View Full Version : All Those Oddball Formats?

07-29-2007, 09:16 PM
It has been roughly 4 years since I found APUG and have been seduced by the large format world. In that time, I have noticed a number of formats both LF, MF and even 35mm that are used that would be considered odd-ball formats. 35mm has fans of the 1/2 frame, and various panoramic formats, MF has the 645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 and 6x9 fans as well as the 6x12 and 6x17 pano formats, LF - let's see there are the mainstream 4x5,8x10 (or 10x8) workers (5x7 could fit here today), the the ULF crowd with the 7x17, 8x20, 11x14, 12x20 and even 20x24 - then there seems to be a big movement to Full Plate 6.5x8.5, plus the really odd formats 4x10, 5x12, 7x11 (my personal favorite), 10x12, 14x17 and 16x20.

Curious how many are out there shooting the non-standard formats and why you do? Is it because you bought a camera and that is the format it was set up in? OR is it, as in my own case, the traditional formats did not fit your way of seeing? In my own case I love 5x7, but 8x10 did not fit like the 7x11 does.

Would be interested in hearing the Why? I know there are those out there that think we are nuts when we choose one of the odd-ball formats, let's get serious there are not a lot of film holders out there, film is either bought through "special" runs, or cut down from other sheet film sizes.

How would you answer someone when they are "why bother" to work with obscure formats when there are a lot more "common" formats that have film available and more choices for lens, film, etc?


07-29-2007, 09:55 PM
I've grown to like 6.5" x 8.5" plates. I started out doing them in wetplate collodion with a modified 8x10 film holder. The largest standard plate that fits in the modified holder is full-plate. Plus, when cutting glass for ambrotypes I usually started with large glass sheets that I'd size to full-plate sheets and then cut into 4 quarter-plates for use in smaller cameras.

It turns out I can also just barely hold a full-plate glass straddling it across my extended fingers. This helps a lot when sensitizing plates and loading the special holder. 8x10 is just too big.

I also use 10x12 for similar reasons. Those plates will fit in a modified 11x14 holder.

I never really liked the 4x5 or 8x10 aspect ratio preferring to print 5x7 or 11x14. The latter two formats comprise the camera formats I most frequently use now. Another reason for the use of 11x14 ULF is that it is the smallest camera format where a life-sized head projects comfortably on the film.

07-29-2007, 11:10 PM
I've used a 6.5cm x 9cm sheet film camera. I think it's the smallest sheet film you can buy. I started shooting it because it was fun, the camera was free and I could buy cheap film from JandC. It has a great lens on it and the portraits I shot turned out pretty good.

I guess it was a novelty but worth the time and effort. I still have film in the freezer so it remains an option when the mood strikes.


07-29-2007, 11:59 PM
5x7 and 8x20, because I like the ratios and the cameras. I'm just about to try 6.5x8.5 because the contact prints are a little more pleasing than 5x7 in size. I also have 8x10, but that's "main-stream".

07-30-2007, 04:09 AM
6.5x9cm, 9x12cm, 13x18cm, 18x24cm, 24x30cm and occasionally 30x40cm. They are only "oddball" when seen from the "wrong side of the Atlantic", though... :D

Nick Zentena
07-30-2007, 04:31 AM
In MF 6x12 and 6x17. The roll film holders are reasonable so the chance to try out the format isn't a big reach.

In LF I got a 4x10 back and some film holders. The reducing back for 4x10 was a fraction of what a 11x14 film holder would cost.

All three of the formats I mention work with my lenses. Anything that covers 8x10 obviously works with smaller. 120 film isn't an issue. Cutting 8x10 in half hopefully won't be an issue. New film holders are being made for 4x10. So other then things like film sleeves it's not much effort to shoot. Very painless.

Of course the fact I find 8x10 too square often is the big reason for me.

Ian Grant
07-30-2007, 05:09 AM
Oddball formats allow for individualism in an era of mass marketing.

Any one seen using any large format film is seen to be mildly eccentric by most of the population, particularly the camera phone brigade. But that eccentricity and dedication is part of the fun of using these formats.


C Henry
07-30-2007, 05:13 AM
I photograph 4x10, and 5x7 (well the holders and film are 13x18cm).
As to why, well I've battled with 4x5, being unable to compose comfortably, always forcing a composition and being dissapointed with the results. Although I know it can be done well (4x5,8x10), it just isn't for me. It is too square (although I use a rolleicord as my toy camera!)

Sourcing 4x10 isn't difficult. Cameras are made (canham, shen hao, fotoman and lotus), holders too (plastic fidelity-type in the form of canham and fotoman) and one can even buy film off the shelf (berger bpf, adox chs 100, and ilford through the ulf order).

07-30-2007, 06:38 AM
My main formats are 5x12, 8x10, and 6.5 x 8.5.

I was inspired by several articles on Tillman Crane in View Camera a few years ago and by Michael Mutmansky's Ireland pictures on his website to shoot the 5x12 format. :) 8x10 was just a big step up from 4x5. I tried a little 5x7, but found that the negatives just didn't look quite right to me. Then I started looking into whole plate and got hooked again. :)

I find that these formats suit my way of seeing more than any others. I don't care anymore if people think I'm nuts. Life is too short to worry about that.

