Grain focuser recommendations?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by stradibarrius, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    The Focusing aid I have is pretty lame. I would like to have a good quality focuser that works well with glasses.

    Of course I want to spend as little as possible but do not want to just get a different "lousy" focuser.
     
  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    The Paterson one is very good and certainly on the U.K. e-bay there are always examples for sale quite cheaply. It will only focus in the centre however. For a corner to corner job it is the Peak but if you want to spend as little as poss then I'd rule it out. A recent Peak sale on U.K. e-bay made the equivalent of over $190!

    pentaxuser
     
  3. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Most people will recommend a Peak model. I have their top-of-the-line model (shown in b) and rarely use it. Its edge-to-edge capability is impressive but hardly ever needed with a well-aligned enlarger and glass carrier. Its 10x magnification is too low to identify the grain in my negatives at my typical 5x enlargements.

    I prefer the much cheaper MicroSight (shown in a). It is less sophisticated but has 20x magnification and also a very sturdy aluminum body.

    Depends on what you need and what you're willing to spend.
     

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  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Which one do you have now?
     
  5. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have one Like Ralph has shown on the left, MicroSight. Mine is a black body rather than silver. I don't know what power it is but maybe it is better than I thought???? The eye piece screws in and out. Is that just to interchange lenses or to also adjust the eye piece?
     
  6. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Do you see a hair-line in the viewer? You'd screw/unscrew so that the hair-line is sharply in focus. This is a necessary step and it is to calibrate the device to your eyes. Then, you'd use the device to focus on the grain.

    I believe the model you have is a smaller one of two with 10x magnification.

    If you have trouble seeing well, MagnaSight, which is a image focuser, not a grain focuser, may be a better option. I have one and it works well. What happens is, the image get projected to a ground glass. There is an 8x magnifier to view this image for the purpose of focusing. You can see the magnified image well from 1 foot away.
     
  7. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    The MagnaSight is 25x (not 20x) sorry. You'll love the magnification! Adjust the eyepiece until the center of the hairline is sharp.

    B&H has them in stock.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=bestwell&N=0&InitialSearch=yes
     
  8. Reinhold

    Reinhold Subscriber

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    Before jumping in and declaring that one type is better than another...

    How are your eyes?
    You said you wear glasses... bifocals???
    Near sighted or farsighted???
    "Blind as a bat" or just need glasses "for reading"???

    I'm blind as a bat.

    I've had the usual swapmeet collection over the years,
    tossed most of them away... you learn what works for you as things go on...
    I now have 2 focusers, a top of the line Peak, and a battered old Magnasight. (The kind shown below, the kind tkamiya mentions)

    The Magnasight gets used 95+% of the time.
    It's just plain faster and easier to use for low to medium magnification (say, 6-8x), especially if sharp edges (windows, wires, etc) are visible in the image. The big aperture is much easier to view from a reasonable distance, even with glasses.

    Sometimes the image doesn't have crisp lines to focus the ground glass of the Magnasight on, so the Peak is better... but squinting thru the eyepiece means putting my face down to the easel while reaching up to adjust the enlarger focus. With really big prints this is a bit awkward...

    Find a Magnasight on Craigs List and your search may be over...

    Reinhold

    www.classicBWphoto.com
     

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  9. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Beautiful!
     
  10. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I have the expensive Peak, as well, and it is very useful, but as Ralph said, it does not magnify very much. The one you already have, if it is the small one, works well once the eyepiece is adjusted for your vision. If you want more magnification, get the larger version but be sure to adjust the focus. The magnasights have never worked well for me as they magnify the least amount and tend to have optical distortion anywhere but the exact center of the eyepiece.
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    It may depend on ones setup. If you use 35mm, develop in Rodinal and make relatively large prints, you don't need a lot of magnification to focus on the grain (naked eye would probably work), but with fine-grain, large-format negatives and relatively small prints, I just don't see any grain at 10x.
     
  12. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Nope no hairline to focus the focuser??? The lens is just clear...I don't know if it "crosshairs" are missing or what, I bought it from ebay. Is there another method for focusing the "focuser" for my ey?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2010
  13. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi, you need to put the reference line back in place. Open the bottom of the tube of the scope and you will see where the nylon line was glued in place. Just get a piece of nylon mono fishing line/thread and glue it back where it was.

