View Full Version : Chamonix 5x7 or 5x8 ??

Peter von Gaza
25-Jan-2011, 22:31
After 2 years of my Mamiya 7 and 3 lenses sitting in my safe I think I am going to try and sell that equipment to buy a Chamonix 5x7 N horizontal. I have never used a 5x7, but am thinking (hoping) it will greatly improve the quality of my scans (epson 4990) and produce good 4X (20" x 28") inkjet prints.

I shoot primarily B&W landscapes, but once in a while do a little color (although I'm finding color a very difficult sale in the world of digital photography). From what I have read 5x7 B&W film is readily available, with color being more limited? So that begs the question, is it worth considering the Chamonix 5x8? I don't like the idea of having to cut film in half, but maybe 8x10 film is a little more future proof than 5x7? But then it looks like 5x8 film holders are a lot more expensive than 5x7s ??

For transitioning to 5x7 I have the following lenses from my 4x5 kit: Fujinon W 125mm, 150m Fujinon, Nikkor M 200mm, Fujinon C 300mm and a Fujinon C 450mm. Do these lenses offer adequate coverage for 5x7?

So instead of my Mamiya 7 (gotta admit that I use a 5d Mark II in it's place) acting as a paper weight, I think that having a beautiful Chamonix 5x7 is in order!

Any thoughts?

Jiri Vasina
25-Jan-2011, 23:59
Peter, I'll chime in with a few thoughts as an owner of a Chamonix 5x8.

First, if you already have a nice Mamiya kit, why don't you try getting the most out of it? What's the reason you don't use it? I ask because the Mamyia lenses are said to be wonderfully sharp, the kit is much more portable and ready to use than most LF cameras. From what I have read, it's possible to produce very good prints in the size you specify, providing you start with a good negative and have almost-perfect scan - and that's one thing to consider - buying a dedicated MF scanner (Nikon CoolScan??)

Now to answer your question: 8x10 film is more available than 5x7" and you also have broader choice. So from this point of view a 5x8 camera is more sensible. But as you correctly suspect, the Chamonix 5x8 holders are expensive, and very much so IMO (I only have 2 of them). Yes, they are beautifully made, they are nice, but very expensive nevertheless.

(I have added a small modification to my 5x8" camera that allows me to use both the 5x8" holders, and also all the modern 5x7"/13x18cm/HalfPlate ones. Pictures on my website will tell you more).

Cutting 8x10" film to 5x8" so far has not been a problem for me - just a simple cut in the middle. I have adapted my trimmer (with a piece of wood serving as a stop in a precise distance from the blade) to ease the manipulation in the dark. And I have not had any more scratches on my 5x8" film (which I cut myself) than on my other LF films.

As for your lenses, I don't own any of them, but according to this chart (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lenses/LF5x7in.html), the longer ones (300mm and 450mm) will cover, the 125mm one - it depends if it is an SW, CMW, and the 150mm and 200mm might cover but without any movements to speak of (at infinity) - but people actually owning those lenses might say more...

If you want, you can have a look at my website where I have several articles about my Chamonix 5x8 camera. The first of them is here: http://www.vasina.net/?p=94...

Hope this helps


Noah A
26-Jan-2011, 06:15
I thought about 5x7 for a while but the availability of color film is very limited, especially if you don't want to rely on special group orders, etc. I guess if you shoot B&W it is less of an issue. I do think that 8x10 is easier to come by--so if you don't mind cutting it down at least you'll be able to find film.

Which aspect ratio do you prefer? For me that would be the second most important criteria.

For what it's worth, I got better scans from Mamiya 7 negs on a Nikon LS 9000 than 4x5 on a V750. And I'd take my drum-scanned 4x5s over 8x10s scanned on an Epson any day.

If you want to try a new format, by all means go for it. But if it's just scan quality that you're after, you might consider a better scanner for your 4x5 negs.

If you're not getting good 20x24s or even 24x30s from 4x5, most likely the scanning is the weak link in the chain, not the negative size.

Have you considered going straight to 8x10? If you're sticking with the Epson why not really get the most out of it?

It's a shame that 5x7 film isn't more readily available. It does seem to represent a good balance between film size and the size and weight of the equipment.

Steve Hamley
26-Jan-2011, 09:34
There's nothing wrong with 5x8 film-wise, since as someone posted, it's a simple cut on 8x10 and there's no waste. Cutting from 8x10 will give you more film options, especially in color.

The problem is holders, as you find in whole plate. 5x8 and 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 holders are not generally available used, and new ones have to be made at around $150 each. I probably have 40 8x10 holders and 20 5x7 holders I've picked up over the years when a deal comes along, but 20-40 5x8 or 6585 holders would be many thousands of dollars for new ones. Because of this, the few decent and recent used ones maintain a higher price than 8x10 holders.

Cheers, Steve

Ken Lee
26-Jan-2011, 09:48
One thing to keep in mind, with regard to coverage: figures are given for infinity focus, where the rear of the lens is closest to the film, and where coverage is least.

As you focus closer, the lens moves further away from the film, and coverage increases accordingly. By the time you focus at 1:1, the circle of coverage has doubled in diameter: enough for 8x10 or larger.

So while an ordinary 200mm lens will barely cover 5x7 at infinity, it will have greater coverage for portraits, and will be perfectly adequate for any close shots. This is also helpful for a lens like the Nikkor M, which is of Tessar design. You will want to use the center of the coverage, where performance is tops.

JC Kuba
26-Jan-2011, 09:56
I recently bought some boxes of 5x7 Provia and 5x7 Kodak 160NC from Badger. The Provia is dated 2012-11 and the Kodak 160NC is dated 2012-6. He still had a lot of the Provia and one box of the 160NC left, the last time I checked. If you have the money you could stock up and put it in your freezer.

- JC