View Full Version : The Jump To 14x17: Worthwhile?

Bruce E. Rathbun
19-Feb-2005, 21:18
It has finally happened. My 11x14 has turned into an 8x10....or so it seems. That only took a few years. After working with the 11x14 I now crave a larger negative. The 14x17 would be as large as I would want to go. The 16x20 is a tad large and beefy for what I am looking for. So maybe the 14x17 could do the job. The lens selection that I have would carry over to the 14x17 as well. There would be the need to buy additional holders. A reducing back would still allow me to use 11x14 as I do not want to give that format up. Has anyone else made the jump from 11x14 to 14x17? If so was it worth the jump? As this is a very pricey move opinions are welcome. Horror stories or otherwise. Maybe I should just be happy and stay with the 11x14. It is a great sized negative......but so would a 14x17. :)


Christian Olivet
19-Feb-2005, 23:52

I am too considering moving up. My 8x10 has become a 4x5. I was consirering formats to move on to and so I started taping sheets of paper from my computer printer together to help me to visualize the size and ratio of the different formats that are available. So far I have made sheets in 5x12, 7x17, 8x20, 11x14, 12x20. Of course the 12x20 is lovely in size and ratio, but a true monster.I feel I may be limited in the range of uses with the 12x20. The 11x14 seems very nice but not much of a difference to 8x10, so now that you mentioned the 14x17 format I am curious. Who makes cameras in that format?

14x17 is only two square inches smaller than 12x20 and its diagonal is about an inch shorter. Are you sure you can use your lenses with such large image circle?

Jan Van Hove
20-Feb-2005, 02:24
Hi Bruce,

It seems to me like a move from 11x14 to 14x17 is not a very large size increase, it's a simple "step-up" from 11x14, just like 11x14 is a setp-up from 8x10 (well, it actually is less of a step from 11x14 to 14x17 than from 8x10 to 11x14... at least logistics-wise, since the problems of ULF like film availability are already present at 11x14...(I'm an 11x14-er myself...)).

14x17 is a nice format since the aspect ratio is close to what you are already used to, 16x20 is a little more squarish...
If you contact print on 16x20 paper, 14x17 leaves some room around the image to breathe, which is always nice.

Now, 14x17 does feel bigger in print than 11x14, but I fear that the small step up will leave you unsatisfied and wanting more... If you trade in your 11x14 system for the 14x17 to minimize the investment, this might be a not too expensive move, especially if you manage to find a classic 14x17 camera (there aren't many of them, but it can be done...) just be careful and think about the possibility of going as big as you can afford, so you won't feel too small too soon...

There are other classic formats that are interesting also, 18x22 comes to mind, but that's another ballgame, and if you consider 16x20 to be too large, then 18x22 is out of the question I guess...

12x20 might be also a format to consider, of course the aspect ration is completely different, but with cameras having horizontal-only backs, 12x20 cameras tend to be considerably smaller than 16x20 or even 14x17... so it gives you more film surface per camera weight...

Just my take on it, good luck with the upgrade !


John D Gerndt
20-Feb-2005, 08:50
I have not gone the route you question, rather I made the jump from 8x10 to 12x20. Yes, it is a monster. I had considered the 14x17 but it does not work well with the standard 20x24 paper. All this to say I would rather have made to move to 11x14, the area you are considering leaving, or even 7x17; there is a point where bigger gets too big!

The second point that often gets overlooked is that you might be able to get a conversion back for your 11x14 to try it out. First, find your film holders, then see about getting a back made. There are craftspersons out there who can do these sorts of things...


Jay DeFehr
20-Feb-2005, 13:28
I am currently building a 14x17 camera, because that is the largest size that I find practical, which is a foreign concept in ULF. I decided that for prints larger than 14x17, I will be happier enlarging from 8x10. 14x17 is a great portrait format, and allows me to use reduction backs in 11x14, 10x12, 7x17, etc. Another consideration, which might be lunacy, is that 14x17 vertical process cameras are common, and sell very cheaply, or sometimes even given away, and I'm thinking of building a VCCE LED enlarger head for one, which would allow me to enlarge all of the above formats. 2x enlargements of the above formats would yeild prints: 22x28, 20x24,14x34, and 28x34. If I can build the enlarger for a few hundred $$, I think it would be worthwhile.


Michael Kadillak
21-Feb-2005, 07:30
The LF realm beyond 8x10 is like an addiction. If you find the experience pleasant (and many discover that just the logistical issues are lunacy) the boundaries can become fuzzy and we can find ourselves exporing the limitations of our capacities of size, weight and cost because our culture and our consumption economy is driven on the premise that if "X" is good twice or three times "X" is even better. Even listening to others experience with this format contains a natural amount of personal bias that unless you know the individual, must be taken in the correct context.

I have found that there are visual points of diminishing returns that are reinforced by logistical issues that one needs to ascertain in their work and by what and how they "see". What could be a limiting factor for one could be a breakout event for another. It is all up to the individual, but somewhere along the line the words "thats enough" will ring true. When one looks over a year of work and the images produced, one format will dominate and others will be subordinate to varying degrees.

There is no substitute for experience. I say go for it and let us know how it works for you.


George Losse
21-Feb-2005, 18:33

Who's 11x14 are you using. If it's the same make as your 8x20 then they also make a conversion back for the 11x14 to convert it into a 12x20, just like they do with the 8x10 to 8x20.

I went from 8x10 to 11x14 and was disappointed with the difference. There was not much of an print size increase compaired to the format BS increase. Maybe if it had been 16x20 then the format size bs would have been justified by the print size increase. I would think that 14x17 might not be enough of a change. Why not think about 16x20? the costs between the 14x17 and the 16x20 are not going to be that different.

21-Feb-2005, 20:35
It's not often that one reads of someone who wants to use 11x14 as a reducing back. My hat's off to you!

Kerik Kouklis
22-Feb-2005, 11:37
Do it! If you're comfortable with 11x14, the logistics of 14x17 are comparable, and the gain in print size is more than worth the effort. A 14x17 hanging on the wall has MUCH more presence than an 11x14, IMO. I've used every format from 4x5 through 12x20, and 14x17 has become my go-to. I was lucky enough to find a circa 1900 Anthony and Scovill 14x17 w/3 holders about 4 years ago for ~$1,500. The camera itself only weighs about 19 pounds and is a joy to use. It even survived FALLING OFF of my tripod (due to my own stupidity and a worn tripod mount). Luckily, I was set up on grass, which cushioned the fall. I thought I was going to need CPR, though! Go for it! It's only money, for crying out loud!