View Full Version : New article: the 5x7 format

QT Luong
8-Nov-2005, 20:19
A new article,
The 5x7 format in practice (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/5x7.html) has been posted. All constructive comments welcome.

Antonio Corcuera
9-Nov-2005, 01:57
Nice and useful overview Tuan,
spotted one small typo, should say Kodak 160NC (not 1600NC).

9-Nov-2005, 03:10
Hi QT,

I read that you cut 5*7 out of a 8*10 sheet.
Is that to save hassle of finding the sheets in your preferred emulsion is there another reason, e.g. price (which I doubt)


QT Luong
9-Nov-2005, 04:36
Both. This is explained in the article.

9-Nov-2005, 06:04
An even better, and deader, format is the old full plate: 6.5x8.5.

Martin Drozda
9-Nov-2005, 07:43
Would you recommend buying a wooden or metal 5x7" Canham?

Ted Harris
9-Nov-2005, 08:55
QT .... nice job! My offer still holds for ordering 13x18 film. A couple of comments:

AFAIK Agfa RSXII 100 is no longer manufactured in 13x18 and may not be available in any size, I know the 8x10 was discontinued about two years ago. The 13x18 was discontinued a little less than a year ago, I bought some 15 boxes from a small dealer in Germany and a few of the larger shops may still ahve a bit in stock. All this happened before /Agfa's current woes so not directly related. BTW if anybody wants a box of this stuff I can spare a few.

Martin, both QT and I use the wooden Canham. I refer to this as a wooden box with metal working parts inside which is largely what it is. My feeling is that the wooden model is perhaps more rigid than the all metal 5x7 but that is not based on any experience. I have used the wooden camera for some ten years but never the 5x7 metal camera.

Sal Santamaura
9-Nov-2005, 09:55
"An even better, and deader, format is the old full plate: 6.5x8.5."

I'm in total agreement with you on that Bill. In fact, if I win the $226 million MegaMillions jackpot the day after tomorrow, count on there being full plate Fuji Quickload Acros and holders as well as an Ebony "SV6585" to use it in!

Mark Sawyer
9-Nov-2005, 12:17
I also love the 6.5x8.5 format, and sometimes shoot 8x10 to be cropped to that size. The proportions of the rectangle seem so elegantly balanced; it was originally worked out by the Golden Mean. The cameras are a nice size too; I used to have a Seneca whole plate camera that looked like a "cute little 8x10."

9-Nov-2005, 14:09
Nice article, QT

Steve Feldman
9-Nov-2005, 14:10
I have recently acquired a 5x7 back for my 4x5 / 5x7 B & J wood view. I'm trying out the new Freestyle offering of Arista.edu 5x7 B & W ASA 200 from Hungary. It's not on their web site but available in the store. A 25 sheet box is $14.00. First shot at 200 ASA was way under exposed. 2nd test at ASA 100 was much better. I soup in HC 110 B 68 deg. 7.5 min. for N. N+1 looks about 10 min. N+2 about 15 min. Haven't tried N- yet. Contact prints look pretty good.

(I am not associated with freestyle in any way).

Ole Tjugen
9-Nov-2005, 14:32
Good article. I've been using 5x7" for many years; first with a Linhof technika, now with a Gandolfi Traditional. I also use 6.5x9cm, 9x12cm, 4x5", 18x24cm and 30x40cm - but 5x7" (and 13x18cm) is my favorite format.

9-Nov-2005, 21:57
QT..or others.... I too have long contemplated the benefits of one single format, vs. both I currently shoot. However, I know 5x7 film is not plentiful, but my biggest concern is 8x10 film becoming extinct.... its my guess, 4x5 outsells 8x10 by at least 50:1. So once film divisions start loosing money, I can see this happening. In the Studio, where 810 film used to hail supreme, I can see the high end digital one-shot backs, and of course the scanning backs being a serious threat, as 810 was often a bit overkill to begin with. Any thoughts on this?

