The precise enlarger...

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by PKM-25, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I did about an hour google marathon search session basically asking what the most precise, adjustment laden enlarger is in terms of alignment and came up with an amazing amount of nothingness.

    What I mean by this is for example, the design of the bellows and stage assembly of the Beseler CB7 has a more precise and adjustable alignment system than the more spartan but still popular 45MX. I have the assembly for a mural enlarger project and it got me thinking about why more enlargers do not have some form of worm driven adjustment on all critical axis like precision X, Y & Z staging does. For example, when in my early 20's I built and aligned hi-tech wafer probing stations that employed an extreme amount of precision and adjustments:

    http://www.ppli.com/

    I find the alignment of enlarger to be used for large prints along these lines and would like to either build in more precision and adjustment or cut to the chase in terms of what is the most capable enlarge in this regard. I don't believe they have to be 8 feet tall and weigh 400 pounds, I worked on this kind of stuff, it was the design, not a massive build that made it work well.

    So my question is what is the most precise and adjustable 4x5 enlarger out here that would not be a huge amont bigger than my current 45MX?
     
  2. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    4x5 enlargers aren't, and don't have to be, precision machines. Admittedly a 5lb sledge hammer is part of the alignment kit for a 45mx, but it does a good job for the money. If you really want to be dissatisfied with this enlarger try measuring the illumination uniformity.

    As someone said: "35mm cameras resemble watch works, 11x14 cameras resemble furniture."

    Probably the most alignable enlargers are the old rectifying enlargers. But I doubt you could find many that were under 8 feet tall, or weighing less than 400lbs.

    If you are looking for the most machine-tool-like 4x5 enlarger that would fit a domestic environment then the Durst 138 and L1200 might make you happy. I don't know that either has worm-gear adjustments for alignment.
     
  3. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    OK. I believe I've gleaned all the free Hasselblad info from some of the retirees who were kind enough to answer on this site. Thanks, men. You've been a help in this hobby pursuit. I KNEW a few guys would share a couple free tips here. It was always that way--long before the computer. Model airplane guys, camera men, radio men (KZQ0774--me), automotive fellows. Just a great bunch of guys circling around a point of fellowship.
    I hope I've contributed, and done a fair job of passing around what came around. This question is my clue to move on, before I go too far in my quest to get brushed up on the Hasselblad repair.
    If any of you Hasselblad guys have a load of fixtures to get out of your misery, I'd be happy to get a load of printing equipment out of mine. As far as this fancy enlarger this guy's trying to re-invent, I think I hauled 2 of em to the scrap metal yard about 9 years ago.
     
  4. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    That is kind of what I thought too, but I also thought somewhere between a 5LB sledge and a half a million dollar wafer probing setup ought to be feasible too. That's why this CB7 head I just got has me wondering. Not only is it in mint condition, the worm gear movements on both the neg and lens board stage just make so much sence.

    I agree with the illumination in the 45M series though, it really needs to be a 7" cone instead of the 6.4" one it seems to be, but I think I can rig something there too, l'll just have to see what this newly acquired 45S color head puts out in that regard.

    The thing with the 45MX is that I used it in high school, then the college class I took, then at two of the three newspaper jobs I had, so it spoke to me on it's merits and availability when selecting an enlarger for the long term, spare parts and eventually for a workshop environment. It also kind of selected me since it was all a big bad ass package deal and was a two hour drive away to pickup.

    I guess the reason I ask this stuff is because I now have different wants and desires and can actually see my self making some rather innovative and not very expensive improvements to the 45 if I felt like it was worth it. I guess you just end up with a different take on it all after working on things like those pricey X,Y,Z stages not to mention other fun self propelled projects.

    For example, if I had nothing better to do with my money, I might hire Chamonix Camera to make me a totally modular vertical and horizontal mural enlarger...the 4x5 of they make that I own, it's very well thought out and precise.

    Precision can help get a handle on consistency and I like consistency...:smile:
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Critical alignment is needed for large magnification ratios. Many people (like myself and Nicholas) will go to a bigger negative when making a very large print. That keeps the magnification ratio down which means we don't need 'micrometer precise' alignment.
     
  6. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    That's just common sense. But are you saying you would just get a 4x5 LVT made of a 120 neg if going to a size like 40"? Because that part does not make sense...

    I feel like even a 30x40 from a 4x5 neg is would benefit highly from some better adjustment.
    This is a really weird craft at times, who in the hell would ever say no to some better design implementation in terms of precision? Especially if it could be done without a lot of mass and expense.

    I just wanted to check to make sure the enlarger I would rather use does not exist and it does not seem to, so I will just make it out of the one I have.

    By the way, that Durst L1200 / VLS501 set sure looks nice, but I do not yet have that kind of room and it goes for a pretty penny...;-)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2013
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    "Go to a bigger negative" as in "choose a camera with a bigger negative." If a small negative needs high magnification, sure one has to toil with the exacting details.

    I do see you point in the original post and have often wondered the same thing as to why I cant have and x and y micrometer knob to set the alignment of the lens stage.

    I will say that one of the best alignment stages I have is on my D5500 Omega.
    The thumb screw in the middle sets front-to-back tilt and the other two adjust side-to-side tilt.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2013
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    ok,here is another thoughtwhy is it thatequipment,featuring fine adjustmentsneeds frequent adjusting. why not built something self-adjusting or adjustment free?
     
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Precise enlarger question: Option #1: Durst. Option #2 Durst. Option #3: Durst. ...Affordability question: Answer #1: luck. Answer #2: patience.
     
  10. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I could see getting a L1200 when I have the room. In all honesty, the 45MX is doing fine at the max size I can print which is 20x24 for now. That with the Versalab laser and it will suffice.

