Nielson Frame quality question : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am thinking of using Nielson frame #11 in mat black for my framing of photos. It is slim profile: 3/4" deep, 1/4" wide on the face. I am planning on ordering my frames from Daniel Smith suppliers in that their prices are superb. Interestingly though Nielson makes two qualities of this basic frame. One is called #11 and the other #11 "basic". Customer service tells me that they are identicle in look, but the "basic" is lighter weight metal and thus explains why the price is half of the "regular" model. They only advise that you don't use a piece longer than 24" with this cheaper variety.

Does anybody have any experience with the difference between these two offerings and any advice for me...


-- Scott Jones (, August 11, 2001


I find the space (height) allowed by the #11 for the mat and other materials too little. Before buying the #11, be sure that your stuff will fit: add up the thickness of the glazing, overmat, back mat, foamboard or such if used, and an allowance for space for the springs. The #12 profile has the same face width but is deeper.

-- Michael Briggs (, August 11, 2001.

For smaller prints, the profile #11 is fine except that you should know going in, that if using 4-ply mount board, 4-ply overmat and 3/16" foamcore for backing, you will not have room for the spring clips that come with the frame section pairs. This combination does, however just fit perfectly into that frame moulding and so the clips aren't really needed.

My preference is for profile #15 which is a bit beefier, is available in all the same anodized finishes and allows the use of those clips. My frame sizes are typically 24 x 30 though and so a heavier frame is apprpriate considering the weight of glass etc.

Boy, I haven't heard reference to Daniel Smith in a long time. When I was last in Seattle, I stopped in and was very impressed with what I saw. I still have the 1992 catalog, I was so taken by that store.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, August 11, 2001.


The Daniel Smith catalog indicates that the dimensions for each style are identical: 13/16" thick with a 13/32" space for mat board, glass, etc. The catalog also says that the Style Basic 11 is made with slightly thinner aluminum extrusions and not recommended for work over 24" unless reinforced. They don't indicate how you might reinforce these frames for larger projects. Neither the basic or the standard style 11 are recommended in lengths greater than 36".

The Syle 15 frame gives you more room, with 19/32" available for your materials and photo. The Style 15 profile, however, is rounded and may or may not appeal to you on artistic grounds. My personal preference is for the wood frames in natural or black. The wood is more expensive and involves slighly more effort but provides (IMHO) a more refined appearance.


-- Dave Willison (, August 12, 2001.

The problem with the thinner aluminum frames lies in the flexing of longer segments. You are better off in most cases using frame sections that are stronger. Even with those you may well need to put a back piece in to keep the frame from flexing both in hanging and transport. You can do this with a longer piece of the framing material by adding to each end of it the frame hangars used for wire and tightening them in the top & bottom or side pieces. Or, use the hangar pieces and tie them together with framing wire, tightening it to give tension to the long sections. This will beef up the frame & prevent flexing which can, in extreme cases, be enough to let the glass edge out of the frame resulting in cracking as a ham handed handler tries to force it back into the frame by pushing down on the metal. As for wooden frames, they do look nice but the lignin and other products that they emit can harm your images. Using Bainbridge Artcare board will help to preserve your artwork with either wood or metal framing. It works so well and looks so good that using Crescent, TruVue or other cheaper stuff is to devalue your images before showing them.

-- Dan Smith (, August 12, 2001.

For what its worth: I use Nielsen #11 or #33 for smaller frames (to 16x20) and #55 for larger sizes. #55 is heavier and spaces the glass away from the artwork. By the way, I don't use the spring clips. I find it better to use a thickness of materials that fills the frame without them. This allows the artwork to expand and contract freely. For backer material I use Light Impressions acid free corrugated board, as many layers as required.

-- David Rose (, August 12, 2001.

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