Advice on Split Back Contact Frames (in UK)

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by eubielicious, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. eubielicious

    eubielicious Member

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    Hi all,

    Has anyone bought a split back contact printing frame from Retrophotographic here in the UK and are they any good? I'm checking before splashing out on one.

    If they're not so good, can anyone recommend an alternative - preferably not 'top of the range' as my budget is quite small at the moment?

    Thanks,

    Euan
     
  2. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I made my own. Much less expensive, and not all that difficult. Poplar frame, plywood back lined with a sheet of plastic foam layered with black felt, and with small blocks of oak as latches to keep the back attached.
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A little "sizeism" is healthy when looking for printing frames. In smaller sizes (up to about 5x7") just about anything will do; from 8x10" and up you need good design and even better construction.

    I haven't bought printing frames from Retro Photographic, but I'm thinking about it. I need a 10x12" one, or maybe a 12x16"...
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I'll second Ole. My biggest is an 11x14 and I need a 12x15...

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  5. eubielicious

    eubielicious Member

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    I was looking at a 10" x 12" frame, to give me a little space, and I don't really have the skills to have a go at making my own! Well, not just yet anyway.

    Euan (watching Argentina v Holland)
     
  6. geoff billett

    geoff billett Member

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    Only last week I purchased a 12x16 contact printing frame from Fotospeed for approx £60. I was expecting something substantial; it was merely an ordinary not expensive picture frame with the hardboard cut approx 1/3 down the back and attached by hinges to allow easy viewing . I could have bought a frame from a local cheap hardware shop for £10 and cut and hinged it for just a few pounds more.

    I do not know what the retro frames are like but the cost is comparable to fotospeed. The Lotus seems the best (but are expensive) and Silverprint say they cannot presently source their own supplies.

    If I knew what I know now I would have made my own and bought another box of 10x8 film :smile:

    Making one is not rocket science.
     
  7. geoff billett

    geoff billett Member

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    ooops sorry - making one to the specification of the one that cost me £60 is not rocket science

    Good luck

    Geoff
     
  8. SeamusARyan

    SeamusARyan Member

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    Hi Euan

    check out http://www.linhofstudio.com/main.html
    click on "Products", then "Fine Art" then "Accessories"

    they are quite expensive but I saved a bit by getting a mate to make me a 20x16 uv light box as per the instructions on http://www.eepjon.com/ website

    the Lotus contact printing frames are lovely, I've got one but sadly don't use it enough at the moment but that will change soon. I've got plenty cyanotype chemicals to practice on before moving upto doing platinum/paladium again, I'm a bit rusty as it's been about 6 years since I did any

    enjoy and be well

    Seamus
    www.seamusryan.com
     
  9. CarlRadford

    CarlRadford Member

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    A friend brought one along for the course plt/pd course we just did with Kerik. If his was indicative of the standard I would steer well clear - very poor design and build quality. Keep an eye out on ebay for any of the older printing frames!
     
  10. bobherbst

    bobherbst Member

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    Split Back Contact Frames

    An absolute requirement for any split back frame is a piano hinge across the entire split. Two or three small hinges are not sufficient. Older contact frames are no better unless they have such a hinge. In fact, older frames often perform more poorly becaue of wear, wood shrinkage, etc. To test a frame, hold the back up looking at the split from the side and try to move either side up or down. If there is ANY vertical play at the split, it will not give good contact especially for the heavier papers often used in alternative process. I've seen a lot of different contact frame styles in my workshops. Even some brand new, very expensive ones perform poorly. Anything larger than 8x10 should have at least three springs evenly spaced in each half to apply even pressure across each section.

    The best test for a frame is to place a Stouffer 1/2" step wedge across the split with a coated piece of paper and expose. If there is any loss of contact, it will show up like a searchlight as blurriness in the step wedge numbers nearest the split. Everything will be razor sharp for a good frame. The best contact frame is one that has no split back. I made my own after giving up on commercially available frames. It is hinged along an entire side. I now use a vacuum frame for all of my own work.

    Bob
     
  11. roy

    roy Member

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    Camera fairs are probably the best bet. Existing hinges could always be replaced if they turn out to be inadequate.
     
  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Save yourself the trouble and buy a vaccum frame. Contact frames are ok up to 8x10, above that they become a PITA.
     
  13. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I agree with Jorge 100% A vacuum frame prints sharper and as he said over negatives over 8x10 become difficult to keep sharp.

    A used vacuum frame plus a new vacuum pump will cost about the same as a new quality split back frame.
     
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  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I hate to disagree with such knowledgeable people but I'm quite happy with my old 'no name' 11x14 inch split-back frame which cost me under $20 ten or fifteen years ago in San Luis Obispo. Now I need a bigger one (12x15, though I'll probably have it made 12x16 to suit the paper) I'm merely wondering whom to ask to make it.

    Why should a vacuum frame be sharper than a well-made split-back? I ask in a genuine spirit of inquiry, never having used one, but I can't see why it would be if the split-back is well made. Nor can I quite see why a piano hinge is essential if the workmanship is good enough.

