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Thread: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    Greetings....

    I am relatively new to photoshop and digitial photography however am familiar with photography let's say from the old school.

    I am scanning old (dry) glass plate negatives from the 1890's from 4 x5 and 6 x 8 in size and reproducing them in large format ( 30 x 40) high quality sepia-toned prints. I am using an Epson 750 Pro scanner using Silverfast Ai and printing with an Epson 9880 probably using Hanhnemuhle and Crane papers. Is there any one who has specific experince of the complete process of scanning, imaging and printing old glass plates.

    Many appreciations for your input.

    Best Regards,

    Big Fish

  2. #2

    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    From experience with glass plates you may be better off making a contact print in silver or pt/pd and scanning the print. This may end up being higher quality than working with the plates in a scanner.

  3. #3

    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    My experience is the exact opposite of Dakotah's as I would prefer to scan a glass plate negative over a film scan any day--they are always flat!

    You may run into a problem with a flatbed scanner that does not let you manually focus, though, as you will have to place the plates directly on the flatbed and the Epson 750's higher resolution lens is a few mm above the glass (to work with their film holders). I use an Epson 10000XL to scan the glass plates because it does give me the option to focus where I choose. This is from experience scanning over a thousand glass plate negs so far.

  4. #4

    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    On an Epson 750 you can put the emulsion directly on the glass. If Silverfast cannot control which scanner lens set that is in use, the Epson software can. (Set it for using "Film Guide" instead of "Film holder".) Then it will be focused on the top of the glass instead of a couple of mm above.
    Unless you are going to make very large prints, the resolution of that scanner lens set is enough. The resolution of old glass plates is usually quite low anyhow.

    The only problem could be that old glass plates often reach very high densities, as the processes used then called for it. Most consumer scanners of today likes negatives that are somewhat thin. You don't get more useable resolution from more expensive scanners, but a better range.

    Last, shouldn't this thread be in one of the digital sub-forums?

    //Björn

  5. #5

    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    On your Epson flatbed, I am not so sure. What I do on my old Heidelberg is place the flat glass plate onto the scanner glass with some Prazio oil between the plate and scanner glass. That way I get very clean scans.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1928juili8.jpg  

  6. #6

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    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    Thanks Dakotah....

    My thinking was it's always best to use a first generation negative as you can lost quality if you contact print and then scan. Not sure with new technology.

    Thanks.

  7. #7

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    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    Hi Jeremy...

    I made a similar plate holder the same thickness as Epson holders and the deatil seems OK. I've also scanned with a less thick plate holder and there is not much difference. I would rather place the plate directly on the platen.

    Do you use Silverfast? Do you scan at 8 bit, 18 or in color? Do you manipulate image in imaging software or in Photoshop?

    Thanks.
    Big Fish

  8. #8

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    Nov 2008
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    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    Hi Bjorn...

    I have been hesitant to place plates directly of platen for fear of scrathing. I do have large format (30x40)silver gelatin prints as a baseline reference and trying to get the tonal range is a bit of an issue. I am trying different methods. The reproduced prints will be 30 x 40 and believe it's achieveable to actually make a better print. The key is the scan.
    Sorry if this was in wrong forum as I am unfamiliar with forum.

  9. #9

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    Nov 2008
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    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    Hi Gordon...

    As referenced before I have hesitant to place glass on glass. How do you keep oil off emulsion side? How about KAMI fluid? Does it really make a difference using an wet or oil process? What are the trade off benefits?

    Thanks,

    Big Fish

  10. #10

    Re: Scanning and printing old BW glass plate negatives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Fish View Post
    Hi Gordon...

    As referenced before I have hesitant to place glass on glass. How do you keep oil off emulsion side? How about KAMI fluid? Does it really make a difference using an wet or oil process? What are the trade off benefits?

    Thanks,

    Big Fish
    The oil will not harm the emulsion, and it evaporates later, or you can get the film cleaner from Prazio and use that to get rid of the oil. The glass side is flatter than the emulsion side, so in theory you could scan that side, though I think you might find a focus issue on your Epson.

    Kami is a competitor to Prazio. They offer very similar products, though each has a slightly different smell to it. I think Kami might be more expensive. Prazio does have a nice starter pack for new customers, which can get you going. I suggest getting Prazio Ultra Wipes too for cleaning the scanner afterwards.

    Biggest trade-off is the extra time to do oil scanning compared to dry scanning. In general, the details contained in the image tend to come out better with wet mount scanning. The amount of oil used is very small, though after a while the cost of scanning adds up a little; this is somewhat helped by practice, since you learn to use less oil as you get better at this.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography

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