5x4 roll-film?

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I've just bought a new toy: a 5x4 SLR, for those times when a Nikon F just isn't heavy enough. It got me thinking: is 5x4 roll film available? It would be 4 or 5 inches wide, and a ten-exposure length would be shorter than 36 exposures of 35mm. Has anyone made such a film back? Is film readily available in this width? Or, like most of my brilliant ideas, has this been tried before and totally flopped? Keeping the film flat in the gate would be a problem, the curl would be horrible.

Of course, if the idea works, then a motor-drive 5x4 becomes feaasible...

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 19, 1999


Where did you find a camera like this? I have heard of a 4x5 SLR before but thought it was just a fanciful idea.

-- Brian Jefferis (jefferis@erols.com), March 19, 1999.

I don't know what Alan has, Brian, but the original Graflex, the one Steiglitz, et. al. used, was an SLR with a rear curtain shutter and the aperture in the lens.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

I think I saw some 5 inch roll-stock on Ebay some time back, what we need is a little help from some aerial photogs. Alan did you salvage this from a downed spy plane? You need to put a bug in Cabal's ear at nasa. Any forum followers work at Lockheed's skunkworks? You know this could be dangerous Alan.hehehe

-- Trib (linhof6@hotmail.com), March 19, 1999.

The camera is about 100 years old (I guess) and was built by Marion & Co, London (England). I got it from Christies, a London auction house. It seems to have started life as a whole-plate SLR, and was at some time converted to 5x4. The shutter-release retracts the mirror (very well dampened) and fires the focal-plane shutter, which takes about 1/15s to traverse the plane, and has adjustable slit width with speeds up to 1/800s (it claims). A later modification has provided a flash terminal. 10.5 inch f/4.5 Taylor Taylor & Hobson lens, rack & pinion focusing. Masses of teak and brass. It weighs about 4 kg. With luck, I'll try it out this weekend.

Back to the topic, I'm sure I read somewhere about 5x4 roll film?

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 19, 1999.

Trib and I crossed posts. Yes, I think you are right, aerial photography probably was where I saw the reference to this film. Thanks.

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 19, 1999.

Once during an obscure web search I came across a listing for someone who is indeed spooling film for such sizes as 616, which was the postcard format, 4 x 6 or thereabouts. Sorry I have lost the reference, but he is out there somewhere. there is indeed aerial film available -- we used to use 7" and 9", but I think there are other widths available too. Not sure what your choice of emulsions will be.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), March 19, 1999.

Use you favorite search engine and type in "Film for Classics"

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), March 19, 1999.

Film for classics


-- Stuart Goldstein (satgre@worldnet.att.net), March 19, 1999.

5" film (actually 4.96")is available, at least from the yellow box co. Its a standard size for aerial film. Quite a number of fine grain B&W emulsions available, but I don't know about color. Designations will all be, I believe, SO-XYZ (X,Y,Z are digits) The SO stands for special order. However, I expect it may only be available in 100' or 200' rolls. At least it'll keep you going a while! Good luck.

-- David Lewis (dfairlewis@aol.com), March 19, 1999.

All right Alan. Finally going to shoot a real format huh?

-- True Shooter (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), March 21, 1999.

All: thanks a lot. As the film is available, it's not such a stupid idea. I'll give Kodak a ring, and see if it is a standard product in the UK. And if people use it here, someone must be able to process it.

James: well, the SLR camera is larger and heavier than my 10x8, but roll film opens up the possibility of a rotating slit panoramic camera, with a negative size of, say, 5" x 50". Now, that would be a real negative! And probably easier for a klutz like me to build than a similar camera with 35mm. But could I afford the film?

-- Alan Gibson (Alan.Gibson@technologist.com), March 22, 1999.

Long, long ago I spoke with a man in Kodak about 5" film but his name excapes me. He told me that they have b&w and color emulsions. He was at the professional imaging section of Kodak, I think. Linhof made a Rolex back for 4X5 that would take tis film and motor it through any 4X5 camera, but it is long out of production, massive (67 lbs.) and hard to find on the market.

-- Rob Tucher (rtphotodoc@juno.com), March 25, 1999.

Kodak make a panotomic-x aero film aeril E.I. 40 with extended red sensitivity. You can get it in 1000 foot rolls, the thickness if I remember right is 2.5 thousands. I cut my on 4x5 from this and develope in a Pyro-staining formula (not PMK) and I love the results, since I don't shoot rodeo's and football games I don't worry about the speed, the negs print faster because of the thinness of the film. It is 5" wide and 1000' long and will equal 3000 4x5 (2500) with waste in cutting. It is still listed in Kodak's black and white materials catalog.

-- pat j. krentz (krentz@cci-29palms.com), May 24, 1999.

I really wonder where people get so many incorrect impressions about Linhof and then so easily pass them on as truth!

For several decades Linhof has made aerial cameras (We sold NASA several 45 Linhof Aero Technikas for the Space Shuttle and shots from this camera are on NASA's web site.) and, in the publicity for the Photo Pro show in DC this month there is a photo of an Astronaut using one on the shuttle.

Linhof currently makes 2 aerial cameras. The Aero Technika with either a 4x5" 5" roll back motor driven (1 FPS) and with a vacuum pressure plate. This back takes standard NATO spools of 5" 50' film available from the aerial division of all major film manufacturers in a selection of B&W and color stock an standard or estar base film.

It also can take a 50' 70mm roll back that is also motorized as well as standard 45 holders or any back that fits an Internatinal Back camera.

The 50' 5" and 70mm backs are easily adapted to Linhof Master Technika cameras (we sold some to Chicago Albuman Works and to the National Archives in DC who both use tem for making 45 copy negs.)

The other Linhof aerial camera is the Aerotronica shooting 100' 70mm film on a 69 cm format at up to 2FPS. Tis camera only accepts this back and has a Linhof rotary high speed shutter with speeds to 1/1500.

A 3rd camera, the Linhof Metrika, for close range photogrammatry, is the camera used to do the detailed measurements of the 5000 year old Ice Man found in the mountains between Italy and Austria a few years ago. This camera also has a 5" Linhof motorized back but this version can't fit another 45.

So any previous answers alluding t the long discontinued Linhof backs

-- bob salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), May 24, 1999.

Bob, thanks for the great info, as always!! Respectfully, could I be so bold as to inquire to the cost of the 5" and 70mm backs that are compatible with std. 4x5 cameras? I know the answer probably is "if you have to ask, you can't afford it." But I just gotta know!

-- Robert Anderson (randerson1@uswest.net), May 25, 1999.

Since you asked:

001559 50' 5" vacuum roll back $15,426.00 001553 50' 70mm roll back $14,779.00

These backs run on 24V DC

The 24V rechargeable pack with charger will add about $2,000.00 more and there is about a $200.00 charge to make a slight modification to the backs so the film can advance when used on a Technika.

-- bob salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), May 25, 1999.

Bob: I'll take one of each! HarHarHar.

-- J.L. Kennedy (jlkennedy@qnet.com), June 30, 1999.

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