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  1. #1

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    Are 5x7/10x8 negs appreciably better than 5x4??

    Hi,

    Sorry to start such a daft thread, but I am a semi proffessional photographer -printer now dedicated to 5x4 after using MF and 35mm, but wish to be able to produce larger and larger prints (such is the fashion today for large wall centre pieces). I own a 10x8 which I will gradually acquire lenses for, but need to resore the ancient enlarger before I can start. I own many lenses that will cover 5x7 and an enlarger (Durst 138) that will cover. My questions are:

    According to my calculations I can get a 23 Inch print for the same linear enlargment factor from 5x7 as a 16.5 inch off 5x4. Will this bear out in practice in terms of visual quality. Will 10x8 really give me double the print size for comparable quality to 5x4 - assuming lenses are equal etc?

    I am wondering whether I should trade in some of my less used kit and get working on 5x7 while my 10x8 gets its lenses ( I will be buying second hand hence the delay scouring e-bay for the right ones) or just sit tight on 5x4. I know it is subjective, but is there much of a real world quality leap with 5x7 over 5x4 with a given film? I do not particularly like modern films (exception being Acros in Dixactol ultra - fine grained and scalpel cut sharp, but expensive and still not as charming as the oldies!) and generally find that 5x4 is really running out of puff at 20x24 with traditional emulsions if sumptuous tonality is not to be sacrificed - not a problem if the shot is of a tangled wood, but if there are lots of smooth zones 5-6 yuk! 20 x 24 is the size at which I really need the extra quality right now.

    Subjective opinions wanted and ramble as much as you like (oh and 5x7 has a beautiful aspect ratio!!

    Cheers,

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Stanworth; 05-28-2004 at 10:13 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Title wrong

  2. #2

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    Tom,

    If you want the ultimate quality in a print then there is no substitute for shooting large film and contact printing the negative. I utilize 4X5, 8X10, and 12X20 formats. I enlarge the 4X5 and my tastes limit the enlargement to 11X14 maximum. While it is possible to go to 16X20 the quality begins to really suffer after 11X14 in my opinion. I realize that others may disagree and I have no point of contention with their tastes. I would take 5X7 to 14X20 (slightly below 3X). By the same reasoning, if enlarging 8X10 my maximum print would be 32X40. While there may be certain people that would purchase or want such a large print, it seems that most collectors are inclined to purchase contact prints in the 8X10 size. After all there is a limited amount of wall space to hang a super large print. In addition to wall space, one might want to consider the viewing distance from the print. A 32X40 print would require a greater viewing distance then an 8X10 print. That is if one wants to enlarge negatives.

    I have recently had the opportunity to see Michael Smith's and Paula Chamlee's Azo contact prints and there is, in my opinion, nothing in a silver process that equals or exceeds the quality that one can obtain with those materials (paper/developer combination). It certainly changed my idea of things. I am back to shooting the big cameras and contact printing.

  3. #3

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    Tom, when I started LF I went straight to using 8x10 and enlarging the negatives. That was 9 years ago. I have just recently sold the last remaining enlarging-type gear that I own and I am now completely commited to contact printing on AZO. All my 16x20 and 20x24 enlargements are in storage and will probably not be seeing the light of day ever again - except perhaps to remind me of why I like AZO so much. I have also began the process to move up to 12x20 contact printing. So if I were you I would use your 8x10 for contact printing and use the 5x7 for enlargements. By doing this you can make some meaningful comparisons of subjective print quality between contacts and enlargements. I do not feel that there is much of a difference between a 5x7 negative and 8x10 negative when enlarged to approx. 20x24.

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Yes, there is a difference. Sometimes for practical reasons I shoot 4x5" or smaller and enlarge, but otherwise, I always prefer a contact print from 8x10" or larger, and even if you plan on enlarging, I think you can always see the difference between formats when the two are side-by-side and when the same practices are applied for both formats.

