5X7 vs 4X5

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I am on the way down from having shot mostly 8X10 in large format photography. I am basically frustrated with the lack of portability of that format size as well as the increased depth of field problems. However, I'm finding it difficult to decide how far down in size I want to go. I have owned the Canham 5X7 with a 4X5 back in the past and truly enjoyed the camera. I will buy it again if I decide on the 5X7 format.

I read with interest on the large format page the discussion with regards to 67 vs 4X5. The consensus seems to be that at 16X20 or smaller the 4X5 has a "slight" edge. It would seem to follow then that the difference between 4X5 and 5X7 would be even less significant. Any comments on this line of thinking? Aside from a different aspect ratio on the 5X7, what are the major advantages/disadvantages of this format as you see it? My style of photography is such that I like to explore and wander. Portability is a concern. I can transport a great amount of weight, but my 8X10 system weighed in at 65lbs, not including anything I could use to spend the night somewhere.

I would buy the metal Canham if I went 4X5. I like the weight. I wish it had longer bellows draw. Like the 5X7.

-- Jef Torp (JefTorp@aol.com), January 29, 1998


The only advantage of 5x7 is the larger image size. I found that to be addictive in a maybe irrational way. In practice I think it lets you do larger contacts, and if you try to make a really large print it is easier to get good sharpness. Personally now I don't even bother with enlarging to less than 20x30, and while I have no definitive evidence that the results are much superior to 4x5, it makes me feel good to believe so :-)

The number one drawback is the lack of film choices. Check with B&H or Calumet about the availability of your favorite films. For most films you can somewhat get around this problem by cutting 8x10, but this is quite bothersome and problematic, and you will not have polaroid or preloaded film anyway. A secondary drawback is that your equipment is somewhat larger and heavier than 4x5, your dof somewhat less, etc... but coming from 8x10, that will be a relief anyway. My 5x7 system weights in around 20lbs.

Personally I stick to 5x7 to maintain the homogeneity of an on-going project, but once I am done I'll think about either 4x5 or 8x10 ...

-- Quang-Tuan Luong (luong@ai.sri.com), January 29, 1998.

There is nothing like a contact print! I shoot 8x10, used to shoot 4x5 and 6x7. The other day I made an 8x10 enlargement from a really fine 6x7 negative, then compared it to an 8x10 contact I had just made. The difference was like night and day; the 6x7 enlargement looked like garbage in comparison. It's not a matter of lens sharpness or grain, either. My 90mm Mamaya lens (6x7 Pro S) is much sharper than my 14" Commercial Ektar; and the Ilford FP4 ISO 125 film I shot in my 6x7 is finer grained than the T-Max 400 I shoot in my 8x10. (Nor is it a matter of enlarging lens quality: I use a 100mm Componon-S) I read recently that Josef Sudek became addicted to contact prints also. Besides, don't you *see* differently in 8x10 than in other formats? Maybe you need to get a mule. :)

-- Peter Hughes (ravenart@redshift.com), February 09, 1998.

Hello, The big and really only draw back to the 5x7 is the lack in avalibilty of film. If it wasnt for this then I would move to 5x7 myself. Lens's are much easier to come by that will cover 5x7. As far as 4x5 I have found that 20x24 prints in black and white do not hold up as well as I would like. Color on the other hand is still very sharp. There are really cool portable, and light 5x7 cameras though! -Mando

-- mando morlos (mandomorlos@hotmail.com), February 13, 2001.

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