Why 5x7?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by photomc, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Wondering why those of you that do use 5x7 do so, in place of 4x5 or 8x10? The negative is larger than 4x5, but why not just go up to 8x10? Is the film/camera easier to work with than 8x10, or is it just the proportional size that works for you? Have been looking at 5x7's and was just wondering why you use it..and would you buy one today?
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi mike

    i really like the shape of a 5x7 negative. portraits ( i think ) look better in that rectangle than they do in a more square format. the camera i use (szabad) is about twice + the size compared to my 4x5s and almost miniscule compared to my 8x10. they thing that i really like about using a 5x7 camera is that i can use almost all my 4x5 lenses with it ( maybe two vignette). i really got hooked on that shape negative after i apprenticed with a olde timer portrait photographer. she only shot 5x7 and "split" 5x7 portraits. when i when i got a chance to get a 5x7 of my own, i jumped at it. would i buy another one today ... yup
     
  3. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Mike,
    There are lots of good reasons to shoot 5x7.
    1. I think the more rectangle format really enhances landscapes and portraits.
    In many instances a 5x7 contact is in most cases preferrable to a 4x5 as well as being a bit more intimate than an 8x10.
    2. If you've got an old 4x5 wood camera, many times you can convert them to 5x7 simply by adding the right back(many were designed to accept both sizes.) This is lots cheaper than having to buy a whole new camera.
    3. If you have a bunch of pictures to take while out in the field, ten or twelve 5x7 holders are going to wiegh a lot less than ten or twelve 8x10 holders.
    4. As john nanian said, most 4x5 lenses will cover 5x7 so there is a huge array of lenses you can choose from. When you're trying to cover 8x10 and larger, the playing field narrows.
    5. 5x7 sheet film isn't hard to load into holders or soup if you're already used to handling 4x5. 8x10 Requires a just a bit more dexterity.
    6. The bigger gg is easier for my tired old eyes to focus---theres lot more room for my big nose and my loupe!
    7. Size matters!
    8. With Freestyle, Photo Warehouse and J and C cutting 5x7 film, there is an excellent selection of B&W available at affordable prices.
    9. Since you'll probably be contact printing, you won't be needing to invest in an enlarger.
    10. Since you'll probably be contact printing, you'll be able to experiment with alternative processes(ok, you can do that with 4x5, but with a 5x7 you'll get a bigger print.)
    I1. When the bug bites to move up to 8x10, 11x14 or larger, you won't find the move as intimidating.
    12. Graphic made a 5x7 Speed Graphic. Not very common, but if you're a Speed Freak you can still enjoy handheld LF when you move up to 5x7. There are 5x7 Linhof Technicas as well!
    13. If your camera's back will accomodate sliders, you can take two 2-1/2"x7" exposures on a sheet of 5x7 film----kind of like a poor man's 617 if you want to give panoramic photography a try.
    14. The bigger front standard/lensboard will accept larger and heavier lenses and shutters that most 4x5 cameras can't handle.
    Hey, are those good enough reasons?

    Cheers!
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    John has really said it all - but...

    In my case the first LF I got was a 5x7" Technika, with a reducing back to 4x5". I then got hold of a second one with a full-size 5x7" back, combined the best parts of the two, sold the "ratty" one with the reducing back, and bought a 4x5" Color.

    I discovered that 5x7" is the largest size holder that's easy to load and unload in a changing bag, which is really useful for field work.

    So far the Technika is the only camera I have which can handle the wonderful 300mm/f:4.5 Xenar lens - in Compound #5 shutter. The shutter is larger than most lensboards. That's what I use on my avatar :wink:
     
  5. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    My 2 cents....

    The difference between 4x5 and 5x7 in terms of weight, amount of gear etc. is minimal. There is a big difference when you move from 5x7 to 8x10. Much heavier tripod, film holders, lenses and the physical camera is actually much larger.

    For my money, I'd forego 4x5 and get a 5x7 because the film is almost twice as big for just a slightly larger camera.

    I shoot a lot of 8x10 and I got a 5x7 as a camera that I cam easily put over my shoulder and walk around with with a small bag for holders and lenses. Can't do that as easy with an 8x10.

    -Mike
     
  6. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    A real nice item I have (and use quite a bit) is a B&J sliding 2-up back that lets me shoot 2 - 3 1/2x5 images on one sheet of film - makes for a faster moving session and allows shorter lenses to be used for portraits. Having said that, I really like the full 5X7 proportions for portraiture.
     