07-30-2007, 07:13 AM
6.5x9cm, 9x12cm, 13x18cm, 18x24cm, 24x30cm and occasionally 30x40cm. They are only "oddball" when seen from the "wrong side of the Atlantic", though... :D

Apologies Ole ;) when I started this I reminded myself to include the metric formats and did not do so...:o

07-30-2007, 08:05 AM
Apologies Ole ;) when I started this I reminded myself to include the metric formats and did not do so...:o

That's all right - I forgot to mention that I also shoot 24x56mm on occasion - the 135W back on my Bronica ETRS gives that format. Really nice with the 40mm lens...

07-30-2007, 08:18 AM
My main formats are 5x12, 8x10, and 6.5 x 8.5.

I was inspired by several articles on Tillman Crane in View Camera a few years ago and by Michael Mutmansky's Ireland pictures on his website to shoot the 5x12 format....

I also blame Tillman Crane for my ownership of a 5x12.



Roger Hicks
07-31-2007, 05:24 PM
Surely there are two kinds of 'oddball' formats. On the one hand there are those that provide a more pleasing aspect ratio within the normal range of rectangles (whole plate, 5x7 inch, 13x18cm. etc), and those that go way outside this (6x17cm, 6x24cm, 4x10 inch, etc.)

The former are easy to use by anyone who likes a better shape within the usual range of shapes (not the squat, ugly 4x5/8x10 for example, OK for portraits but of limited use for anything else), while the latter appeal only to a few with a particular type of vision. The 'particular type of vision' is not one whit inferior: just rarer and harder to try. And, in all fairness, sometimes favoured by those who can't compose a decent picture in any format, and therefore try the bizarre in desperation.

Jim Chinn
07-31-2007, 10:27 PM
I always thought 10x16 would be an interesting ULF format. Very close to 35mm dimensions and just cut a sheet of 16x20 in half for the film.

08-01-2007, 03:24 AM
I'm shooting 5x7 the most now - I love the shape, and it is the smallest size that still makes a decent contact print. I'm getting into whole plate, as soon as the Fotoman holders are available. I'm also in the process of acquiring an 11x14 and a 5x12 camera. Part of my vision has always been panoramic, and again, 5x12 is the smallest size in that genre that makes a nice contact print. The oddball thing is that I traded my Xpan (which is a nifty little camera, but I'm not using it enough) for the 11x14, and I traded my Hasselblad lenses for the 5x12 (again, not using them enough). I'm keeping my 8x10, because I've got just too much tied up in it, and the 8x10 I do have is just so nice, it would be a real challenge to replace it if I wanted to get back into it later. I'm figuring the 11x14 will get mostly used in the studio, but the 5x7 and 5x12 will get used in the field a lot more.

Nick Zentena
08-01-2007, 05:12 AM
I always though whole plate was one of those squarish formats -) 6x8?

4x10 is the more accessiable 5x12. Similar shape. You can just crop an 8x10. Or get a reducing back. Or go whole hog and buy a 4x10 camera.

Roger Hicks
08-01-2007, 06:17 AM
I always though whole plate was one of those squarish formats -) 6x8?

6-1/2 x 8-1/2 or 1:1.30. The difference between this and 1:1.25 (8x10, 4x5) is quite surprising as far as I am concerned.

08-01-2007, 07:05 AM
Whole plate is more square than 5x7, less square than 4x5/8x10. It's a nice intermediate.

09-08-2007, 11:26 PM
It appears that I have become a victim of my own post today...with a Universal, Rochester Optical Company Whoe plate (6.5x8.5) camera coming home with me from a local camera show.

Seems a little TLC will be needed to have it film worthy and to be honest when I decided to 'purchase' the camera the intent was to just pass it on to someone that was wanting a whole plate (or is it full plate) camera. BUT, after sitting down with the camera I have to say it is a really nice camera and with a few of the minor items corrected would make a nice shooter...and somehow that format starts to grow on you - it sure seems nicer than the square of 8x10, and the size of the rig is much smaller than the 8x10 Korona I have. Plus there is something about using another old camera and putting it back into use that seems to satisfy some interal voice within that I really can't explain.

So now to start to work on it, clean it up, maybe repair/replace what needs work and find a film holder (or 3 or 4) and some film to go in said holders....you Whole Plate guys .... would never have consider this if you had not been making all those post.

yeah that's it, it couldn't be some weakness in my own personality that caused this, need to blame everyone that mentioned....awwwwwww Heck!! Just a sucker for one of those 100 y/o plus cameras and I know it. Who needs standard formats anyhow...

09-09-2007, 01:33 AM
My oddball formats are 6x17 and 4x10. I find the 6x17 format with a 90mm is the bomb for dramatic landscape, and it packs easy. The 4x10 is done with masks in my 2D- so two shots per 8x10 sheet. I've only goofed with it a bit, but I think it will be an interesting aspect ratio for certain still life shots that I want to contact print.