Glassless or glass neg carriers?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
"I always take a camera, That way I never have to say 'Gee, look at that - I wish I had a camera'" -Joe Clark, H.B.S.S.
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.