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Thread: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    I often mask my 5x7 to a Golden Section ratio: 4 1/8 x 6 3/4

    For those with modest scanning capacity (Epson), the additional size is welcome. I notice it when it comes time to sharpen the image: less is required, and therefore the images tend to look more "analog".

  2. #12
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    I used 5x7 for 10 years until the darkroom burned down with the 5x7 enlarger. The new darkroom was smaller, so stepping down to 4x5 became important. The proportion of 1:1.4 feels more logical than the Golden Section ratio, and seems just as esthetic to me. Even 4x5 is larger than some of Edward Weston's contact prints.

  3. #13
    Michael Alpert

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    I strongly recommend that you find an active large-format photographer in your area who you can consult. You need to gain some hands-on experience before you purchase equipment. In any case, 5x8 is an odd-ball format that will limit your equipment options and necessitate cutting 8x10 film in half, an additional step that is not as easy to do as you might assume. For color work, 4x5 is probably your most-workable option. I wish you well as you enter large-format work.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    May 2013

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    5x8 is a standard format for those with split sliding backs or the deardorff "built in" splitters. I suggest an 8x10 deardorff with either a sliding back or with a standard back equipped with splitters.

    5x8 is a nice dimension and works well with the 18" verito lens for people.

    If I'm not mistaken, there's a BEAUTIFUL, inexpensive deardorff available for sale right now, and with splitters.

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    I've read in a 100-year-old book that in the absence of a proper split-back a mere piece of dark cardboard stuffed inside the camera between the bellows folds worked OK too. I don't practice this myself though as I am a heavily cropping printer, and I actually like to have more in the negative to spare.

    I also like the Golden Section a lot and also was planning to make my own 5x8" once. But then I noticed too much of my compositions did not fit into the elongated frame and asked for something closer to 8x10".

    Besides, as cameras are actually square, and only the backs make the formats rectangular, 8x10" and 4x5" seem to be the most reasonable as for example a 6x10" camera would actually be of the same size as the 8x10". And for an 8x10", the single inch at each side of the lesser frame dimention is the space actually required for the springs that hold the ground glass and the holder. Less space for the springs is compromising the build quality; more space is just wasting that space and compromising the format potential.

    And oh yes I also thought I'd better prepare for the times I'm too old to carry an 8x10" and got one of the lightest in weight wooden 5x7"s (actually, a vintage German 13x18cm... a pure beauty itself) - only to discover my muscles to be still OK for my Calumet C-1 but my eyes no more good enough to fiddle with that small, small, small and badly stuffed-up 5x7" ground glass!!!

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    +1 for the 8x10 'dorff with splitters. If you want more portability(wha....?? The V8 'dorff isn't portable enough for ya?) 5x7 will save you a lot of grief & $$ by forgoing that extra, piddling 1"
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #17

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    Quote Originally Posted by Apostrophe View Post
    Yet I feel the large format film hasn't seen an increase in use and popularity in proportion to this phenomenon. Why aren't people jumping to large format. It would seem to me that enthusiasts should love the quality and the benefits of a slower approach to shooting. I've been thinking about this a lot. Why haven't all of these people grabbing medium format TLRs and Hasselblads and Dianas and everything else under the sun... Why aren't they jumping to large format?

    So, I'm here to ask you wiser and more experienced folks: am I being silly? Should I just get that 4x5 or 8x10 and forget this dream of a perfect format that continues to haunt me? Could it be sensible to have a 5x8 camera built instead? And perhaps could Ilford or Fuji or Kodak be convinced to make it a real format?
    Why are people not jumping to large format? You need to ask them, not people on a large format forum.

    Also, maybe because it is not a one size fits all world, but rather a right tool for the job world. I still find the resulting photographs and image quality I get from medium format to be the best of all worlds. I can easily scan it and easily wet print it to 30" x 30" with no hesitation. And yet, it can easily fly with me, be shot without a tripod, be used for journalism, advertising and fine art. Film is also much more available and less expensive. It is also infinitely easier to load and unload in the field, the list goes on. If I had to only have one format, it would be 120 without a second guess...

    With 4x5, I can get lots of great films, have a friend with an Imacon scan it to a big fat file and best of all, I can make wonderful prints up to any size I can handle in my darkroom, there are lots of 4x5 capable enlargers out there in the world but few 5x7 and larger. I can also easily hike, ski or bike all day with my Chamonix 4x5 and 3-4 lenses, a 1/2 dozen film holders and a 6x12 back. For me personally, if I were going to contact print, I would probably use 11x14 since that and 16x20 is what people tend to buy most often in terms of print sizes.

    But 5x8...? Why handicap your self into some odd format that is going to drain your wallet, send you pushing over large boulders to find film for it and distract you from the most important part of photography: Making great photographs?

    Of course, none of this applies if you are like one of the many people who are into cameras and seeing a sharp, grainless image formed on a piece of film rather than a fantastic photograph......and there is a BIG difference sir.

    I'm not saying you should not try to do it or that other people who are keen on film use should not try large format. I am saying however that depending on what you want out of your life behind a camera, you need to carefully consider all aspects of what each format enables you to do. I would rather have a bit or even a lot more grain in fantastic photograph than a grain free and utterly boring one any day of the week.

  8. #18
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Los Angeles area

    Re: Some thoughts on large format in general and 5x8 in particular

    if you have lots of money, and WANT the 5x8 camera, holders, etc. to support that system, great:

    1 stop shopping(essentially):

    holders are ~$155ea, + shipping. So if you wanted (10) holders, you're looking at ~$1550 + shipping costs. Not cheap...

    I too, was looking at the 5x8 size for myself, when stepping down from 8x10 shooting earlier this year. I'm glad I went with 5x7. I like the proportions(similar to my 6x8 Fuji), and it's not THAT hard to cut down 8x10 color film to 5x7, in all honesty. Yes, you have to make sure you don't lop off yer fingers in the dark, but that makes it more fun !

    B+H WAS carrying 5x7 Portra 160 in stock, but it looks like it has been sold out, or "discontinued" by them it seems...

    I like 5x7. It's as easy as a 4x5 to tote around, the holders aren't super expensive if you decide you want to add a few more to your kit, and b/w film is easy to get ahold of(at least Kodak Tri-X and Ilford's films, that is). Color you just have to get good at feelin yer way around in the dark


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