Large & Ultra Format Film Negative Size Comparison & Why I Choose 14x17

July 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

large format film size negative comparison by Tim Laytonlarge format film size negative comparison by Tim Layton I was working on a new project for my new Chamonix 14x17 ultra large format camera and I was trying to explain how much larger this negative was over a 4x5 negative. 

So, I created this graphic to help with my discussion and realized that it would be a good reference for many other photographers as well. 

Look at the tiny red box in the lower left corner representing 35mm negatives.  While we know large format is indeed much larger than roll film, this illustration really helps drive the realities of this home even more.

If you are on Facebook and want to join us in the Ultra Large Format Photograph Group, I would be happy to welcome you to the group.


Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube I decided to go with 14x17 for a number of reasons over other formats.  I already have 4x5, 5x7, and 4x10 backs for my Chamonix 8x10 camera, so all of the smaller formats are covered.  

I have been using and B&J 11x14 since 2010 and it was time to either update this camera or try another format. 

I did own a Chamonix 11x14 for a couple years and loved the camera, so the decision was really between 14x17 or 16x20 for me. 

At least at this time, I don't have an appetite for 20x24 because I like to do a lot of Pictorialist style soft focus work with the bigger formats and the lens selection is pretty narrow and the costs and workflow is exponentially more complex in many cases.  It is technically possible to either make a single element meniscus lens that will cover 20x24 or purchase a TT Signature Pictorialist lens that will cover, so this wasn't the deciding factor for me. 

I work a lot in the field alone and trying to manage 20x24 by yourself is typically not a great idea.  I traveled around the country with my 11x14, so I feel comfortable doing the same with the new 14x17.  I think it is possible to work with 20x24 alone, I just don't have a use case or the appetite for that at this point in time.  

14x17 Chamonix Ultra Large Format View Camera14x17 Chamonix Ultra Large Format View Camera For my needs, I felt the 14x17 format was exactly what I am looking for at this time. 

I have plenty of lenses that cover this format already and the contact print size when mounted with a 4 inch window mat is 22"x25" making it unique and also substantially larger than the traditional 11x14 format.

Since I make artwork that is intended to be sold to art buyers and collectors, I try and do the small things that set me apart from others.  

The aspect ratio is also fairly close to 8x10 (1:1.21 vs. 1:1.25) and this matters to me because I can easily make 8x10 copy negatives without altering my original composition very much. This opens up the possibility of making very large 40"x60" silver gelatin fine art gallery prints from the 8x10 negatives if desired or needed.  

The main reason I went after 14x17 at this time was because of the contact prints.  I am working on a brand new project where I am making my own orthochromatic film and paper negatives for the 14x17 camera and also making my own silver chloride AZO handmade paper, making this a pure handmade analog workflow from beginning to end. I use film when I want sharper definition and paper when I want a more idealistic rendering.  The silver chloride contact print from either negative renders something to behold and cherish.  

Not every project will require handmade film and paper, so that is why I will keep several boxes of Ilford 14x17 FP4 and HP5 in the freezer.  Ilford has their annual ULF film ordering program every summer, so it should be reasonable to have plenty of film on hand. 

I plan to make classic fiber silver gelatin contact prints using FP4 or HP5 negatives and standard papers like Ilford MGIV and others.  I have done all of this for years on my 8x10 and now I simply scale things up to the 14x17 format.

I have been making platinum contact prints with my 8x10 for a long time and having the option to make the bigger 14x17 platinum prints from my original film negatives will also be a great option in the future as well. 

Much more on all of this in the future.

-Tim Layton

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube Darkroom Underground - Underground -

What Are Art Buyers & Collectors Saying About Tim Layton Fine Art?

Darkroom Underground - Underground - "I just received my handmade silver gelatin fine art print from Tim Layton and it is absolutely stunning!  

I want other people to know the attention to detail that Tim puts into the making of his fine art.  

As a fellow large format photographer and printer of my own B&W darkroom prints, I can tell you that Tim’s work is exceptional.  

Now having this print in my hands, I can tell you that this selenium-toned print looks three-dimensional.  That is high praise considering we work in a two dimensional medium.  If you have not already joined Tim’s Fine Art Print Club, I strongly recommend that you join now! You will not regret your decision. -John D'Angelo, NY

Ice Princess 30x40 Silver Gelatin Fine Art Wild Horse Print by Tim LaytonIce Princess 30x40 Silver Gelatin Fine Art Wild Horse Print by Tim Layton "The size of your prints are amazing, but it’s the minute detail and tonal range you capture that give your images their aesthetic qualities. Every one of your handmade fine art prints that I have seen, has blown me away to the point I pause the video to look at them more closely.  It never ceases to amaze me how you create images that look so simple, and yet many of us watching that doesn’t mean easy. I can only dream of capturing anything 1/10th as beautiful as you do." -Mark Harris

"I have been following Tim's journey for some time now; I shoot mostly 4x5 and some 8x10, and have a small business, Zee Zee LightBenders, that specialises in alternative printing in cyanotype, Salt, Kallitype and of course traditional black and white silver gelatine. I have been following Tim's quest on the Wild Horses of Missouri and was lucky enough to purchase "The Nomads" print. I live in Africa, so nothing moves with speed. 60 days later I received the package from Tim, no fault of his, that's how we roll in Africa.
Well, was the wait worth it? - ABSOLUTELY!!!! A beautiful print on textured paper. I went on a Namibia trip to see the wild horses there in January this year so I can absolutely relate to this experience. 

Keep up the good work Tim, love your work and contribution to conservation" -Rodney Rudman, Cape Town, South Africa

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube "The artwork by Tim Layton is very unique, all handmade, from the negative to the final print on Ilford MGIV fiber paper and gently toned in selenium.  The tones are subtle, and distinct, and placed in just the right grey scale zones so the overall contrast of the print feels complete - from pitch black to delicate highlights. Holding one of his prints in your hands and viewing it carefully in daylight will reveal the beauty of his handmade darkroom prints.  In addition, Tim's prints are simply beautiful and artistic." -Anders Blomqvist, Sweden

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What Are Members Saying About The Darkroom Underground?

Join Tim Layton on YouTubeJoin Tim Layton on YouTube There is no shortage of people providing information on photography on YouTube and the internet.   Some  are even aimed at the analog photographer, but what Tim has done with the Darkroom Underground (DU) is nothing short of pure brilliance.  DU is not only for the analog photographer it is also for the Large Format &  Ultra Large Format Photographer.  I don’t know of anyone else who is covering ULF.

He has simplified learning with wonderful videos that are supplemented with show notes so you have all the information for you to do this on your own. But unlike anything else out there you have Tim as a resource, too. He has always been easily available for questions or clarification and he welcomes suggestions for future shows.

If you are serious about learning all aspects of analog and LF/ULF this is the place to be. -Michael Wellman

Darkroom Underground - Underground - "Tim Layton is providing very useful information for all those who are interested in analog photography and large format cameras. He covers in a very detailed and entertaining way the different aspects of this field. He always takes the time to explain the details and share all his know-how. Nothing is hidden or secret. Everything is on the table. 

The videos and blogs are shot and edited in a very professional way. Tim is always ready to receive and share the suggestions and ideas coming from other people. He is a very good community manager. 

I would like also to underline the growing role of his son, Tim Junior who contributes also greatly to the quality of the videos, text and explanation. Last but not least, Tim is always welcoming suggestions and questions and ready to interact. I recommend warmly the work of Tim Layton. -Stéfane France


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