10-Nov-2005, 03:45
Interesting that I should find this post the morning after making my first contact print in 5x7!
I searched for and found a 5x7 camera for exactly the reasons implied by Mr. Luong's article: although I love
my 8x10 Orbit, it's just a tad heavy for long treks, and 4x5 is a bit small for contact printing, which is my
preference. Contact printing 5x7 w/FP4....exquisite!

10-Nov-2005, 10:08
"Compared to 4x5, 5x7 is almost twice as large. The image on the ground glass is nice and big to look at, but not so big that it becomes difficult to see as a whole, like in 8x10."

This is an interesting point that I hadn't really thought about before: what is the optimal size ground glass for composition. Clearly related to certain measurable quantities, such as how far away do you stand to focus your eyes on the glass, and do you wear glasses. And do you want to be able to see the whole gg at once at this distance (for most of us, probably yes). I have recently been struggling under the darkcloth with 8x10, precisely because in order to see the whole gg, I need to back up from ideal (i.e., minimum) eyeball-to-glass focus length. Moving back and forth under the (sagging) cloth, in the wind, what a drag!

On the issue of weight, my 8x10 pack is about the same as 5x7, because I don't carry the 2 shortest lenses. The point being that the camera weight is a third or less of the total, so unless you are a gram shaver it need not be fatal. Bulk is another story, however. Especially for monorails: I have carried my Toho 5x7 monorail in a backpack, but can't really imagine carrying an 8x10 monorail that way.

10-Nov-2005, 11:18
What is exact dimensions of exposure area of 5x7 film holders?
Do they vary much between makers?
Does Toyo still make 5x7 holders?


Glenn Thoreson
12-Nov-2005, 21:30
I got a 5X7 Speed Graphic expressly for the purpose of making negatives big enough to make contact prints. I want to try making albumen prints.

Mike Colt
18-Nov-2005, 06:11
Couldn't agree more. There is a dramatic difference between 4x5 and 5x7 contact prints. The first time I made a 5x7 contact print I spent a day trying to duplicate the sharpness and luminosity on an enlarged print. When I gave up I realized I had already made a good print, just a bit smaller than I was accustomed to. Matted and framed these 5x7 contact prints are very nice to look at.

Jay DeFehr
8-Dec-2005, 15:01
5x7 is a great format, frought with inconvenience. To choose 5x7 as one's sole format seems to me an exercise in masochism. I am satisfied with a 5x7 reducing back on my 8x10 for occasional use. By the way, Tuan, I have an identical tripod to the one your posing with on your home page. What a beast!


Peter McHugh
20-Jan-2006, 14:22
I was very interested in the above topic. I used a 5X7 camera for macro photos as a metallographer and when I retired purchased one for myself. I quickly abandoned it as a practical replacement for serious photographic work because of the difficulty in finding film for it.

Most of my work would be macro, landscape and astro photography. Through some experience with the latter I have begun to rethink how my 5X7 could be used:

-Three exposures on B&W film of the same subject. One using Red, oneGreen and one Blue. I realize this would only be good for stationary targets or astro targets which can be tracked. Until I became well aquainted with Photoshop CS2 I wasn't sure this would be a practical approach. Now I am beginning to think it would be worthwhile trying.

-Black and white film is economical and easily processed. The other thought I had was to bypass the film stage and go staight to print paper in the camera - If the light level is a problem, very long exposures can compensate? Is reciprocity going to be a problem?

Peter McHugh
20-Jan-2006, 14:26

re above - I meant red green and blue filters

Ernest Purdum
20-Jan-2006, 20:33
Thank you for this article.

One point that I think is a strong argument for 5X7 is that reducing backs are cheaper than lenses. If you can use more than one film size, your lenses become more versatile. A lens that permits extensive use of movements on 4X5 becomes a wide angle on 5X7.

Clay Turtle
8-Mar-2006, 21:27
thank you for the excellent article and timely to boot. I just got a cherry wood back & in the process of adapting a bender 4x5 with the 5x7 back. I will need to extend the bellows length & the rail. (any tips there would be gratefully accepted as well like how long a rail?) One of the dilemma's I found is getting color film so where can I get the 13mmx18mm holders? Haven't checked out your link yet but I will.

Thank You again for the info.

