A little discouraging

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by NedL, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I just made 2 prints, 8x10 size. When I was washing the first one, I thought it looked soft and a little out of focus. So I went and re-focused the enlarger and made a second print. It was quite noticeably better. The only difference was how far my eye was from the focusing sight. I confirmed then when my eye was closer like the first time, I end up at a slightly different "best" focus point. My eyes are not very good anymore and they are getting worse. Time for some prescription reading glasses I'm afraid. Do you all think that will solve this problem, or will it still matter... am I going to have to "calibrate" on my eye's distance from the grain focuser?

    This makes me worried about focusing my cameras too. I keep my glasses ( near sighted correction ) on when I focus the camera... so what "distance" should be correct when looking through an SLR viewfinder? Maybe it's a good thing I like to use old scale focus cameras too!
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You need a grain focuser. I use this
    [h=1]Peak Critical Enlarging Focuser Model 1[/h]http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/40920-REG/Peak_PK20001_Critical_Enlarging_Focuser_Model.html
     
  3. Truzi

    Truzi Subscriber

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    I've not used a grain focuser, but had a telescope in high school. With perfectly good (corrected) vision, the distance between my eye and the optic made a difference in focusing. This is normal to a point.

    Presbyopia can complicate things. You may have to find the right distance, but once you do, I think you'll be fine with your grain focuser and viewfinders.
     
  4. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I have and use a Peak 1, its amazing and I would argue one of the best, if not the best grain focuser I have ever used. It is a bit pricey but used ones pop up from time to time.

    If you would like a bit more distance from the eyepiece (more eye relief) then you can try the magnasight, it has a very large viewing area but the image is not as magnified. Barry Thronton states and illustrates in his book the edge of darkness that he uses a modified mangasight with a drop in lens for increase magnification.

    If you want lots of manification, you can get a microsight I think its like 25x. Both manga and microsights are very affordable.
     
  5. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    Many of the later film cameras have built in diopter adjustments, for varying vision needs.

    For my Canons, the instructions are to focus on something at a known distance, and then adjust the diopter until the focusing aids are clear.

    I also find that the split prism works best for me, as I age. Though with slower lenses, the prism can get dark and I need to use the rest of the screen.
     
  6. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I should have been more clear. I am using the magnasight focuser, and I don't have much experience with it yet. The print that came out well was when my eye was about 6 or 8 inches away, and the one that did not come out well my eye was closer, maybe 3 inches. I've only been using the magnasight for a little while... before that I was holding a magnifying glass up to my eye and leaning over the print while focusing.

    Also, now that I think calmly about it, my worry about the SLR viewfinder is overblown. My negatives are sharp and my notes about focusing match my experience printing ( i.e. occasionally I've taken a second shot when I thought the focus was slightly off, and the notes match the negatives perfectly. )

    And yes the split prism and the "shmmery" area around it are excellent...

    I got a little upset by seeing this difference and over-reacted.

    I will also consider getting a nicer grain focuser! And some reading glasses too!:cool:

    Cheers everyone!
    -Ned
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2013
  7. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The magnasight is a good one, maybe you can try opening up your lens a bit more to let in more light or dimming your safe light. You might even be able to hold your magnifying glass above the magnasight.

    Look for areas that are easy to focus on such as sharp or contrasty edges in the image. Things like text or building edges etc.
     
  8. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Yes. I always do search around to find good edges or contrasty areas... you're right. The second time, I turned the safelight off and that could easily have contributed to better focus. I'm going to go to the drug store and check out some of those reading glasses. I have a feeling those in combination with the magnasight might be the answer, and maybe to always turn the safelight off for focusing.

    I've had several prints that didn't quite look right since I started using the magnasight. So, it's time to deal with this so I don't have to worry about it!

    -Ned
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I can no longer read easily at normal reading distance so checking focus by the naked eye is really out of the question but with a Paterson grain focuser it makes no difference whether I use glasses or not except to the extent that the focus thread across the top of the Paterson eyepiece would have to be altered depending on whether I use glasses or not.

    The point I am making here is that once the Paterson is set up for either glasses or naked eye the grain will come into focus either way albeit the sliding focus section will need to be set differently for glasses and without glasses.

    I had thought that all grain focusers work the same way and thus getting the grain into focus is independent on your visual acuity once the thread is correctly sharp.

    I can of course get the neg into perfect focus with the grain focuser without glasses but should I then take my eye away from the eyepiece and look at the neg projection it will appear fuzzy but it is my "old eyes" that are at fault and not the grain focuser.

