Is there such a thing as large format roll film? 4x5 or 8x10 or other standard sizes

Gavjenks

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If so, what sorts of cameras use it? If not, why does this not exist?

I may consider making some myself if it doesn't exist, and would be interested in knowing what sorts of pitfalls or snags I might run into. Or if it exists, then it might be silly to make. Basically, I was considering one of two possible designs:

1) affix the commercially purchased loose sheet film somehow to a roll of durable, reusable plastic clear material, and leave a gap in every space, or every 3rd space or whatever, that can be used to focus on the ground glass. So you would take a photo, then roll it to the nearest empty spot, pull back a light shade, focus on the ground glass, pull the light shade back again, and roll to the next unexposed piece of film, then shoot.

2) Make a crude large format "SLR" but without bothering with a prism, of course. Just a fold down mirror, designed with nice velvet "gaskets" or similar so that in the down position, it completely blocks light from the film, and in the up position, it blocks any light coming in from the ground glass (which would be positioned on the top of the camera). Operated by a manual lever and locking mechanism built into the hinge. So you would take a photo, then lower the mirror (a light shade would be in place over the GG to prevent light getting in while the mirror is half lowered), pull back the light shade on the GG, focus and compose, pull the shade again, raise the mirror, roll the film to the next position, and shoot.



The only major issue I can anticipate with either system is that the film may not lie flat enough, but it could probably be made to pass through long guides on top and bottom as it rolls past to help with this.

What am I missing?
 

dxqcanada

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I believe the K-20 aerial camera used 5 1/4" roll film ... I do not think that there is any present day camera that does.
... I think that Kodak did make some 5" roll film for duplication equipment.
 

tirediron

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Out of curiosity, why? Pitfalls that I can see are simply the size. An 8x10 film holder is already a big piece of kit, making supply and take-up drums that would be large enough to 'wind' the film without damage would mean a VERY large set-up indeed. Making it light-tight would also be tricky; you'd still need a darkslide of some sort to seal off the ground glass, and the potential for spoiling film by winding it forward with the shutter open are just a couple that come to mind.
 

amolitor

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Sheet film will probably object strenuously to being rolled in any kind of tight radius, and if you get away with that, flattening it back out as your surmise is likely to be a problem.

Using some more rollable film stock might be possible. You can at least get 70mm film stock, which might only have 65mm of usable width, which is still a little wider than 120/220 film. Slightly.

At bigger sizes, I assume flatness and dimensional stability both become issues.
 

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Yeah, I was gonna say, there used to be aerial cameras that used rollfilm...BIG rollfilm! When I was a kid, these monstrous old beasts were sold for $69-$99 through the photo magazines in the small, back-of-the-magazine advertisements, by a handful of outlets.

Back then, $49 to $59 would buy a used but clean late 50's/early 1960's Zeiss-Ikon Contaflex 35mm SLR; $79.99 would buy something like a Russian-made Zenit 35mm SLR, and $109 would buy the lowest-end Mamiya/Sekor 35mm SLR; at that time, the Minolta SRT 101 and 50mm lens was $149.99.
 

tirediron

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Were these roll films not very use-specific? That is, I suspect that the substrate was a lot more flexible than that used for today's 8x10 sheet film, and from I've seen of those cameras, mostly in old movies, they were BIG units.
 

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What am I missing?

You didn't mention a motor drive.

I mean; if you're going to the trouble of building a giant roll-film camera, then you must want some fairly upscale frames-per-minute. (prolly not frames-per-second)
 

Designer

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ps: you might have to cannibalize one of those aerial cameras for the lens, too.
 

amolitor

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You should man up and make a roll ambrotype system that drags some sort of flexible substrate through a silver nitrate bath and so on. Make it powered by steam for bonus points.
 

Light Guru

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Oh sure here is a roll right here.
Kodak 5in x 350ft Aerographic Duplicating Roll Film 2421 126MMX107M 4x5 7 | eBay

Would I recommend trying what you say you are going to try. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I may consider making some myself if it doesn't exist, and would be interested in knowing what sorts of pitfalls or snags I might run into. Or if it exists, then it might be silly to make. Basically, I was considering one of two possible designs:

1) affix the commercially purchased loose sheet film somehow to a roll of durable, reusable plastic clear material, and leave a gap in every space, or every 3rd space or whatever, that can be used to focus on the ground glass. So you would take a photo, then roll it to the nearest empty spot, pull back a light shade, focus on the ground glass, pull the light shade back again, and roll to the next unexposed piece of film, then shoot.

That seems that an awkward way of doing it. First off why would you leave clear spaces so you can focus. You should familiarize yourself with graflock backs that allow you to remove the ground glass after focusing add attach all sorts of back like poloroid back, and 120 roll film backs.

And how would you attach the commercially purchased loose sheet film to your roll without damaging the sheet of film.

Make a crude large format "SLR" but without bothering with a prism, of course. Just a fold down mirror, designed with nice velvet "gaskets" or similar so that in the down position, it completely blocks light from the film, and in the up position, it blocks any light coming in from the ground glass (which would be positioned on the top of the camera). Operated by a manual lever and locking mechanism built into the hinge. So you would take a photo, then lower the mirror (a light shade would be in place over the GG to prevent light getting in while the mirror is half lowered), pull back the light shade on the GG, focus and compose, pull the shade again, raise the mirror, roll the film to the next position, and shoot.

There are already old 4x5 SLR cameras out there.


Even if you did shoot a roll of film that size how would you develop it?

