Please help me align my enlarger!!!!!

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by timbo10ca, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    I have an Omega C760 Dichroic on the XL base, purchased used. I was gung-ho about my new qusai- darkroom until I tried to make my 1st enlargement. I am using a grain focuser, but just can't get a sharp 8X10 image using an EL- Nikkor 50mm for 35mm negs. I tried a bubble level (inaccurate, I know) and found it ok left to right, but front to back is waaaay off, and I can't seem to find any knobs to adjust in that direction. I read about using a device to align it, but these things are expensive! I also read how one individual used a black neg scored with a razor corner to corner, and how he fiddled until center and corners were sharp. I'll try this, but the angle of the head seems like it would be a problem. Is this the normal set-up with this enlarger, or should I be trying to shim it somehow? I've read many posts on how this enlarger is difficult to align, and keep in alignment. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. rjas

    rjas Member

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    If you search "mirror" and "enlarger align" on here you will find a method using two silvered mirrors works great and is cheap. An auto glass shop will most likely just cut you the mirrors for cheap or free.

    If your enlarger doesn't have any method of making adjustments, you can use black electrical tape at the negative stage and lensboard as a shim, paper under the baseboard, etc. whatever. A few thin little shims can make a big difference. Not elegant but it works fine.
     
  3. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    go here:http://www.classic-enlargers.com/. You may find the answer to your question on the site, if not, email Harry and he'll either tell you how or send you some directions. He helped me with my old D2. I bought a great alignment tool from him also.
     
  4. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Check the baseboard for flatness. Sometimes they warp, especially if made of fiberboard. The fiberboard baseboard on my Omega C700 is not warped enough to seriously interfere with alignment. Shimming as rjas suggests can correct for this to some extent.
     
  5. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Be sure that you check your easel. I had an easel once that was not true and every time that I changed easel orientation my enlarger showed it was out of alignment.

    I used an Omega C760XL years ago and don't remember any particular alignment problems.
     
  6. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Thanks for the advice everybody.

    I did use a level on the baseboard, and it seems ok, but I didn't examine it as closely as maybe I should. I'm going to try a couple of these techniques (scored negative, mirrors), assuming I just fuss with the adjustment screws until all is in focus. There are a couple screws that don't seem to loosen anything or affect alignment- I'm not sure what those are for (the enlarger only came with a manual for the head). My grain magnifier only works for the center of the image, so I guess I'll have to get a magnifying glass for the edges?

    The suggestions about shimming the column make sense to me, as this seems to be the only direction that is really out of whack. I am wondering how I am going to fine tune *that* adjustment while doing the rest of the alignment. I learn by doing though, so although I'll probably be hours at this, I'm sure I'll figure it all out.

    Thanks again for all your help.
     
  7. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    For the benefit of those of us that have never done the mirror method, let me see if my understanding of the procedure is clear, please.

    I have a Beseler 45 MXT so I'd place a downward-facing mirror with a small hole in it where the negative carrier goes, centering the hole, relative to the light source. Then I'd place the second mirror on the easel or baseboard.

    The hole produces a beam of light and the idea is to adjust the head, and lens stage so that the beam reflects back directly to the hole. If it doesn't, the enlarger is not in alignment.

    Is this correct?
     
  8. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I used to have an Omega C760XL years ago. As I remember, the enlarger is not designed to allow manual adjustments to alignment, so you might be out of luck.
     
  9. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Actually, depending on how your enlarger is configured, you can look through the hole you make in the top mirror, and see an infinite number of reflections caused by both mirrors. You can adjust the enlarger head until the reflections are symmetrical around the hole you're looking through.

    Another way is to buy/rent a laser alignment tool, which works on the same premise - shoot a laser up at the mirror in the enlarger head (which has no hole), and see where the reflection lands on the laser tool. Adjust until the light lands on the laser on the tool which is on the baseboard.
     
  10. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear timbo10ca,

    Trust me, you don't need quarter-wave alignment accuracy. Get it as good as you can with a level, use shims if you have to to solve the front/back alingment problem. Spend you time getting the exposure and contrast right, it's much more fun.

    Neal Wydra
     
  11. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    After trying some of the above techniques, I think you and Jerold are correct in my case- As I was getting things into crisp focus, I came to realize that I had nothing to keep it there. There do not seem to be adjustment knobs on this enlarger to hold it in alignment. I *did* however get things pretty darn close by shimming the baseboard. When using a black neg with 5 crosses, I can get the center and all but the upper left corner sharp. It's pretty close though, especially when the lens is at f/8 (mind you the light may just be too dark to see!), even when at 16X20. For a beginner like me, it'll have to be good enough for now, I suppose.

    Thanks again everybody for your help- I will now know what to do with my "next" enlarger!
     
  12. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    In order of importance:

    1). Have the negative plane perpendicular to the lens axis. With no adjustments this is a problem. Perhaps som balsa wood or cardboard glued to the negative carrier an sanded until it is correct. PITA

    2). Have the len axis perpendicular to the baseboard. Anothe problem with an enlarger w/o adjustments. I do not have any advice about this because I do not know enough about the construction of your enlarger.

    3). Have the easel parallel with the negative carrier. Use shims as necessary.