Why 6x17 format vs. Cropped 6x12 or 4x5?

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I primarily shoot 4x5, but have been giving thought to the 6x17 format. Other than the obvious advantage of having a somewhat greater negative size, why not just shoot 6x12 or 4x5 and crop? If format inspires a different sort of visualization, you can always take a piece of mat board and cut a frame the correct aspect ratio so you can have a similar, but smaller experience in 6x12 or 4x5. It seems like the widest lens which covers 6x17 is probably the Schneider 72XL, while the Schneider 47XL actually covers an even wider angle of view in 4x5. I think Rodenstock might even have some Grandagons which would cover 6x12 that are even wider. So, why 6x17?

-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), August 16, 2000


Probably just for the convienience and economy of shooting roll film.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), August 16, 2000.

It does come down to negative size and reproduction quality. To get an approx 3:1 ratio shooting 6x12, you'd need to crop to 4x12. Which is not too bad depending on your size of enlargement.

Then, if you do this professionally, some clients can't visualize the cropped image - these are those who like WYSIWYG, so some form of on camera masking is useful (as in those 35mm PS 'panoramic' modes) if you're thinking of 4x12.

If you're thinking of shooting for stock, a full 6x17 is the standard format for 3:1.

FWIW, I recently saw some work done by an excellent architectual photographer, and realised that if you're publishing "double trucks", the 6x12 format requires little or no cropping for a full frame picture.

-- K H Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), August 16, 2000.

Contact printing.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), August 16, 2000.

Look at the end uses for the format: billboards, long ads inside public transit, cards on the sides of buses. Lots of pretty big enlargement factors there, and rollfilm offers obvious advantages for work with models.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), August 16, 2000.

As Bill states, with 6x17, unless you have an 8x10 enlarger, you are limited to contacting for full frame. Granted 6x17 is "fun" and it does have a different perspective but 6x12 is a better, less costly way to go. Just my opinion.

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), August 17, 2000.


You make a good point. Unless the usage is billboards, stock photo, etc, 6x12 or cropped 4x12 is sounding pretty good.

-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), August 17, 2000.

Another problem with 6 x 17 not mentioned above is scanning. A 4 x 5 film scanner can't handle 6 x 17, but with an appropriate mask, it should be able to handle 6 x 12.

-- Stewart Ethier (s_ethier@parkcity.net), August 17, 2000.

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