View Full Version : differences betwen 4x5 5x7 and 8x10 when you shoot

luis prado
25-Feb-2006, 02:46
i would like to know if are many differences betwen 4x5 film and 5x7 and 8x10 when you shoot in color, especially betwen 5x7 and 8x10 in terms
of quality , i shoot 8x10 160nc films and now i would like to shoot in 5x7 . the enlargers are 30x40 more or less. any comment is welcome.

Armin Seeholzer
25-Feb-2006, 05:16
Hi Jesus

Is thad 30x40 inch or cm it it is only cm then I would only work with 4x5. Work with modern lenses and a fine camera and with the film quality of todays films yoou are on the save side with 4x5.
If its in inch then I would recomend 8x10 if you have very high standards!
5x7 color film is not easy to get otherwise I would recomand it, but only if its in inch!

luis prado
25-Feb-2006, 08:47
30x40 inch,
i discard 8x10 recently due to hight cost of film , proccess and ship, now i have a lot of 5x7 film , in the same brand that i used in 8x10
kodak 160nc , i discard use others films. i would like to know if anyone uses both and experienced big differences or not betwen 8x10 and 5x7
with this type of film.

Ron Marshall
25-Feb-2006, 08:52
Jesus, I just bought a 5x7, but haven't had a chance to do much shooting. I bought it for two reasons: contact prints and to get better quality scans from my Epson 4990. I will still use my lightweight 4x5 for hiking and for color.

I find it much easier to compose on the ground glass with the 5x7, and of course the 5x7 negatives are much easier to read. I think of 5x7 as the Goldilocks format, not too big, not too small. 8x10 for me would be too bulky, to heavy (especially lenses) and too expensive. 5x7 is "just right".

You can always cut down 8x10 to 5x7, as others do, or have it cut for you. But there is some color in 5x7.

Since you already are shooting 8x10. You can print 4x5 and 5x7 crops of some of your images to see what the quality difference will be. But the consensus seems to be that a 10 times (linear) enlargement is the maximum for a quality print.

Ed K.
25-Feb-2006, 19:27
While only you can decide what's best, here are some thoughts -

If you're using a 4990 scanner, which you did not indicate, a 40x50 from 8x10 looks pretty darned good from that scanner. The 4990 seems to do a reasonably okay job ( resolution-wise, not tonality ) at 1200 dpi scan resolution, with makes a pretty honest 300ppi 40x50 inch lightjet. This is one reason to vote 8x10, and one reason I like 8x10. If you're printing analog, or getting drum scans, then a 5x7 is still better than 4x5. While some people like 4x5 contact prints, I like the 5x7 and especially 8x10 contact prints very much. It's nice to know that certain shots that don't make the 30x40 goal can still make very charming and interesting contact prints. It's also nice to see the shot better without a loupe and perhaps live with a contact print for a while before putting the time and money into a 30x40.

A beauty of the 5x7 is that many times, one can't find long enough lenses for the 8x10 for selective shooting - the 5x7 brings its "crop factor" into play, and also allows a nice pleasing composition shape and the ability to use "long" lenses without having the camera cranked out to the edge of the earth. Also it seems that many kinds of subjects like the aspect ration of 5x7, especially if one has a background in 35mm shooting. You can shoot the 5x7 without wasting a lot of the 8x10 film.

For me, the cost of 5x7 seems to be too close to 8x10 - same with the processing aspect of it. Most film has to be special ordered, and that adds to the price. It's big enough to demand more care in handling, and unfortunately, big enough to exceed the size of film holders for scanners as well as many glassless neg carriers ( Newton rings, anyone? ) It seems like 5x7 demands much of the 8x10's kit and procedures. If you're always cropping your 8x10s into a 5x7 format, you have your answer right there. If you like to make 8x10, 16x20 and/or 30x40, those prints are just right for 4x5 and 8x10 film - you'd have to either crop or waste paper in those sizes when you us 5x7. A 30x40 is really a natural size for 8x10 negs.

It seems that many nice lenses cover 4x5, however the lens choices for 5x7 only are quite limited. To get decent coverage for movements, assuming that your shooting requires movements, one might end up getting 8x10 lenses pretty often. 8x10 lenses are usually heavier, and usually have larger, slower shutters. Of course, the image cirlces of 8x10 lenses make large shifts possible in 5x7 - it's great to be able to put the horizon in a pleasing place by using shift.

