best roll film format

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by michael_ford|1, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Hello. What is the best roll film format for
    landscapes. 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 or 6x12 cm ? Shooting a
    Omega 45D.
  2. Your vision; your choice. It really depends upon how you envision the final print. Also depends a bit upon what lens you are using.
    All that aside, I prefer 6x7.
  3. Any of the above. The best is the one that you prefer. Shoot 10 rolls in each format, see which one you like the best.
  4. You left out 6x17. As others have said, it's a matter of preference. I shoot 6x6 (Hasselblad), 6x12 (Noblex) and 6x17 (Da Yi back on Linhof Master Technica 2000). Yes, lens selection is important, as is your intended composition. They're all good.
  5. I guess one needs to ask why shoot roll film with 4x5 at all? The answer might be what leads to your answer. The most viable reasons would seem to be possibly saving money versus sheet film, the price of a good scanner for the format and/or the desire for tighter shots without cropping due to the available lens selection.
    The downside is that if you like the look of using wide lenses this becomes more problematic with the smaller format on a view camera, especially a more technical one like the 45D. You can only get so wide even with a recessed lensboard with a camera of this design. I don't know the specs of the camera specifically, but around 75mm might be all the wider it will accommodate--which is essentially a normal to slightly wide on all of these formats but the 6x12, where the horizontal will be more like a super-wide lens. If this fits with how you shoot, it might make some sense, but if you haven't used a recessed lensboard, something I loathed to be honest, you might find you will hate it as much as I did.
    Then, of course, it is a matter of what format you like in your final images if you have a preference in that regard.
    Considering all of these points should give you your answer, it is very individual.
  6. I use a 6x7 and 6x9 roll film holder in my 4x5's, and prefer the 6x7 if I need extra shots, and the 6x9 for quality. I like the proportions of the 6x9 a lot. But most of the time, the roll film holder is being used for technical/architectural photography where I need perspective control. Otherwise, I use my Hasselblad, Fuji 6x7, or Fuji 6x9 cameras. I think Sinar makes or made a roll film holder with adjustable frame sizes, in mid-roll. It was very expensive at the time.
  7. I use 6x6, 6x7, and 6x9 at various times; the 6x7 is popular because it proportionally the same as 4x5 or 8x10; the 6x9 gives you a little more width or height when you need it and want to avoid cropping quite so much; the 6x6 just works for some shots; the 6x12 is a panoramic layout which would sometimes be handy, though I don't have a holder in that size. I'm actually most fond of the 6x9 simply because I do architectural work and often can use a little more width. Get them all and use what works! :)
  8. I like 6x9. but its a personal preference, another person can have theirs, and some subjects might not lend themselves to that format anyway. Once, 6x9 seemed the most common format for rfh, and very common for medium format generally. Then it seemed to go to 6x7. Don't know why.
  9. The bigger the better, but then personal preference for aspect ratio comes into play.
  10. The Toyo Omega 45D has an international back? then may I suggest you look into the Chinese Da Yi 6x12 roll film back for 4x5. It has masks for all the formats you ask about. The film is advanced manually and positioned by watching the frame numbers on the backing paper, in the same method as the good old days. With one purchase you can have your cake and eat it.
    Copy and paste this into either Google or Bay search field:
    6x12 612 Roll Film Back Holder for Linhof Wista 4x5
    For me, as I've used various 6x6 cameras for many years, I'm accustomed to the square format, but feel in no way bound to adhere to this. When it comes to creating an image, unless a commissioned painting, I am bound by no one to anything.
    Occasionally when finalising a composition in the darkroom, the format will resemble the proportions of 6x7, or just a tad less, about 6x6.5, because I like it, but it really depends on the subject. For the Linhof I may even check out the Chinese multi-format holders mentioned above. I have some Super Rollex 6x7 backs, but need a later model Technika than my 1954 Technika III to use them, and besides would rather be able to use a sliding back with any roll film magazine on a view camera, which for me again requires a later model. Given that I do manage a later Technika, This will then call for a 65mm lens if I'm to use a 6x7 roll film, because the Angulon 90 isn't wide enough - something you may need to consider too. And for that Toyo, you may need a wide angle bellows, at least a recessed lens board with a wide angle lens. Others with more experience can fill us in on that point.
    Just for fun, here's a scan of a neg I found a while back. The exposure was made on Kodak Safety Film on New Years Day 1977 at the summit of Mt.Buffalo in Victoria, Australia. The film then lay around for 14 years before being processed. That's 14 years of Aussie heat waves and as many damp, chilly Melbourne winters , not in a "Cool dry" place as advised on the wrapper. ;-) The format shown here is a crop from the 6x6 Yashica frame. I'm going back this December, at least with the Hasselblad and a 50mm lens, because I'd really love to nudge those sides out. I have other frames from the same day also requiring a little more breadth. After paying for airfares for 3, I doubt if there'll be funds for any of the additional Linhof gear spoken of, so I'll happily settle for a bundle of loaded 4x5 slides and the old Technika III as is.

