Fluid mount - need help

What am I trying to do?
I have about 12 black and white negatives that measure 2 1/14’ x 2 1/4" on Kodak safety film that I want to get the best possible scans on. My intention is to blow these up into poster size prints. Having read through forums and watching you tube it sounds like I have to fluid mount these negatives so I have started down the path gathering the equipment and materials.

What equipment do I have?

  • Sony a7iii
  • Sigma 70mm F2.8 art DG macro lens
  • Kaiser slimlite plano 5000k 8 x 11 light source
  • copy stand, rocket blower, levelers

What do I still need help with?

  1. mounting materials
    Sounds like the easiest (not the most cost efficient) path for materials is an Aztec bundle like this:
    Aztek KAMI Wet Mounting Kit for Epson Perfection Scanners including the Epson V700, V750, V800 and V850 film scanners
  2. ANR glass to mount to
    I dont know if I should buy the epson glass mount to go with this, something off better scanning or just a a piece of ANR glass? Recommendations?
  3. Any other tips to ensure I do not damage these negatives

If I could take these to a professional locally in Raleigh, NC I would, but I cant locate or know anyone that would do this for me. I do not want to skimp on materials, however these 12 negatives are my primary focus, nothing longer term. Please also take into account that I am new to this and a novice in all respects to photography…but I can follow instructions and watch and follow videos from professionals :slight_smile:

I quite understand that these 12 negatives are extremely important to you and so you have no wish to put them in the post or entrust them to a courier. The list of equipment that you have excludes any way of holding the negatives, presumably because you are awaiting guidance on how to create a fluid mounting setup. Have you attempted to copy one or all of these negatives with the equipment that you have? It would be relatively straightforward to make a simple negative holder out of card and possibly suspend it a little off the surface of the Kaiser panel. I’m asking because you state that you are a novice in all elements of photography and you will certainly have to master the quite exacting techniques surrounding camera copying. The fluid mount would just be a refinement of that which would certainly enable film flatness and minimise the effects of dust & scratches but it won’t help with the fundamentals of the resolution offered by your camera and mastering the technical aspects.

Your camera is 24MP, so 6000 x 4000 px. This means that a single shot of your 2 1/4" square negatives will be a maximum of 4000 x 4000 pixels and will in reality be slightly less than this. The rule of thumb for getting prints done is 300 dpi. so 4000 x 4000 px would give prints around 13" square and equate to only around 1800 ppi in terms of a conventional flatbed scanner like the Epson V7xx & V8xx range.

More resolution can be obtained by using the full width of your sensor to photograph part of the negative and then moving the negative precisely so you capture the whole negative in 3 frames which are then photomerged in Lightroom. This makes the best use of your camera’s sensor but adds an extra level of complication, especially if you are thinking of fluid mounting.

I would actually suggest first trying the negative shiny side down on ANR or museum glass but ‘clamped’ firmly to it by a square glassless mount, much as you might find in an enlarger, in fact exactly as you might find in the Durst M605 enlarger that I use. I think you might be surprised at the quality that you can get even without fluid mounting.

Just another idea, back in the day I spent quite a lot of time scanning with an extremely high end Fuji Lanovia, a giant flatbed about the size of two washing-machines that went up to about 10,000 ppi as I remember. Crucially unlike the Epsons it had autofocus and the appropriate lens moved directly beneath the glass so no mirrors to degrade the image, X-Y scanning it was called. For medium and large format we squeegeed the transparency directly on to the glass under a clear ‘acetate’ sheet, I suppose it was mylar but it was sold in bulk for scanning in those days. Perhaps you could use this method to fluid mount your negative on to a piece of glass, then contrive a way to move the glass in the correct direction in 3 20mm steps. It’s not that messy once you get used to it, you don’t need a lot of fluid.

Thank you very much for taking the time to review and respond in detail sir! Couple of quick questions:

  1. I quite understand that these 12 negatives are extremely important to you and so you have no wish to put them in the post or entrust them to a courier.
  • Is there a specific company or person you know of that would do the professional level work if I were to be ok in sending these off? My ultimate goal is to have the best digital copy of the negative possible
  1. Is there a recommended link for obtaining ANR glass? I just want to make sure I am not getting a suspect product.
  2. Is the lomogrpahy digitaLIZA an ok glassless mount to use or would you suggest something else?

Hi @shaq74 ,

This little video should show you how to do it. It’s actually not that difficult to do once you have the right equipment, and the results really are worth it!

(Credit to Hans Purwa for sharing this video with me of his process)

One thing to note is that in the video above is that there isn’t any kind of black mask blocking out the light from the light table… you may be able to get away with this is you have a modern macro lens (with great non-glare coating), BUT you may find that without some kind of mask, that you may get lens flares or reflections off the lens back into the film. So in most cases, I would recommend adding a black mask to the setup you see above with cutout that is just a tad bigger than the film.

Hope that helps!

-Nate

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I don’t know of any companies to recommend I’m afraid as I’ve always done it myself in one way or another, but it is going to depend a lot on what country you’re in (I’m in the UK).

I see that Hans Purwa is using the Epson wet mounting accessory but that might not be necessary, you may be able to make your own custom version with mask as Nate suggests. The main problem is containing the fluid of course

I’m not sure that you even need ANR glass for wet mounting but hopefully someone will be able to say one way or another. If you modelled your method on his then you will have to think of a way to move the entire Kaiser light pad with wet mount kit on top smoothly and accurately so that you can do your photomerge shots.

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