Glass or glassless neg carrier? I would go for glassless every time.
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Glassless for me, too. Assuming the enlarger condenser / head is designed to hold the film flat, and mine is. More glass means more surface to keep clean and to interfere with light transmission.
I shoot 35mm, now, so it's easy for me say all that ... when I was shooting a lot of 6x7, I used a glass neg carrier
Glass carriers are a specialized piece of equipment intended to solve specific problems. Sheet film negatives too large to not sag in the middle. Roll film negatives with a pronounced curl - especially the piping variety. Recently I have been printing from series of 35mm negatives that were stored uncut and tightly wound inside their metal film cannisters for 50+ years. That would be the definition of a specific problem requiring glass for the best results.
I have and use a full set of both glassless and AN glass carriers for my D5XL. If one can afford them, they should be a standard tool in every darkroom.
"There is very limited audience for the arty stuff, and it is largely comprised of other arty types, most of whom have no money to spend because no one is buying their stuff either. More people bring their emotions to an image than bring their intellect. The former are the folks who have checkbooks because they are engineers, accountants, and bankers—and generally they are engineers, accountants and bankers because they are not artists."
— Amanda Tomlin, Looking Glass Magazine, 2014
I agree with Ken.
In addition, something like a 4x5 glass carrier works fine with smaller negatives, so you can use it with odd sizes like panoramas.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Glassless for me every time, The biggest ne I print is 66, and less glass means less dust, which means less time spotting.
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Glass carrier for me (in most cases). For whatever reason, the amount of dust that I have to deal with seems the same with or without the glass. However, I do do a lot of lith printing, which means extended times under the enlarger (2-5 minutes usually) -- my negs, usually 6x6, used to pop until I got the glass carrier. And as Matt has indicated, a larger sized carrier can be masked off to print unusual sizes like panoramas or ditychs, or allow me to print the rebate, without the need to file away any carriers.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
I use both, glassless when I can get away with it, glass when I really need it.
I kinda hate cleaning the surfaces though, streak marks on glass really gets on my nerves.
In 120, glassless generally doesn't allow printing of the rebates, unless you file away the sides of the masks (Durst M800, Auda 70 masks). I like those rebates.
Prefer glassless unless no choice.
I switched to glass because I could not get a flat 35mm negative without it. I use a hardening fixer since the smallest prints I make are 8x10 and, at 8X, I want as much protection from negative scratches as I can get. So I put up with the negative 'piping' (nice turn of phrase!) and the glass carrier has the last word. Until I get some film for my wife's baby gray Rollie I print only 35mm. I can not speak to larger negatives and their merits in this.
Originally Posted by R.Gould
Having said that I have noticed no increase in incidence of spots on my prints since moving to a glass carrier. I was worried about the extra surfaces provided by the glass and the dust problem but it was a non-issue. A couple quick puffs of canned air and it's good to go. If there's spots I spot them. (I find it relaxing.) If the grain on the print is blurry I think it looks sloppy regardless of the quality of the image, and it goes in the trash. For me it was an easy choice once I saw the results.
I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
- Garry Winogrand