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Thread: Why 5x7?

  1. #1

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    Why 5x7?

    Wondering why those of you that do use 5x7 do so, in place of 4x5 or 8x10? The negative is larger than 4x5, but why not just go up to 8x10? Is the film/camera easier to work with than 8x10, or is it just the proportional size that works for you? Have been looking at 5x7's and was just wondering why you use it..and would you buy one today?
    Mike C

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    hi mike

    i really like the shape of a 5x7 negative. portraits ( i think ) look better in that rectangle than they do in a more square format. the camera i use (szabad) is about twice + the size compared to my 4x5s and almost miniscule compared to my 8x10. they thing that i really like about using a 5x7 camera is that i can use almost all my 4x5 lenses with it ( maybe two vignette). i really got hooked on that shape negative after i apprenticed with a olde timer portrait photographer. she only shot 5x7 and "split" 5x7 portraits. when i when i got a chance to get a 5x7 of my own, i jumped at it. would i buy another one today ... yup

  3. #3

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    Mike,
    There are lots of good reasons to shoot 5x7.
    1. I think the more rectangle format really enhances landscapes and portraits.
    In many instances a 5x7 contact is in most cases preferrable to a 4x5 as well as being a bit more intimate than an 8x10.
    2. If you've got an old 4x5 wood camera, many times you can convert them to 5x7 simply by adding the right back(many were designed to accept both sizes.) This is lots cheaper than having to buy a whole new camera.
    3. If you have a bunch of pictures to take while out in the field, ten or twelve 5x7 holders are going to wiegh a lot less than ten or twelve 8x10 holders.
    4. As john nanian said, most 4x5 lenses will cover 5x7 so there is a huge array of lenses you can choose from. When you're trying to cover 8x10 and larger, the playing field narrows.
    5. 5x7 sheet film isn't hard to load into holders or soup if you're already used to handling 4x5. 8x10 Requires a just a bit more dexterity.
    6. The bigger gg is easier for my tired old eyes to focus---theres lot more room for my big nose and my loupe!
    7. Size matters!
    8. With Freestyle, Photo Warehouse and J and C cutting 5x7 film, there is an excellent selection of B&W available at affordable prices.
    9. Since you'll probably be contact printing, you won't be needing to invest in an enlarger.
    10. Since you'll probably be contact printing, you'll be able to experiment with alternative processes(ok, you can do that with 4x5, but with a 5x7 you'll get a bigger print.)
    I1. When the bug bites to move up to 8x10, 11x14 or larger, you won't find the move as intimidating.
    12. Graphic made a 5x7 Speed Graphic. Not very common, but if you're a Speed Freak you can still enjoy handheld LF when you move up to 5x7. There are 5x7 Linhof Technicas as well!
    13. If your camera's back will accomodate sliders, you can take two 2-1/2"x7" exposures on a sheet of 5x7 film----kind of like a poor man's 617 if you want to give panoramic photography a try.
    14. The bigger front standard/lensboard will accept larger and heavier lenses and shutters that most 4x5 cameras can't handle.
    Hey, are those good enough reasons?

    Cheers!

  4. #4
    Ole
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    John has really said it all - but...

    In my case the first LF I got was a 5x7" Technika, with a reducing back to 4x5". I then got hold of a second one with a full-size 5x7" back, combined the best parts of the two, sold the "ratty" one with the reducing back, and bought a 4x5" Color.

    I discovered that 5x7" is the largest size holder that's easy to load and unload in a changing bag, which is really useful for field work.

    So far the Technika is the only camera I have which can handle the wonderful 300mm/f:4.5 Xenar lens - in Compound #5 shutter. The shutter is larger than most lensboards. That's what I use on my avatar
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  5. #5
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    My 2 cents....

    The difference between 4x5 and 5x7 in terms of weight, amount of gear etc. is minimal. There is a big difference when you move from 5x7 to 8x10. Much heavier tripod, film holders, lenses and the physical camera is actually much larger.

    For my money, I'd forego 4x5 and get a 5x7 because the film is almost twice as big for just a slightly larger camera.

    I shoot a lot of 8x10 and I got a 5x7 as a camera that I cam easily put over my shoulder and walk around with with a small bag for holders and lenses. Can't do that as easy with an 8x10.

    -Mike

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    A real nice item I have (and use quite a bit) is a B&J sliding 2-up back that lets me shoot 2 - 3 1/2x5 images on one sheet of film - makes for a faster moving session and allows shorter lenses to be used for portraits. Having said that, I really like the full 5X7 proportions for portraiture.
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

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    Wow, Thanks Guys...you aren't helping me at all - think I got bit by the 5x7 bug with a recent print I got and really like the format. Plus, have project in mind that I really think would work well with 5x7. The fact that 4x5 and 5x7 can share many of the same lens...well that is just a plus. Now to figure out which of the old boys to pick up, looked at a Ansco recently but it was way to loose.

    BTW, really like the idea of using negative for alt process, have tried it with 4x5 and it is almost to small IMO.

    Thanks for all the great input.
    Mike C

    Rambles

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    I don't like the almost square shape of the 4x5 and 8x10 is a like a 4x5 shape on steroids. It feel unnatural to me. My 5x7 is perfect, a more natural shape, and I got a bigger negative. Every time I think of going bigger I can only think of the 7x11 or 7x17.

    On the cost side 5x7 is just about as cheap as 4x5 because, as has been said, the lenses are pretty much interchangable. FIlm, BW is easy to find and pretty inexpensive. Color is way out of my price range for 5x7, so I don't even consider it, that is the only draw back.
    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

  9. #9

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    drawbacks:

    Polaroid does not come in 5x7 if you are doing any proofing work.
    How much of a hassle is it to apply a 4x5 reducing back for the system you are considering? Do you want to carry both backs into the field?

    Many of the inexpensive lenses that are often used to stretch to 4x5
    will not cover the 5x7.

    Cost/availability of 5x7 enlargers vs 4x5?

    No current desktop scanners support 5x7 negatives so you will have to stitch if you plan to digitize. Else pay for drum scan.
    Eric
    www.esearing.com

  10. #10

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    5X7 is probably the first really viable contact printing format (I will agree that 4X5's can be nice with certain subject matter). Additionally one could make really nice 16X20 enlargements from 5X7. I find that usually I don't want to enlarge greater then 11X14 from 4X5.

    I have almost decided to forego the larger and smaller formats entirely and concentrating on enlarging 5X7.

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