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Copying glass negs.

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  • Copying glass negs.

    Just received almost 200 5x7 glass negs of historical value. Most are in good shape. Many years ago (30-40) I made prints from glass negs using an enlarger and contact frame. Wondering what's the latest way. Need to digitize and put on disks. Has anyone use a flat bed scanner for this? Any recommendations? Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: Copying glass negs.

    A scanner could be used but you will need one that has a transparency unit and able to cope with more than 21/4 wide. An obvious one is the Epson v700 or v750 which will handle up to 8x10". The cost of which is £400+ to £600+ respectively.

    You could of course use a camera to copy laying the glass negs on a lightbox or rig up an illumination source e.g. white card below (and some distance away) and use either flash or daylight illumination. A good spec DSLR will do the job with ideally a macro lens or at a pinch a close up lens attachment.


    • #3
      Re: Copying glass negs.

      As this is a non paying job and my current 4180 Epson does pretty good for what I usually do, a DIY solution like using a light box sounds like something to try. Now to try and find something adaptable as my engineering skills kinda suck!!


      • #4
        Re: Copying glass negs.

        Have fabricated something like the attached (borrowed image) in the past and does not require much in the way of DIY skills.

        As your glass negs are all one size then once you have found the correct distance to shoot them you can build the box to size. Probably worth painting the inside of the box matt black.

        For the light source
        You could use bounced flash to illuminate a card angled correctly to even the light
        Lightbox also possible
        Even daylight through tracing paper
        Just make sure that the illumination source is far enough away from the plate so that DoF completely blurs - otherwise you may just get a nice texture
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Re: Copying glass negs.

          Looks like I could handle that!! Thanks!!!


          • #6
            Re: Copying glass negs.


            If the negs are black and white, the color of the light source is not too important so incandescent or flash or whatever is OK.

            Shoot tethered to a computer so you can see your results immediately.


            • #7
              Re: Copying glass negs.

              Our historical society just purchased an Epson V700 scanner for our 1000 glass plate negatives, also 5x7. Does an amazing job! We had a hard time finding a backlit scanner with an adapter that worked with this size. The scans are better than the professional prints we had made of a select few ($25 each!). Well worth the cost for quality & ease of use.


              • #8
                Re: Copying glass negs.

                Have checked on the V700. Kinda pricey! Largest film holder I see is 4x5. My negs are 5x7. What holder did you use? Think I'll try the home made version Tony suggested first. This is a project for our small town and all costs are mine so I'll try cheap first. Do most historical societies usually do their own scanning on glass negs and off sizes negs (620 full frames 122 2.5x2.5 etc old b&w neg sizes). If I end up going the V700 or V750 I would need some income work to justify it.


                • #9
                  Re: Copying glass negs.

                  We are a very small town, too & our Society is fortunate that we had a benefactor (the man who found the negatives in the trash in '64) donate the funds. We paid $599 at Microcenter.

                  It comes with an 8x10 adaptor & that is what I use, just postioning the 5x7 inside it. Works great. I'm only scanning at 600dpi which works out to approx 25MB per image to save space. Takes about 2 minutes. If there is something with a lot of small background detail, I might go 1200. I did one at 2400dpi & the file is a whopping 385MB but we could read tiny posters announcing the circus and vaudeville troupe was coming to down with the date! The 600's are still amazing and so clear. Everyone is fascinated with the scanner - the fact it takes a 100yr old piece of glass or tiny slide and instantly makes an image ready to print.

                  When I initially approached the Board, I mentioned when our project was complete, we could contract out with other Historical Society's or the public to earn back some of the cost. I think there would be a market for it, especially the slides.

                  If this isn't something of top priority, look at a grant thru Epson. They give a few of these away each year.


                  • #10
                    Re: Copying glass negs.

                    Your collection sounds wonderful!! I love the quality attainable from old negs. A few of the ones I have also show a circus in town!! How long ago did you purchase the V700?


                    • #11
                      Re: Copying glass negs.

                      The quality of glass plates are simply amazing and the tiniest detail is crystal clear. Thankfully, the man who took the photos favorite subject was buildings and bridges. He had no idea of the historical value that his hobby was affording us 100 years later. Out little town looks nothing like it did in 1910, save for 2 buildings, one now being a General Store museum.

                      We've had our scanner about a month.


                      • #12
                        Re: Copying glass negs.

                        Me again. Still investigating. Do you know the difference between the V700 and the V750M? I can't find a comparison. Seems like the only difference is the wet neg carrier which I don't need. Also are you using Silverfast Se that came with it?


                        • #13
                          Re: Copying glass negs.

                          I think the main difference apart from the fluid mount carrier is the anti reflection coating on the glass and I believe it is supplied with the Silverfast Ai software which is a step up in functionality over the Se version


                          • #14
                            Re: Copying glass negs.

                            Well, my V700 arrived. A couple days to set it up then the real questions will start. Anyone making custom masks for the V700? I have many different size old negs I's like to scan, 122, 620 full frame and a lot of 127 square and full frame.


                            • #15
                              Re: Copying glass negs.

                              Bob, I wrote a long reply about this, but it disappeared. Bottom line, a very good way to do this is with a DIY lightbox and a good camera; I've had excellent results. Will provide information if you wish.


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