The origins of current print sizes?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by crownlaurel, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. crownlaurel

    crownlaurel TPF Noob!

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    I've been wondering this for awhile. How did we get the popular print sizes we have today. I have some old photos and while I haven't measured them, they look to be 8X10s. I think we had 5X7s before the 35mm became popular. Some of the older snapshots I have seem to be more squared...small but squarish. Old polaroids were square. Were 110s where the 3X5 came from? Or were they shorter and wider (or longer and narrower depending on orientation)? Did the 4X6 begin with the 35mm? I hate 4X6s now that I get the whole image. I've seen a new "digital size" by some of the online places. I like that but where are you gonna get a frame for it?

    Anyone know how we really got our print sizes (and if they related to available cameras, why have we kept them)?
     
  2. blackdoglab

    blackdoglab yeah I'm easy.... but I'm not cheap

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    Square prints are normally contact prints made from a 6X6 centimeter negative. 35mm naturally lends itself to an 8x10 while the 4x6 is the perfect size for a photo album.
     
  3. crownlaurel

    crownlaurel TPF Noob!

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    SO why didn't they make it a 4X5? It would have been the same diminsions as an 8X10, only half the size, and a 4X5 isn't harder to fit in an album, kwim? And where did 5X7s come from? Was I right about the 3X5? LOL...I know I'm nuts.
     
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    If you think about it american measurements are in inches... not meters.. The american cameras were started in inch size and the historic prints were contact from the negative materials from these cameras. They are the ones I am most familier with. These are not the only ones, but i remember the 11 x 14 8x10, 4x5, 5x7 these were the original view camera sizes as much as i can tell. Yes there were cameras with 8x10 negatives.

    Roll film came along and it was 2 1/4 inches wide for 120 but also 2 1/2 wide for 116 they were the longest lived. The 116 like a lot of other film formats didn't survive. The 12o 2 1/4 wide did survive. for a while the kodak version was 620 and a blue million point and shoot cameras were made using that format. Those were most likely the square photos you saw.

    Also popular was a 127 usually also in a square size. It would have always been enlarged. The 120 would have usually been enlarged a little as well.

    35mm to the best of my knowledge had it's origins in europe. It doesn't lend itself naturally to any paper size in america. The closed full frame prints are the 4x6 and the 8 x 12. I know nothing of the new european sized prints that are catching on now.

    This is off the top of my head so may need some tweeking by those with a better memory.
     
  5. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    35mm came about because that was standard motion picture film size and it was easy to get off-cuts.
    For a long time the standard sheet film/paper sizes were quarter plate, half plate and whole plate. Whole plate being 6 1/2" x 8 1/2".
    The European A standards also feature (A4, A5, A6)
     
  6. montresor

    montresor TPF Noob!

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    I bought a photo album at an antique store, and it's full what appear to be contact prints measuring 2 inches by 4 inches. Seemingly taken with some kind of box camera, though it's an image size I'm not familiar with. Many of them are dated 1918 or 1919. Everyone in them seems to be having a lot of fun.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7491820@N07/537190722/
     
  7. crownlaurel

    crownlaurel TPF Noob!

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    How cool is that? I am fascinated by old photos.

    Thanks to all for the great information. So it's our American messed up measuring system that did it, LOL.
     
  8. montresor

    montresor TPF Noob!

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    I would scan more (people posing proudly with their brand new flivvers, riding horses, swimming, holding newborn kittens, etc.), but I'm reluctant to detach them from their places in the album. The 5 guys with straw boaters had already come loose.
     
  9. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    If you go here you will see the large variation in image size in just Kodak cameras.
     
  10. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Mystery Scribe has it right. 11X14, 8X10, 5X7 and 4X5 were (and still are) the standard cut sheet film sizes used with view cameras. A contact print would be the exact size of the negative. So why did those sizes happen to be the standards for cut sheet film? Got me. I have no clue.
     
  11. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    A lot of view cameras (in England anyway) used to use whole plate*, half plate and quarter plate film sizes. These names come from the old glass plates and the size might have something to do with standard size glass sheets - probably window size :lol:

    An old photo manual in my possesion describes 5x4 as 'non-standard'.



    *6 1/2" x 8 1/2"
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I can't recall where I read or heard the reason but it's my belief that you are correct about the standard window pane being the standard for photographic plates. This was due to the availability of the glass and we all know how pragmatic photographers are and have been. The standard size in the US was 8X10 inches. If I'm not mistaken the standard in England was different and probably a multiple of 5X7 inches.

    35mm was in fact the standard for movie film and the 35mm camera was developed to take advantage of the availability and inexpensiveness of that size film.

    hth

    mike
     

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