I shoot 4x5 film almost exclusively, and frankly see what you propose as adding a LOT more work onto a process that already takes a LOT of work. And I dont see you really gaining anything from it.

One of the great things about shooting large format B&W film is being able to adjust the development time of individual sheets of film in conjunction with the zone system. Shooting roll film does not make that possible.

If you are looking for a way to not carrying around a lot of film holders when shooting 4x5 then simply get yourself some Grafmatic film holders that hold 6 sheets of film and have the thickness of just under 3 4x5 film holders. I even have 3 Grafmatic film holders that I can sell you as I find that I prefer the regular 4x5 film holders.
 
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dxqcanada

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Even if you did shoot a roll of film that size how would you develop it?

Look for "Going out of Business" sales from a major photo lab.
Buy a Dip'n'Dunk processor from them for pennies (I think they might pay you to remove it) ... then get it on your flatbed truck.
Getting it into the basement is the hard part.
 
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Gavjenks

Gavjenks

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Sheet film will probably object strenuously to being rolled in any kind of tight radius

Yes it is more stiff, but are you sure it would actually case any damage or IQ degradation? What radius do you think the film could be bent at without damage? I've only ever done tray developing for it, but I understand that some people already bend their film at fairly sharp angles to do drum processing, via the so-called "taco method:"
http://static.flickr.com/110/257236162_352bed18af.jpg

A radius that size would make roll film plenty practical. The reel could easily fit inside a reasonably sized camera if you can bend it that tightly. However, holding it in that much of a bend for hours might be different than holding it that way for minutes. Maybe it doesn't damage it for developing times but would for longer term storage.

You should man up and make a roll ambrotype system that drags some sort of flexible substrate through a silver nitrate bath and so on. Make it powered by steam for bonus points.
Lol yes. I remember seeing an automatic developing assembly line made out of legos somewhere =P. Not nearly as badass as steam power, of course, but it was fairly compact.

You joke, but this sort of thing is actually the main motivation for doing a project like this. I like making interesting gadgets as much as I like actually taking pictures.

That seems that an awkward way of doing it. First off why would you leave clear spaces so you can focus. You should familiarize yourself with graflock backs that allow you to remove the ground glass after focusing add attach all sorts of back like poloroid back, and 120 roll film backs.

That would work, but the whole point of roll film is speed and convenience. Removing the whole back doesn't sound very speedy or convenient (30 seconds probably, at least), compared to just winding a crank twice, etc. (maybe 5 seconds, much faster if indeed a motor drive were added as suggested above).

If I were to implement something like you're suggesting, I think it would be something more like "the entire rolling assembly folds down into a recess in the bottom of the camera and then back up again," which would be similar to the removable back, but require only a sliding of a light screen and a flick of a lever and 1-2 seconds to convert back and forth

(If you wanted to be really slick, you could even mechanically link the screen and the lever, so one action automatically pulls the screen and then lowers the assembly a split second later, and conversely on the way back)

Even if you did shoot a roll of film that size how would you develop it?
Just like any other roll film. Respooling onto a drum, or designing the spools in the first place so that you can just develop them directly in a tank and only have to spool/respool once per roll total. Yes, this removes the flexibility of developing each shot separately, but that's not why I'm drawn to LF film. I care more about the detail and "look" and so forth than advanced dark room shenanigans.

Or if you realllllly wanted to expose each one separately, you could always just cut them and do that.

Out of curiosity, why? Pitfalls that I can see are simply the size. An 8x10 film holder is already a big piece of kit, making supply and take-up drums that would be large enough to 'wind' the film without damage would mean a VERY large set-up indeed.

If you can bend it at the radiuses linked to in the "taco method" without damage, then spools would only be like 2 inches in diameter, and you'd only need 2 for potentially dozens of sheets of film. Compared to 20+ film holders or even several grafmatic ones, this is lighter weight and smaller.

If you cannot bend it that much, though, then it may indeed become too bulky/heavy by comparison to be practical.

How to connect it to the roll?
All kinds of ways would work. Adhesives, staples (if designed so that the staples are protected on the back to not scratch other sheets, or the sheets are lined up mathematically to have their edges always overlap other edges only), etc.

I'm not concerned about damaging the very edges of the film permanently. I would simply crop every photo down 5% or so to remove the damaged area if desired. This is no different than pieces of film being roughly edged from a traditional film holder.
 
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Helen B

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There's also the Gowlandflex, though that is a TLR. It has the advantage of not having mirror slap.

Have you considered a rangefinder 4x5 with a Grafmatic (as mentioned by Light Guru)? Those are OK for handheld, speedy use.
 
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Gavjenks

Gavjenks

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Also, if the bending radius is indeed the main bottleneck of this whole plan, then another possibility would be to use Harman direct positive paper, which is fiber based and can probably bend much more easily. I've never worked with it, though, so I don't know if it's actually more flexible.

On the downside, that stuff needs to be pre-flashed to get reasonably low contrast, and you have to develop it within a couple of hours of shooting (and it exposes slowly enough that the speed of roll film might be a little silly). But still a possible solution for fun.

There's also the Gowlandflex,
Cool stuff!
 

Ysarex

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ps: you might have to cannibalize one of those aerial cameras for the lens, too.

Careful with that -- back in the 50s a number of lens makers experimented with rare earth elements in making glass to boost the refractive index. Some of them made radioactive lenses and the old Areo Extars that Kodak put on those old cameras were some of the most radioactive made.

Joe
 

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