View Full Version : Glass negs

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12-01-2011, 08:30 PM

First post in this area, I've been lurking and have some questions.

I was wondering who really knows a lot about glass plate negs here on APUG?
Here is why, I have a Rochester Optical / Kodak imperial plate camera that in the 1970s and again in the early 80s I poured some emulsion on the scraped off glass left behind in the holders and took a few frames.

So when did glass plates go out of production? Is there a following of dry plate shooters out there who long for supplies? I know you can buy liquid light and pour your own negs, but might there be a market for pre made dry plates.

I ask this because my wife owns a glass company and I own a dry plate camera. 1+1= 3 (right?)


Bill Burk
12-01-2011, 09:08 PM
I don't know much about them, but while reading up on a thread regarding re-using photo bottles for beer, I found a write-up that old glass plates can't be recycled for re-use as glass plates because some image is retained in the glass itself.

12-01-2011, 11:17 PM
hi lee

i have been pouring and shooting ( or enlarging on ) glass plates since about 1986 ... off and on ...
i think slavich in the fsu is one of the, or the last maker of glass plates. kodak made tmx glass plates
up untill a few years ago, and they were primarily used for scientific photography -- microscopy and astronomy
because of the solid glass substrate instead of film. i always wanted to buy some tmax100 plates
but unfortunately they cost $400 / 100 plates while film cost around $50 during the same time ... so i opted
to coat my own instead.

i like the tonal pallet of plates and paper much more than film ... and they are kind of fun to make :)
if you decide to coat and sell them, let me know, as if they aren't $400 / 100 plates that is :)


12-02-2011, 01:18 AM
In 1959 I worked for Dufay colour just before the manufacturing part was taken over by Polyfoto. A Most of the Dufay workers got jobs with Polyfoto from what I can remember they where using 7x5 Kodak P303 glass plates.

Ian Grant
12-02-2011, 03:02 AM
Ilford still have a glass plate coating line in use which uses a modern coating head, anyone who's been on a factory tour will have seen it demonstarted. However the cost of coating plates is very high and Ilford's production is mainly for the Nuiclear industry. (http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/product.asp?n=56&t=Specialist+Products).

The last production of regular Ilford plates was some time around the 1970's I remember being given a box of outdated FP4 plates with my first LF camera in 1976.

I've recycled old (unuseable) glass plates as ground glass focus screens and even as glass inserts for Durst negative carriers. One problem now is that for health & safety reasons the minimum thickneess of glass sold to the public is 2mm (in the UK) which can be a little too thick for some plate holders.


12-02-2011, 11:11 AM
I wasn't aware of the issue in the UK with thin glass. (Of course, truth be told, there are a whole lot of things I'm not aware of.) Is it possible to get thinner glass through other avenues, as with some of the more dangerous chemicals? You're spot on about the problem with some of the smaller format plate holders -- especially when a nice, thick coat of emulsion goes on. It would be a shame to rule out small plates because of glass, of all things.

You shouldn't experience any problems reusing unexposed plates. I've read of problems when exposed and processed plates were reused. Apparently, you could sometimes make out a faint image of the first exposure under the current image. This phenomenon was used by spiritualists to prove there were ghosts that could be photographed by someone with the right 'connections' to the Afterworld. I take that with a grain of salt, mostly because it's just too great a story, and because I haven't found any collaborating info in scientific publications (which doesn't mean it's not there yet to be found.) I've reused plates with no problem, but I don't use plates that have been etched and subbed before coating. It seems to me that may make a difference.

If you and your wife could supply pre-cut plates with baby butt-smooth edges in a number of thicknesses and sizes appropriate for a number of formats, and they were a reasonable price, I can imagine diy plate makers would buy. Right now, I think the attraction of the process is coating the plates oneself, but if you made a killer emulsion, that might very well change. I think there's room for the cottage industry in this arena.

Do you remember the source of the info you read about retained images? I'm just sure at some point, I'll want to see if I can make ghosts walk the earth :).


Ian Grant
12-02-2011, 12:25 PM
Thinner glass is available but just not from regular suppliers even green-house glass which used to be quite thin now has to be 4mm. There's a far greater chance of thinner glass breaking or cracking when being cut or in fact in use/storage.

It's a changing market a couple of years ago thinner glass was relatively easy to order from my local glass shop but his suppliers no longer sell anything less than 2mm.

I've found UK suppliers of thinner glass but it may be a case of minimum orders, buying as a business etc. I'll post back in this thread when I have details, meanwhile Ill check my plate holders.