I have a 5x7 reducing back and just can't bring myself to use it much. 5x7 seems to be as demanding regarding evenness of development as 8x10 is, whereas even development with a 4x5 seems much easier. On the other hand, a 5x7 wood field camera with a 4x5 back would have me using 5x7 a lot more often, because at least the camera itslef is smaller.

If you like to, or can, shoot very slow film, a 4x5 gives very nice 40x50 prints. On the other hand, using fast film, the 8x10 allows pretty smooth looking 40x50 prints from TXP320 and Ilford HP5 - something that 4x5 won't quite do for me at least. Shooting faster LF film can be a wonderful experience, especially if things in the scene are moving around ( well, sometimes, blurred moting is cool too ). I don't care for prints larger than 16x20 from 4x5 with fast film, but that's just me. For me 5x7 is closer to 4x5 in overall smoothness than it is to 8x10.

If you're young and have great eyes, the 4x5 is portable, inexpensive by comparison to use, and can yield spectacular results, especially with slow films. If you're a bit older, the huge 8x10 groundglass brings a welcome relief to the eyes and makes it easier to spot problems in the shot or do movements ad-hoc.

I doubt that most 5x7 cameras are any faster to use than an 8x10. A serious drawback of 8x10 is the portability of it and speed to set up. Some 4x5 cameras, technical and press cameras, can be shot faster than the typical 5x7 or 8x10. 4x5 also allows the use of Readyload or Quickload materials, which are very space saving and relieve the dust issues. In the half the space of a couple of 8x10 holders, I can have a couple of dozen Quickloads on hand and best of all, mark shot information right on the holders. 4x5 also allows use of the excellent Grafmatic 6 sheet magazine that not only saves time, it holds film really flat. 8x10 and 5x7, with their more expensive holder systems, often make the changing bag a needed item for more ambitious shoots.

Of the few other photographers I know well, most admire the 5x7 format, primarily for its aspect ratio. However in their work, as mine, the 5x7 work is only a small percentage. So perhaps in addition to being the "Goldilocks Format", 5x7 might be the "photographers with good taste" format too. One might summarize by saying that 4x5 = faster and cheaper, 5x7 in the middle, 8x10 = slower and more expensive but possibly higher quality. Other than what you like most, the real question is which of the formats allow you to get the best quality without the contents of the shot suffering from the gear needed for that quality; afterall, who would want a technically perfect yet boring photograph?

Stephen Willard
27-Feb-2006, 23:13
Based on actual testing, I have found there is a considerable difference between 4x5 and 5x7, but the difference between 5x7 and 8x10 is not that big. From my testing I decided to shoot 4x5, 5x7, and 4x10. I decided not to shoot 8x10 because it is not very portable, requires much bigger lenses with less DOF, is more expensive to operate, and does not give me that much more resolution than 5x7.

Portability is particularly important for me. I spend most of the summer and fall in the back country of the Colorado mountains. I use two llamas and my "pig" pack to port about 220 pounds of gear in. If I went with 8x10 it would take about three llama to get equivalent functionality into the back country.

My primary formats are 5x7 and 4x10. I use 4x5 only for doing macro work or extreme telephoto work with my 720mm lens. I love the aspect ratio of the 5x7 and find the 4x5-8x10 aspect ratio to be too squarish. The 5x7 is more elongated and is a better fit for photographing the land. I can use 8 out of the 10 lenses that I had bought for my 4x5 on all three formats. I have one camera that can be converted to any of the three formats within a few minutes in the field.

I shoot primarily Porta 160 VC color negative film. I cut my 5x7 and 4x10 stock from 8x10 film. I use Porta 160 VC Readyloads for my 4x5. Over the years I have gotten very good at cutting my own stock and changing film in the field without much of a dust problem.

Maximum size prints I can make in my traditional color lab are 30x40 inch prints from 5x7 and 4x5, and from 4x10 I can make up to 20x50 inch size prints. Making big prints is an art unto itself. The slightest imperfection or the smallest speck of dust can be nightmare when making big prints.