Pronier Jean Claude
2-Oct-2006, 12:29
Many thanks for you interesting and well documented article.
I was very often hesitating between my 4x5 camera and my nice but too heavy 8x10 Zone VI.
I read and read this article and recently sell back the 8x10 and ordered a 5x7 Canham, I must say that I already had an 5x7 Ozaka.
5x7 contact are a little bit small but we can concentrate on the printing quality and i'ts an exciting challenge.
thanks again and now the bag will be lighter.

Ken Lee
2-Oct-2006, 12:57
Here is a link that works: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/5x7.html

2-Oct-2006, 13:00
5x7 is a great format, frought with inconvenience. To choose 5x7 as one's sole format seems to me an exercise in masochism.


Hi Jay,

Would you kindly elaborate on the above statements?


Unfortunately, I'm having a bit of a time accessing the article. Every time I click on the link... it says:

"Safari can’t open the page “http://localhost/5x7.html” because it could not connect to the server “localhost”."

I'm wondering if anyone else using Safari is experiencing the same difficulty?



3-Oct-2006, 09:36
The link is http://www.largeformatphotography.info/5x7.html. I fixed the one in the original post, too.

Very good article, QT. Concise but mentions all of the major pros and cons of this format. I have been using 5X7 format for over two decades and really love the wider aspect compared to 4X5. Like many people I came to large format from 35mm and 6X9 and was lucky to immediately discover 5X7. My 5X7 outfit, which consists of an old Nagaoka 5X7 with 105mm, 180mm, 210mm, 300mm and T-450mm lenses, and ten holders, weighs less than 30 lbs and fits in a small Tenba backpack that a reasonably healthy person could backpack easily on mountain trails.

Selection of 5X7 over 4X5 makes even more sense to me today than it did twenty years ago. At that time the only option was to print the negatives with an enlarger, and 5X7 enlargers cost then a lot more than the more readily available 4X5 units. Nowdays, with the ability to scan and either print directly from the files or make digital negatives, 5X7 imakes a lot more sense to me than 4X5.

The only major drawback that I can see relative to 4X5 is the limited choice of color emulsions and the expense of having color fim developed. As for B&W, there are still plenty of great films available.

Sandy King

3-Oct-2006, 14:10
Nice article. I think in the end 5x7 is my favorite format. Sad, because i've never used it!

Michael Daily
3-Oct-2006, 18:23
with the advant of high-end --> advent
5x7 gear is not much more heavier or bigger --> delete "more", insert "so" after "not"
While five years ago there was only a couple of field 5x7 --> "were"
currently imported by J and C, nclude Forte --> include
I chose to cut myself the film from 8x10. --> ...to cut the film myself

Thanks for the article. I also use 5x7 and I always learn much from reading whatever you write. As are many others, I am a big fan. Please keep up the teaching.

Ted Harris
3-Oct-2006, 18:34
My usual addendum regarding 5x7 emulsions. The issue is more one of getting the film in North America than it is of actual availability. A wide variety of emulsions are availabe in 13x18 and widely sold in Europe. See the chart at http://www.viewcamera.com/pdf/2006/5x713x18filmtable.pdf . You just need to work a bit harder when ordering film.

Right now I have Provia, Agfa RSXII, E100G, EPR and EPP in my freezer.

Carsten Wolff
3-Oct-2006, 22:16
Hmm, an older thread lives again....., but since others have commented, let me thank you, Luong, for your informative and inspiring article. I think partially due to that article and other recent info in ViewCamera magazine that I'm almost totally sold on 5x7 now.
My move had been precipitated partially perhaps due to me already having a great Durst (3S) 5x7 anyway and partially because I had an Arca B 5x7 that I previously only had a reduction back and a Canham 6x17 back for (I had made a lightweight 6x17 adapter for it). Then, after reading your article I sourced film, converted an old Plaubel 5x7 back I had to fit the Arca (which took all of 20 minutes) and got some s/h holders and hangers.
I now regularly trek with my 5x7, shooting b/w and colour, at only small weight penalty. Availability of film seems no big issue as it's comparatively easy to buy internationally and it is a pleasure working behind a 35 sq. inch ground glass......

