LPL 7700 VCCE lacking contrast seriously

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by peri24, May 14, 2009.

  1. peri24

    peri24 Member

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    hi,
    first of all i'm not an experience printer, just the basics, but i'm getting tired of my new enlarger, it seems impossible to get a decent print out of it, all prints look very dull and lacking contrast, doesn't matter if i go up to 5 grade filter.

    I noticed also that changing filters in all range produce very subtle changes, and everything seems monotone, i can't get enough separation between tones, nothing seems sharp, is like someone put a veil on my prints.

    I tried some contact printing with my enlarger as a light source and prints look a bit better, but anything i put inside that glass carrier turns to a lifeless print.

    I'm using eukobrom as developer, and i've tried various papers with similar results (FB and RC), my negs look quite good on the light table.

    Any toughts??

    cheers
     
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Is the enlarger new or just new to you? If it's old it's quite possible that the filters inside the head have faded. Is this your first experience of printing, or have you had success with printing prior to this? I'm just trying to eliminate some of the variables.
     
  3. pelerin

    pelerin Member

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    Hi,
    This will sound silly but... you must try changing the bulb. At one point, following customer reports of similar difficulties with their equipment, I conducted some empirical bulb tests and became apparent that the bulbs lost energy in the shorter spectra long before they lost any apparent brightness. Changing the bulb out for a new one can have a dramatic effect on the available contrast. You don't want to know how hard it is to find a fresh bulb that will actually produce G5.

    All of the above however presumes that you understand the function of the white light / focus lever and that you have the filters in place. You do actually see a noticeable change in the color of the image as you rotate the filter knob from low to high contrast?
    Celac
     
  4. Barrie B.

    Barrie B. Subscriber

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    LPL 7700 - No Contrast

    Firstly , can you try puttiong a blabk piece of paper under the easel , covering the centre with a large coin then exposing it , developing it etc.
    Do you get a rich BLACK and a WHITE coin shadow ? This will prove that the light is working AND you have fresh developer .

    If you produce good black and white then perhaps it may be in the Globe / the Styrene reflector or a VERY DIRTY LENS. Cheers
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A safelight test might also be in order.
     
  6. peri24

    peri24 Member

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    it's a second hand enlarger that i bought some time ago, but i hadn't time to test it before properly, yes it's new to me.
    Before using Lpl, i was a happy condenser type of guy.
    I know that you must used more contrasty negs for this sort of enlargers, and i did so, i checked my negs, i did some "home made" densiometry to get more contrast. So i'm quite sure it has to be a problem with this enlarger.
    Btw i'll try to change the bulb (i've got some spares that first owner give to me), i just shot some film that i'll develop very heavily and see what happens, i'll let you know.
    Thanks for your time, i really appreciate it.
     
  7. peri24

    peri24 Member

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    thanks for all answers, i tried everything an here are the results:
    1- i metered how many light was the old bulb and then replaced it for a new one, same EVs, so or all bulbs are bad or bulbs aren't the problem.
    2- i did the coin test, perfect blacks and nice whites. So my chemicals and paper are ok.
    3- i disassembled my enlarger, i noticed that grade filters were half way of the bulb light, so i force them to move up and now they seem to cover all light.
    4- i shot an underexposed roll (two thirds of stop) and then overdeveloped at 50% more of my standard time,

    I printed 3 photos to check the roll, and here it is, nice blacks, nice whites, nice tone separation, i guess that filters weren't a huge problem with all that dullness.

    So can a diffuser enlarger need 50% more of development that a condenser one?
    i didn't check any Zone density with that roll, but prior this one i tried to follow what AA said in his "The Negative" book about densities for a diffuser enlarger with no luck, do you know if there is any other densities table more indicated for me? or at least how can i make my own one to get new times, new isos....

    thanks!!
     
  8. pelerin

    pelerin Member

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    Hi,
    No, as a general rule a diffusion enlarger will not require a 50% increase in development to match the contrast you achieve from a condenser. Also the type of lamp aging that I described in my first post would not be measurable with an exposure meter, you would need a color meter to measure the difference the old and the new bulb.

    If the pictures look much better with the radical increase in negative contrast that would seem good but: 1) does changing the filter setting now change the contrast and 2) have they increased markedly in graininess?
    Celac
     
  9. peri24

    peri24 Member

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    yep, now when i change grade filters there is change in contrast as like any other enlarger, but...., it doesn't really matter to me, i thought that with this enlarger when you change grade filter you dont have to calculate for a new exposure, (it´s not my case, i realize that with my enlarger you have to calculate for new exposure time when grading), any lpl 7700 vcce users can coment??
    i'm working with new times of negatives development, but if there something that i dont really care at all is grain, in fact i love grain at least with 35mm, if i want something grainless i shot 6x7 or 5x4.
    thanks
     
  10. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    How old is your paper? Old paper will give dull, flat images.
     
  11. Graham.b

    Graham.b Member

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    May be a few scanned prints of what you have done may be more of a help, i use both a con, and a diff, the LPL 7700 as you. My times for print down time is set by what the test strip time are at a given F stop. Try using different stops for the test, until that is you are used to the type of enlarger. It did take me a while to understand there are small differences between the two types, not much but they are there. I do find if i get to little of contrast and do not want more blacks, i will add a little blue dial (.5) to the print and reduce the red.

    Graham
     
  12. RJS

    RJS Member

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    If you have 'nice' blacks and whites and your prints are sharp not to worry if you have to develop more, or how much more. Since you are familiar with AA, remember, the negative is the score and the print the performance! It may be the rain in the plain this time of year for you, so be patient and photograph the Gaudi. You are to be envied.