Warm Light On Cold Land

luis prado
1-Mar-2006, 06:57
Dear Stephen:
first of all,thank you for your advice.
i would like to know if you develop yor sheets by yourself in home or if you send the 4x10 format to a lab and how to storage yor 4x10 film
best regards

Stephen Willard
1-Mar-2006, 23:32

I develop all my film in my own lab. I used to use a JOBO CPP2 to process my film. Now I use a JOBO ATL 2 Plus. I use JOBO expert drums for processing. I use the 3005 tanks designed for 8x10 film to process my 4x10 film. I use about 20% more chemistry than Kodak recommends to ensure even development.

The JOBO expert drums are famous for processing sheet film evenly. The variation in density is extremely small. I periodically run a test developing a photographed gray card evenly light. In theory the sheet should have even density over its entire surface. With commercial labs it is not uncommon to have +/- a half stop variation in density. To me this was unacceptable.

Clay Turtle
11-Mar-2006, 15:01
Thank You for your question, it has been a concern of mine to upgrade to 5x7 . . . the more I hear, the more steadfast my resolve to give it a try at least.

Cliff Baldwin
20-Mar-2007, 19:28
I just bought a Deardorff sliding back that fits onto my Deardorff 8x10 foeld camera.It can expose 2 5x8's on a single sheet of 8x10 film.No need to cut film and more films are available in 8x10.If 5x8 is too fat,just crop it in the enlarger.(I have Durst 8x10 and 5x7 enlargers).Or if u dont have an 8x10 enlarger,trim the films later after processing to print in your 5x7. With this special back,no need to carry 2 film holder sizes and 2 film types.Now u can shoot full 8x10 when appropriate or economize and get 2 shots onto an 8x10 sheet. Use all the same lenses for both formats.

26-Mar-2007, 12:21
I think depth of field would be your main difference when shooting, with 8x10 it's a little hard sometimes to get everything you want in focus.

Another thing that happens to me a lot is getting a weed or stalk of grass that you can't see in the gg when wide open, popping up in the final which was shot stopped way down.

You just have to be a little more careful with 8x10 than with "shapshot" cameras like 4x5 or 5x7.

I like the long, low proportion of 5x7 or 35mm, my 8x10's are cropped in mounting to a slightly more rectangular format measuring 180mm by 240mm, or 3:4.

Scott Davis
26-Mar-2007, 13:11
I have become a die-hard fan of the 5x7 format. I got a Canham 5x7 Woodfield to take with me to Argentina this past fall, which worked out wonderfully. It was very easy to tote around with me in a single backpack along with five lenses, light meter, darkcloth and ten or so film holders in the saddlebag pockets on my Pelican backpack/bag. It takes up no more room in the end than my 4x5 kit did, and it weighs the same too (Thank you, Keith Canham!). Most of my 4x5 lenses also provide enough coverage that they are useable on 5x7 - some barely (my Fuji 300T f8 telephoto lens), some with enough to allow movements, like my Goerz Am.Opt. Dagor 4 3/8" f8. Stopped down, that lens provides significant movement on 5x7, in a very compact, light package. The one pickle of shooting 5x7 is the availability of color film. If you want color neg, now you're basically going to have to get 8x10 color neg and cut it down.

I'm so enamored of the format though, that I'm seriously tempted to sell off my 4x5 and just use the reducing back I have for it when I need to use that format (color work, for example).

I process all my own in a Jobo ( I have "only" a CPA2, but I have the 3005 and 3010 expert drums for doing 8x10 and 4x5/5x7 film). As has been mentioned before, the Jobos provide extremely even, consistent development.

Now if I only had a 5x7 enlarger (and room to use it!)... I do mostly alt-process contact printing with my big camera negatives, and 5x7 is the first size at which a contact print looks good. 8x10 contact prints are great, especially when grouped (I do multi-frame panoramas at times), but they do eat a lot of film, chemistry, and cash.

Thinking of alt-process, that's another thing that the big negs will let you do, if you're so inclined. There's little out there quite like a well-made Palladium print from a big negative.

Jack Flesher
26-Mar-2007, 14:00
I'm sorry, but I feel the need to offer my .02 on something that gets said here every so often that bothers me: It is regarding the "there is a big difference between 4x5 and 5x7, but not much between 5x7 and 8x10" comment.

