View Full Version : 8x20 & 16x20

David Hedley
02-02-2007, 09:14 AM
I am a very keen LF photographer, but have never shot larger than 4x5.

I'm thinking about trying ULF, and wondering if a 16x20 camera exists, which would also be capable of shooting half frame 8x20, without complicated mechanical adjustment in the field?

User Removed
02-02-2007, 09:18 AM

I'm sure you could get a custom 8x10 reducing back made for it.

David A. Goldfarb
02-02-2007, 09:31 AM
The easiest way to do it would be to use a half-frame darkslide mask like this one for 4x10 on an 8x10 camera--


It's easy to make one yourself from a spare darkslide (or since the holders are custom anyway, you could have the holder manufacturer make one for you), is much less expensive than a reducing back, and you can keep it with you all the time without adding much weight to your kit. You'll want to be sure the camera has plenty of rise/fall to take full advantage of a half darkslide mask, since the image area is no longer centered in the back.

George Losse
02-02-2007, 09:49 AM
I think in the long run an 8x20 camera would still be much lighter then a 16x20 with some kind of reducing back. You mentioned having the camera in the field. I would think weight and mobility should also be a consideration.

Scott Peters
02-02-2007, 01:37 PM
I would recommend an 8 x 20 / and frankly an 8 x 10 (which can be nicely contact printed in and of itself, or enlarged should you choose to enlarge to 16 x 20. Get a 4 x 5 reducing back and you may never use your 4 x 5 again...

The stand alone 8 x 20 would be much more manageable in the field.

I regulary take a 7 x 17 and 8 x 10 with me. Some places I shoot just tend to lend themselves better to one format over the other.

User Removed
02-03-2007, 09:03 AM
At $7,500.00, its a quite expensive camera to just "try out".

I think Scott makes a great point. You could get an 8x20 camera, which would be much easier to work with in the field, or just in general, and another 8x10 camera for making 16x20 enlargments.

What are you wanting a 16x20 negative for anyway? Regular silver printing, AZO, platinum? If it's just for making silver prints, doing a 4x enlargement from 8x10-16x20 is not a great loss of sharpness.

I've been recently doing some 30x40 mural prints from 8x10 negatives, and those are still VERY sharp. Probably the same as doing a 11x14 from a 4x5.

Dave Wooten
02-03-2007, 10:14 AM
Clyde Butcher prints from 12 x 20 negs.

02-03-2007, 11:12 AM
tom yanul used to print from 12 x 20 too.
too bad he closed down his darkroom a while back ..


David Hedley
02-03-2007, 02:28 PM
Interesting comments - thanks. I suppose the idea was to have one camera from which I could contact print, either in 16x20, or in 8x20 panoramic.

Something like a 5x7 Canham, with a 6x17 back, could be a more portable alternative, but you'd need to have an enormous enlarger.

I just wanted to get to a place where the negative was very close to the final print - something like a straight wire with gain.

Dave Wooten
02-03-2007, 03:59 PM
Maybe a 14 x 17 camera with an additional 7 x 17 back/or you can also just tape down the loose side of 7 x 17 in your 14 x 17 camera...not a big deal really.

These cameras are made in China presently.

02-03-2007, 05:23 PM
I am personally moving to 14x17. "Moving" means "I just ordered a 14x17 camera with holders". So I am putting my wallet where my mouth is (oh gosh...)

The reason I picked 14x17 is five-fold:
1. Interestingly enough, in the ULF kingdom 14x17 is a standard. Why? Because of X-Ray film. In fact, there is plenty of X-ray orthocromatic film around. Granted, it is not T-Max 400 by a loooooong shot, but if the you-know-what hits the fan and ULF film disappears I can survive on ortho film. There is also some intriguing infrared film in the 820nm range. Nothing to brag about, just some tiny parachute.
2. The lenses I already have (G-Claron 355mm, Nikkor-C 450mm, Fuji-C 600mm) cover the format nicely.
3. I started my ULF quest completely sold on 12x20. But then my style evolved and I am no longer shooting solely landscapes. At this point I don't find 12x20 general purpose enough: wonderful for landscapes but somewhat less general purpose than 14x17, and a drag to shoot vertical.
4. 16x20 was just too much: new lenses, even more weight/bulk, hence money+++++, etc etc. and 11x14 was not big enough. I am shooting 8x10 already, if I make a jump with contact printing in mind it'd better be a JUMP.
5. My film holders will be able to take 12x16 as well, a popular size in Europe ('popular' is all relative in ULF, of course). Yet another fall-back if film becomes an issue to source: I have two options.

My one cent (after ordering the camera and the holders I do not even have two cents left)

P.S. Having said this, I am hanging on the 50 sheets of ADOX 100ISO film I was able to find and put in the freezer. With all the chit chat about Ilford runs, Kodak runs, this will happen and that will happen blah blah blah my bottom line TODAY is that this is the only 14x17 film I was able to find.
P.P.S. ULF is becoming a game for people with no nervous system, low blood pressure, or hopelessly optimistic.


02-03-2007, 07:30 PM
I also find 12x20 to be impractical and hard to compose with and nearly impossible to shoot vertical. Some people are great with the format but I am not. 12x16 and 14x17 are much easier for me to work with and 12x16 is similar to 5x7 proportions and 14x17 much more square. It is a touch more square than 16x20 and I think this could bother some people.

Ortho film is all I have been shooting in my 14x17 for now, but all i've ran are test images nothing real yet. It is possible to get good images with xray, line or industrial film if you have the technical skills and patience for the slow speed.

Dave Wooten
02-03-2007, 07:59 PM
Harrigan and Mammolo,
Nice to hear from other 14 x 17 users!

Dave in Vegas

02-03-2007, 08:18 PM
Yeah, indeed, nice to hear that I am not alone :-)

14x17 _is_ squarish, no question about it. I have been shooting for many years with a 6x6 so I am not concerned about it. Clearly, if all one cares are panoramas then it is no good.

It is close enough to 4x5 though (it would be 14x17.5) that I will be able to go around with my old Linhof viewfinder and figure out whether I want to come back to that spot with my 20 Kg gear ('40 pounds' sounds heavier, I prefer to use kilograms :D ).


Dave Wooten
02-03-2007, 08:34 PM
Also available on line and fresh is 10 x 12, 11 x 14 and 14 x 14 as well as 8 x 10 and 7 x 17 in green and blue sensitivity. Price is quite nice as 100 sheets of 14 x 17 is about 90.00 US for 100 sheets! It would be interesting to hear of and see some "fine art" projects using these films in traditional cameras.

02-04-2007, 07:57 AM
Dave, here is a an image from my civil war battlefield series shot on industrex sr45 film. Cross Keys Battlefield, Harrisonburg VA. This image is older but the series is current. I have not shown many from my series yet. I cant find a spectral curve for the film but 1a safelights are ok with the film. This stuff is slower than mowlassees, less than iso 1 the way I process it! I shot this on full plate but I also have the same film in 14x17. Scanned from the neg and damn good tonality for what I am trying to do w/ these images. Brass wide angle rectalinear lens wide open (f16).

I dont mean to change this thread however the point is these inexpensive films are very useful for lf and ulf. You dont have to be ultra rich to shoot ULF.