    The other great attraction of split-back is printing by inspection, which must surely be rather more difficult with vacuum backs, even with pin-register.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  16. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    Yeah, that frame was crap wasn't it Carl. Something like 12 x 16 inch and made with thin pine. I have a 11x14 from the veiw camera store which is well built from maple. It cost a small fortune in shipping though, but it's a one off purchase.

    J
     
  17. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Because a VF exerts even pressure accros the negative paper sandwhich everytime. No worry about mis-loads or problems associated with using a goldenrod or ruby lith mask.

    That's a looser way to print, IMO. A sure road to achieving non-uniform and not having repeatable results, especially with processes that have a humidity factor. Print by time not by inspection for fine prints.
     
  18. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I guess contact printing was not covered very well in the 50 books.....
     
  19. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    You no doubt have more experience than I, but I am surprised at the former, and I'm not quite sure what you mean about 'mis-loads'.

    As for the latter, yes, it does reduce repeatability, but I can't say that worries me too much; a modest degree of variation is for me part of the attraction of the few alternative processes I have tried, but then, few of them have been humidity-dependent. In the latter case I suspect I might feel differently. But with PoP and silver-iron prints, another part of the attraction is working as people did 100 or more years ago; I use an artificial UV source for convenience, sometimes, but I prefer daylight.

    Then again, many of my favourite prints from the past -- Roger Fenton, for example -- are probably not what you would classify as 'fine'.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  20. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I have a web site? no shit! can you tell me where it is? As to my pictures, you are welcome to see more than 5 at the APUG gallery, with many more to come......

    Gall me?!? Once again you flatter yourself, I was just wondering since you disagreed right off the bat with Don and I that maybe you had so much more experience than both of us who regularly print 8x10 and above that it must have been written somewhere in the 50 books.....but I guess this was just like the critiques. Much ado about nothing........

    SO let me see, I am only a good photographer and know what I am talking about if I have published a book or have a web site? This one is just to easy to take, so I will be kind to you this one time... cheers back to you bubba....

     
  21. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Jorge,

    Well, something must gall you, or you would not go out of your way to be so rude and unpleasant.

    In the contact printing post I admitted that you had more experience than I, and asked why you made the assertion you did. Don made a reasoned reply; you simply sniped back, as you so often do.

    Incidentally, I seem to recall that you are among those who disparage 'experts', defined as those who say, "I know so much more about this than you do that your views are worthless." But of course that wasn't what you meant in this case, was it?

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  22. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    yep, experts who spend more time telling us how wonderful they are than answering simple questions.
     
  23. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,
    To shine for Him each day;
    In every way try to please Him,
    At home, at school, at play.

    Refrain

    A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
    Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
    A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
    I’ll be a sunbeam for Him.

    Jesus wants me to be loving,
    And kind to all I see;
    Showing how pleasant and happy
    His little one can be.

    Refrain

    I will ask Jesus to help me
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    Ever reflecting His goodness,
    And always shine for Him.

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    Serving Him moment by moment,
    Then live with Him on high.

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  24. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Roger,

    By misloads I mean moving the orientation or placement of the negative on the paper.

    For example I prefer to print 8x10 negatives on 11x14 paper, usually with a mask to produce sharply defined edges showing no brush marks centered in the sheet of paper.

    With some papers, cockling occurs as a result of coating. The degree of cockling will vary depending upon the kind paper but never the less can create problems which will be all but eliminated when using a vacuum printing frame.

    As for printing by inspection, I feel that many people are mislead by the notion that good results can be obtain consistenly by sun printing an inspecting the exposures. And just because this is the way Roger Fenton and others worked really doesn't have any bearing on the way one should work today as materials have changed dramatically. I imagine you may do sun printing based on sentimental reasons. Sunlight does have a broder spectra than electric light sources and can give different results but on the whole printing with sun light is highly variable and impossible to do at night.

    When printing negs larger thatn 8x10 by all of my experience has been with enlarged negatives, as 8x10 is currently the largest format I use. But when one starts coating up large sheets of expensive paper with palladium then eliminating potential points of failure becomes extremely important.

    Finally, even with small negatives, a vacuum easel does produce sharper images than ones made with high quality contact printing frames. The difference is most noticeible when printing on silver gelatin emulsions but alternative processes benifit as well.

    Processes such as multi-coat gums or gum over palladium benefit even more, BTW, IMO.
     
  25. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Don,

    Thanks for your comprehensive reply. You are indeed right about 'sentimental reasons' but despite your informed assurance I shall have to try vacuum printing for myself before I am fully convinced. Please do not take this amiss. You have no reason to lie, after all, and I do not think for one moment that you are making it up. It is just hard to believe, given the sharpness I get on PoP from big negs, so I want to see for myself how much difference it makes. . .

    Drat you! I shall now have to buy a vacuum frame...

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  26. jimread

    jimread Member

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