  11. A deviation from the original question, but about the image above, it was one of the first scans I made with the Epson V700, so I was a real novice. (not much further advanced now I'm affraid) ... but if you look at the slash through the forest, you just make out some power line pylons. With a loupe, I can see the actual cables on the film. Ever so fine, but they are there. Now hey, what does that say about the the film, the lens of the old 124G, and the scanner? .. and all I used the crappy plastic negative holders that came with the scanner. No fancy 'wet scanning'. The discolouration down the sides of the image is due to the 14 years of light leaking through the edges of the backing paper. I can't wait to get back there with some fresh film, both Portra and Velvia.
    But yes, I agree with the comments, the bigger the better. But with careful working method, a sturdy tripod, shielding the camera from any breeze, spotlessly clean lens and UV filter, appropriate shading, you can achieve some very good results with moderate sized film format.
  12. I looked at all the roll film options and decided to experiment by using cropping on my 4x5 negs, never did buy a roll film back. If I want a 6x12 slice I simply crop in the scanner or enlarger, gives the unexpected benefit of extra rising front as I can cut the slice I want, not the one the holder inflicts on me.
    Kevin, glad to hear someone else having fun with a Technika 111, I've had my late version 5 for nearly thirty years and still love it.
  13. Thank you so much for all the informaton. Im rapidly buying gear for my 45D. Thanks again.
  14. Still using my Sinar Vario (6X4.5, 6X6, 6X7, 6X9, 6X12). This back let you select the next frame's format and the format mask will reposition itself and then you can wind the film to the next frame with proper spacing(those Swiss). It is also a slip in back like a 4X5 holder; does not require any removal of ground-glass and clips
    It came with ground glass mask for Sinar back which doubles as a viewing mask that let you select the format/focal length by holding it in front of your eyes.
    Each shot has an optimal format and focal length base on composition. The ability to select the exact format is great in the field.
    120 film something that I can handle myself with my Jobo and Nikon 9000.
  15. I am biased but I like 6x7, 6x8 and 6x9. I have shot the Mamiya RZ 67, and replaced it with the Fuji GX680 for lens movement. But I have also used Fuji 6x9 and like that format. There are certain shots that work in 6x6 but more often the traditional landscape format works in my opinion.
  16. That GX680 is a hot little camera. A friend of mine has one, and it's like one of his extremeties.
    Yes, that one. That's how much he likes the camera. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he puts it under his pillow at night.
  17. the 6x7 is popular because it proportionally the same as 4x5 or 8x10​
    Not quite. 6x7 is a 1:1.167 ratio whereas 4x5 and 8x10 have a 1:1.25 ratio.
  18. "4x5 and 8x10 have a 1:1.25 ratio."​
    Not to nitpick, but Mamiya 6x7 cameras have a 1:1.24 ratio (69.5 x 56), so 6x7 can be pretty darned close to 4x5/8x10 (I was unable to find image area of the 6x7 rollfilm backs).
  19. "You left out 6x17" - 17cm won't fit on a 5"x4" camera, but what has been left out is 6cm x 8cm.
    My "23" Graphic rollfilm-holder is nominally 6x8cm, but actually measures 56mm x 78mm; an aspect ratio of nearly 1.4:1. That's close to that of the ISO A series paper format, and an aspect ratio that I find quite pleasing for landscapes. Not quite as wide as the overused 35mm film or 6x9cm 3:2 ratio, but wider than 5x4 or 6x7.
  20. Michael, I would suggest slowing down. We all have lots of gear we bought on impulse and rarely use--if ever use. Play with the camera as 4x5 and see how it fits what you do. Expand its capabilities as you recognize YOUR needs. Each person responding here has their own set of needs and way of working and none may even be similar to your own. Move slowly and save the money for what you determine you need to move forward.
  21. John A., Sorry, I couldn't resist having a shot at a couple of your remarks.
    You say: "We all have lots of gear we bought on impulse and rarely use--if ever use."
    I haven't ;-) But it is a worthy caution.
    Then: "Expand its capabilities as you recognise YOUR needs."
    Yes, but Michael has a need roll film capability, that's why he is asking us.
    Further: "Each person responding here has their own set of needs and way of working and none may even be similar to your own."
    Of course John, and that is why he is here, inviting us to share our experiences - and that is why we are here, doing just that. It's a primary function of the forum.
    To this: "I guess one needs to ask why shoot roll film with 4x5 at all?"