    I just wondered what was out there and how much adjustment it had.
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The Durst 138 has adjustments for the adjustments, all over the place. You just don't see materials
    and machining like that any more. But these things often cost $15,000 or so when they were new.
    But they were also marketed for industrial use, and a lot of the ones out there have taken a lot of
    wear and tear over the years. I takes some patience to find one in good condition. But if you have
    the opportunity, you should at least look at one to appreciate the quality of the original manufacturing. A vintage Durst is like a Ferrari. A Beseler or Omega is like a Chevy - works fine, but
    not even in the same league.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    But no adjustment for lens-stage alignment. Same as the bigger Durst enlargers.
     
  13. mr rusty

    mr rusty Member

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    Can I ask what may be a dumb question - How critical is enlarger alignment. I am still new to darkroom and I am often swinging the lensboard around to correct verticals. I just line it back up with the centre marks - its a grips screw and slot arrangement. using a focus finder seems to show me that centralising gets the same focus across the baseboard quite easily. Is there not a depth of field on the enlarged image that gives some tolerance anyway? I am not getting this micro-adjustment or am I missing something.
     
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  15. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Well the smallest print I make is 11x14 and commonly do 16x20 and 20x24 with plans in the near future to do mural printing up to 50x whatever. So the more magnification you imply on the optical path, the more accuracy of alignment is required of your planes. So when I first asked this question, it was to basically say I wanted to cut to the chase and find out what is out there in terms of monorail view camera like adjustments of these planes on an enlarger.

    Like I said in my previous post, the 45MX seems to work well right up to 20x24 with a laser alignment tool nearby to check it every time I move the enlarger up and down. But for 30x40's and bigger, alignment becomes more critical, so I asked the question.
     
  16. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Yes and you can calculate it by a simple arrangement of the view camera focusing formula. The greater the magnification, the less tolerance for negative to lens misalignment. If you want some real numbers, when enlarging a 4x5" negative to 11"x14", you have about one millimeter of negative DOF or about 2.5cm of baseboard/easel/paper DOF at f5.6. Of course there are subjective variables in the equation (like acceptable circle of confusion size which relates to print viewing distance). But as you can see, even if one wants to argue ad nauseam about print viewing distances and CoC sizes, the numbers I presented are not in the micrometer order of magnitude and should be obtainable in just about any 4x5" enlarger out there.
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Which means, I guess, that flatness of film would be of more importance that (re-) adjustment of the lens stage of a Durst-something, as long as not fallen from a truck.
     
  18. Mike Bates

    Mike Bates Subscriber

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    The only 4x5 enlarger I have personal experience with is the Omega D2V. It has a full range of adjustments for the head (relative to the column/table) and the negative stage (relative to the head), however many of them aren't obvious without a good alignment guide. The Omega uses a range of concentric rods and set screws to accomplish the alignment. I assume the other Omega D models have similar adjustments.
     
  19. fotch

    fotch Member

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    A lot depends on the image being enlarged and where the viewers eye will focus on. Some images may be more demanding than others. JMHO
     
  20. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Oh well I am quite happy with my Beseler CB7 as long as I have paper and chemical to use it.
     
  21. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I would be too, it is a good step above the 45MX series in terms of build and adjustments. I managed to find just the head assembly with the focus motor in prefect condition for a decent price. I am currently designing a horizontal mural enlarger around it, should work great.
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Well my Durst certainly has particular lens alignment features, and my Omega D certainly doesn't,
    though I have added some of my own. But the Durst if far more precisely built and a lot more solid
    to begin with. The idea of not checking and correcting such things is about as sensible as driving around on a flat tire.
     
  23. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The older Omega D series had the alignment on the negative stage rather than on the lensboard. Which Durst do you have with an adjustable lens stage? Although the lensboard swings, the center detent on all the Durst enlargers 5x7 and bigger that I am familiar with is fixed in position. As far as I know the PROLA/DURST adjustable lensboard is a USA made aftermarket accessory.
     
  24. lightwisps

    lightwisps Subscriber

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    I have a Saunders/LPL which the manufacturer claims to never need adjustment. I am starting to believe it. The enlarger is now in its 3rd building, my wife and I are forever buying a different residence, and I only shoot 35 at this point. I make lots of 20X24 inch prints and they are sharp and crisp from corner to corner and in the middle. I love grain, but it has to be sharp.It is not the answer you were looking for, but it works for me. Don
     
  25. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Swapping enlargers is just not in the cards for me anytime soon with my primary unit. I have about a dozen neg carriers in four formats including a rare and expensive Xpan carrier, anti-newton glass, filed out for full frame, 5 lens boards, three for 50mm openings. Unless I could find a complete LPL 4500 VCCE B&W in the West, drive out to pick it up and check the alignment with my Versalab and then get it home feeling solid about it, we are talking a lot of money and a lot of time moving from one to the other.

    At this point, if I am hell bent on getting better fine tuning out of my enlarger, I am better off spending a few hundred on some custom made machined adjustments for my 45MX rather than what would add up to thousands in messing around with swapping units and the associated down time.

    Maybe down the road, but sure as hell not now....
     
  26. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Ice-Racer : the 138-series were made over quite a timespan, and there were variations to them.
    I have a couple of them, and even the detent has a correction feature, allowing it to be fine-tuned.
    Now foward/backward tilt on the lens mount is a different thing. It's highly rigid to begin with, but
    could be hypothetically skewed with a very heavy lens. The only really massive lens I use is on my
    customized 8x10 color enlarger, which is built like a tank and has micrometer corrections for everything. That was a challenge; but I really lucked out and found a solid machined bronze tilt &
    yaw correction device originally intended for WWII mortar sights. Something like that would cost a fortune to machine new, but I got it for free was able to quickly adapt it to my enlarger column.