Turner Reich
4-Oct-2006, 00:05
Hi, is this the same 5X7 article that was posted some time ago? I read it and moved up and down to 5X7 after seeing it. It is an honest look at 5X7 and I think anyone considering the format should look at it. I think 5X7 is about perfect because you can contact print until you decide to enlarge. Even though obtaining a 5X7 enlarger is difficult. The enlarging lenses and the light source are available but the enlarger is a little more challenge. Great article, thanks.


Scott Davis
4-Oct-2006, 07:30
I recently got a pre-owned Canham 5x7 wood field to take with me on a trip to Argentina. This was a fantastic experience, and many of the reasons for it have already been mentioned above. Most of my 4x5 lenses work just fine on 5x7. The 5x7 Canham fits in basically the same space as my Shen Hao 4x5 (the Shen Hao had room for my light meter in the same compartment, but the Canham fills the compartment), so I could use the same gear bag and fit it in the overhead bin as a carry-on. Another nice thing about the Canham wood field is that it can be adapted to take a 5x12 back. That's on my agenda for additions to the gear kit when I finally take my big trip to China.

Despite what some people are saying, there is a very wide variety of 5x7 black-and-white emulsions available within the US (even if not necessarily from the Big Two). I took some of the Freestyle Arista.EDU Ultra 200 with me to Argentina and it has overall been terrific. I did notice a tendency with it to attract fingerprints (probably caused by A: my having oily skin and B: using some older film holders that were prone to grabbing on to my film and not wanting to let go without a struggle). It is best shot at 100, I have found. I process in a Jobo CPA-2, with Pyrocat HD, 1:1:100 for 11 mins @ 72 F. This gives me a really nice negative for palladium prints.

steve simmons
4-Oct-2006, 08:18
5x7 has been my format for several years. I like the more rectangular proportions. Film is not a problem. There is plenty of FP4+ and Tri-X available. In the recent poll in this forum they were the most popular films and they are very good choices. They work well in staining and non-staining developers.

steve simmons

8-Mar-2007, 04:16
Your article did the most to convince me to go to 5x7. Only wish I had found it before I acquired all of the 4x5 enlargers, cameras and lenses. I will sell the enlargers. Cameras are forever :)


Henry Friedman
11-Mar-2007, 18:10
Can someone tell me whether 5X7 filmholders are still being made?


Ted Harris
11-Mar-2007, 18:43
As far as anyone can tell the answer is no. However, there are still new ones in the pipeline. Fo that matter, although the owner of the company will neither confirm nor deny, it appears that Fidelity (the world's major holder supplier) is not making ANY new holders. They are still assembling new 4x5 holders from available parts and probably have enough parts for some 30,000 holders. It's difficult to tell but it doesn't seem to be the case with either 5x7 or 8x10 holders.

Having said all that there are other, smaller holder manufaturers, such as Toyo and there will soon be at least one new entry in the field, Fotoman.

Don't let the holder situation stop you ...

12-Mar-2007, 04:10
QT... A great help for someone like me getting back into large format. Thanks a bunch for all the information that is on the large format home page and also for maintaining this forum.

I have been looking at 5x7 and was hesitant because of film choices. What I learned reading this article about 13x18 film in Europe will probably push me this way.

Great info...


Carsten Wolff
20-Mar-2007, 19:11
I suspect Fuji may have stopped making 5x7 Astia (or Velvia)(?); Kodak 64 is around though. Also, is there any lab in Australia that develops 5x7 E-6 (well)?
So for now, although I'm doing all of of my b/w in 5x7, I run the occasional colour shot in 4x5, or 6x17, but it'd be nice to work in 5x7 all up.

Eric Leppanen
20-Mar-2007, 20:36
I suspect Fuji may have stopped making 5x7 Astia (or Velvia)(?)...If you don't mind paying a price premium and importing your own film, Megaperls (http://www.unicircuits.com/shop/) lists Provia 100F, Velvia 100, Velvia 100F, and Velvia 50 in 5x7. They list Astia 100F only in 8x10.

Carsten Wolff
24-Mar-2007, 21:05
thanks for that, Eric.