  7. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Wow, Thanks Guys...you aren't helping me at all :smile: - think I got bit by the 5x7 bug with a recent print I got and really like the format. Plus, have project in mind that I really think would work well with 5x7. The fact that 4x5 and 5x7 can share many of the same lens...well that is just a plus. Now to figure out which of the old boys to pick up, looked at a Ansco recently but it was way to loose.

    BTW, really like the idea of using negative for alt process, have tried it with 4x5 and it is almost to small IMO.

    Thanks for all the great input.
     
  8. mark

    mark Member

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    I don't like the almost square shape of the 4x5 and 8x10 is a like a 4x5 shape on steroids. It feel unnatural to me. My 5x7 is perfect, a more natural shape, and I got a bigger negative. Every time I think of going bigger I can only think of the 7x11 or 7x17.

    On the cost side 5x7 is just about as cheap as 4x5 because, as has been said, the lenses are pretty much interchangable. FIlm, BW is easy to find and pretty inexpensive. Color is way out of my price range for 5x7, so I don't even consider it, that is the only draw back.
     
  9. esearing

    esearing Subscriber

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    drawbacks:

    Polaroid does not come in 5x7 if you are doing any proofing work.
    How much of a hassle is it to apply a 4x5 reducing back for the system you are considering? Do you want to carry both backs into the field?

    Many of the inexpensive lenses that are often used to stretch to 4x5
    will not cover the 5x7.

    Cost/availability of 5x7 enlargers vs 4x5?

    No current desktop scanners support 5x7 negatives so you will have to stitch if you plan to digitize. Else pay for drum scan.
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    5X7 is probably the first really viable contact printing format (I will agree that 4X5's can be nice with certain subject matter). Additionally one could make really nice 16X20 enlargements from 5X7. I find that usually I don't want to enlarge greater then 11X14 from 4X5.

    I have almost decided to forego the larger and smaller formats entirely and concentrating on enlarging 5X7.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I shoot a 5x7" Press Graflex (when I'm not shooting 4x5, 8x10, or something else) because it's the largest size SLR that's not impossible to come by and is relatively portable and even handholdable, and it produces a negative that makes a decent sized contact print. In their day, these cameras were quite popular among press photographers.
     
  12. Max

    Max Member

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    I'm not going to read this thread anymore.

    I'm excited about my new 4x5 Super D. I'm excited about 4x5. I'm excited about 4x5. I'm excited about 4x5. I'm excited about 4x5. Yes, I made the riiiiight choice. I'm not second-guessing myself at all. I will like 4x5 contact prints just fine. I'm excited about 4x5. I'm excited about 4x5. I'm excited about 4x5.

    Or better:

    I really don't need another camera. I value my marriage. I really don't need another camera. I value my marriage. I really don't need another camera. I value my marriage. I really don't need another camera. I value my marriage...
     
  13. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

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    The intimacy of the print is the big winner for me. Sure it's nice that my camera was less expensive and lighter than 8 X 10 and film is less expensive. But people get close to my 5X7 contact prints prints and look in a way that they didn't with my 8X10 enlargements. I guess it's because they have to. You either look at a 5X7 print or you don't see it. I'm considering getting an 8X10 for panoramas but I think I'm going to try my camera's splitter and make some 2 1/2 X 7s first.

    Cheers,

    James
     
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  15. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Max,
    4x5 is OK! 4x5 is OK! 4x5 is OK!
    Now, I wish I had an 8x10 but... I value my marriage. I value my marriage. I value my marriage!!

    gene
     
  16. Max

    Max Member

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    Yeah. I can always build a 5x7 back for my 8x10, but it wouldn't be a cool SLR like David's.

    Eh, a 4x5 SLR is still pretty durn cool... besides, I suppose I could break down someday and get an enlarg... wait:

    I value my marriage. I value my marriage. I value my marriage. I value my marriage. I value my marriage. I value my marriage...
     
  17. esearing

    esearing Subscriber

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    just a thought... Why not build cardboard 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14 pinhole cameras and play for a few days to see which format suits you. Cheap alternatives and the wife won't kill you.

    Now if only I could find plans for a 4x5 cardboard enlarger....anyone?
     
  18. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Now that's an idear! Find me a 5x7 film holder and make a pinhole camera for it.

    I went through some 120 fuji chromes I took last spring using a 120 Ilford POC converted to a pinhole camera... I am amazed how sharp a pinhole can be.

    I agree, the main reason to go 5x7 over 4x5 is contact printability. Don't get me wrong, I love my 4x5 speed, but if I ever wander upon a 5x7 deal, it's all over.


