Questions about 4x5 film carrires : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am planning on doing my own printing using 4x5 negatives within the next few months. There are two basic types of film carriers for 4x5 film, one without glass and one with glass. The one with glass would seem to hold the film very flat for the sharpest possible print, however, that means I would have to keep four surfaces clean. The glassless carries appeals to me because of its simply design, but can I get sharp prints with it. Does anyone have any comments or experiences with this. The print sizes I plan on using are 8x10, 16x20, and 20x24.

-- Stephen Willard (, May 24, 1999


You will be able to get sharp prints from glassless carriers if you work a bit at it. Assuming your initial neg is fine, try taping the edges to keep the neg flat. Works well and has for years for many photographers. If you get a Beseler, they have a Nega-flat that keeps the negative flat & tight by using small bumps to grip the neg & spring action to pull it flat. Works well but it does scratch the emulsion within a few millimeters of the edge. Some don't use it for that reason, others love it. Whether you go with tape or a negaflat or something similar, glassless carriers do have the advantage of the four fewer dust gathering surfaces and no newton ring problems as well. One other addition will help with the dust problems, try a Honeywell HEPA air cleaner for 20-30 minutes before printing, in conjunction with coming in 2 or 3 times to spray a light water mist from a spray bottle in the room while it is working. I find this combination has cut spotting in my basement darkroom (with open lath & plaster) by about 90%

-- Dan Smith (, May 24, 1999.

There are very few requirements to make prints that will show the maximum quality inherent in your negative.

1: Naturally you must have a clean, quality negative or slide

2: You must have a properly aligned enlarger and a bubble level will not accurately show you how well aligned an enlarger is. A good alignment tool will.

3: You must have a quality enlarger lens.

4: You must be making prints within the optimal magnification range of your lens.

5: The negative/slide must be as flat at the end of the exposure as it was at the beginning AND it MUST be FLAT. This requirement can ONLY be obtained with a glass carrier or with special cariers like a Carlwin immersion carrier.

You can short change any of the above steps but you will not make prints that are the optimum your system is capable of.

Yes you can play games trying to eliminate a glass carrier. But you Will effect the final print.

Yes there are more surfaces to clean. But you get a visibly bett

-- bob salomon (, May 24, 1999.

Nothing beats using a glass carrier. So it takes a little dust control and probably extra spotting, but the darned negatives doesn't move an iota during focusing or exposure, or in between. Glass carriers come equipped with anti-newton ring glass, so that's not a problem. Stick with the glass! Dick Fish/Smith College

-- Dick Fish (, May 24, 1999.

I have used in my printing works for many years film carriers with only one glass plate. This is an antinewton glass that is usually taped (with some good doublesided tape) on the over plate of a glassless carrier. The glass pull the film a gentle to keep it flat and of more importance,will block the heat air coming from the light source to buckle the film. This has been working well with all filmformats from 35 mm to 4x5". With larger films I can`t see any solution to avoid carriers with doublesided glass. Though, even here you can use an-glasses on both sides.

-- Jan Eerala (, May 25, 1999.

This has nothing to do with the quality of the print but a nice thing about glass carriers is that they can be used for their own format or any smaller format. Thus you can use a 4x5 glass carrier wtih 6x7, 6x6, 645, or 35 mm negatives, saving you the cost of buying a carrier dedicated to each format (assuming, of course, that you use or may in the future use more than one format)

-- Brian Ellis (, May 25, 1999.

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