Glassless or glass neg carriers?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Matt5791, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I used to use an LPL enlarger with a glass negative carrier.

    Now I use a DeVere which uses glassless neg. carriers for all formats except 5X7.

    I have the brilliant book "Way beyond Monochrome" by Ralph Lambrecht and Chris Woodhouse where they recommend, strongly, to avoid glassless carriers.

    So what do people think? If glassless carriers are so problematic whay did a company like DeVere specify them?

    I can't see that much difference between my prints from the LPL and the DeVere, however I am not comparing like for like as I have become a lot more experienced since I stopped using the LPL, and different lenses etc.

    What is most popular with Apug members?

    Does anyone have any tests and comparisons?

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Well I won't attempt to speak for Ralph...but all glass negative carriers are not equal.

    For instance the glass in my Durst enlarger comes in three different varieties. The first is glass which is a combination of AN and conventional glass with the additional proviso that it is fabricated to a standard that provides absolute parallelism.

    The second variety is glass which has the characteristics that the first catagory encompasses with the additional proviso that it is also coated to reduce flare at this juncture.

    Then there is an additional variety of quartz glass which is also coated available for high UV transmissivity.

    I find a blanket statement to avoid using glass carriers a bit worrisome from where I sit...having used both glassless and glass carriers and judging on the basis of print sharpness and local contrast.
     
  3. Leon

    Leon Member

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    MAtt - I recall there have been quite a few threads on this here ... a search might be a prudent way to get more information if this thread doesnt give you enough. Like you, I recently upgraded from a glass carrier in my opemus to the glassless one in the Devere. The only difference I noticed at first was that I had to refocus the neg for each exposure which I put down to "popping" with the heat of the enlarger lamp - this isnt so much a problem but more an inconvenience. That said, I have recently got a varicon head to replace the colour diffusion one and I dont seem to get the same problems - i suspect the lamp doesnt give off so much heat.

    Does the 5x7 version have the same set-up as the 5x4 - eg a universal holder with drop in masks for different neg sizes? IF so, I have some 5x4 glass plates for mine and have started using one of those under the neg and that seems to hold it securely enough with a glassless mask above it.

    Dust is always the downside of glass holders, but if you have that under control, then no worries at all.
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Whichever you're using -- the other one! Both have their frustrations: it's a matter of using one long enough to forget the drawbacks of the other. Then you switch...

    My Meoptas give the option of glass, glassless and single glass. We normally print single-glass (anti-Newton, above) up to 6x9cm. With the big MPP (up to 5x7 inch with a De Vere colour head) it's double-glass.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  5. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Matt, in a word, speed.

    The DeVere enlarger is/was built for speed, as well as quality, it can deliver both.

    In the commercial world of enlarging when most of these machines were being built and used, cranking out high quality print after print, was what made the money.

    Glass carriers, slow you down alarmingly!

    In the eighties I was cranking out around 300 colour prints a shift, I was in one darkroom doing this day in day out. There was seven other people in seven other darkrooms doing the same thing.

    The colour prints were all from colour trannies, (colour slides). In the graphic arts trade they were called colour stats. These colour stats were enlarged to a line drawing which was for a layout of a colour magazine, colour advertising brochure, etcetera, you get the picture.

    These colour roughs, which were anything but rough, went to board meetings where the layout and colour balance of the printing (press) was discussed forever, until lunch time arrived, then a five minute hasty discussion settled the discussion.

    All of these prints were made from individual pieces of film which were supplied in all conceivable formats. Anything from movie film upwards. Most however were either 35mm, 6x45, 6x6, 6x7 & 4x5".

    Basically, we managed to print daily, what a lot people do in a year in their home darkroom! Surprisingly, the quality of the work was amazingly high. You soon learn how to knock out high quality stuff in minutes, not hours.

    The best enlargers for this work that I have used, are the DeVere enlargers with their two focusing wheels at the front of the baseboard. Next comes the Beselers and their terrific lens carriers which could be rotated, which is a blessing for the vertical 6x45 format frames. These are the two workhorse enlargers that were sold in great numbers in this country, with the DeVere edging out the Beselers due their phenomonal build and the precision with which that was caried out.

    I can tell you that our enlarger heads, went up and down like yo yo's, every day all day! One could hear the rattling of the chains constantly, as you were standing at the end of the processor waiting for your batch of (perfect) prints.

