dust on glass negative carrier-/?%%@@
I'm working with an inherited Optemus II enlarger. It has a nice negative carrier that adjusts from 35mm up to 2x2. The problem is that the film sits between two glass plates, and the glass is an unbelievable dust magnet. I can pretty well get all the dust off the film, but dustlets (hair, black dots) appear out of nowhere and adhere to the glass, usually the upper one, and on both the outside and inside surfaces. I clean one off, reload the carrier, and there's a new one.
So far I've tried an anti-static orange cloth, an antistatic brush, eyeglass lens cleaner, warm water with dish soap, canned air, my fingers. and liquid film cleaner. I'm not sure I've found the right cloth to dry it off with when I use one of these liquids--have been using lint-free darkroom cloths.
Any ideas greatly appreciated, before I chuck the equipment.
I find it hard enough just to get the two surfaces of the film relatively dust free. Adding four more surfaces of glass is just plain masochistic. I use a glassless carrier, if the neg needs extra help to stay flat, I tape down the edges.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
I know it is a pain in the a... but I would continue with the glass carriers, I use Varn glass cleaner , Canned air , along side I have film cleaner and qtips.
It really helps if you have a good loupe to look closely. As well I keep the humidity quite high in the darkroom to force dust to drop.
You really need patience , and a very clean work surface. I have a light box in the darkroom to do my cleaning of glass carrier and negative. This helps greatly in seeing your negative before you put it in the enlarger.
Strange, I have few probs in my garage/darkroom. May be somthing to do with static/dryness? I use speed. Once wiped and clean I get the sandwich together asap, then I can check thru the top glass. This is then cleaned by a single wipe and then is put into the enlarger. I rarely do 'snaps' sp normally have a few test prints before anything important so can see if all is well. You do get flatter negs and sharper prints IMHO, but if it s a problem, use glassless.
Ground the enlarger. Think about your foot wear and clothing. Run a humidifier an hour before printing. Don't have paper, books, in the workspace. Don't run a household vacuum cleaner before printing. If necessary clean and paint for a once and for all approach.
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Take any carpet out of the dark room, use a household air filter (I use two which run 24/7). I am told that an air ioniser can also help to keep dust down, but keep it well away from the enlarger as they tend to deposit dust around themselves and, as Bob says, compressed air is a great help. I still tend to use glassless carriers though.
I'm almost embarrased to say that I have no dust problems...
I clean the carriers thoroughly before each session - wiping with soft cloth. Then I blast the negatives with canned air before inserting them, and that is all. My darkroom is incredibly dusty, so I try to let the dust rest on the "floor" and not stir it up too much.
(I call it "floor" because it's almost covered with kitchen towel - I tend to go through a roll in three or four sessions. In the dark I just drop it on the floor, along with empty paper packs, the little dataseet from the new paper pack, etcetera...)
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
If you use a color head with a fan, try letting the air flow thru the bellows. I once detected that this is the best method against dust on the carrier. The dust cannot lie down any more.
My Durst CLS 300 head is missing a glass between the lamp and the mixing box and thus lets the air flow thru the box and as well over the carrier. After switching to a CLS 1000, I noticed much more dust problems and was thinking about the reasons. After I could imagine why, I made a test with a spare hose of the fan-unit (the CLS 300 required a four hose connection to an external fan – the CLS 1000 only one). That did the trick and I am now thinking of a modification on the head to re-establish a continuous airflow over the carrier.
First, get rid of the glas, glas option of this enlarger of maybe production 1964.
Try to find the metall 35 mm and 6x6 cm inserts. AN glas is/was not available for this enlarger.
Clean the enlarger (glas around the bulb) and the double condensor (above the carrier) with a wet suitable soft cloth. It's necessary you assemble and re-assemble some parts to take it out.
In the future use an air brush and pincel for your negatives and carrier. Don't whipe with cloth materials, because it is then static again.
This enlarger is a typical an example of a very bright double condensor type with you definitely see all kind of small dust particles.
The Opemus IIa was my first enlarger in 1965 and I have worked on it for a long time.
If I can give you an advice for the next one:
Choose a type with diffuserbox, maybe in a combination with a condensor. 50% less dust problems!
Dust on glass negative carrier
I strongly recommend you persevere with the double glass neg carrier, it is the only way to hold negs flat for accurate focussing. Use anti Newton ring glass on top.
Never touch the glass with your fingers or if you have done so clean it very carefully. Fingers deposit oils which strongly retain dust.
I take no special precautions against dust in my darkroom, there is plenty of dust lying about on the floor. I vacuum about once a year. I do not use any humidifier or antistatic devices in the room.
Definitely use a diffusion head or convert your condenser head to a diffusion type. Sharpness is just as good as the condenser type and dust and scratches are much less evident.
Before a printing session,I breathe on each glass surface then wipe with a microfibre cloth, checking by eye to see if the main bits of visible dust are gone. This is only necessary once per session or day if the session lasts all day.
Before inserting each negative I pass an antistatic brush over both surfaces of the neg and the inner surfaces of the glass then blow each surface with a simple rubber hand puffer.
A bit of dust on the top and bottom glass surfaces won't matter as they are out of focus.
The only spots which actually appear in my prints come from dust or other foreign matter on the negatives not the glass.