My 4x5 isn't 4x5 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I posted a couple of weeks ago about an old 4x5 view camera that was given to me and which I've been restoring. A recent sub-project was attempting to get the ground glass holder flat and the glass properly spaced, during which I realized that the gg didn't look as large as those on the equipment in the materials lab at work. The opening in front of the film plane is 3-5/8 x 4-5/8. What gives? What is the standard 4x5 image size, if there is a standard, and what is the actual size of 4x5 sheet film? It seems like a lot of the negative will be wasted. On the other hand, I guess I won't have to worry about the alligator clip marks or fingerprints that I've read about and I'll have a greater range of camera movements for a given lens.

-- Stephen Parks (, November 19, 2001



Guess what an actual "4x5" sheet of film actually comes up about 3/32nds of an inch short in height and width, and this on a sheet of Fuji Astia and also Velvia. This is the actual dimensions of the sheet, not even the dimensions of the image which for my holders produce a 3-3/4" x 4-3/4". My holders might well be antiques as I am sure that they are a good 20 years old (probably closer to thirty actually.)

As for the film itself being less than 4"x5", I would guess that the film companies do this to get as much film out of a single batch as possibly they can, in the same way as lumber companies also do. Have you ever actually measured a peice of deminsional lumber? A 2 by 4, is not even close to being 2"x4". So probably the age of your camera is the reason you are only 3-5/8" x 4-5/8", but not to worry you are only missing out on 1/8th of an inch. Good Luck.

-- Tom Percival (, November 19, 2001.

Actually, 4x5 film seems to measure exactly 100x125mm. Thus the image size is more like 95x120mm, or very close to 3 3/4"x4 3/4" (which is the exact image you can see on a 4x5 Speed Graphic ground glass). Even worse, the opening of an Omega D2 negative carrier is more like 90x115mm, or 3 5/16x4 5/16, and unless you are using a double glass carrier, that's about the maximun image you're gonna get from a 4x5 negative. For completeness, the size of a sheet of 3.25x4.25 film measures out at 80x115mm, and a 2.25x3.25 at 55x80mm. Note that the sheet film is narower than a roll of 120 roll film.

-- Wilhelm (, November 19, 2001.

5x4 film isn't 5 inches by 4 inches to begin with, it's 10cm by 12.5cm, and has been for at least 40 years. Only imperial conceit keeps the 5x4 name alive.
The useable image area is 120mm by 95mm, limited mainly by the design of the darkslide.
The margin of 5x4 is actually a lot narrower than 12 on 120 film spacing, and much less than the sprocket width of 35mm film. Taken as a percentage of the total film area, the small handling margin makes it one of the least wasteful formats.

-- Pete Andrews (, November 20, 2001.

Stephen, Many European large-format cameras were/are made in the format 9x12 cm, which is approximately 3.54x4.7 inches. The holders and film are a slightly smaller size than 4x5. Usually, 4x5 holders will not fit in a 9x12 back. Possibly you have one of these cameras (BTW, this is still a current size in Europe and film is still available that size). Have you fit a holder to make sure that it seats properly? If it does not, try to get your hands on a 9x12 holder and see if it fits since you may have a 9x12; if a 4x5 holder seats correctly, you have a 4x5 with a smaller than average image area. If the camera is very old, it may also be a plate camera. I believe plate holders came in many non-standard sizes. Hope this helps. ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, November 21, 2001.

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