Enlarging for the first time! - The "noob's" call for help.

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by hawkegihm, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. hawkegihm

    hawkegihm Member

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    Hello!

    I'd first like to say hello, since this is my first time posting at apug!

    I don't mean to be a boob but my first contribution to the forum is a call for help. My dilemma involves my exploration into the field of enlarging. I am an architecture student, so I don't have any formal learning experience with photography. (I've picked it up as a general hobby) I've been shooting b&w 35mm and 4x5 with a few cameras I found at a local flea market and I've been developing myself using a paterson tank and chemicals off of bhphoto but this is really my first time trying to enlarge.

    I need your help.

    First thing's first, I have a Saunders LPL 4550 XLG VCCE Enlarger in my possession. It is new, never used. This will be the first time it is being unboxed.
    What I need from you is suggestions about additional supplies I'll be needing, including lenses and other parts that I need in order to make the enlarger functional. Second, I would also really appreciate some guidance on where to start. Instructions are great, and if someone knows of any tutorials or guides, these would also be much appreciated.

    I realize that this is really a bloody lame post, but I urge you to help me so that I can mature and join your more interesting conversations.

    Your help is much appreciated!


    Cheers!

    Hawke.
     
  2. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I would get a 50mm and a 135mm APO enlarger lens. This will work for your 35mm and 4x5 negatives.

    Then while waiting for the lenses... just sit in wide-eyed amazement at the incredible road you have laid in front of you.
     
  3. hawkegihm

    hawkegihm Member

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    Bill,

    Thanks for the lens suggestions. It really does seem like a huge undertaking! However, I remind myself that I am young (20) and this is something I've been wanting to try for quite a long time. I'll work through it one step at a time.

    On the topic of lenses, I want to start developing 35's before going into the 4x5. Do you have any recommendations for good quality lenses that would fit the 39mm thread lensboard on the 4550 xlg? A specific lens would be awesome, but if not, brand, or features to look for would be great as well.
     
  4. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Hey Bill. Welcome

    I like the Schneider Componon-S or the Rodenstock Rodogon (im unfamiliar with Nikkors for enlarging)
    in 50mm for 35mm negs,
    in 80mm for 120 formats like 645, 6x6 and even 6x7 if you get one that can cover

    and for 4x5 you can go 135mm or 150.
    All those except maybe the larger 135s and 150s will fit the 39mm lensboards.
    Someone can tell you how to mount the larger lens if any special boards are needed.

    Sorry I'm unfamiliar with that Saunders other than using an LPL in a school darkroom in passing.
     
  5. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    You could have a look through the material linked on the IlfordPhoto website, here. These are good 'getting-started' style instructions and are certainly not limited to the use of Ilford products.

    Also bear in mind that a lot of the bizarre 'instructional' videos seen on Youtube etc. are frequently not best-practice and are often based on no more than a knowledge-free interpretation of what someone once mentioned in a Flickr chatgroup.

    The trick to repeatability and controllability of results, is consistency (accompanied by notes on what, precisely, you did). Consistently follow the information from Ilford (or Kodak, or Agfa etc.) as though you are making a cake and the results will speak for themselves.

    For 135 film, the standard enlarger-lens focal length is 50mm. Choosing whatever six-element lens you can find from a major manufacturer will work fine. It may actually be harder to find a decent enlarging easel than the lens! I'd suggest using fresh RC paper, rather than fibre-based paper, to start off with as the results, and hence feedback and improvement, will be much quicker to achieve. I mention 'fresh' paper as old, cut-price, badly stored paper (from a certain online auction site for example) will lose out in contrast and other qualities, so making your initial learning curve steeper than it needs to be.
     