    If I were to move my eye further away from the eyepiece then eventually the neg becomes clearer in the same way that a newspaper become clearer if I hold the paper at arms length and not the usual 14 inches normal reading distance

    I suspect your problem stems from this as well. However if you use the focus thread or whatever the Magnasight uses for your eye and focus this without glasses then the grain will come into focus at that point that the neg is perfectly focused.

    So it should be possible to focus the Magnasight with your eye close to the eyepiece and get the neg in perfect focus.

    When the grain is in focus and you take your eye away then ignore the fact the the projected neg will then appear to be slightly fuzzy due to your eyesight. It isn't fuzzy of course it is your eyes that aren't working as they once did when you were in your youth

    pentaxuser
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I have a magnasight focuser, dont use it any more. I started using a Paterson which is a bit more critical. My eyes are getting to the point where I use my glasses almost all the time now, and not just for reading.
     
  11. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    I think Pentaxuser got it. I used to build a lot of electronics, and could always read the little print on the sides of the tiny parts. Now I can't focus that close with my eyes.

    The magnasight works by projecting an image onto ground glass, and then there is a lens that magnifies your view of the glass. I don't think there is any adjustment possible. But when I look through a magnifying glass, there is some interaction with the focus of my eyes ( by moving the lens closer or further from my eye, I can achieve focus or not. ) So there is dependency here on my eyesight being able to focus at whatever the effective focal distance is. Too close is going to be a problem!

    I'm due for new glasses soon anyway and might talk to the optometrist about this. I know last time, we figured out that it would be different glasses for reading or for using the computer. Right now I don't have glasses for close yet... seems like that's about to change!

    Once we get this sorted, we can work on reversing all the other things. ( Actually... I think making photographs and having fun with it probably helps in that area too! )
     
  12. pstake

    pstake Member

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    The Bestwell Magnasight is a fantastic grain focuser. It does have adjustment. There is a "needle" visible in the eye piece, and the eyepiece rotates. When the needle is in focus, the eyepiece is set for your vision. Keep it there and use as normal to focus the image on your easel.

    I really can't say enough about the folks at Bestwell. Great products but generally overshadowed by the Peak / Omega devices.
     
  13. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    In this age of really cheap darkroom equipment, may I suggest an alternative to the grain focuser: A Leitz Focomat Ic enlarger.

    It takes a little fiddling to get it set properly, but once you do it is the last time you will focus the enlarger for a very long time.
     
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  15. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    When is the last time you have had a complete eye examination by a doctor of ophthamology? It is possible that you are suffering from macular disease. See one soon, don't take a chance.
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Magnasight is not a grain focuser in a traditional sense. It projects the image on a ground glass. What looks like grain is grain of the ground glass, not the image. That said, there is NO adjustment.

    I am not sure if you are really seeing focus difference.

    While I do not use it anymore, I did have Magnasight at one point. Now I use Microsight by the same company.

    Is it possible that your enlarger is out of alignment that depending on where exactly you place your focuser, it'll tell you different results?
    Or, is it possible that your enlarger drifts? Mine does, so if I want long enough after I focus it, it'll be out of focus.

    My near sight is affected quite a bit. But I am able to use grain focuser quite nicely by taking my glasses which adjusts my far vision off.

    I think you'll first need to visit your optometrist, then figure out what to do. I'm afraid, otherwise, it'll be a guess work.
     
  17. kevs

    kevs Member

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    Ned,

    Are you certain it's a focusing problem? Any vibration of the enlarger or baseboard will blur the print, as will negative popping caused by heat from an incandescent light source. Dust, debris and grease on the enlarging lens or in the enlarger's light path can soften the projected image. Some enlarging lenses vary slightly in their focusing between the widest aperture and the 'optimum' one (or so I've read - though these tend to be cheaper ones). Any non-parallelism of the negative carrier, lens or baseboard will also cause problems with sharpness. Cheap triplet enlarging lenses might show a variation between central and edge sharpness.

    Can you lock the focus and height controls of your enlarger? Any movement or looseness there will almost certainly cause blurriness.

    A trick I use is to place my cheap 'n' nasty (and probably wildly inaccurate) grain focuser atop an old piece of photo paper; it's easily forgotten that the paper had a thickness. Also, modern films tend to be almost grainless and therefore impossible to focus upon with the grain focuser.

    I'm not saying any of these things *are* causing your problem, but they can affect print sharpness and should at least be considered before blaming the grain focuser. :->

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  18. markbarendt

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    It is disappointing, I'm dealing with similar issues.

