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  1. #1
    Martin Aislabie's Avatar
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    5 x 4 - which bit?

    I was looking through my 5x4 Neg Files – then it struck me – the Negatives I am looking at are not 5 inches by 4 inches at all :o

    I got out my engineers steel ruler and measured the exposed size of the negative as 120mm x 96mm with a diagonal of 153mm

    This still gives a 5:4 length:width ratio

    Even the sheet of film isn’t 5x4 inches its 125 x 100mm (4.9 x 3.9 inches)

    Can someone shed light on how we got to this size?

    Has 5x4 ever actual been 5x4 inches or has it always been a close metric equivalent to 5x4 inches

    Martin

  2. #2
    Ole
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    5x4" glass plates were exactly 5x4". When film was introduced all that was available was plate holders. So the film was made a little bit smaller so that it would fit in the metal sheaths which are necessary to hold film flat in a glass plate holder.

    It's the same with ALL film sizes - 9x12cm, 5x4", 5x7", 13x18cm, 18x24cm, 8x10" and so on: All of them are a smidgeon smaller than the glass plates which they replaced.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    There was a BS and ANSI, pre-ASA & ISO, standard for all the film sizes the 5x4 size is nominal not actual.

    Ian

  4. #4
    MikeSeb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    There was a BS and ANSI, pre-ASA & ISO, standard for all the film sizes the 5x4 size is nominal not actual.

    Ian
    Ian, the amount of photo-trivia you know is, damn, just amazing. Your mind must be like my uncle's attic---lotta stuff in there to dust off and deploy when needed!

    I'd hate to face you in Trivial Pursuit!

    Michael Sebastian
    Website | Blog

  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The Standards for film sizes should be available for download from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), but the PDF files aren't free.

    I've never heard Ole's theory before about the film being smaller to fill adaptors, this maybe the case for some Continental film sizes, but I'm not so sure about the British/US sizes.

    Mike I have some very good & interesting reference books, perhaps the best being "Photography-Practice-Technique, L P Clerc translated & edited by George Brown, 2nd Edition 1940, also some parts of a later 60/70's edition edited by L A Mannheim (was published in Sections).

    Ian

  6. #6

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    Every measurement, time increment, light reading in photography should have an 'about' in front of it. Many of the numbers that we rely on on averages. The ISO and contrast in both film and paper are not what the manufacturer says they are. Even things like focal length, aperture and shutter speed lenses are an average. None of this stuff is precise because it really wouldn't make much different in the final image. If it is within 1/10 or even 1/5 of a stop then it will have little impact on the final image. As precise as some people try to be with photography the fact of the matter is that their is too much variation between boxes of film, life of the battery in your light meter, exhaustion of developers etc... (I am not encouraging sloppy work, but rather an emphasis on the picture rather then the process).

    My guess is that the 5x4 is slightly smaller then that because 1) the manufacturer can get more film out of given amount of acetate base, and 2) the slightly smaller sheets of film are easier to get in and out of film holders.

    Hope this was of some help.

    Yours;

    Christopher J. Breitenstein
    www.ChristopherJBreitenstein.com

  7. #7

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    There seems to be one exception to that; Lith film. I got a pack of APHS 4x5 from Freestyle as a precursor to using it for ULF and found that it wouldn't load into my grafmatics (or my Lisco DDS). Upon inspection it turned out to be exactly 4x5 inches. I now need to get a small trimmer to get it to the right size.

  8. #8
    Ole
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    Lith film is made in "paper sizes", which correspond to the old plate sizes, and not in "in-camera-film sizes".

    Believe me, the film adapter sheaths are the real reason.

    My guess is that the 5x4 is slightly smaller then that because 1) the manufacturer can get more film out of given amount of acetate base, and 2) the slightly smaller sheets of film are easier to get in and out of film holders.
    13x18cm / 5x7" disproves that: If this was the reason, why would anyone still make both 13x18 and 5x7" film? And why would both be a few mm smaller than the nominal size, resulting in 13x18 film being almost exactly 5 by 7 inches?
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  9. #9
    Martin Aislabie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info guys

    As usual APUG is an amazing fountain of knowledge

    Martin

  10. #10
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    I agree with Ole.
    I have several wooden plate holders with sheaths in them. I use them w/o sheaths for wet plate and the glass sizes are exactly 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. Lith film, which is in paper sizes, will not fit in the sheaths, but in the tracks for glass. Of course lith film can not be used in these holders because it is so thin it moves around a lot.

    Jim
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

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