Simple Contact Frame for 8x10

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Doc W

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I have been making 8x10 contact prints by putting the negative and paper together then lying a sheet of glass on top. No matter what I do, the negative and paper always get a little out of alignment. It is such a PITA. I have a contact printing frame for alternate processes but it is a bit of a hassle in the darkroom. I don't really need the "trapdoor" in the back for normal contact printing.

So my question: is there a commercially available contract printing frame that would keep my neg and paper together, or do I have to build one. I was thinking of just gluing three strips of plastic to a sheet of fairly heavy plastic. The strips would hold the neg and paper in place on three sides and I could just place a piece of glass over it without moving everything around.

Or is there something even simpler and obvious that I am missing?
 

keithwms

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If your paper and neg aren't too curly then you can just put a pre-cut mat over the two. But I use overlaid glass with no problem and it does give better sharpness. What I do is fine-tune my alignment under red safelight.
 

Mike Wilde

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I have a hinged glass commerically made unit. Its glass sits into a stamped channel that the paper and neg goes into.

The original glass fell out a few years ago, since I hang it on the wall (I am perenially short of horizontal surfaces in my darkroom). I replaced it with a heavier glass I cut and de-sharpenned the edges with using emery paper in a palm sander.

The pedestal the paper sits on I made out of a piece of 8x10 all balck foam core board that is adhered to the stamped base. There is at least 1/2 and inch all around the foam core to the return portion of the channel on the sides.

I now place the 8x10 paper O always use to contact pint with on this platform by feel, and can then place the negs in thier print file page square to this paper. A final feel and a slow closing of the lid makes shure things stay in alignment.

I went to this path because I contact print colur negs, so the work all takes place under too dim a siafe light to tell more than if you have the white or greem side of the paper up.
 
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Doc W

Doc W

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I should have made it clear that I am making final prints from 8x10 negatives, not just a test sheet, so the idea of plastic bag won't work. Also, the paper does curl slightly so I really need glass on top. It is a pain trying to line it up under the safe light. I always get fingerprints on the glass and the negative is always slightly out of whack with the paper.
 

keithwms

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How about printing to slightly larger paper and then just trimming as you wish. (I realize that this introduces extra expense) Or perhaps you could permit yourself a brighter or more amber safelight; mine isn't deep red.
 

Erik L

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Those "trap door" split back frames make it easy to keep the paper and neg in place. Line up the neg and paper and put it on the glass and hold it with one hand while you take half of the split back and put it on the paper opposite your hand. Keep pressure on the split back and put the springs in place - it works like a charm.
regards
Erik
 

Shawn Dougherty

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Those "trap door" split back frames make it easy to keep the paper and neg in place. Line up the neg and paper and put it on the glass and hold it with one hand while you take half of the split back and put it on the paper opposite your hand. Keep pressure on the split back and put the springs in place - it works like a charm.
regards
Erik

That's the process I follow, simple and repeatable. Works great. Definitely worth buying a nice frame.
 

DanielStone

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how thick is the glass you've been using? try something thicker.

I've been having good luck with 1/4" plate from my local glazier.

or try 3/8"

are you working in color or b/w?

-Dan
 
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Doc W

Doc W

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I have a really nice split-back frame (Zone VI) but I don't want to use it. It involves extra steps and I want something extremely simple, i.e., put the paper on the easel, put the negative over it, put the glass on top of that, without the negative and paper getting out of alignment. The glass I use is quite heavy. It definitely holds everthing in place. The problem is that the paper is not exactly flat. When I put the glass on the neg/paper, it moves around a little in the process of being flattened. It is not completely out of whack - I still get all of the negative in the print - it is just kind of annoying that it is askew. It looks sloppy.

All I want is a simple little "guide" that would keep the neg and paper together when I plop the glass on it so I don't have to screw around in the dark. My basic philosophy is the less of that, the better. I have to plop the glass on several times in order to get it straight, which increases the possibility of dust, fingerprints, smudges.

I guess I am going to have to make something, which probably won't be too difficult. I just wondered if anyone else had done such a thing so I could benefit from their experience, but I am guessing that is not the case. I will report back when I get it made and then patent it and become a millionaire by selling it to the legions of those who contact print 8x10 negatives. Ok, that second part probably isn't gonna happen. :D
 

PeteZ8

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How about just using an 8x10 picture frame, turn it upside down, and put the guts in backwards or use one of the leftover 8x10 cardboards, like the ones that Ilford puts into their paper packages, as a backing. Then drop in the paper, then neg, then glass on top. To get it apart, just slide the frame off of the easle and push everything out from the bottom.

Should be pretty simple and cheap or free depending on how well stocked you are on frames.
 

Mahler_one

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Alistair Inglis makes exactly the kind of contact frame that you need. It is a front loading frame with guides that assure easy and quick alignment of the negative and paper. Moreover, the frame holds the negative and paper in amazingly secure contact assuring that your prints will be as sharp as possible. Those of us who deal with Alistair can attest to his honesty. Moreover, everything he makes is of premium quality, and backed by his word-which means, of course, that you never have to worry about what you purchase from him. I have used the back loading split backed frames. The Inglis contact frame is much superior.

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Let us know how you make out, and best wishes.

Ed
 
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Doc W

Doc W

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PeteZ8 and Ed: good suggestions, from two ends of the economic spectrum. I will definitely give the frame idea a whirl. The Inglis solution is out of my league at this point even though he does indeed have a reputation for high quality. The pin idea with his contact frame attracts me since I expect I will be using masks at some point. I may look at that for the long term.
 

totalamateur

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Saw something that would work..

At Garden ridge pottery - It's a "floating frame" whereby one sheet of glass is surrounded by a wooded frame that has some depth to it, a second sheet of glass has a similar wooden frame that fits inside the bigger wooden frame. The idea is that you could place a picture in between the two panes of glass and it would "float" with the transparent glass as a sort of mat,

It appeared that some woodscrews in the outer wooden frame with some washers from the hardware store would compress the inner frame, and therefore the two panes of glass, together, making a pretty good contact print frame. $13 for a 11X14, I think $20 for a 14x17. I almost bought one, but I didn't want to be seen purchasing something from Garden ridge. That and gear acquisition syndrome has me contemplating the purchase of a larger camera, so I wasn't sure what size I wanted.
 
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