As the primary protagonist in my B&W King post, my new 5×7 suffered from a badly worn and in general inferior ground glass. Under a loop you were left with the impression that your beautifully framed image was but a projection on a concrete sidewalk. There was so much grain it was hard to discern what you were actually looking at and trying to draw into focus. Upon removal and inspection it was clear to me that not only was the piece of glass scratched, chipped and scuffed it also was well in excess of a quarter of an inch thick! This was not the stuff from which a nice ground glass is made.
With my commitment to this format growing I really wanted things, all things, to be perfect. I hate to admit it but I’ve never had a call to replace a ground glass before. My 4×5 came with what I feel is exquisite ground glass by all measures. I started my quest with the obvious choices. I searched through B&H, Adorama and finally eBay. There were plenty on offer via eBay but I just did not see anything convincing let alone that I felt size-wise would be on the money.
I did a general search on the web and in a large format photography forum I read through a discussion on ground glass. The name Steve Hopf came up and under high praise. I went to his site and was immediately impressed.
The quality of the website, options and customization exceeded my expectations. There was a hitch though. No online orders! The website was very clear in terms of where to email, what to email and how the transaction would proceed. In fact, it’s clearly stated atop the site’s homepage. Specifically, you’d receive an email confirmation, be billed via Paypal and your new screen would be shipped within three business days. Hmmmm!?? Well, the holidays were approaching and I had a rather significant trip scheduled; a drive from Alabama to Austin, TX. I figured, what the heck. I’ll not be using the 5×7 anyway. I followed the directions and much to my surprise, I received an email rather quickly confirming my requirement.
With respect to ground glass Steve offers basically two primary choices; Ultrafine and Borosilicate. After reading all the information provided on his website, and there’s no shortage of extremely informative stuff there, I decided on the Borosilicate. Let me just add, his website is an educational experience and one that you’d be wise to bookmark not only as a supplier but as a solid resource which you’ll likely have call to reference in the future.
Like clockwork the deal was done and the paypal invoice paid. Well, less than two weeks later and I’ve installed the new glass into my camera.
The difference is incredible. In fact, it’s difficult for me to describe not just the difference but the overall quality of the viewing experience. The glass is exceptional. It is flawless. This is incredible value for the dollar and I’d like to send a big thank you to Steve, counting him as someone I’m truly thankful to now know about.
Not that I feel I need to say this, but the glass was packaged exceptionally well.
I realize I’m likely preaching to the choir, but for those of you who are not familiar with Steve, I encourage you to check him out.