Dumb questions about beginning enlargement

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by mrtoml, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Sorry if these seem like simple questions, but I have not worked in a darkroom for several years and I am completely out of touch with current products and technologies.

    I have just acquired an LPL 7700 colour enlarger and want to enlarge 35mm and 6x6 black and white negatives. The enlarger comes with a Nikon 50mm lens.

    Questions:
    1. I assume that if I use VC paper that I can dial in the contrast using the colour head?

    2. What do I do about my pyro negatives which have a stain in terms of contrast control?

    3. What will the 50mm lens cover in terms of formats and will I need an additional focal length lens? If so what would be good on the used market?

    4. What would be a good place to start experimenting in terms of paper and chemistry? I used to use Ilford multigrade so I guess this would be OK, but I cannot remember anything about the chemistry I used.

    5. The enlarger has 35mm and 6x6 holders, are other sizes such as 6x7 and 645 easy to get?

    I have searched archives and have some ideas, but would welcome anyone's opinions.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    1 Yes, data is available from the paper manufacturer

    2 Print as normal

    3 50mm lens 35mm film only, plenty of good 80mm's around at reasonable prices for 6x6, 6x7

    4 Why not use Ilford Multigrade, Ilford Multigrade developer & Hypam to start with

    5 Yes, they should be.

    Ian
     
  3. Matthew Gorringe

    Matthew Gorringe Member

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    1. You can use the colour head but will probably find it easier to use the VC filters because they keep a constant speed (no need to keep changing exposure).

    2. Not sure, start by exposing for the highlights and adjusting contrast for the shadows.

    3.50mm willl cover 35mm only, if you want to do 6x6 then get an 80mm lens. If you think you might want to 6x7 and 6x9 later just get a 105mm lens now and be done with it.

    4. Ilford multigrade is as good a place as any to start experiementing for both paper and chemistry.

    5. Should be easy, look at ebay, the big photo stores in NY. They shouldn't be expensive.


    Good luck, I hope you enjoy yourself. Asking dumb questions here at APUG has helped me every time so don't be shy.
     
  4. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    No need to apologise. If this isn't exactly the purpose of APUG then I'm not sure what it is for! :wink:

    Yep. Increase the Magenta to increase contrast, dial it back out and add Yellow to reduce.

    Exactly the same, I believe, although the quantities you dial in and out may vary.

    35mm. Yes, if you want to go up in format size. 80mm works well for 6x6. There's a table somewhere which someone may be able to point you to showing what focal length matches what format. In terms of makes, Schneider, Rodenstock and Nikon are the usual recommendations. As a (very!) rough rule of thumb, look for examples as near mint as possible and with as low an f number as possible for the size, as the quality of the lens will (of course) affect everything you print with it.

    Ilford Multigrade paper in Ilford Multigrade dev is a pretty good standard starting point (and some never feel a need to move off it!). If you use a stop bath then again Ilford Ilfostop does the job (and isn't as whiffy as some of the alternatives!). Ilford Rapid Fixer is a pretty good fixer.

    Um... Not necessarily. I got my last carrier for an LPL 7700 from Mr CAD - http://www.mrcad.co.uk You could try them.

    As another (unsolicited!) suggestion, I'd recommend getting a copy of The "Photographer's Master Printing Course" by Tim Rudman. It's the best book for getting started in the darkroom that I've found.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  5. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Wow. That was quick. Thanks for all the great responses.

    Are there any standout 50mm and 80mm lenses that I should be aware of, and what about easles? I don't think there is one with it.
     
  6. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    On the secondhand market the variation between individual lenses may outweigh the variation between lens brands / models.

    I have a 50mm EL Nikkor f2.8 which came with my enlarger and very I'm happy with, I have an 80mm Schneider Companon S f5.6 which is decidedly soft (probably just this individual item) and I have a Rodenstock Rodagon 80mm f4 which is an absolute diamond-cutter!

    Your Mileage May (and almost certainly will!) Vary!

    Easels - I got a load of LPL's that came with my enlarger and they're okay. A while back I spent a king's ransom on a new Beard 20x16 four-blade and (whilst I still shudder at the amount!) it is a superb bit of kit!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2007
  7. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Thanks, Frank.

    Last question I think: do these enlarger lenses have standard thread sizes? Do all lenses fit all enlargers?
     
  8. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    For smaller lenses 39mm is fairly standard. But you'll find older lenses that are different. Above say 105mm in focal length you need to check.
     
  9. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    What Nick said! :D
     
  10. Brian Jeffery

    Brian Jeffery Member

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    In addition to the excellent advice already given you might also find the following useful:

    When using the colour filters use the values listed under Kodak on the documentation that comes with the paper as they match those of your LPL;

    You might consider using the combined Yellow and Magenta filters as although this gives longer exposure values it does mean there is more consitency in exposure between grades. Grade 2.5 for example would be Y32, M42;

    Remember that the lens mounting plate is reversable. For 50mm lenses the dome should be mounted in an upwards position, whilst for 80mm lenses the dome should be facing downward.

    Brian
     
  11. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    I would suggest you do not use the dials on the color head for contrast control and instead buy a set of under the lens contrast filters from Ilford.
    This way you will have full gradation usable (color head often do not permit a true grade 5 ) and it will be easier to switch contrast if need arose on the same print.
    As you've got a Nikon lens for 35 mm I would suggest buying a Nikon 80 or 105 lens for the 6x6 or 6x7 negatives. Tis way you'll be consistent. The threads should be the ubiquitous 39 mm Leica for this kind of lenses but you may encounter very old second hand lenses with a smaller thread, say 25 mm. If you stick to modern Componon-S, Rodagon or Nikon or Fuji or Minolta, the 39 mm thread is "de rigeur". You just have to ensure to buy a 6 lens design from a reputable manufacturer and won't make a mistake.
    Last but not least, I would also suggest getting a glass neg carrier. This will prove universal and help your negatives stay totally flat. These days, we often see former beyond the Iron Curtain manufacturers doing film that curl crazy. And of course, if you've not a glass carrier, the wonderful image would prove unprintable because you can't achieve focusing simultaneously at the center and the corner.... Been there, done that....
    As for products, I would suggest getting Ilford papers and chemicals. They are really good, not so expensive and as Ilford is an APUG sponsor, you help a bit...
    Hope this helps
     
  12. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Thanks again for all your great responses. It is a great credit to APUG members that in less than an hour I had the answers to all my questions.

    I have now ordered the multigrade paper and developer (I already have stop and fix from my negative developing routine).

    I have been searching around now for an 80mm lens. 2 have appeared that look reasonable value. One is a used Rodagon f4 and one a new Componon-s f4.5. The Rodagon is the cheapest (£25 versus £40). Anyone have an opinion about these?
     
  13. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    On the face of it (and assuming the used Rodagon is in mint condition) either should do the job.

    I have what sounds like the same Rodagon and it's very good. If that one has been abused of course then it might be a lemon, but you could always ebay it back out.

    Does anyone know whether the f4.5 Companon S is the equivalent Schneider? If have a f5.6 (I think it's that anyway, it's been a while since I checked) but that's a lesser model and I'm not impressed...

    Georges - What I love about this wonderful obsession we share is the way that people can approach it so differently and yet still get great results!

    I've tried Ilford filters and glass carriers and got dust spots and Newton rings for my trouble! Now I use the standard colour head and a pair of glassless carriers and am happy with my results. For you the reverse is true, thus we're both right! :D

    I'd also forgotten about Minolta enlarger lenses; sharp as a tack! Thanks for reminding me.

    All the best,

    Frank
     
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  15. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I've a couple of additions to make:

    First, an earlier post suggested using separate B&W filters rather than the color filter dials on the head because the filters enable you to maintain a constant exposure. Well, this can be true of the color filter dials, too. Manufacturers often publish two filter tables, one for shortest exposure that uses a single filter (say, Y30 for a particular grade) and another for constant exposure that uses both filters (Y50 + M20, say). Using the two-filter value will let you change effective grades without adjusting the exposure time, although the exposure times will be longer than you'd get with the single-filter method.

    Second, regarding lenses: Most enlarging lenses use either four or six elements, with 6-element designs being preferable. Schneider and Rodenstock both give their 6-element lenses names that end in "-on" and their 4-element lenses names that end in "-ar", so these are pretty easy to distinguish. Nikon doesn't do this, unfortunately, but I know that in 50mm, the Nikon f/2.8 is the 6-element and the f/4 is the 4-element. Fuji gives their lenses two-letter names, with EP and EX being 6-element designs (EX having better coatings), but I don't recall what their 4-element designation is. I don't know offhand how Minolta names their lenses. Of course, none of this will help you determine which used lens is in good shape and which one's been used for juggling practice, but it's a start.
     
  16. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    I have just had a call from the seller of the enlarger and an 80mm Nikon lens has been found with it which they are including so I guess I now have the complete outfit at least to get me started. Can't wait.

    I have also just been reading Barry Thornton's book Edge of Darkness and he seems to dislike the Componon-S he had and says he got comparable results with a lowly Anaret. He also seems to like the Meogon. Perhaps these (Czech?) lenses are also worth considering? I actually used to have a Meopta 35mm enlarger well over 10 years ago with an Anaret lens, but I can't say I really knew what I was doing in those days.
     
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  17. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The Nikon 80mm is nice. The only reason I picked up a F/4 lens was for some very very dense cross processed negatives . Anything normal was fine.
     
  18. Brian Jeffery

    Brian Jeffery Member

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    What Barry was trying to get across is that paying a lot of money for a lens does not guarantee that it will be significantly better that a cheaper version. Indeed it is often simply a matter of cheaper versions having less rigorous quality control. So, you may get a superb example of a cheap enlarging lens, but then you may get a mediocre one.

