Colour head enlarger, sooo dim... how to focus reliably? :(

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by eumenius, Jul 11, 2006.

  1. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Hello friends,

    since I've bought the first non-condenser enlarger in my life, there were rakes I immediately stepped on: it's really dim compared to my old Magnifax, though it has a separate focusing lamp! Is it always like this with colour heads? :sad: Looks like I need some advice about how to focus my big enlargements, when it's even more dim... should I make a focusing aid from a piece of completely blackened film, carved with needle, and fiddle with it? Or do I need a thing called grain focuser - of course not avaliable in Russia, so I would have to ask the friends to get one for me? If it's a good thing in my condition, what kind of it should I need - and what I'm seeing in this device, the highly magnified negative grain itself? If yes, that might be an universal solution. I don't lose hope because I can understand I'm not alone with this problem :smile:

    I love my enlarger very much, so I am very eager to have it focused easily - even with my very good sight it's a real pain, believe me. There's a conflict between diffusion and brightness, as I can understand - one can't make it bright enough without melting everything down :smile:

    Cheers from Moscow,
    Zhenya
     
  2. Valerie

    Valerie Subscriber

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  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I don't know what enlarger you have or what wattage lamp that you have. But for your consideration, most usually 8X10 enlargers have lamps that are a minimum of 1000 watts and 2000 watt light sources are not uncommon in that format.

    Usually a lamp house having that wattage will have induction cooling of the lamp house. I would recommend a minimum of 100 CFM per 1000 watts of lamp output.

    It is entirely possible to have a bright enough lamp to focus and still not melt things down from the heat.

    If your lamp wattage is lower then I mentioned then you will have problems focusing. I have supplied high wattage lamps to Europe before. Usually Europe operates on 220volt 50 hz. The 230 volt 60 hz lamps from the United States will work because a lamp is a resistive load.

    Good luck. I hope that this gives you something to work with.
     
  4. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Hello Valerie,

    thanks for your advice - I've checked the Hocus... hmmm, it should work OK, but the question is, for how long? It just looks like a toy, and I am not sure that it would survive in our darkroom... maybe something sturdier should be better, eh? :smile:

    Cheers, Zhenya

     
  5. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Donald, I am much more modest - it's only a Fuji color enlarger for 120 film, maximum format is 6x9 cm :smile: It has two 100W lamps, too few I guess... air-cooled with the fan inside. Looks like I am just bound to get a grain magnifier to be on a safe and easy side - the only thing is to decide which one should work better for me, without giving leg and arm for it :smile:

    Regards,
    Zhenya

     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Zhenya,

    Boy was I off base in responding to you. I apologize. I thought that I had read that you had an 8X10 enlarger....my error. 200 watts should be adequate for your enlarger. Does your enlarger have provisions for removing the filters from the light path when focusing?

    I have the Peak grain focuser. I have found that I prefer focusing on the grain rather then on details of the image. Grain focusing is more precise to me. The Peaks show up on Ebay occasionally at quite a savings over retail. I have observed the Hocus Focus in use and I still prefer the Peak.

    Good luck
     
  7. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    There may be an issue with the lamp, it will get dimmer as it ages, because vaporised metal from the filament will settle down on the glass.

    Another possible issue is that the lamp may not be seated correctly, and thus you will not get the full illumination.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    It's difficult to compare unlike with like but I am amazed that two 100 watt lamps and a lens which presumably opens to f4 doesn't allow you to focus. I have only ever used a Durst M605 and this has a 100 watt lamp which I changed to 75 watts to allow a longer exposure time. Even then my 6x6 lens which opens only to f4 allows enough light to focus. I admit that unless your eyes are very good and the neg has some well defined features like brickwork or actual letters such as road signs, shop signs etc then a grain focuser is very helpful. I always use one. In my experience "grain" is visible even in colour negs and in fine grain B&W film, both 35 mm and 120.