    Well there must be several thousands of photographers around the world who will have an answer, because there isn't a major professional large format camera system that has not provided for medium format capability, with all manner of adaptors and roll film holders. In fact this segment of the industry increased with improvements in film quality from the 1980s onwards, to the extent that now, there's hardly been a better time to use film, given that you can find a reliable lab. In fact, the response to film quality created such an intense focus on roll film that not only did Linhof develop their already existing medium format technical cameras, along side the 4x5 and larger, but other manufacturers, such as Cambo and Arca Swiss introduced completely new 6x9 models. This was also the era when Hasselblad introduced the FlexBody, and soon after, the ArcBody. And now with MF digital backs to take the baton, there's no turning back.
    The 6x9 monorail cameras such as Cambo Ultra, Arca Swiss, are typically more expensive than certainly those companies' entry level 4x5 models. So for anyone wanting to use roll film, with the benefits of technical/view camera movement, the cheapest option is to select a used 4x5 such as Michael Ford's Toyo Omega 45D, ask us folk for a few tips and go for it.
    Back to the best roll film format question.
    Michael Axel mentioned the Sinar roll film holder with frame sizes adjustable mid-roll. Yep, the Sinar Vario and it certainly was expensive, both to buy and repair. Danny Wong gives us a neat description of his Vario, which he uses, and it's benefits. A colleague of mine had one that needed repair, but in stead I found him a Hasselblad body to Sinar adapter, which he made good use of.
    The Chinese Da Yi offers a similar choice of formats, but which need to be set when loading, and is not designed for change mid roll. Whilst Sinar and Da Yi offer a range of format options, to compare them would be like comparing a Roman sun dial with a Swiss watch - both give accurate time, but are from different worlds of technology. A new Da Yi is about a third of the price of a good used Sinar Vario, and with the mechanical simplicity of a Kodak Box Brownie, there's little that can go wrong.
    I wonder why there has never been a camera format made to the proportion of the Golden Section.
    Or has there ..
  22. Kevin, my comments are just to raise questions based on the title of the thread and the words of the OP. Most of us buy things, once we get settled into this thing, when we recognize we need them--to solve a problem or give us the ability to do something specific-- and generally people buy things they don't need when they buy them before they have identified a use for them.
    When such an open ended question is asked then I believe the question needs to be more considered. A question like "which 6x9 film back do you recommend" indicates something different than such a non-specific question as we have in the OP. It appears the OP is new to his camera and it might be good to get used to it before moving in other directions with it.
    When I suggested that each person responding may work differently, I brought that up because most didn't suggest why they chose their preference and may or may not have images that one can see or identify with the back. It is a suggestion that someone's opinion is personal to what they do and how they work and may have no bearing on another's own needs or interests. I am not suggesting anyone's opinion isn't valid, it is just how much does it really apply to the OP's needs.
    Seriously, my comments were to just give another perspective to the question that is being asked and to raise what are pertinent questions to the decision.
    Hope that helps...
  23. "I wonder why there has never been a camera format made to the proportion of the Golden Section. Or has there...."​
    39x24 (Golden Section) is very close to 36x24 (the most popular photo format in history) and I've always heard that the latter was designed to reflect the former.
  24. "Hope that helps..." ? Whatever helps you feel better.
    Da Yi film back mentioned above: A revisit to the information on this item reveals that there is no 6x7 format. What a pity. It's the one that I would probably have used the most. However, there are masks and corresponding frame number viewing windows for 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x9 and 6x12.
  25. Don it's interesting you bring that up.
    Firstly 39x24 (approximately the golden section) is not that close to 36x24, and I had this so firmly pointed out to me in art classes, art history studies, from Classical Greek architecture up to the Renaissances and beyond, and in technical drawing classes, that I would never dare utter such a thing in the presence of a scholar, .. ever again. Once was enough. ;-)
    Prior to Oscar Barnac's invention, and it was his, of the 24x36 format, Kodak had already introduced roll film cameras using a rectangular proportion as close to but longer than the Golden section. Whereas Barnac's 24x36 falls short. The Folding Pocket Camera produced the highly popular 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch, so called "Postcard" format, and these postcards were produced in vast numbers.

