LPL Enlarger + Fine Focusing = Long Reach - Creative Solutions?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by JeffD, Sep 14, 2006.

  1. JeffD

    JeffD Member

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    While making some large prints, I became a bit aggravated with how far it is to reach the fine focus controls on my LPL enlarger. I can do it, but it is just a matter of time before I injure myself!

    I noticed this accessory:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...s&Q=&sku=364238&is=REG&addedTroughType=search

    but, at over $100, I am just not quite that inconvenienced yet to lay out this much cash. I'd rather buy more paper.

    I think I could almost engineer my own solution, but was wondering if anyone else has a creative idea for solving the problem of needing "monkey arms" to focus this enlarger when making big prints.

    Thanks for any responses...
     
  2. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    The imaging warehouse in the UK supply a useful device called The Hocus Focus that allows you to focus without having to put your eye close to the screen. You can reach up to the fine focus knob on the enlarger and still look at the screen on the Hocus Focus. It's only about 15 pounds UK. The company are also known as Nova
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have the focusing extension and have found it to be a very necessary and worthwhile addition.

    If you want to engineer your own solution, I might suggest removing the enlarger focusing knob from the shaft and then using a rod coupling (should be available at a hardware store to couple a piece of flex cable to the enlarger focusing shaft. A knob on the end of the flex cable (also available at a hardware store) should finishe the job.

    I have seen the Hocus Focus and personally don't think that it provides as precise focusing as my Peak instrument. However others may find it adequate to their purposes.
     
  4. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I have the focus extender for my LPL. The cost was worth being able to focus without problems.
     
  5. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Paterson Major focus finder? You don't need to stoop over so much.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  6. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Buy it. It's worth the money.
     
  7. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I have the similar device that's made for a Beseler 45 and while I wouldn't want to be without it, I find that very fine adjustment are not as easy as with using the fixed knob. There is a tendency for it to cause little "pops" of adjustments that exceed what I want. Think of it as torque in the flex cable lagging then releasing. Maybe something needs to be lubricated, I'm not certain if that would help.
     
  8. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    There is also the Magna-Sight focusing device. This focuser does not force you to put your head down near the easel, you can stand up straight. It also allows you to focus on any portion of the image not just the center. This works quite well and will prevent you from becoming the Hunchback of Notre Darkroom. I use one with my Saunders LPL 6700.
     
  9. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I have a Patterson fine grain focusing aid about 14 inches tall that helps for big enlargements. When it won't reach, a Mitchell Unicolor will, although it has lower magnification like the Magna-Sight.
     
  10. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    would'nt it be possible to add some strap around the know just like opening/closing curtains....
    I have the same problems with my LPL 4x5
     
  11. jmedlock

    jmedlock Member

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    Wow -- I bought this product back in January 2003 for $43.50 @ B&H. Back then I couldn't believe how expensive it was. To know it is now over $100 boggles the mind.

    However, I find it extremely useful when doing 4x5 enlargements.
     
  12. pelerin

    pelerin Member

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    HI,
    ...just a vote to second what others have said as to the utility and value of this product. The cup which allows tool-less mounting of the shaft is a very elegant design solution. The shaft mounts directly to the fine focus and operates smoothly without slop or jerkiness. Tool-less mounting also means that it can be conveniently dis-mounted so it does not serve as an annoyance when making small prints. Compare this to the Beseler flexible shaft which was never redesigned to account for the fact that the end of the shaft, to which it was allegedly meant to mount, was converted to a tapered design. Whether the price represents good value is obviously a personal decision but the price is not out of line with similar products offered by other mfg's for their enlargers. Removing the focus knob and attaching a flexible shaft directly to the focus mechanism would result in dis-abling the fine focus as it is effected by means of a planetary gear arrangement within the knob.
    Celac.
     
