[ANR GLASS DOES NOT EXIST]
For years people scanning film at home have been buying “anti newton ring” glass. This glass is usually used to flatten film, and it is mostly people using flatbed scanners who buy this glass. The thing is, Anti Newton Ring glass aka ANR glass DOES NOT EXIST! It is a marketing term created to scam photographers into paying insane prices for commonly available and extremely low cost sheets of glass. There is no special purpose glass that is made to stop newton rings! Even the one or two companies that claim to be lab grade ANR glass suppliers can never provide a real data sheet for their glass. Almost as if they are just re-branding an existing product to make a quick buck.
In the photography space there are only about four notable places that people have been buying glass from over the years. These are “better scanning”, “Scan-Tech”, “Focal Point”, and “Negative Supply”. Scan-Tech has completely shut down and their website is now gone. Focal Point’s website is still up touting all of the benefits of buying glass from them! Their store page is completely broken thankfully. Better Scanning also is in an unknown operating state, this was the go-to place for over priced glass in the past. But for the last few years most people say they haven't had luck ordering from them. I actually tried to buy from both Scan-Tech and Better Scanning back in early 2022.
Scan-Tech GLADLY took my money but when I wrote an email asking for an update on where my glass was I quietly received a paypal refund with no correspondence from them…. 25 DAYS AFTER PLACING THE ORDER. Better Scanning was a little better I think, They just never got back with me. Though I’m sure they collected all of my personal info via their order forum. All 3 of these companies were super sketchy and none of them had actual legit web stores. I have also seen people in various photography forums shilling for glass from these sites. I have seen claims along the lines of “I only trust glass from X because they make it to a higher spec I wouldn’t buy it from anywhere else”. I would say these people were paid shills, and they might be but I think it really is just buyers remorse when they find out they paid 80$ for a tiny sheet of glass. The final company in the list, Negative Supply DOES seem like a legit business.
Negative Supply is one of, if not the only remaining ANR glass sellers. However they charge an arm and a leg for their glass 100$ for a 4”x5” sheet and it just goes up from there. They don’t have ANR glass in stock on their site anymore and it seems like they have moved onto selling super over priced camera scanning equipment, which IMO is another predatory business practice. Camera scanning is the current trend with beginner film photographers who have been convinced by idiots on reddit to spend thousands on a camera scanning setup. It CAN sometimes be better and I’ll write a whole article or make a video about flatbeds vs camera scanning in the future. But IMO camera scanning hardware is the modern equivalent to selling overpriced anti newton ring glass, which you actually may still need when camera scanning!
[WHAT IS ANR GLASS THEN?]
ANR glass is actually just acid etched glass, aka non glare or anti glare glass. Sometimes the terms anti reflection or anti glare are used interchangeably but typically anti reflection glass is optically coated and not chemically etched like non glare glass. The super finely etched surface is what gives non glare glass the ability to stop newton rings from forming. I Personally use “Tru-Vue” brand “Reflection Control” glass as my film flattening, anti newton ring glass. I chose this glass because I was able to find the spec sheet that showed me one side of the glass is chemically etched and because I found it for sale online for a good price.
Some people say tru-vue “museum glass” will also work, however this glass is not chemically etched. It does seem to have some kind of slight texture to it as seen in this article comparing various anti reflective glasses. Nobody knows for sure why newton rings form but it is thought that it is because of tiny pockets of air between two surfaces. If that is true then ANY glass should work to remove newton rings if you can also squeeze out the air using a bit of pressure on the glass. That is assuming the trapped air theory is accurate, has anyone ever tried to produce newton rings inside of a vacuum????
You may also have heard people saying to use etched acrylic. Even some of the higher end Epson film holders come with etched acrylic. Acrylic aka acryl glass aka plexiglass is plastic, it is NOT glass. Usually etched acrylic will still remove newton rings the same way etched glass does. The problem with acrylic is that usually it scratches extremely easily and it doesn’t weigh as much as real glass. Remember you want some weight to apply downward pressure on the film. If etched acrylic is all you can get then it is perfectly acceptable. I would still go for glass. There are other glass brands besides tru-vue that will also work, as well as no name generic etched glass.
[How I use it]
I scan my film directly on the glass bed of my flatbed scanner. This is because I have tested and found my flatbed does the best job there, but just because you have the same flatbed I do doesn’t mean your scanner will also get the best results on the glass! I place my film with the emulsion touching the scanner bed, this is the side of the film that is less glossy. I then place my etched glass on top of the film with the etched side facing down so it is touching the glossy side of the film. You ideally do NOT want to scan though a layer of etched glass. The people who say to use 2 sheets of ANR glass with your film in between them are wrong and this will likely degrade your scan quality significantly.
Newton rings can occur on both sides of the film, using my etched glass I eliminate the possibility of it forming on one side, while also keeping the film perfectly flat. However the surface touching the scanner’s bed still has the chance of forming newton rings. I have never had this happen with black and white film because the emulsion side of the film is VERY matte. With color film I still do get the occasional newton rings since color film’s emulsion side is usually still quite glossy. To fix this I just move the film around a bit and apply more downward pressure. I will also clean the glass and film since a big spec of dirt might be the cause of the newton rings.
Ideally I would have a custom film holder that can apply downward force directly on the etched glass, while also holding the film ever so slightly above the scanner’s glass bed. This should completely eliminate any chance for newton rings since the bed and the film are not actually touching. If you buy etched glass that can fit in your stock film holders then you should be good. I had to modify my stock epson holder by cutting off the middle plastic clip things, and then scraping away some plastic on the sides of the film channel so the glass would fit. But I don’t even use the stock holders because again my scanner works best with the film directly touching the scanner’s bed. I simply made a jig that helps align the film and glass but it doesn’t actually hold the film up. (I tried though!)
[WHERE DO YOU BUY IT!?]
Acid etched glass is extremely cheap. I was able to buy every single piece of glass I would currently need for 17$ shipped, and you could probably get it for even less. Ideally you want to find a local picture framing store and get them to help you, they are most likely gonna have the best prices and they might even be willing to give you scraps of glass for free if they just so happen to have what you need. Explain to them what you are doing since you are gonna need glass cut to a very specific size. You could also just cut the glass yourself which might be better. Here's another good video about cutting thin bits of glass. The other option is finding a picture framer online who sells glass. I’ve found etsy has a few people specifically selling tru-vue RC glass and this is where I bought my glass. I paid under 17$ shipped from a seller in my state for two 35mm pieces, one piece for 120 film, and one 6 inch by 9 inch piece.
I’ve found for my stock epson film holders that 9 inches long is just about the perfect length. Though a little shorter than 9” will still work. For a 35mm film strip your width measurement would be 35mm exactly or 1 3/8”. For 120 film you want your width to be something around 61.8 – 62.2mm, I ordered 2.4” since I figured it would be a little easier to cut in fractional inches, which would be around 2 7/16” for 62mm. If you wanna be specific I think 62mm is 2.441”. If you use an epson holder I’d error on smaller sized glass so you don’t have to scrape away at your film holder. Remember if you are letting someone else cut your glass expect +/- 1mm of error on each side.
For more info go check out my video on this topic: