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  1. #1
    eubielicious's Avatar
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    Advice on Split Back Contact Frames (in UK)

    Hi all,

    Has anyone bought a split back contact printing frame from Retrophotographic here in the UK and are they any good? I'm checking before splashing out on one.

    If they're not so good, can anyone recommend an alternative - preferably not 'top of the range' as my budget is quite small at the moment?

    Thanks,

    Euan

  2. #2
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    I made my own. Much less expensive, and not all that difficult. Poplar frame, plywood back lined with a sheet of plastic foam layered with black felt, and with small blocks of oak as latches to keep the back attached.

  3. #3
    Ole
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    A little "sizeism" is healthy when looking for printing frames. In smaller sizes (up to about 5x7") just about anything will do; from 8x10" and up you need good design and even better construction.

    I haven't bought printing frames from Retro Photographic, but I'm thinking about it. I need a 10x12" one, or maybe a 12x16"...
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  4. #4

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    I'll second Ole. My biggest is an 11x14 and I need a 12x15...

    Cheers,

    Roger

  5. #5
    eubielicious's Avatar
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    I was looking at a 10" x 12" frame, to give me a little space, and I don't really have the skills to have a go at making my own! Well, not just yet anyway.

    Euan (watching Argentina v Holland)

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by eubielicious
    Hi all,

    Has anyone bought a split back contact printing frame from Retrophotographic here in the UK and are they any good? I'm checking before splashing out on one.

    If they're not so good, can anyone recommend an alternative - preferably not 'top of the range' as my budget is quite small at the moment?

    Thanks,

    Euan
    Only last week I purchased a 12x16 contact printing frame from Fotospeed for approx £60. I was expecting something substantial; it was merely an ordinary not expensive picture frame with the hardboard cut approx 1/3 down the back and attached by hinges to allow easy viewing . I could have bought a frame from a local cheap hardware shop for £10 and cut and hinged it for just a few pounds more.

    I do not know what the retro frames are like but the cost is comparable to fotospeed. The Lotus seems the best (but are expensive) and Silverprint say they cannot presently source their own supplies.

    If I knew what I know now I would have made my own and bought another box of 10x8 film :-)

    Making one is not rocket science.

  7. #7

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    ooops sorry - making one to the specification of the one that cost me £60 is not rocket science

    Good luck

    Geoff

  8. #8

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    Hi Euan

    check out http://www.linhofstudio.com/main.html
    click on "Products", then "Fine Art" then "Accessories"

    they are quite expensive but I saved a bit by getting a mate to make me a 20x16 uv light box as per the instructions on http://www.eepjon.com/ website

    the Lotus contact printing frames are lovely, I've got one but sadly don't use it enough at the moment but that will change soon. I've got plenty cyanotype chemicals to practice on before moving upto doing platinum/paladium again, I'm a bit rusty as it's been about 6 years since I did any

    enjoy and be well

    Seamus
    www.seamusryan.com

  9. #9

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    Retro

    A friend brought one along for the course plt/pd course we just did with Kerik. If his was indicative of the standard I would steer well clear - very poor design and build quality. Keep an eye out on ebay for any of the older printing frames!

  10. #10

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    Split Back Contact Frames

    An absolute requirement for any split back frame is a piano hinge across the entire split. Two or three small hinges are not sufficient. Older contact frames are no better unless they have such a hinge. In fact, older frames often perform more poorly becaue of wear, wood shrinkage, etc. To test a frame, hold the back up looking at the split from the side and try to move either side up or down. If there is ANY vertical play at the split, it will not give good contact especially for the heavier papers often used in alternative process. I've seen a lot of different contact frame styles in my workshops. Even some brand new, very expensive ones perform poorly. Anything larger than 8x10 should have at least three springs evenly spaced in each half to apply even pressure across each section.

    The best test for a frame is to place a Stouffer 1/2" step wedge across the split with a coated piece of paper and expose. If there is any loss of contact, it will show up like a searchlight as blurriness in the step wedge numbers nearest the split. Everything will be razor sharp for a good frame. The best contact frame is one that has no split back. I made my own after giving up on commercially available frames. It is hinged along an entire side. I now use a vacuum frame for all of my own work.

    Bob

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