    The author of the text at fancies the idea that: "Perhaps Oskar Barnack had this (the Golden Section) in mind when he created the 3:2 aspect ratio." I doubt it. The first UR was a tool produced primarily to test batches of cine film emulsions. He was working on cine cameras. The film with Thomas Edison's sprocket hole size and spacing, and the 18x24 format, was the standard for 35 mm cinematography then. The coatings formulated for the 35mm cine film were of much higher quality than the emulsions on roll films, which were knocked out in their millions for the amateur market. There was no expectation of 'enlargement' from the roll film, because everything was contact printed. Whereas the 18x24 cine frame had to look good when projected onto a cinema screen. And yes, he had the idea, born out of his awareness of the vast difference in emulsion qualities between those of cinema and hobby films, that this was something to explore. Hence his mantra "Small film, large print" in stead of the contact print from film that could not withstand enlargement.

    The format: If you look at a strip of 35mm film and see how much longer the frame would have been had he extended it by one sprocket hole. Would it be closer to the Golden Section at 9 perforations long? .. in stead of the current 8?

    The sprocket holes (perforations) existed. Was it for convenience that he simply tried doubling the frame? Was there a mechanical consideration? I prefer the rectangle arrived at when stopped at 7 perforations, which more closely resembles the nominal 6x7, also known as the "Linhof ideal Format". He would certainly have been constrained by the perforations, and using the perforations to ensure precision was a given. but was there also a mechanical convenience in the selection of 4x2=8 ? Is it reasonable to assume that when fabricating the UR, he would have utilised the tooling on hand, together with known calculations? I would certainly imagine so. The need for a film testing camera was the mother of the original invention, and it needed to be created efficiently. If the The Golden section was such a guiding light, he would have achieved it precisely, ... absolutely spot on. Oscar Barnac was an precision engineer who enjoyed photography, not at artist.
    Certainly whilst working on it, designing components, modifying components, assembling it and loading the first film, processing it, I am sure thoughts of a production camera then began to ferment. The production camera was a UR with improved functionality. Prints from the 24x36 frame looked good, so they ran with it.
  26. The best reason I can think of for roll backs is for architectural photography with longer focal length lenses. Relatively/effectively there's more rise and fall available for a given image circle. While I don't do much of that myself, I nevertheless thought I needed a roll back anyway. After the novelty wore off, I found I hardly ever used it. It was pain to focus on the GG and then have to remove it and stash it somewhere safe to mount the roll film back. Discovered that if I left the GG at home to use my Super Graphic as a big rangefinder it was difficult to guess at composition with the roll film back, and that a MF SLR was in just about all ways superior.

    If the desire for roll film is to save money, consider that some of the roll film holders like the Sinar Vario are very spendy, selling for more than most entire 4x5 cameras, and (used) Nikon Coolscans are fetching more than most (used) Linhof Master Technikas these days. You well might be able to buy a PMT drum scanner for what you'd have into just the Vario!

    Just to put things in perspective.

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