Useless question out of curiosity: 4x5 versus 5x4

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mfratt, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. mfratt

    mfratt Member

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    I know it really doesn't matter, but I'm curious as to why some people refer to a camera/film as 4x5 and others 5x4 (or 8x10 vs 10x8, etc). Is it a cultural thing (I notice a lot more English and European than American photographers call it 5x4).
     
  2. SMBooth

    SMBooth Member

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    4x5 is portrait, 5x4 is landscape :smile:
     
  3. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    It is a cultural thing. The US is and Japan is 4x5. Europe is the opposite. But apparently not with metric as we all have 9x12 plate cameras.
     
  4. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    You've satisfied your curiosity so your question was not useless afterall.
     
  5. Maris

    Maris Member

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    The standard international cataloguing convention for art-works specifies the vertical dimension first then the horizontal. So 5x4 would be portrait orientation and 4x5 would be landscape. Actually inch measurements in this context have little formal status outside the USA and dimensions in the rest of the world are given in centimetres. My latest Kodak Australia Catalogue lists sheet film in the 10.2cm X 12.7cm size and not 4x5.

    Taking pedantry to the highest level one could say the film is 10.2cm X 12.7cm but the negatives obtained may be 10.2 X 12.7 or 12.7 X 10.2 centimetres depending on which way round they are
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's just British convention that the longer dimension was used first by Camera & also lens makers, so my early Ross lens is marked 8"x5" rather than with a focal length.

    Ian
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I always use 4x5 for groups and 5x4 for individuals -- or is it the other way around--shucks, I'm confused again.
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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    No. In Germany it is always the smaller number first, thus: 4x5"
    But see post #6 too.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It's not just a camera thing. Graphs are usually expressed in x (horizontal) then y (vertical) terms as are on-screen co-ordinates when I do CAD on a computer.

    Being British, obviously 5x4 is correct and everyone else is wrong!


    Steve.
     
  10. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Not in the U.K. Although they tried to make us fully metric starting in the mid 1970s, it didn't happen.

    Items sold in shops by weight or volume are now sold in Kg or litres but all of our road signs are in miles or yards and the speedometers in our cars are in MPH.

    People of around my age (mid forties) and older tend to use both systems for distance measuring. If I am designing or building something small I will use millimetres. If I am working on a house it will be in feet and inches.

    Where metric measurements for distance are used here, it is millimetres and metres. The centimetre is hardly ever used and the decimetre is even more scarce.

    http://www.bwmaonline.com/Metric Culprits.htm


    Steve.
     
  11. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Steve, it is not that easy...
    As there are cameras with landscape-, others with portrait-configuration as main setting.
    Though I admit the landscape setting is predominant.
     
  12. jacarape

    jacarape Member

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    Steve they tried to push the metric system on Mericans soon after fluoridated water, but it failed as neither the Conservatives nor Liberals could decide how many eggs would be in a dozen.

    It finally failed when America found out a baker's dozen would be 10 instead of 13.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    It's only ten if you're selling. It's thirteen when you're buying!

    In the U.K. the metrication board was set up in 1969 with the intent to completely convert us to metric by the mid 1970s. It was disbanded in the early 1980s



    Steve.
     
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  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    But, why can't we just see this 4x5/5x4 thing as one of the great enigmata of photography...
    Never to be unveiled.
     
  16. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    As a Brit living in America I seem to use 4x5 and 5x4 to suit my audience. That's true of many terms - 'lift' vs. 'elevator', 'street' vs. 'road', but not when I'm driving :cool:
     
  17. mfratt

    mfratt Member

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    I was in the car with a fellow from Australia and two other local people. Speaking to the Aussie, I asked him to put something in the boot, knowing that they refer to the trunk as the boot. He got me right away, the other Americans in the car were confused and it required and explanation.
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    No. Hopefully you drive on the right which is the proper way to do it regardless of which country you are in!


    Steve.
     
  19. taildraggin

    taildraggin Member

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    I put up a crew from England and took them to a supermarket where half of them surrounded a product display, laughing to tears at the selection of fanny packs. Never found out what was so funny. :|
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    And yet lumber in England is sold as 2x4s not 4x2s, etc. :D
     
  21. jacarape

    jacarape Member

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    The side of the road depends what's on the drink menu of course. :whistling:

    I was a PAX with a Colombian pilot driving, (Avianca, flew 757s) when he almost drove into the bar we just left. He was driving on the left (this was between Medellin and Rio Negro) when a truck appeared coming right at us. Luckily he lost control and we left the road altogether and he found the breaks.

    Soon after that I think he put in a resume for British Airways.
     
  22. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Probably the same dynamic involved when a bunch of American college students giggle uncontrollably when the hotel clerk asks them if they wish to be knocked up in the morning.
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    A few years ago, one of the CAD draughtsmen at work was a German) who by now has spent more of his life in England than Germany). One day just after the Christmas holiday which he had spent in Germany, he gave me a lift home. The first three roads were negotiated along the wrong side before I had to point out to him that he was back in England now.

    (brakes, not breaks. Although it was probably a lucky break for you!).


    Steve.
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Odd isn't it?!

    Actually, lumber is now sold in metric sizes but builders over a certain age will still ask for the cross section in inches but the length in metres e.g. "I will have 2.4 metres of 2x2 please".

    Wood is still sold in lengths of metric feet i.e. multiples of 300mm (or 0.3 metres).



    Steve.
     
  25. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    In England, Fanny refers to the area around the front rather than behind..... and female only!


    Steve.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Many British visitors here liked to drink Southern Comfort and the French loved to eat at The Red Lobster. Go figure!

    Kodak uses a Silver Gallon in the plant, but a Silver Mole in KRL. Coatings are in mg/square foot, and so the last conversion in the coating calculations contains 454 in it to convert the units.

    PE