14
    ... 8x20 ( pano double 8x10 )16x20 ( quad 8x10 )
    ... 12x20, 20x24 and their metric cousins ...

    ... too many others to list and guess about seeing



    whenever kodak made a "new" box camera that took roll film, they created a new roll film format
    so the film was proprietary and users had to buy the film from them ...
    probably the current roll film formats are just based on the old sheet film sizes that are similar,
    or PAPER sizes used for enlarging on ...
    and 6x6 cm, was probably just .. random like everything else seems to be

    " 3x7/8 x 5 7/16 looks like a good format, lets make it and see if it sells ... "
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2013
  19. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

    Messages:
    2,025
    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Metric Schmetric. Phooey. :mad:
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,191
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    US exceptionalism?:munch:
     
  21. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

    Messages:
    1,491
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I prefer my measurements to arbitrary and difficult to remember. YMMV
     
  22. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

    Messages:
    2,025
    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    If it weren't for American innovation, the world would still be walking and using outhouses. We use the measurement of the King's foot here, and the rest of the world can adopt OUR system or continued being fouled-up. Forty four year later and I believe all the flags on the moon are American. A lot of crashed un-manned hardware up there from other places.:tongue:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2013
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,810
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I must admit that when printing I like to print whole plate size at 8.5" X 6.5".
     
  24. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,160
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Location:
    Connecticut,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Then how come other pano is 10x20 or 10x30?

    Ummm.... What.... He said (down arrow)


    ^^^^yea^^^^ US sizes are just reductions, but that's another thread about base systems, base 10 is just WAY easier for "problem solver" minds where "memorizer minds" thing US is easy because its wrote to them...

    I am NOT a memorizer ...


    ~Stone | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  25. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,471
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sometimes the size of things has an odd reason. The IBM punch card owes its size to the size of the US dollar bill at the time. The card actually predates the computer in this respect having been designed for a mechanical counting machine designed for the 1890 US census. Holders already existed for dollar bills so it was an easy size choice. So I doubt that the choice of 8x10 was a capricious one. The 4x5 format follows logically from the 8x10 format. It may be as simple as 8x10 being the size for glass panes.
     
  26. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,002
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    We didn't invent the bicycle or the toilet.