    If though, we needed an enlargement as good as you could get, one immediately wacked in a set of glass plates, in an enlarger that was perectly aligned. We had two enlargers set aside for huge standard enlargements, a 4x5" and a 5x7" they were both capable of almost legendary quality.

    Once you have a set of glass plates in an enlarger, dust amongst other things, does become more noticeable, so far greater preparing is a requirement. But the rewards are there when you enlarge your negs in an aligned enlarger in good glass plates.

    When using my own DeVere enlarger, I use glassless for 99% of my 35mm work. One of the little tricks I use, is removeable magic tape. By taping the film on either side of the film carrier and stretching it flatter, I obtain a degree of flatness that is acceptable for all of my work prints up to 12x16" paper. One has to be careful though, that you don't stress the film in a direction different to what the neg carrier does.

    For any of my really good prints, I use glass!

    Lambrecht and Woodhouse are correct.

    Mick.
     
  6. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I I only print 35mm negs and use a condenser-head enlarger now. To me, using a glass carrier (I have one) makes some prints look too harsh. Not bad, but too contrasty to me. So, I stick to a glass-less carrier but have no problem with a neg curling/popping or out-of-focus issue.

    In the past when I was using a diffuser-head enlarger, I was kind of in need of a glass carrier to get more local contrast, but with almost of all condenser-heads I've used, I've never felt that. It's just my preferrence more than anything else.
     
  7. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I used to use a glass carrier for everything, but got so fed up of having to (and often failing to) get 6 dust free surfaces that I gave up. For 35mm I don't see much difference. For 6 x 7 the extra film flatness does make a small difference and I will still use the glass carrier if I want the last ounce of quality in a big print, but mostly I just put the lens down another stop and rely on the depth of field.

    David.
     
  8. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    For 35mm the film lies flat enough without a glass for a decent print unless you're printing too big, but if I were (as usually I am) caring for the ultimate quality in every step, I won't give a sh*t for any carrier that doesn't use glass because it does not make any sense caring for the lens, the alignment, exposure, etc, without assuring a perfectly flat negative in the trade of speed or fear of dust.

    Said that, you might get very good prints with or without glass in the carrier, everything depends of your expectatives, what you are asking to yourself and the print size.
     
  9. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    I have found that there is a small but detectible difference in edge to edge sharpness when making large prints (like 16 x 20 and 20 x 24). The glass carrier wins out.

    Bob
     
  10. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I began with a homeade version for 4x5 just using picture frame glass. Not as sharp as the glassless type i use now. Actually many of my carriers are homemade from 1/4" black gatorfoam. I tape one edge of the neg to keep it on there. just as sharp as anything else.

    vinny
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I prefer glass. It's the difference between sharp and SHARP.
     
  12. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning,

    Can any glass carrier keep film any flatter than a Beseler Negaflat carrier? I have trouble imagining how, so glass, to me, would just be extra surfaces to keep dust-free.

    Konical
     
  13. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Glass, glass and then try Glass. I have used both and the dusts issues is a non issue for me as I like to do fewer great prints than mass produce drivel so I dont mind spending the time getting things clean. AN glass sorts Newton rings. Glassless carriers are less hassel bu the film is not flat and boy can you tell esp with large ennlargements where DOF is narrow and you cannot stop down too far due to exposure times. I never use glasssless any more.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2007
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  15. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I'll echo Tom's post above...... My glass carrier yields the best results.
     
  16. eric

    eric Member

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    Eric, nice name. Alaska! Must be beautiful there.
    I have a glass carrier and recently got the AN glass from fpointinc. Haven't used the AN glass yet. But cleaning the carrier and leaving it in a bag is a good idea. I wrap mine in a domke wrap. But it does seem a little sharper than non glass carrier. Just my opinion. It does slow one down a lot though but I only do a few prints at a session anyway.
     
  17. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Mick - thats really interesting about the DeVere and speed - I was chatting to the people at my local lab the other day and they still use at least 3 or 4 DeVeres and so quite a lot of black and white and colour hand printing. I mentioned somehting about glassless carriers and they immediately started saying "no no no you dont want any glass" which ties in with your experiences and commercial production requirements.

    Thansk everyone for the input. Leon: my carrier is I believe pretty much the same as the 504 version with drop in inserts up to 5X4 - the 5X7 has its own carrier which is glass.

