View Full Version : 8x10 400NC vs. 4x5 160NC

Chad Shindel
7-Feb-2006, 10:22
In order to hopefully save myself some time and money, I have a question that I hope someone might have the answers to. I own an 8x10 and 4x5 camera. I have been doing a lot of shooting with the 8x10, and very little with the 4x5. But, I have started to do some portraits, full body ones, with the 8x10 and 160Nc film. With the limited depth of field inherent with the 8x10 and the slow film speed, I feel like I need to jump up to 400NC film to get what I want. So, that got me thinking as to how big the difference is between a 4x5 shot on 160Nc film and an 8x10 shot on 400Nc film. Is there any point in shooting 8x10 with 400Nc film when I can shoot 4x5 with 160Nc. I am planning on printing sizes as large as 32x40 and 40x50 inches. I know the best way to find out is to try it myself, but I have never shot 400NC film and don't want to buy a box of 8x10 unless I know I am going to use it. Basically, how does the larger film size of the 8x10 combined with the higher film speed compare to the smaller film size of the 4x5 combined with the slower film speed. Are there noticeable differences in grain and such. At what size do they occur? Thanks everyone.


Aaron van de Sande
7-Feb-2006, 10:32
It seems like the real unknown here is shooting in 4x5. Try the 4x5 (much cheaper) and if you are happy with that make the switch.

Bruce Watson
7-Feb-2006, 12:02
I have on occasion used 5x4 160PortraVC for prints up to 150 x 93 cm which is about a12x enlargement. One example is a photograph of a sequoia meadow. (http://www.achromaticarts.com/big_image.php?path=sequoia&img_num=2) I drum scanned the 5x4 film, and printed with an Epson 9600 printer onto a smooth canvas.

Based on the 150 x 93 cm print, I think it safe to say that this is about as far as I want to push this film. It's beginning to show grain (there's some "confetti effect" starting to show in the sky areas). The print is nose sharp, but it's clear that it won't take much more enlargement.

I extrapolate from this that 400PortraNC, being a faster and therefore grainier film, isn't going to take this level of enlargement. I suspect that 10x would be pushing it, and 8x would be more comfortable.

On the other hand, a 10x8 negative producing a 50x40 inch print is just a 5x enlargement, which should be easy with any film.

IOW, I think you are straddling the gap between 5x4 and 10x8. I think you can get good results in a 50 x 40 inch print from 160PortraNC or VC in 5x4, and 400PortraNC in 10x8. If you make the same portrait with 5x4 160PortraNC, and 10x8 400PortraNC, and take them both to 50 x 40 inch prints, I think you'll find the print from 5x4 to be grainier and softer than the print from10x8. This is due to the fact that 10x8 has four times the area compared to 5x4, while the graininess and sharpness differences are considerably smaller.

So if you are more comfortable with a 10x8 camera (and it sounds like you are), moving to 10x8 400PortraNC film will likely give you the results you seek.

steve simmons
7-Feb-2006, 12:08
Whgat is the final product to be. If the output will be digital then I would seriously consider the 4x5. It is chaeper, easier to scan and you won't notice that much difference in the final print.

steve simmons

Stpephen Willlard
7-Feb-2006, 12:43
The difference between 4x5 and 8x10 is significant in my opinion. You may want to consider 5x7. The difference between 5x7 and 8x10 is hardly noticable. The difference between 4x5 and 5x7 is significant.

With 5x7 you can use the smaller lenes and move in just a little bit more to achieve the same level of cropping. 5x7 is available in 160NC at B&H. If you can find a 5x7 reducing back for your 8x10 camera, then you do not have to buy a new camera. 5x7 should print just fine for 32x40 and 40x50.

steve simmons
7-Feb-2006, 13:08
The difference between 4x5 and 8x10 is significant in my opinion

It really depends on the output. If the output is to be digital or on a printed page the difference will be almost unnoticeable. Scanning 4x5 is much easier and finding a lab to process it is also easier.

steve simmons

Frank Petronio
7-Feb-2006, 15:14
I'm doing the same sort of thing, but I really don't care about super enlargements or grain - it is more the look of 8x10 photos that matters to me. I like the 400 NC and suspect - no proof yet - that it would appear to be sharper in a large print. Grain might sneak in, but I wouldn't not shoot something because of grain. Some 35mm enlarged to 40x60 looks great because of the grain...

Chad Shindel
7-Feb-2006, 20:39
Thanks all. It seems like the extra film area on an 8x10 will make up for the film speed. I also like what I get with an 8x10 better. I don't know why, but it has a slightly different look...it might just be how I shoot with it. Thanks again.

7-Feb-2006, 20:50
I would venture a guess that if you are printing 50x60, maybe the cost of the film is not that great a portion of the total final costs...