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  1. #1
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Standard film sizes - Why?

    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?
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
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    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.
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  3. #3
    Rick A's Avatar
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    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.
    Rick A
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  4. #4
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick A View Post
    Sheet film sizes are obvious
    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?
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
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  5. #5

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    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. #6
    Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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    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. #7
    StoneNYC's Avatar
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    Framers did it so we would have to buy custom frames for everything lol (not a real answer).


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    ~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ParkerSmithPhoto View Post
    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?
    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. #9
    David Brown's Avatar
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    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.
    David
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  10. #10
    StoneNYC's Avatar
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    I wish it were all in metric sizes personally...


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    ~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller

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