    So I think that I will be sourcing some glass inserts for larger enlargements and more critical work, and use the glassless ones for when I churn out wedding prints and other work where high volume is necessary.

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  18. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    The reason why labs dont like glass is it hugely slow them down as you have more surfaces to clean. This makes a huge difference to productivity and therefore how profitable your business is! In terms of results, there is no centest, glass holds the film far flatter and this does result in sharper prints, period. If you want the sharpest possible prints, you will only achieve this with a very flat neg and glassless simply cannot deliver this. The downsides are, as stateed before, dust and Newton rings, but these can bde dealt with by keeping the carrrier and glass in a sealed container when not in use, gettig a good antistatic brush and using anti-newton glass to prevent rings. I use my AN glass on top (touching the shiny side of the film) and clear below. I do not have a problem with newton rings or dust. I dont think there are many top fine art photographer-printers out there using glassless carriers if their work needs resolution across the image. If you are printing holga shots you might not notice, but if printing 120 or 35mm negs to a decent size you most definitely will. I have used 3 different brand of enlarger and use glass in all now as none have glassless carriers that hold film nearly as flat.
     
  19. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I agree with pretty much everything Tom said above, but my issue with glass is also a matter of throughput. I am not doing fine art, I'm making thousands of archaeological record shots a year and the glass just slows me down. I find the loss of quality minor (even when you look for it) up to 8 x 10 although, as I said in my last post, I do bring the glass back when I make big prints. I don't do many of these, so the time is less of an issue, whilst the quality difference is more visible. By the way, I've not seen a Newton ring since the 1980s. AN glass really is wonderful stuff.

    David.
     
  20. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I'm reading this with interest. May I ask some questions? Thank you.

    Whether using a manufactured AN carrier or making one's own, the AN glass goes above the negative, at the base side, correct?

    If I were to use a manufactured, Beseler AN carrier for film sizes "up to 4x5," I should mask off the carrier when using smaller film, yes?

    If I make my own, from two sheets of glass, I'd use regular glass below, AN glass above and I should a) mask for film format and b) tape off the edges of both pieces of glass, right?

    It is recommended that something, perhaps tape, be used to create a gap between the two panes so that there is not tight contact between the AN glass and the base side of the film, true?

    I have an idea for a homemade carrier with seperate "bottoms" masked for different formats, where the masking also creates the "shim" between the panes...where all the bottoms share one AN "top". Decent idea?
     
  21. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    It all sounds good to me. I made a glass carrier and used a black paper mask, with the opening slightly larger than the image, and place it above the neg. This serves to space the top glass off the neg and I have no problems with NR. I have found an Anti-Reflection glass like Denglas works fine as the top glass.
     
  22. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Does anyone know how much gap between the two panes is too much?
     
  23. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    "It is recommended that something, perhaps tape, be used to create a gap between the two panes so that there is not tight contact between the AN glass and the base side of the film, true?"

    I'm not sure about this. My only past experience with ANR glass has been with it pressing firmly on the negative--that being in Leitz Focomat 35mm enlargers. I recently bought a universal glass negative carrier for my current LPL but I haven't used it yet and it also presses tight against the negative.
     
  24. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I think my devere carriers press the film quite tight and have not had probs. The emulsion side tends not to be too shiny and so is not a source of rings normally. Its the top (base) which is the prob esp with very shiny modern films such as Acros, Tmax 100, Neopan 400 or some oldies like Pan F. I have heard of some having rings even with AN glass but I guess all AN glass is different so you will prob have to test. My Durst 138 has no AN glass andd I still dont have probs but this exerts far less pressure than the devere which has the head weight effectively bearing down on it.
     
  25. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    If the correct approach is for the negative to be sandwiched tightly between the lower, normal glass and the upper, AN glass then I can use black tape to do the masking un the underside of the bottom glass.
     
  26. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    If the glass above is not touching the neg, then it is not flattening the neg and it then would have no purpose. It would seem that if you are going to use a double glass carrier, then the neg needs to be compressed between the glass. As the glass and the neg get within a few multiples of the wavelength of light, it becomes important that the glass be ANR, or better yet with diffusion, diffuse.

    I don't use glass much, but it would seem that the curvature of roll film with its high enlargement ratio and bigger f/# would be more of a problem than a naturally flat piece of sheet film under low magification and small f/#.

    Anybody done the numbers on DOF during enlargement? What is the curvature of field for enlarging lenses -- trivial?