  13. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

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    At the time I bought my LPL new in 1999, it was $2,019. $100 was small change compared. It was the best $100 spent on the darkroom. The only negative (pun intended) is that when you crank the beast down, sometimes the "flexible" wire gets caught up on the base board and you have to move it to the side to rally lower the chasis.

    I would get it. Troll eBay, maybe someone is parting out an enlarger.

    --Jeffrey
     
  14. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear JeffD,

    Go to www.mcmaster.com and search on flexible shafts. With luck, you should be able to cut your cost in about half if you can rig it up yourself.

    Neal Wydra
     
  15. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    For those more frugally inclined, or if you would rather put the $100 towards some other piece of equipment such as a Peak #1 grain focusing device, I offer a very high tech solution. Having messed about in boats most of life the raw material was hanging about in a variety of sizes.

    The size I felt best fit the job was ¼ inch by eight feet, but others would likely work well. I am describing a piece of braided flexible nylon cord, ¼ inch by the length that fits your need. I wrap the middle of the line 1 ½ times around the adjustment knob, drop both loose ends to the easel, put my eye to the focuser and pull one or the other line end slowly until I see grain.

    This complex device was originally rigged for a Saunders LPL 4550XLG/VCCE enlarger. A year later I found that it adapted instantly and without further expense to a Durst 138S with 8x10 cold light head. On occasion it has substituted for a leash when the dog has shown that certain urgency that says we don’t have time to look for the regular item.

    As to the bending over, the LPL is on a table so I sit in a chair at table height and run the enlarger head up to the ceiling. The Durst is on a pole coming up from a floor stand. I keep the enlarger head just cooling distance under the ceiling and adjust the table up or down on the pole. With a 300mm lens the table comes to just the right chair height when making 16x20 full negative images that have been my standard for about a year. At my age (66) the doctor says all the bending, flexing and walking of the dog one can do, the better. As a matter of fact Coco the chocolate Labrador and I are about to depart for a mile or two stroll. Retirement has its pleasures.

    John Powers
     
  16. RJS

    RJS Member

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    On my Beseler I put four screws about 1 1/2 incheslong through the focusing knob so they protrude about an inch. Then a flat pieceof wood (I have several of differentlengths) the right width slips between two and makes a jim-dandy extension. I threw away the Beseler ones - they were driving me mad!
     
  17. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I still have the knob I removed to install the flexible shaft so I can give that a try. Thanks.
     
  18. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    Fine focussing is what kids are for. You can borrow mine.

    I worked a place one time that just taped a yardstick to the knob. Gave you another 3 feet.
     
  19. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Seems like all that mechanical advantage translates into anything but fine focusing though. I like how enlargers like the Saunders have both gross and fine focusing. I'd love geared down focusing like that.
     
  20. RJS

    RJS Member

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    I should add, perhaps, that drilling a coupleof holes in the wooden stick so it fits over the protruding screw seems to help sometimes. Best to experiment - but this gives veryfine focusing for next to nothing and with different length sticks i can be on the floor focusing! I would be mostpleased to hear how this works outfor you!
     
  21. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    I also use a wooden stick,shaped a bit like a musician's tuning fork, and about 3 feet long. The wide end has a tapered slot so you can slide it over the focus knob until it fits tight. Gaffer tape wrapped round the stick at the base of the slot stops it splitting. I use it for doing 20 x24 inch enlargements and it works perfectly; and cost next to nothing.
    To cut out the tapered slot, first drill a hole at its base smaller in diameter than the focus knob. Then make two saw cuts down to the hole.
    Alan Clark
     
  22. Mark Pope

    Mark Pope Member

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    Another technique I've heard of but never used is a bicycle inner tube.
    Loop the tube around the focusing knob and use it as a belt to turn it. Don't know whether it works, but if you have an old tube around the house, it's worth a go.

    I had a flexible drive thingy for my Meopta Opemus 6 enlarger. I did find that sometimes it was easy to knock it and consequently have to refocus the image. I gave up on it in the end.