    Thankful for the split prism on my FM2 and auto focus on the F100 & F5 & N90s.

    My wife has an interesting take on this since she's been in glasses since elementary school.

    Part of her photographic sensibility is showing others how she sees.
     
  19. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Darn I just typed in a long response and managed to lose it when I tried to include a quote.

    The prints are dry now and I compared them carefully. The 1st one was out of focus. The second one looks good. When my eye was close to the eyepiece it made it harder to see when the focus locked in. When my eyes were further away, it was easier to see clearly that the focus was just right. I can't focus well on things closer than about 6", and that might be all this is.

    I got my current glasses about 3 years ago and will be going in for another checkup in the fall. My eyes are worse than they were 3 years ago, by about the same amount as they changed the prior 3 years. Before that I had the same prescription since high school. The ophthalmologist said it was normal and that it would continue. I'm 52 now and he said it often starts in the 40's.

    I'm using an old beseler 23c and the focus is a bit tricky with 135 and the 50mm lens.. you have to go a hair past the focus and then "nudge" it just right into focus. It's easier with 120 and the 105mm lens. It's not perfectly aligned but it's pretty close. I worked on it a few months ago. Most of my prints are fine. My magnasight doesn't have a needle... it's nice and bright and I like it but obviously I need to be careful how I use it!

    That's interesting! I'm not a sharpness fanatic. I've got a couple prints from negatives that were not perfectly sharp ( not out of focus, but shutter speed a touch low for handheld ) and the softness does not detract from the picture... ( clouds and water and a sort of misty evening feel... ) Those made me think about what sharpness and softness in a photograph mean.

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the help and advice. I'm glad I found APUG!
     
  20. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    All this reminds me of a time when my photo buddy, who IS a sharpness freak and used a Linhof for his color trannies, was starting to find softness in his shots. He’d complain about it, but never had his eyes checked and had never worn glasses. Finally, while we were driving to a vacation backpack trip to Wind Rivers in Wyoming, he was driving and I was starting to doze. The sun came out and he’d left his sunglasses out of reach, so I said he could use mine (prescription lenses). He put them on and shrieked “My God, look at the trees on those ridges … they’re so SHARP", and kept wearing them. But after a short time, they began to bother him (not the right Rx) and had to take them off. But the message had made its impact … get his eyes checked. After we returned home, he had them checked. It turned out that we were unaware that we both used the same office to have glasses made. I had to visit that office soon after and the optometrist started telling me of a guy who ordered bifocals – but he wanted the reading part placed in the TOP of the lenses so that when he was under the darkcloth with his camera, and leaning forward to view the groundglass, it would be more comfortable to see out the top of the lenses. You guessed it – it was my buddy. His trannies regained their sharpness.

    FWIW, the vacation trip was cut short when he caught a virus that drained his energy, and it hit with full force after reaching 11,000 ft and we had to back down. It took him months to regain his energy level.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2013
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I have a Magnasight but more often use a (cheap basic) grain focuser. Since I'm very nearsighted, I normally take my glasses OFF, as otherwise I have to use the bottoms of my progressive lenses and it still isn't as sharp as my near vision with my glasses off. So far it seems to work.
     
  22. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    And speaking of view cameras and ground glass, using the bottoms of my progressives is a PITA under the cloth, and I often forget my dedicated reading glasses. If you see someone with their head under the cloth and their glasses dangling out held from holding the temples in their teeth, it's probably me or another nearsighted prysbopic photographer. :wink:
     
  23. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    Yes, I take mine off too, and take them off now to read.
     
  24. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I can read without mine but prefer my reading glasses, or my regular progressives for short periods, because my left eye has best focus at about 6" and my right eye at 9". There is no location where both are completely sharp. I can find a workable compromise, and you'll see me do that if I read fine print on a label in a store or the like, with glasses propped on my forehead, but it doesn't work well to sit and read a book. Not to mention, it would have to be 6-9" away which is pretty close to hold a book for an hour.
     
  25. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    In the darkroom I use a grain focusser and don't have any problems, but, I have found that when I use MF (Hasselblad), as I get older I have a harder and harder time seeing sharp focus in the viewfinder - I found that a split prism screen helped a lot. I wonder if there is a similar thing available for an enlarging focusing scope?
     
  26. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    :smile: :smile: :smile: That might be me. I've been reading without my glasses for quite a while now, and using a pair of glasses just for PC (too much time spent in a photo forum). But my ophthalmologist now says I'm starting to develop a cataract and should consider laser surgery. My wife will have that done to both eyes in the next month or so. Old age is hell!