  5. #5
    Loose Gravel's Avatar
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    I started with 45, but now mostly use the 57. I use 810 some, too. For 57 I like the aspect ratio and yes you can tell the difference in image quality and it is big enough to make a nice contact. 5x7 is also the largest size that can be done 'one handed'. By that I mean I can hold a piece of film in one hand during loading or processing. And I find that while shooting, I can carry all the equipment I need in one trip for 57, but not for 810. 810 and larger is two or more trips or next to the car.

  6. #6

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    Tom,
    If you are going to enlarge, I would argue that 5x7 is really the ultimate format.

    1. Assuming you like the aspect ratio, 5x7 provides more than twice the usable negative area of 4x5, and, in a 10x13 print the difference is obvious.

    2. You can use either 4x5 lenses or 8x10 lenses with your 5x7, depending upon which side of the weight/image circle delemna you want to fall on. A 210 Apo-Symar, normally considered a long normal for 4x5, becomes a wide normal for 5x7 with adequate movements for a field camera. A 240 Apo-Symar, barely adequate for 8x10, allows any possible camera movement on a 5x7.

    3. A 5x7 allows the use of moderate fstops, i.e., f22, f32, f45, whereas the same scene, photographed with an 8x10, often requires an fstop like f64 or even f90. This diffraction effect at f64 or f90 is significant when observed in a moderate enlargement. This is the crux of my argument - for an enlargement, the sharpness of the 5x7 blown up to 10x13 will often actually exceed the sharpness of an 8x10 enlarged to the same 10x13.

    I don't agree with others that 5x7 is a good contact print size, I think 8x10 is the minimum contact print size I would consider.

    The other downside of 5x7 is film availability, especially of color. For B&W, you should be fine.

    Take care,
    Tom Duffy

  7. #7

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    In a word YES. Having just moved from 4x5 to 5x7 I can say that the 4x5 will hardly see the light of day, except in the fall. Color transparency film does not come in 5x7 quickloads and damnit I can't load tansparency in film holders with out screwing them up. For some reason I do not have that problem with BW. Maybe it is tougher, who knows. Any way. The one inch wider and 2 inches longer make a huge difference. Not only is the aspect ratio refreshing the size and clarity is a real difference. It surprised me. I did not expect to see much difference. I mean it is not that much bigger. Kind of like a 6x9 tranny looks better than a 6x6. That of course is a Subjective Opinion.

    Good luck finding lenses for the 8x10.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  8. #8
    clay's Avatar
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    A 5x7 allows the use of moderate fstops, i.e., f22, f32, f45, whereas the same scene, photographed with an 8x10, often requires an fstop like f64 or even f90. This diffraction effect at f64 or f90 is significant when observed in a moderate enlargement. This is the crux of my argument -
    /propeller-head geek mode-on/

    Just remember that diffraction depends on the ABSOLUTE physical aperture size, not the relative aperture size (ie f/stop numbers). So for a longer focal length lens(say 300mm), the physical diameter of the aperture at f/45 is actually about the same as the physical diameter of the aperture of a 150mm lens at f/22! Diffraction is a physical phenomena having to do with the relationship between physical aperture size and the wavelengths of visible light. The light doesn't know the focal length of your lens!

    /propellor-head geek mode-off/

  9. #9
    DeanC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Duffy
    1. Assuming you like the aspect ratio, 5x7 provides more than twice the usable negative area of 4x5, and, in a 10x13 print the difference is obvious.
    Um. 5*7 = 35, 4*5 = 20 and 35 = 1.5 * 20, right?

    I guess if you crop 4x5 to 5x7 proportions that could all fall out differently...

    Dean

  10. #10

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    Clay,
    Point taken. I have so few lenses that I've been comparing the sharpness of my 300 Apo-Symar for both 5x7 and 8x10. For both formats this single 300mm lens is my taking lens.
    But, in terms of sharpness, wouldn't a 150mm lens resolve more lines per millimeter at f22 than a 300mm at f45? Further, if a 150mm lens needed to be stopped down to f22 for adequate depth of field, I don't think f45 would be adequate for the 300mm on an 8x10.

    All other things being equal (same camera, different back), I'm always very surprised at how much fuzzier my 8x10 negs look through a magnifier than my 5x7's. Less magnification to enlarge to a given size, but still...
    Take care,
    Tom

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