View Full Version : Contact Printing

Paul Mongillo
9-Apr-2005, 18:38
I posted a couple of questions on Photo.net about the above subject. One or two individuals said they just put a piece of glass over "vacuum board". I can not figure out what this is. I don't think it is a contraption, I think it is some kind of board you can purchase as is. Anyone? What is "vacuum board"?



Dean Tomasula
9-Apr-2005, 19:26
Paul -

By vacuum board they probably mean a vacuum easel. It's a fairly expensive easel that has a vacuum pump attached to it. The vacuum serves to put suction on the paper and hold it flat. It works great, but they are expensive.

You can buy a contact frame from any number of places, plus on eBay.

Dave Moeller
9-Apr-2005, 20:22
I rigged up a vacuum frame (using a shop-vac, some pegboard, a frame I made from scrap wood, and some glass). Although the vacuum frame did exactly what it was supposed to do, at 8x10 there is no discernable difference between the vacuum frame and a good quality spring-back frame. (Note that I _wanted_ there to be a difference after I went through the exercise of making the vacuum frame...but even under a 10x loupe there was no difference that I could find.)

It's my understanding that for larger negatives a vacuum frame eventually becomes a necessity. But at 8x10, a simple spring back does the job just fine. Since my largest camera is 8x10, the vacuum frame's been disassembled and I'm back to using the spring-back frame. The frame I'm using set me back less than US$50 on eBay...bargains are there to be had if you're patient.

Merg Ross
9-Apr-2005, 23:10
Hi Paul,

A spring back frame is all that you should need for 8x10 or 11x14 contact printing. My experience with a vacuum board has been for horizontal projection printing of 8x10 negatives. One beauty of contact printing is the simplicity. Get a good frame and it will last you for years.

Brian Ellis
10-Apr-2005, 08:44
See my response to your two questions, particularly the second, in photo.net.

I don't think anyone said they put two pieces of glass over a vacuum board. Several people said they just used two pieces of glass in lieu of a dedicated contact printing frame. Two pieces of glass means two pieces of glass, one on top of the other with the negative and paper in between. I don't think it's a very practical method for prints larger than about 8x10 because the glass has to be heavy to keep the negative and paper in perfect contact and in my expeience at least it's difficult to set the top piece of glass down on top of the negative and paper without the negative moving a little but maybe I'm just clumsier than the people who use this system.