John Cummins
2-Aug-2007, 12:11
Is there anything for daylight developing of B&w 5x7, like the Nikor tank for 4x5?

Ole Tjugen
2-Aug-2007, 12:53
Is there anything for daylight developing of B&w 5x7, like the Nikor tank for 4x5?

I use JOBO 2830 print drums, four 5x7" negs at a time.

2-Aug-2007, 14:00
Is there anything for daylight developing of B&w 5x7, like the Nikor tank for 4x5?

An then there is the Jobo 3010 expert drum, five 5x7 at the time (or ten 4x5 as designed for by jobo)

Best Regards

Scott --
2-Aug-2007, 16:04
8x10 Beseler print drum on Uniroller - two sheets of 5x7 at a time, if'n ya wants ta.

Bruce Watson
2-Aug-2007, 16:31
I also love the 6.5x8.5 format, and sometimes shoot 8x10 to be cropped to that size. The proportions of the rectangle seem so elegantly balanced; it was originally worked out by the Golden Mean.

Um... no. The Golden Ratio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio) (golden mean, golden section, phi, etc.) is a considerably different aspect ratio: 1.618. Think 6.5 x 10.5, or maybe 5.25 x 8.5. There aren't any modern film formats AFAIK that reflect the golden ratio. I don't think any of the old formats did either. I've never understood why; I compose to that ratio and print it quite a bit myself. These trees in fog (http://www.achromaticarts.com/big_image.php?path=smokies&img_num=14) are an example.

The 4:3 ratio of the old 6.5 x 8.5 format is certainly nice however, and it too shows up a fair bit in nature similarly to the way the golden ratio shows up in nature. IIRC the 4:3 ratio shows up in architecture quite a bit too. There's something about it that just seems to "fit."

4-Aug-2007, 08:43
Um... no. The Golden Ratio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio) (golden mean, golden section, phi, etc.) is a considerably different aspect ratio: 1.618. Think 6.5 x 10.5, or maybe 5.25 x 8.5. There aren't any modern film formats AFAIK that reflect the golden ratio. I don't think any of the old formats did either....

If there were 5x8, that would be pretty close.

4-Aug-2007, 08:46
Um... no. The Golden Ratio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio) (golden mean, golden section, phi, etc.) is a considerably different aspect ratio: 1.618. Think 6.5 x 10.5, or maybe 5.25 x 8.5. There aren't any modern film formats AFAIK that reflect the golden ratio. I don't think any of the old formats did either....

Wasn't there once a 5x8? If there were, that would be pretty close. 8X13 would be pretty close too.

Carsten Wolff
5-Aug-2007, 19:14
Mark, Bruce and Brad,
Half Plate would come of course pretty close (6.5"x4.25") to the "Golden Ratio". Only 0.2 of an inch off in width, which is almost absorbed by the guide rails inside the holder....;)
Half Plate holders might even fit (I might be wrong, I could check tonight) into a 5x7 camera.
However, it would be easy to mask off/mark a 5x7 GG and crop later instead of buying H-P holders and starting to cut film.

7-Aug-2007, 08:32
I'm not convinced by the golden ratio as useful. I'm more interested in the framing of a subject by a rectangle chosen to fit that subject. Every situation is potentially different. The idea of one rectangle as perfection is something of a golden straitjacket.

More on topic: 5x7 offers a great second choice if one already uses 4x5 or 8x10, since it gives a new aspect ratio, a wider way of seeing the world. Owning a 4x5 and an 8x10 only, leaves you with less to work with -essentially the same rectangle.

Moreover, it's pretty common to end up with a 150mm and a 300mm. If you have a 4x5 and a 8x10, you have two normals and a long lens and maybe a wide for the big camera. Either 4x5 or 8x10 with a 5x7 offers more angles of view and framing options.



Scott Davis
7-Aug-2007, 09:14
Actually, there was 5x8 as a format before. They're uncommon, but they do pop up on Ebay from time to time. Scovill seems to have been the primary manufacturer of this format (most of the 5x8's I've seen were marked as Scovills). You'll also find 5x8 marked brass lenses from time to time.