  6. wombat2go

    wombat2go Subscriber

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    Hi Hawke,
    You should be able to find a lens at fairly low cost.
    Find a book that explains the process step by step.
    The pitfalls i had while learning:
    -The negative can overheat and buckle while focussing if I play around too long- Perhaps that is due to my old condensor enlarger.
    - The paper can get pre-exposed on one edge when removing sheets from the pack, so now I remove a sheet more carefully, in the dark, and keep the bag folded around.
    -Cut a sheet into strips to use for graduated test exposures. I now do it mostly each exposure, more effort but it saves time and paper over the session.
    I was told that pearl paper was easiest to learn on and I have used it ( Ilford Multigrade) ever since.
    Good Luck.

    -
     
  7. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I think Ilford likely has a good list, but here's mine:
    3 trays at the size you want to print plus a larger one for washing (if you start with RC it doesn't need as much washing)
    something with measurements to mix the chemicals - I have three plastic beakers that hold 1 liter each - label these with a Sharpie
    tongs to move the print from tray to tray - each tong gets its own chemical and try to not touch a different chemical with each
    large storage bottles for used stop bath and for fixer - developer is one shot, the others can be reused to some extent
    easel to hold the paper under the enlarger (I have a four-bladed Saunders, but they aren't cheap)
    timer for the enlarger (mine is a digital timer, I forget the brand)
    multigrade filter set (if you plan on using Ilford paper, then I'd suggest their filters) - not sure where they go in an LPL, you may have to cut them to fit
    I use a LCD kitchen timer to time my prints going through the chemicals.
    Safelights appropriate to the paper (amber is fine for most, some need red)
    get ready for some fun and remember that there are many mistakes, but you won't be the first to make them. There's always more paper to try again.
    I'd suggest not trying any of the cool, but somewhat advanced things, like lith or liquid emulsion until you have the basics down.
    Welcome to the best analog corner on the web! No question is too dumb to ask and you likely won't be the first to ask it.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If you haven't already got one you might want to get a grain focuser. If you have spent money on a 4x5 enlarger and are considering APO lenses then it may be that money is not a problem. If so I'd splash out for a Peak grain focuser.

    If money is tight then a Paterson focuser should be quite cheap.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    There's a printing how-to in the FAQ in my signature; it should tell you everything you need to get and how to use it.

    Welcome to APUG!
     
  10. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello Hawke and welcome to APUG. The darkroom is where the magic begins. You cannot go wrong with the Nikon lens, and I would choose the F2.8 50mm for your 35mm. Good luck.
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am giving a two day printing workshop in Riverside Ca this September, this may be of interest .
    www.defendthedarkroom.ca is where you would find the info.
     
  12. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

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    Welcome aboard. I have the same enlarger. They are fantastic. I use a Componon S 2.8/50 and have a 100mm 5.6 Componon S and an 150mm El Nikkor 5.6. The latter 2 are for sale. If interested in either or both let me know. Don't waste that great machine by using inferior lenses. Good luck and if I can be of any help, just let me know. Don
     
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Had I done a workshop like this early in my printing career, it would have saved me lots of money, frustration, and time.
     
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  15. omaha

    omaha Member

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    I'm in the same spot as the OP, and truly wish I could find such a seminar. As it is, I'm left to learning from books, APUG, and hard lessons.

    Perhaps we can compares notes along the way.
     
  16. TXFZ1

    TXFZ1 Member

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    I have the same enlarger. For switching from 35mm to 4x5, LPL recommends changing out the diffusion box. Exposure times can get long when using the 4x5 box for 35mm.

    VC filter are not required for the VCCE head, the upper window is the scale for Kodak Polycontrast III / Polymax III and the lower window is Ilford Multigrade IV and compatible papers. Took me forever to find that little tidbit of info.

    Enjoy as it is a great enlarger.

    David
     
  17. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Hawke,

    Welcome. If these folks are still around, you might consider one of their workshops. The prices seem reasonable.
    Neal Wydra
     
  18. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Seminars or lessons can really help but the "hard" lessons have to happen either way.

    I will say though that these hard lessons aren't really that "hard" unless its a commercial/business lesson.

