Why not tri-x for 4x5

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Being new to large format (just bought a used field camera) I'm trying to decide on a film to use. I've always used Ilford Pan F or Delta 100 when shooting 35mm or 6x6. The reason is for the tight grain. With the larger 4x5 film is the grain going to be apparent with tri-x? I will probably not be going any larger than 20x24 prints. Thanks for your suggestions Rob

-- Robert Haury (rdhaury@home.com), January 14, 2001


Robert, If you are currently using delta and pan f I think that you may be happier sticking to Delta 100 with 4x5, especially if you are enlarging to 20x24. Tmax100 is also great!

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), January 14, 2001.

Properly exposed and developed Tri-X will give you a very nice 20X24. The addition film speed comes in handy when shooting LF and you find yourself consistantly stopping down to f32.

Tri-X will give you a different quality neg than one of the mentioned t - crystal based films. Higher accutance perhaphs? I've found it to be true after switching over from T-Max to Ilford FP4+ and HP5+.

-- William Levitt (Light-Zone@web.de), January 15, 2001.

Tri-X in 4x5 enlarged to 8x10 appears grainless, unless you do nasty things in processing. Remember, it's just a 2x enlargement, and a 20 x 24 is a 5x enlargement, so that's similar to a 5x7 from a 35mm negative.

The real point is, what tonality do you like in your prints. If Delta does it for you, then go for it. If you like the look of Tri-X (and I, for one, do) then I think you'll find the grain in 4x5 negatives enlarged to the degree you're talking about perfectly acceptable.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), January 15, 2001.

Thanks for your responses. One thing I forgot to say is that I used tri-x back in college and liked the tonality alot. But since I was using 35mm the grain was unacceptable to me. So I switched to the slower films. In making the move to 4x5 I was hoping to be able to go back (to tri-x) but one of the reasons for going to large format is the sharpness and lack of grain. I know I'll need to do my own testing but it never hurts to ask the question.

Thanks again Rob

-- rdhksctp (rdhaury@home.com), January 15, 2001.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with Mr. Strack's contention that a 4x5 negative enlarged 2x will yield an 8x10. Actually, an 8x10 is 4x the size of 4x5 in terms of surface area, assuming the neg. is actually 4x5 inches (4 inches x 5 inches =20 inches, 8 inches x 10 inches =80 inches, 80/20=4). Similarly, a 20x24 enlargement is 24x the size of a 4x5 (4x5=20, 20x24=480, 480/20=24).

A 35mm negative has approximately 1 1/2 inches of surface area, meaning it needs to be enlarged about 23 times to make a 5x7. A 35mm neg. needs to be enlarged 53 times to yield an 8x10 print. To put this in perspective, a 4x5 neg. enlarged 53 times would yield a photo approximately 30x35 inches!

This clearly demonstrates the superiority of lf for making sizable enlargements.

-- Dan Blair (daniel.blair@mail.house.gov), January 16, 2001.

Dan, despite the fact that this subject is raised from time to time by a few vocal dissidents, Charlie was simply using generally accepted conventional terminology. Linear magnification is universally employed to describe enlargement. An 8x10 is 2X from a 4x5 negative.

-- Sal Santamaura (bc_hill@qwestinternet.net), January 16, 2001.

Silliest comment heard yet today:

"I have to disagree with Mr. Strack's contention that a 4x5 negative enlarged 2x will yield an 8x10"

Does the honorable gentlemen from the house also contend that Stan Musial batted "50%"? As opposed to "500" as the rest of the known world would say?

By the way, from which side of the aisle does this silliness come? Just curious.

-- John Hennessy (northbay@directcon.net), January 16, 2001.


First, let me state that my intention was not to flame anyone on arithmetic technicalities. As was stated above, a few "vocal dissidents" raise this issue from time to time, although I would hardly consider myself a vocal dissident when discussing large format photography. I was simply relaying an alternative view that is held by some. I believe that's what this forum is intended for.

Second, as a life-long St. Louis Cardinal baseball fan, I know that Stan Musial's career batting average was .331, or about 33%. :)

Finally, if anyone would like to discuss politics with me, he or she is more than welcome to email me directly. This forum is way too contentious for a topic as mundane as politics.

-- Dan Blair (daniel.blair@mail.house.gov), January 17, 2001.


Any photographic fool knows that enlargement ratios are commutative over format "bys". Didn't you learn that in your basic uglification and derision class?

Thus 2x applied on a 4 by 5 gives 2x4 by 2x5 = 8 by 10.

Seriously, the use of linear enlargement & reduction ratios comes from the optics formulas. You can base your usage on area if you like, but the optics world doesn't and it can only cause you grief if you insist the world conform to your views.

A lens optimized for a 5x enlargement ration will make a fine 20x24 print from a 4x5 negative. But if you insist this is a 25x ratio, and buy a lens optimized for 25x work, your print won't be as good as with the lens optimized for 5x.

Enough said of this nonsense.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), January 18, 2001.

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