IMHO, folks that claim marginal gains going to 8x10 from 5x7 either had an older 8x10 camera with marginal rigidity, marginal alignment or 8x10 lenses of marginal performance, or a combination of these factors. Ask anybody who has used a solid, properly aligned 8x10 with a good lens and good loupe and the answer will be nearly unanimous as to it's superior image quality. Moreover, I actually heard one disappointed 8x10 user admit they had not even bothered using a loupe to focus when they compared since they could "see the image pop in and out of focus very easily" !

I will however admit an advantage to 5x7 (and by inference 4x5) over 8x10 is it is easier (or at least cheaper) to find good lenses that cover -- as most contemporary plasmats will -- and rigidity is less of a concern in 5x7 than it is in 8x10. I'll also admit the more rectangular aspect raitio of the 5x7 can be more pleasant to work with, though it is easy to crop 8x10 to similar proportions and you lose virtually nothing.

Finally, portability gains with 5x7 are debatable IMO. Most of my 8x10 colleagues and I feel that if we're going to go to the trouble of carrying something as large as a 5x7 -- notably larger in the pack than a comparable 4x5 -- we might as well "go all the way" and carry the 8x10. For ultimate portability, a 4x5 with readyloads is pretty tough to beat.

My .02 only,

Eric Leppanen
26-Mar-2007, 19:33
My own personal opinion is that format selection is largely a function of the print size desired, and the enlargement factor that will be tolerated.

For color landscape work printed digitally, I find that a 4x enlargement is ideal, 5x is OK, and enlargements larger than 5x are undesirable (distant vegetation starts looking like puffballs, texture and tonality starts being lost, etc.). A really sharp lens like a Fuji 240A shot at f/22 might make an excellent 5x enlargement, but most of my 4x5 landscape images tend to be shot at f/32 or so, and wide angle and long lenses generally do not resolve as well as relatively normal focal length lenses such as the 240A or, say, a 150mm APO Sironar S.

Thus, if I consistently want superb (not just OK) prints larger than 20x24", I need to look at a larger format. 5x7 would get me superb 20x28" and "OK" 25x35" prints, but if I want superb 30x40" prints (my current large print benchmark) then 5x7 won't cut it and I'll need the 8x10.

As for B&W, I still prefer traditional silver prints to inkjet in most cases, and the 8x10 camera enables superb traditional 16x20" silver prints (the 2x enlargement factor is difficult to distinguish from contact prints). I don't like going any higher than 2x, though, preferring inkjet at that point. Since 16x20" is my preferred B&W print size, a 5x7 camera wouldn't buy me anything.

In my mind, any format requiring film holders (as opposed to quickloads/readyloads) will be significantly bulkier and less convenient than 4x5 (reloading film holders every night during a multi-day trip is a real drag). Film holder bulk and weight is a killer with 8x10, admittedly less so with 5x7. But with regards to the camera and lenses, if one uses best-in-class technology the difference between 5x7 and 8x10 is not that pronounced. A Canham 5x7 Traditional weights 6.0 pounds, for example, while a Wehman Light Weight 8x10 weighs 7.5 pounds. An 8x10 lens set consisting of, say, an SS150XL, 240mm Germinar W, and Cooke XVa (311, 476, and 646mm convertible) is not drastically heavier than a corresponding 5x7 lens set.

Of course, folks who like the 5x7 aspect ratio and prefer smaller print sizes (or who are not as manically sensitive to enlargement factors as I am :) ) will come to very different conclusions. I've been shooting 8x10 for several years now, and admittedly I'm nearing a point where I'll have enough 8x10-based images to satisfy my large print cravings, after which I'll probably go back to 4x5 and not look back. But I'm not quite there yet.

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2007, 19:54

Will you be contact printing? Hey, there is such a thing as color contact printing---I was just curious if that was in your plans. As far as any advantages in 8x10, Christpher Burkett obviouslly thinks there is and his prints indicate to me that he's on to something. As for Me? I can't afford to go there!


12-Jun-2008, 08:51
Ed K. wrapped up the answer pretty well. I dare to add that the extra space (air) that one tends to leave around the subject when shooting 8x10 is never wasted.
Anything that expands the viewer's peripheral vision adds to the sensation of presence.

Amund BLix Aaeng
12-Jun-2008, 11:52
I`m with Jack here, I find 8x10 a pretty good step up from 5x7 in "IQ" and I didn`t find the 5x7 setup that much less to carry than my Wehman. So for me the best solution was keeping the 8x10 and buying a 4x5 Chamonix as a "point&shoot" ;)