    After that, always focus so that you can see both the line and grain in focus at the same time.

    Jon
     
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  15. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Another vote for the Magnasight.
    I have one along with a Paterson Major Focus Finder but find the Magnasight is pretty much all I use.
     
  16. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I like the construction of the Peak but I do prefer the Microsight and its higher magnification.
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what magnification is provided by the Paterson? Is it greater or less than the Magnasight? I find that with the Paterson grain in a MF neg from the likes of the Delta range developed in a fine grain dev such as Perceptol does start to present a challenge for the Paterson although grain can just about be seen if you are careful with the focusing.

    pentaxuser
     
  18. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    To focus my MicroSight "focuser", could i use a 35mm negative, for the grain, turn the enlarger on and by adjusting the focuser and the enlarger focus "dial" in the sharpest focus on the "focuser?
     
  19. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    You do need to see the line and grain both in focus at the same time, so I would replace the line.

    Jon
     
  20. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    normal eyes here. the blue one does the job. highest praise in my book: never occurred to me i might upgrade :smile:

    ps. the "blue one" is the blue one in the B&H link. label is long gone so i had no idea what it was
     
  21. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I use the small blue one also called minisight. It is 10x.

    Jon
     
  22. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    how large is the line and where does it mount?
     
  23. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi, look at the lower end of the tube portion of the scope. There should be a plastic ring that you can pry off. Under that is a metal ring across which was glued a piece of small piece of line. You should still be able to see where the ends of the line were glued. The line is just a short length of mono-filament fishing line or thread. Has been many years since I fixed one, but as best as remember that's how they are constructed.

    Jon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2010
  24. youngrichard

    youngrichard Member

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    Has anyone tried one of these? It's called a Focoblitz, and runs off the mains. The sensor is placed on the easel, and the B/W cathode ray screen displays the grain, sharp as a tack, when in focus. No peering into an eye-piece whilst stretching the right arm up to turn the focus knob. And when I tested it against a large and small Paterson grain focusser, and compared the discernible grain on the equivalent of a 20x16" enlargement from 35mm, the indicated focus from the Focoblitz gave the sharpest grain.
    Of course there are downsides. There is expense - I paid over £100 on eBay a couple of years ago (they are £1000 odd new if still obtainable; I'm not sure what the original use was, but doubt it was photography). And the the screen gives out light though it reduces to very little if a cap is place over the sensor. When switched off there is that residual CRT glow, so it is not very practical if you hand-focus every time you move the enlarger head.
    So why did I buy it? Because I love autofocus, having a Focomat V35, where the autofocus is spot on. Then I bought an old Durst DA900 for medium format, supposedly autofocus too; but it was all out of kilter. I went potty trying to fine tune it, by adjusting the cam and any other variable; and the tuning involves accurate focussing at top and bottom of the enlarger column; leading to stiff neck and aching shoulder, on top of which, as noted here, it is not always that easy to see the grain.
    So this machine was a godsend; now the tuning is done, autofocus is as accurate as the V35. Now I just check focus at the beginning of a session, turn the machine off and the screen to the wall, and I am away. In fact the autofocus has been so good for so long I only check occasionally, but if ever it goes off I will be able to re-adjust it.
    Richard
    PS It was expensive, if not a lot more than a Peak; but the kids have all left home and they have all got paid jobs, so I thought I would give myself a little treat
     

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  25. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    In the last few months, I've ordered MagnaView and MagnaSight brand new from a reputable store in New York. I had to go through 4 magnasight until I found one that was acceptable. Some had bottom not ground flush so it will rock on easel and some had the rivet that joins two pices lose. As far as MagnaView is concerned, the first one had scratches on the mirror and second one had chip in the mirror and spilled glue all over the body. I kept the best MagnaSite and I am returning MagnaView for a refund. I had it with this company. (not the store, the manufacturer) The description says they are hand calibrated. I'm not sure what to believe on these devices anymore.

    Each time, the store was nice enough to cheerfully exchange/refund with return labels. I continue to favor this store for going out of their way to be on my side by providing me with pre-paid return labels. I am keeping the name of store to avoid turning this thread to store vs store discussion. If you must know, please PM me and I'll tell you.

    If you decide to buy new, be aware, the quality control does appear to be slipping or non-existent.