    The paper, developer, and time are simply the cost of the experience, a cost that is pretty easy to bear and one that you get used to.

    It does settle down as you get better at "reading" negatives, as you build skills, and as you get tools like an enlarger meter that helps you read the negatives, but it doesn't really go away because most negatives and scenes are different and each print can be a piece of art.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Welcome to the fun.

    Your route is quite unusual, in that most people today don't start with a brand new, currently manufactured, top quality enlarger.

    KHB Photographix (in Canada) is a useful resource for many enlargers. Here is their page for your enlarger (note that the model numbers vary depending on which country the enlarger was distributed in): http://www.khbphotografix.com/LPL/LPL4x5.htm

    If you don't have the original manual for your enlarger, KHB most likely can sell you one.

    They can also sell you other parts. KHB isn't particularly cheap, but they are good.

    You will need a negative carrier, lens and lens mount for each format you use. There are often items like that listed here in the APUG classifieds. lightwisps post above links to one appropriate choice, but I would suggest you do some wandering there to get a sense of what is available.

    There are a lot of good quality enlarging lenses available used. Some of them are priced so reasonably as to permit trying more than one.

    In addition to optical quality, it is worthwhile considering convenience features like illuminated f/stop scales and the ability to quickly and accurately switch between wide open and a chosen stop-down aperture.

    In addition to Schneider Componon and Rodagon there are Nikon enlarging lenses in the high quality tier. There are special, top quality versions as well, like the APO lenses. There are also some lesser known brands (e.g. Minolta) and re-badged lenses (e.g. Beseler Color Pro) which are of excellent quality.

    There are also lower quality versions made by the high quality manufacturers - best to ask if you have questions.
     
  20. hawkegihm

    hawkegihm Member

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    Thanks for the warm welcome! I've learned quite alot from just what you guy's have been throwing at me.

    This is really not the case. The 4x5 is something I managed to scavenge at a dirt cheap price

    I will also look into the workshops if time allows. Seems like these would help quite a bit.
     
  21. hawkegihm

    hawkegihm Member

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    From what I've heard from you guys, I've found a few things on ebay, but ultimately I need a 35mm carrier which is quite hard to find. Since I can't post on the classified, does anyone have one they'd like to sell?
     
  22. TXFZ1

    TXFZ1 Member

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    The website that MattKing provided has a store. They have 35mm carriers new and used. They have always provide great service to me. Shipping is steep from Canada but availability trumps.

    http://store.khbphotografix.com

    David
     
  23. hawkegihm

    hawkegihm Member

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    TXFZ1 Thanks for the reference but they're so bloody expensive! My wallet is almost completely deflated. I was just asking to see if anyone had a used one for cheap money.
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    hawkegihm:

    I'll first refer you to one of KHB's eBay listings: http://www.ebay.ca/itm/New-35mm-Neg...LH_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item58834d820c&_uhb=1

    If you read that, you will note that that LPL carrier is also compatible with Omega D4, D5 and D6 enlargers.

    So it may be that you can use a 35mm carrier designed for those Omega enlargers.

    I'll let the LPL users here confirm that.

    If so, send a pm to bjsmith7474 here on APUG - he probably has one of those at a reasonable price :smile:
     
  25. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Does it have any carrier? If so you can probably, with a bit of imagination, make it work.

    Heck with a little cardboard/matte board you could probably cobble together something workable.
     
  26. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Hawkegihm: I use that same enlarger for 35mm and 4x5. Don't worry about swapping mixing boxes for 35mm. I do both formats with the 4x5 mixing box and the exposures are not long. The enlarger puts out plenty of light. Note if you have questions about equipment/accessories for it you can call KHB Photografix and ask them questions even if you don't end up buying. They are very helpful, and also have used/reconditioned parts/accessories. If you are low on funds and can't find used parts, you can make a 35mm negative carrier without much fuss.