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Sheet Film Sizes

Vlad Soare , Dec 20, 2007; 08:52 a.m.

Sheet film sizes are either imperial (4x5", 5x7", etc.) or metric (9x12cm, 10x15cm, 13x18cm, etc.). They are not quite the same, with 4x5" being roughly 10.1x12.7cm, 5x7" being roughly 12.7x17.7cm, etc.
Must the film and holder be exactly the same size, or can they be used interchangeably, for example 9x12cm film in a 4x5" holder, or 5x7" film in a 13x18cm holder? If I buy imperial sized holders, will I be able to use metric sized film?
Thank you.


Michael Briggs , Dec 20, 2007; 09:53 a.m.

No, the inch and metric films aren't interchangeable in holders. However, the holders have the same external dimensions and are interchangeable in the camera. See, for example:




Bill Mitchell , Dec 20, 2007; 12:16 p.m.

My Linhof's 9x12 CFH have the identical outside dimensions as standard 4x5.

Vlad Soare , Dec 20, 2007; 01:27 p.m.

I see. Thank you.

John Shriver , Dec 20, 2007; 08:30 p.m.

Glass plates were the true sizes, so a 4x5 glass plate was really 4x5 inches. When "cut film" first came out, it was used in a Kodak film sheath, which fit in the place of the glass, and held the film with some grooves. So the true sizes of cut (sheet) film are smaller than the nominal size, to meet the needs of the particular Kodak film sheath. Some sizes were smaller in one dimension, some in both.

Of course, once cut film holders were designed, they were designed around the actual sizes of cut films designed to fit in the film sheaths.

frank menesdorfer , Dec 21, 2007; 04:39 a.m.

All camera sizes given in inch. There is no such a thing called 9x12 or any other cameras in cm. Michael is right. The outside dimension of the holders are feet in all cameras which have an international standard. But there is a difference in the inside the one which is made for 5x7 for ecxample do not ecxept 13x18 cm and the other way around. But and repeating others here there is cameras some older ones where the holder external size are different but using a same film size.

Hany Aziz , Dec 25, 2007; 01:23 a.m.

I beg to differ with the previous poster. Europe particularly continental Europe have generally used metric measurement for camera size eg 13x18 cm vs 5x7, as opposed to England which appears to have used both systems, the US has always used imperial measures for camera size.

The film size does differ! 13x18 film is 1-2 mm bigger than 5x7 film and will not fit well in a 5x7 holder and 5x7 film will be loose and possibly fall out of a 13x18 holder. The external dimensions of the holders themselves particularly the more modern Fidelity/Lisco and Linhof ones are the same and therefore a 13x18 holder can be used in a 5x7 camera and vice versa. It is sometimes useful to have both types of holders for eg E6 film is more easily obtainable in 13x18 than in 5x7 size, with B&W the 5x7 is more easily available (I am based in the US).



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