    As to the Componon I seem to remember that once he sent the lens back to the manufacturer and got it repaired he was perfectly happy with it. Looks like a case of an expensive lens having poor quality control :smile:

    Unless you've got a couple of lenses to compare, how will you know how good your lens is? This is equally true of Barry's faulty componon and just a poor lens.

    I wouldn't bother with the under the lens filters either just yet. Use both the Magenta and Yellow filters and you will get consistent times for each grade. Admittedly you can't get a true grade 5, but you'll get pretty close. The other advantage of using the in built filters is you can experiment with fractions of a grade; something that I've found useful on occasion. If you find that you are having problems then go ahead and spend the money on the filters, but remember that you'll still have to change the exposure times for grades 4 and 5 as these require an extra stop of light.

    Whatever, you decide to do have fun. Like most things in life there are multiple ways of achieving the same result, it's whatever suits you best.

    If the enlarger does not come with the manual send me a PM and I'll can send you a electronic version.


    Brian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2007
  19. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Thanks, Brian. The enlarger should arrive on Tuesday so if I need the manual I will be in touch.

    I am sure I will have many more questions next week...
     
  20. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    I second Barry Thornton advice regarding Meopta lenses. They are tack sharp and were damn cheap when the iron curtain was down. Unfortunately, now, Czech people have seen (happy for them) their wages going up so the bargain is a less good one than it was.
    But, if you find a Meogn 50 and an Anaret 80, buy them (and tell the seller you make him a favor giving him a quid for the pair ;-) ) you will not be disappointed.
    Honestly, I've always got neg carrier with glasses. Provided you have a plain glass under the negative and an anti-Newton rings one above, you'll be good. As to dust specs, if the room is quite clean and the enlarger grounded, you can manage with a sable brush not to have spots and dust marks on your prints. But as usual, YMMV !
    Last but not least, do not use film fixer for paper. Keep two separate mixes. Film often contain silver iodide which is difficult to fix pushing the fixer to its limits. Same for stop bath.
     
  21. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Thanks, George. I didn't know about that fixer issue.

    It was interesting reading the Thornton book again - I read it last year, but didn't read the enlarger chapters because I basically have been using scanned film and printing digitally so I only read his chapters about film development and so on.

    The stuff he says about using glass in the carrier is interesting. I assume that I can get glass carriers for the 7700. I will start another search. :rolleyes:

    The reason I am concerned about lenses is that I use Leica in 35mm and anything from Bronica for MF to Rodenstock in a field camera. So there doesn't seem to be much point in scrimping on the enlarger lens and having that become the weak part of the chain. There seems to be a large number of relatively cheap enlarger lenses on the used market and after I have got to grips with the lenses supplied with my current purchase I may well try out some more.
     
  22. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Honestly, if you buy a 6 lenses design by a reputable maker and if this lens has not suffered abuse, you won't see the difference.
    Enlarger lenses design and formulas are "standard" since a long time so any maker willing to produce a good lens can do it. Quality in workmanship and quality control is another matter.
    So if the first lens you get is not good enough, lurk for another one and sell that dog.
    A friend of mine has once made side by side comparison on average size enlargement of Schneider and Rodenstock versus Nikon lenses. He was obliged to label each prints in order to differentiate them.... Of course if you plan to make murals the situation will be a little different !
     
  23. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

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    Thanks again, Georges. I don't expect to print many things greater than 16x20. I guess 11x14 would be my standard sort of size with not many images going past 12x16.
     
  24. philm

    philm Member

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    I guess in fairness to all I have a dumb question or two myself.... I have longed for a darkroom of my own since college, thanks to the digital explosion ( the only good to come of it for me) is the availability of low cost dark room equipment. I have put together a darkroom. I have a bessler 45. I shhot large format 4x5, medium format 6x7 and 35mm. Shooting is easy, developing film is easy. Enlarging.... where do I begin?? polycontrast papers??? If I don't use filters, what happens? Are there papers that have a fix contrast, requiring no filters? Does using filters in the enlarging process yield the same type of results that one getrs when using filters on a camera for getting contrast. I only shoot B&W. In college I don't recall ever using a filter on the enlarger. All the books I have read talk about using them but don't talk about not using them. So how do I proceed?
    Thanks
     
  25. philm

    philm Member

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    More "dumb" questions on filter use

    Finally have a darkroom set up. In college we never used filters when enlarging. That was a long time ago...... Now everything I read talks about Variable contrast papers and filter use. I'm clueless. What happens if I don't use filters? Are there papers that don't require filter use? Just how do I proceed?

    Thanks!
     
  26. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Yes you can get fixed contrast paper. VC paper is actually grade #2 if you don't use filters.

    No it's different then using on camera filters.

    Really contrast filters aren't that hard to use. It's easier to have a box of VC paper and a set of filters then a box of grade #1,#2,#3 and #4.