    Marraige is overrated *G*


    tim in san jose
     
  19. Emile de Leon

    Emile de Leon Member

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    5x7 is a great format as you have already heard. My Anba Ikeda comes in at 3.8 lbs, about as light as you can go. It fits great in a laptop backpack and really is a perfect ultralight 5x7. That said the 7x17 is also a great format still being fairly light at 12 lbs but with a giant neg to go with the added weight. Good luck! Emile. www.deleon-ulf.com
     
  20. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Mike,
    I've taken the opposite approach to the "twice the neg area of 4x5 and much lighter than an 8x10" that seems to be the standard answer to the question. I shoot with a heavy Sinar P2 5x7 as a field camera and really like it compared to the orders of magnitude lighter Canham wood 5x7 that I used for about a year. It's a good, stable platform that handles a wide range of lenses and, since I use lenses intended for 8x10, any possible camera movement is well within the image circle of the lenses. I use three lenses, a 150mm wide angle, a slightly long 300mm used as a normal, and a 600mm telephoto. My most used lens is the 300, my least used the 150. So, here are my reasons prefering 5x7 over any other large format:
    1. I have a 5x7 enlarger and print to 10x13 on 11x14 paper. Meaning, I don't consider 5x7 a large enough size to contact print, 8x10 would be the minimum for me and even that seems small. If you don't plan to enlarge 5x7 negs, I wouldn't consider the format.
    2. Having used 35mm for many years the aspect of 5x7 seems right 4x5 and 8x10 are maddingly "square".
    3. I can generally shoot 5x7 at 2 to 3 fstops wider than 8x10 for the same depth of field, i.e., f22 - f45 rather than f64 to f90. With a modern lens, this results in a sharper negative. With an 8x10, I always seemed to be fighting for adequate depth of field.
    4. the 5x7 groundglass is much larger than 4x5. Meaning, I find the 4x5 too small to use comfortably; the 5x7 is much better.
    5 Cost of film - I've been shooting more color neg film lately. My 8x10 film costs were brushing 10 dollars a sheet, 5x7 Portra 160 NC can be bought at Badger Graphic for 3 dollars a sheet.
    6. The negative size allows you to pick a film for its tonal range (most important consideration) rather than for film grain or resolution concerns. I sum it up as "I shoot 5x7 tri-x so I don't have to shoot 4x5 tmax."

    Take care,
    Tom
     
  21. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Tell your wife how lucky she is that you don't collect cars :wink:
     
  22. ThomHarrop

    ThomHarrop Member

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    I don't shoot 5x7 myself but I believe that, whether people know it or not, they are attracted to the proportion of 5x7 because it is much closer to the shape of the golden mean rectangle. Actually, 5x8 would be nearly perfect but 5x7 is a lot closer than 4x5. The 4x5 proportion (4x5, 8x10, 16x20) was used as a standard size because it fit the original paper rolls without any waste. The 5x7 proportion is more pleasing from an artistic standpoint because it is a pleasing shape for the brain, not the wallet.
     
  23. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    I just wanted to make note of this for you esearing and all the rest who might be wondering. This isnt entirely true.

    Epson makes a flatbed scanners that have 6"x9" transparency ability.
    The 4870 runs about $450 last time I saw it advertised.
    Not trying to bring up any digital propoganda but I just wanted to correct the misinformation.

    The Epson 3170 scanner I have gives wonderful scans of 120 and 35mm film and 4x5 negatives with my homemade "transparency" adapter.
     
  24. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Due to size and ease of use (or lack of such), 5x7" enlargers are often cheaper than 4x5" ones. You can usually get a 5x7" or larger enlarger for the cost of haulage, while you can still expect to have to pay for a 4x5" one. 8x10" enlargers can be difficult to fit into a normal (home) darkroom, no problems with most 5x7".

    My scanner isn't exactly "current", but the AGFA Duoscan T1200 takes 5x7" film. Ans 8x10", for tht matter.
     
  25. photomc

    photomc Member

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    The information provided by everyone has been really good.

    Tom, your list is one of the best I have seen on the subject and is Very Helpfully, Thanks.

    Ole, question about enlargers..could a Beselar 45 be converted to 5x7 or would it be less expensive to just find a 5x7?

    Been playing around with some Ziatypes today (4x5 contact prints) and have to say a 5x7 negative would sure make it a lot nicer.

    Thanks Everyone for your input.
     
  26. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I picked up a fine durst 138 (5x7 colour head) for £50...but did have to drive 300 miles to collect it. I'd love a 5x7 and will wait until the right deal comes along. Aspect ratio, portability, weight and incresed neg size win the day.

    Tom