Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/01/13

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Enlarger Question
From: George Huczek <>
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 05:28:43 -0600

At 07:52 PM 12/01/99 -0500, Alan wrote:
>Thanks to all who responded to my inquiry on glass vs. glassless
>neg carriers.
>Guess I should explain where my original question was coming
>from...I have an old Beseler MX 4x5 enlarger that I've been using
>to print my Leica M 35mm negs. The 35mm carrier for this enlarger
>is glassless with the cutout slightly oversized. I really like the over-
>sized cutout because one can print the entire neg right to the edges!
With the 35mm carrier the film bows out slightly toward the edges, as you
described.  You can not keep the centre and the edges sharp at the same
time, even by stopping down the lens.  This, inaccurate focus, and improper
enlarger alignment are the most common reasons why it can be difficult to
get very sharp prints from 35mm.  If you do not need more than an 11x14
inch print, use an 80mm enlarger lens.  With the film centred in the larger
carrier, you will be enlarging through the "sweet spot" of the lens, where
you will get better optical performance out to the corners of the print.
   If you want film flatness and sharp grain throughout the entire image,
use a 2 1/4 Beseler glass carrier or a 4x5 glass carrier.  Mask off the
extra area on the carrier so that you don't get too much light fogging from
the part of the carrier that is not holding the negative.  The film goes IN
the carrier, sandwiched between the glass, and the mask goes ON the top of
the carrier, taped down.  I use scrap pieces of the black plastic bags from
print paper to cut out the masks.  The plastic is about the same thickness
as the film, so if you are printing single frames instead of negative
strips, the mask can also get sandwiched in the carrier, around the
negative.  You can use this technique if you want to print the full frame,
including the sprocket holes.  (The 35mm carrier will only allow you to
print a black border, but not the sprocket holes and the printed info that
the manufacturer stamps on the film.)  If you want to make a print which
includes several negative strips, (like Eve Sonneman) use a larger mask on
the 4x5 carrier.  Everything lies flat, remains in proper registration, and
the carrier does not cause a problem with newton rings.  Clean the glass in
the carrier thoroughly at the start of each printing session, using lens
cleaning tissue and lens cleaning fluid, then brush off each surface with a
camel hair brush.  Dust the negative with a blast of air from either canned
air or a hurricane blower.
   You can also try using the Beseler 35mm Negatrans carrier, which has
guide rails that hold the film along the sprockets, helping to keep the
film flatter than it is held in the standard 35mm glassless carrier, but
not quite as flat as the method described above.

[o] -GH