12-02-2011, 01:14 PM
Talking with my wife she shared that so much glass today has a slight green tint to it and perfectly clear looking glass is very expensive. I'll find out more about thickness options from her but in inches I think the most common thin glass is 1/8 in the US.

Cutting to size and grinding smooth grinding edges should not be an issue, they have great jigs for that and I think everything there comes out with smooth edges (cuts down on law suits, worker's comp cases and all) always supply a good final product.

There also might be a option to create ground glass replacements. I read the article here on apug about using coumpounds to grind/polish glass to an even frost look, and that may be kind of needed item. Just as long as I don't start causing a stir at her business, you know the Bosses Spouce thing can be distracting.

Love hearing all the input. Keep it comming.

12-02-2011, 01:47 PM
The German online Photoshop/supplier Lumiere still sells Othrochromatic microphotography glass plates (40ISO) under the Webphota label http://www.lumiere-shop.de/index.php?page=product&info=2833&x76c7e=88j64gur1uaukhgmj90uq0u1lc5l3bkg
In the US Microchrome Technology still produces glass plates http://www.microchrometechnology.com/products_photoplates.php


Michael W
12-02-2011, 06:54 PM
Agfa Gevaert still make APX 100 plates. However they are not cheap, I think it's over $100 for a box of 10 or 12.

Ken Nadvornick
12-02-2011, 07:38 PM
Agfa Gevaert still make APX 100 plates. However they are not cheap, I think it's over $100 for a box of 10 or 12.

APX 100 Glass Plates (http://www.macodirect.de/apx-100-glasplatten-p-2038.html?language=en&osCsid=7f03a17d4b903643d984fc111fb8c260), 10 plates, 65x90 mm / 2.5x3.5 inches, 1.5-1.7 mm thick
126.20 (EUR) / 169.01 (USD)

240x240 mm / 9.45x9.54 inches, apparently also available by request only (no price given)


12-03-2011, 10:30 AM

Ken Nadvornick
12-03-2011, 04:02 PM



they are still manufactured and available...

(although probably nowhere near as much fun as making your own...)



12-03-2011, 04:07 PM
I agree on the price being a big ouch, but it would be nice to use something like APX 100 glass plates, souping in Rodinal. But then again, I am a certified nerd. :D

Ian Grant
12-03-2011, 04:38 PM
If you get a chance to see how Ilfords plate coating line works you'd understand why it's expensive and I'd guess the Belgian facility's not far different.

Production volumes are so low these are small lines, in Ilford's case taking up the same sort of floor space as their test/pilot coating line which is used for test coatings of film and paper and also things like filters. All emulsions are test coated and checked before final coating on the main coating line. A short glass plate run is relatively labour intensive needing two people one loading the plates the other almost catching at the end of the line. However when glass plates were the norm different coating lines were in use and plates were cut to size after coating in many cases.

Commercial plates are now used because of their high dimensionable stability, their major use is in nuclear research facilities. It's actually slightly ironic that in fact Governments have propped up and helped many emulsion manufactureers, from Ferrania in Italy, Agfa in Germany etc.


12-03-2011, 04:54 PM
Yes, I can see the price point being what it is, because of the limited demand, and being labour intensive.

12-03-2011, 04:55 PM
The problem with DIY dry plates is they have a relatively short shelf life. Would commercially prepared ones stay "fresh" longer? I have a Watson & Son half plate camera and have been interested in learning dry plate.

Kent in SD

Ian Grant
12-03-2011, 05:07 PM
The problem with DIY dry plates is they have a relatively short shelf life. Would commercially prepared ones stay "fresh" longer? I have a Watson & Son half plate camera and have been interested in learning dry plate.

Kent in SD

Hi Kent, it must be getting cold in South Denmark :D

Do DIY plates have a short shelf life ? How short ? It's an important consideration. I've not made an emulsion since 1986 when I worked in that field commercially but I'm getting itchy feet :)


12-03-2011, 05:26 PM
The problem with DIY dry plates is they have a relatively short shelf life.
Kent in SD

That's a 'rule' I haven't heard before. Perhaps you mean diy plates made with a Liquid Light-type product (??) It is possible to overcook (digest) an emulsion in the last stage. If you do, the plates can very slowly pick up fog over time. Of course, there's no requirement that you ruin the broth :) I suppose it also depends on the definition of 'short' shelf life. I deliberately put aside a plate for a year and then exposed it to test. It seemed as good as new.


12-03-2011, 05:28 PM

I'd give a lot to see you start making emulsions again. Please do!