    As someone else has suggested if 2 x 100 watt lamps are dim then it suggests that something is wrong.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. PhotoPete

    PhotoPete Member

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    I have a similar problem with my D4 B&W enlarger when I try to make enlargements from 4x5 paper negs. Very little light makes through the paper and even with a grain focuser it's hard to ensure sharpness.
    Is there any genius ideas on APUG for handling this?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2006
  10. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Dear friends,

    the Fuji enlarger, unlike Dursts, has a different construction of light path - the colour mixing head is in fact a white foamcore-lined box with two round holes in its sides, not top. There are no mirrors, directing light to these holes - just a lamp's reflector. To ensure better diffusion and field evenness, it includes a "center filter" - a glass plate with white enamel dot pattern on it, thicker in the center and more sparse to edges. The whole light getting to negative thus passes through an aperture in filter compartment (yes, the filters can be removed for focusing), a slightly matte heat filter in light mixing box, there it reflects off the foamcore to a center filter and a final milk plexiglass plate. So no wonder it's dim, after all - but the light after all those troubles is really perfect, so it's worthy to lose some maybe 90% of 200W :smile:

    The issue is related probably to Japanese perfectionism, when the light beam was sacrificed to better diffusion. The need of grain magnifier is perhaps just implied with this enlarger - that's not an off-centered lamp, or a lamp with tungsten deposit on the wall (I doubt if halogen lamp ever develops this problem, unless it's burned). I assume that a second by pompousness Peak magnifier should work fine, too? And it can be bought for less than $100? :smile:

    Thanks for your advices,
    Zhenya
     
  11. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I just use a Paterson grain focuser - it is simple, cheap, robust and adjustable. I have a Hocus Focus but find it is really only good for rough focusing (I do need reading glasses however, so if you have good eyesight it may be sufficient). I switch to the grain focuser for a final tweak of the focus. It is quite tough: made from a single bent strip of perspex with a mirror glued on, so there is not much to break.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  12. ZorkiKat

    ZorkiKat Member

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    Hi Женiя

    The projected image made by my old (ca.1972) DGA dichro colourhead of my Beseler 23CII is also quite dim. A lot of its 300W halogen's power is lost in the colour mixing head and its dichro filters. The later generation of colourheads must be more efficient since they use 100-150W halogen lamps to do the same purpose.

    Even with dichro filters shifted out of position for focusing, the projected image seems to be much dimmer than if the same image was beamed through a 75W opal lamp in a condenser head.

    Have you tried using the Russian colour enlargers? I have an old "TЕХНОИНТОРГ" catalogue from 1985 which listed a Russian colour enlarger, the "ДОН-103". I always wondered how it worked- it looked like it was based on a similar looking Leitz Focomat. It had automatic focusing and had a craned head.

    Also, the Russian enlarger lenses are quite wonderful to use. The "Вега-11У (2,8/50)" is built like a well-made German or Japanese lens and probably costs only a fifth of what a used Nikkor EL 2,8/50 would cost. The "Индустар" enlarger lenses, like the camera lenses they were based on, are quite superb. The last lens I used before I stopped making "wet" darkroom prints 3 years ago was the "Индустар-96У-1". I used it almost exclusively for making colour prints on RA-4 paper. It did better than a Nikkor-EL 4/50 that I borrowed. Got all the lenses cheap- the
    Vega was only US$5 from eBay, and the Industars (three of them) were all given free by friendly Russian and Ukrainian sellers there.

    The И-96Y at least had a removable barrel which allowed me to use it on the Beseler fully. The other Russian enlarger lenses had long barrels which limited the bellows' movement and allowed it only to focus for prints up to postcard size. These lenses had to be used with recessed boards for more flexibility. :smile:

    Jay
     
  13. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    Hi Jay,

    очень приятно, что русская техника вам понравилась :wink: (it's a pleasure to hear that you like Russian photo equipment :smile: ). The non-standart working distances of Russian lenses is a long-known pain, but once you've managed to put it on the enlarger, it would work fine :smile:

    Judging from overall looks of my Fuji, it should be made around early 70s, so probably it employs an old-style colour head :smile: Though quite dim it is, the quality of light it produces is plainly superb - that's why I want to learn how to make perfect prints with it :smile: And I love the overall quality of it, it's built to last, and the filters are like new.

    ДОН color enlarger... hm... they were produced in very small series, and I used it once or twice, in University - to be frank, the mechanical quality of it was not comparable to foreign-made analogues, especially the negative carriers.

    I asked my friend to buy a grain magnifier for me on Ebay - so sooner or later I would be able to focus without too much squinting :smile:

    Cheers,
    Zhenya

     
  14. ZorkiKat

    ZorkiKat Member

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    Hi Zhenya

    I'm really a Russian/Ukrainian photoapparat addict! :D

    I'll be putting a thread about my Russian enlarger lenses in the enlarging forum in while.

    Jay