Mystery Piece on my Enlarger

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by brofkand, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    I just took apart my enlarger's condenser head to clean it, and I noticed something that I had never given a second thought to before.

    It is on an arm below the lens, and it looks almost like a monocle. I know on the Beseler 23C enlargers we have at the school darkroom, a similar apparatus is used to hold filters. However, the one on my enlarger (a Unicolor) is not an empty holder, it has a translucent paper (similar to rice paper or bible paper) that is attached to it.

    Any idea what it is, or what it's used for?


    Thanks
     
  2. snallan

    snallan Member

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    It might be a diffuser, for flashing paper whilst the negative is in place. Or, if a reasonable image shows through it on the baseboard, for use during part of the exposure to give a soft focus effect.
     
  3. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    It's very opaque. I was thinking it was a diffuser but almost no light makes it through. I'm stumped as to what it is.
     
  4. randyB

    randyB Member

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    got a picture of it? Some enlarging exposure meters work by reading the light level of the diffused image. A piece of diffusion glass/plastic was put into the light path close to the lens to scramble the image and a reading was taken. It worked but wasn't very accurate, I found test strips to be just as quick.
     
  5. randyB

    randyB Member

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    So I re-read your post and the key word to me is "Unicolor". Unicolor was a system in the 70's for making color prints at home. They had color paper, chemistry, and equipment. They made a color print exposure and filtration calculator that used a diffuser to scramble the image which mixed up all the colors in the neg. The calculator had 3 color filter strips ( cyan, magenta, yellow) on top of 3 step wedge strips. You made a test print, processed it and looked at the little blocks of color to find the correct filter pack to use and the correct exposure time. In subtractive color printing, you never use all three colors in the filter pack, just yellow and magenta, but they included cyan for printing slides on positive paper. Unicolor even made a calculator and filter wheel for Tri-color printing. I have 1 of each that I haven't used in 20+ years. Sorry to ramble on, to answer your question, if you won't be using it just remove it from the enlarger or move it out of the way. RandyB
     
  6. kevs

    kevs Member

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    Hi,

    It sounds to me like the holder for the red swinging filter. Most (but not all) enlargers have a circular red or orange filter on a swing arm beneath the lens. This is so the user can check the paper alignment by projecting the negative through the filter and avoid exposing the paper. It works on the same principle as a safelight. Maybe a previous owner removed it for some reason and replaced it with the paper.

    kevs.
     
  7. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    randy,

    I took it off. Your explanation was way over my head, but I guess because of that it made sense :smile:. My enlarger only has a tray for filters, so I doubt it was used for color printing. Maybe so, but I've heard color printing without a dichro head is a big pain.
     
  8. marke

    marke Member

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    That sounds right to me. I have the same enlarger and it still has the red filter in the swinging arm.
     
  9. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Knowing this, I'd like to replace the rice paper with a red filter. That's a great idea that I had never thought of.

    Thanks!
     
  10. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Before Dicro heads were affordable, color printing with filter stacks was the way to go. It really isn't that hard once you get the hang of it. My Dad used to do color that way and was quite successfull. I will quickly admit, though, that it's a lot faster with Dicro heads.
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Sounds like a great idea until you realize that you won't use it. I've had enlargers with and without these "safe light" filters. Never used the bloody things. Swing the filter into the path, and the image is too dim to see on the baseboard. Best bet is to use the back of scrap print in the easel to line everything up. Then simply replace it with a sheet of unexposed paper to make the exposure.
     
  12. kevs

    kevs Member

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    During my Uni years, I found the orange filters very useful; however the usual deep red filters *are* a little too dark in a darkroom with a bright safelight. An orange filter is a better choice; though test it before relying on it. It probably saved me a ton in wasted paper.

    All IMO, of course.
     
  13. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I've replaced the red filter with opaque black matboard and used it as a shutter when negative popping was a problem.