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  1. #1

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    Paper Size History. Logical or not?

    Speaking only for this side of the pond.

    How is it we have two paper size families?

    One is 3 1/2 x 5, 5x7, and 11x14. Not perfect multiples, but very close.

    The other is 4x6, 8x10, and 16x20. Perfect multiples.

    How did this come about? And other than 4x6, none are a perfect match for 35mm, around since the 30's.

    And now comes printing on inkjets and we have 8 1/2 x 11 to throw another spanner in the logic. Obviously that comes from letter size paper tradition, and one can easily do an 8 x 10 on that format. Ilford makes a Multigrade IV RC in that size.......

    I remember Freestyle selling 8x12 a lot of years ago, I think East German. They used to have a lot of weird emulsions and sizes on the cheap. I miss those days!

    So now I have another thing to keep me awake along with the price of oil, gold, the subprime mortgage mess, the dollar going down, the Iraq occupation, and foreclosures. But THIS is important!

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2

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    Use roll paper.

    Or start worrying about metric sizes to -)

    What's 4x6 a perfect multiple of?

    Unless you're contact printing none of this matters. Cropping in the enlarger is common.

    None of those are perfect matches for 6x9 which is pretty old. 6x7 is okay on 8x10.

    Of course 8x10 is fine on 8x10. 5x7 on 5x7. 11x14 on 11x14. 3.5x5 is a split back for 5x7 camera. Paper sizes must be older then enlarging -)

  3. #3

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    Paul Interesting thoughts. There have been similar threads in the past which I don't think took us any further forward. Most sizes seem to have been a historical accidents and the position seem to be that because of different neg sizes any consolidation is futile. It had always struck me as strange that there should be a 5x7 paper size and not 5 x 7.5 which fits a 35mm neg exactly. OK 5 x 7.5 may not fit other neg sizes but I bet most 35mm users who are the bulk of film users would prefer 5 x 7.5 paper to match.

    OK you can cut 8x10 into 2 5x8s and then cut to 2 5 x 7.5s but I don't think I'd bother if 5 x 7.5 paper existed and if you're a mini lab user for prints you don't have the choice.

    Then there are the square users who might like 10 x10 paper or any other square sizes. Agfa used to do 10x10. I think things could be better if there was a will but that's the key. If most are happy with current sizes then of course the need to change isn't there and that's where we came in.

    pentaxuser

  4. #4
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Verizzo View Post
    How is it we have two paper size families?
    As near as I could ascertain there are multiple historical reasons. Two are from the 1800's hardware store:

    The size of the standard sheet of tin-plate. This set the size for tintypes
    and daguerreotypes - half-plate, quarter-plate etc.;

    The size of both a standard sheet of glass and the size of common window panes - my house's windows are made from 5x7" panes, though glass comes in 20x24"-type multiples. This set the sizes for glass-plate negatives, which then set the sizes for sheet film.

    The size of a standard sheet of artists' paper fits the common print sizes. Artists' paper comes in both an 11x14 and an 8x10 (16 x 20, 20 x 24, 42 x 30) series [along with lots of other odd sizes].

    The size of glass panes having nothing at all to do with paper sizes is most likely the reason 5x7 is the odd man out. Ditto the perforation spacing and frame size of 35mm movie film not having much to do with anything else is the reason for 24x36mm not fitting any paper.

    Then I imagine there are the sizes that are 'just because', and have no reason at all.
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  5. #5
    Mateo's Avatar
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    Ummm...maybe it has to do with historical things like the golden section. For example 11x14 is pretty close to half of 14x22.65 which is a golden rectangle. 8x10 is half of 10x16.18 etc etc. I think paper making in the broader sense influenced photo paper formats maybe more than did film formats that the paper was meant to match.
    "If I only had a brain"-Some badly dressed guy made of straw in some movie I think I saw

  6. #6

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    I've thought about this too from time to time, but if I absolutely can't crop an image, I will print it larger or smaller on a different size paper.

  7. #7

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    Oops. Meant 4x5

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Zentena View Post
    Use roll paper.

    Or start worrying about metric sizes to -)

    What's 4x6 a perfect multiple of?

    Unless you're contact printing none of this matters. Cropping in the enlarger is common.

    None of those are perfect matches for 6x9 which is pretty old. 6x7 is okay on 8x10.

    Of course 8x10 is fine on 8x10. 5x7 on 5x7. 11x14 on 11x14. 3.5x5 is a split back for 5x7 camera. Paper sizes must be older then enlarging -)
    Darned defective abacus.

    I can't remember ever seeing 4x6, er, when I was young. It seems to have been an outcome of 35mmm becoming popular maybe 25 years ago.

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I hope I'm not being negative when I say - don't worry about it. I just print everything on 8x10 paper, up to about 6x8 print size, then I move up to 11x14 to print for instance 8x12 from 35mm. I always leave plenty of border as it makes the print easier to handle.

    But I don't want to be a party pooper. I think there are many reasons why we shouldn't waste as I do.

    Counter question - why do you have to fill the paper with the print to exactly fit the format you're shooting? I crop about 90% of my prints anyway.

    Thanks for a very interesting thread!

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9

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    Thomas that's exactly what I do too, we are wasters I suppose, but I like the look. Especially if I am contact printing 4x5 on 8x10 or 8x10 on 11x14.

  10. #10

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    Bad humor?

    [QUOTE=
    But I don't want to be a party pooper. I think there are many reasons why we shouldn't waste as I do.

    Counter question - why do you have to fill the paper with the print to exactly fit the format you're shooting? I crop about 90% of my prints anyway.

    Thanks for a very interesting thread!

    - Thomas[/QUOTE]

    Oh, I don't worry about much of anything! I was being facetious.

    I completely agree that wide borders make for a much more interesting print, generally. Sort of self-matting.

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