Which enlarger for thin scanner negs?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by mexipike, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. mexipike

    mexipike Subscriber

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    Which type of enlarger light source would be recommended to print negatives which are developed slightly thinner so they scan well? Diffuser? Cold light? Condenser?

    I'm finally going to have some space for a darkroom. I mostly only shoot 6x6 and 35mm.
    I have an omega d2 and a b22 but both may be incomplete in one way or another so just buying something else may be cheaper. I'd also be willing to change the head on either. I'm eyeing focomats but don't know if I'll have the $$$
     
  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Any light source really you just need to play around with the paper grades. If the negs are 'thinner' than normal you will have lost some shadow detail.
     
  3. dorff

    dorff Member

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    If the detail is there in the scan, then the enlarger will also be able to produce it on paper. You may need to print on higher contrast, and your exposure times will be shorter. I have printed fairly thin negs with surprisingly good results using a diffuser light source (M605 with a colour head). A condenser source should, in theory, produce slightly more contrast, but I think a better approach is just to pick an enlarger based on your overall needs. Colour heads are very convenient for variable contrast printing. The lens can also reduce contrast due to flare, so using a late generation multi-coated lens will definitely help to keep the contrast up. All in all you should be quite fine with a diffuser head and good lens.
     
  4. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Any enlarger will work if the detail is in the neg.

    A colour head is easier to use especially for split-grade printing, but a condenser enlarger (they're often NOT colour heads) will give you a little more contrast due to the callier effect.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    cold light needs a denser negative
    ( they used to actually print in developer instructions
    to process your film 30% more for cold light enlargers )

    try using a condensor head ...
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    It is impossible to answer the question without knowing what "slightly thinner" means. Slightly thinner than a contrast index of 0.9? Or slightly thinner than a contrast index of 0.5? Or what?

    Unless negatives are severely under-developed (improperly processed), no shadow detail is lost.
     
  7. mexipike

    mexipike Subscriber

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    You're right I guess my question is kind of silly now that I think about it. For now all of my negatives are all over the place from years past as far as density but I'd really like to dial in a development workflow that produces good negatives that will easily scan and print well. In my experience a negative that would look slightly thinner to the eye in density than in density of a normal printing negative would scans slightly better. Sorry I don't have a densitometer so I know it's a little vague. I guess I'm imaging that I could split the difference a little bit.

    Sounds like maybe I should dust off my Omega D2 or B22 and see if they are complete. I'm in Mexico City right now so I won't know until I get back to Austin next week.
     
  8. mexipike

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    There is a besseler 23 c iii in my area with the variable contrast head, that I may just try to pick up when I get back home. This seems like it may make it easy for me to dial in the correct contrast. Are these good enlargers?
     
  9. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    ^eggsellent machines & then some!
     
  10. mexipike

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    Cool, well I'll see if that lady will sell it to me!
     
  11. darkroom_rookie

    darkroom_rookie Member

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    Recently I had two really thin 4x5" negs to print on MGIV WT souped in Ilford PQ+benzotriazole. My Fujimoto 450M-C with 200w 24V halogen and lots of M filtration did just fine.

    Sorry, those were b&w camera negs, not scanner negs. Apologies for not reading the title properly.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2013
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    More related to the paper you choose than the enlarger per se. Often I will take an extremely thin neg
    and print onto VC paper using a hard 47 blue tricolor filter and get remarkable results. With a colorhead
    I'd ramp the magenta way up.
     
  13. mexipike

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    Well I just picked up a nearly new besseler 23c iii xl with the variable contrast head. I guess the obvious answer is that I should just develop my negatives to a good scannable density, than get the enlarger going after I find a neg carrier and lens board, and see what it takes to print it. If it's difficult I'll try to make the negs denser and see if they still scan well and then I'll go from there. If it just doesn't seem right I'll break out the condenser enlarger and slap it on grade 5 paper!
     
  14. dorff

    dorff Member

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    If the negative contains all the information, i.e. shadow details are there, only a bit thin, then it will be possible to print. In my experience, a darkroom print always comes out better than the best scan one can do with desktop scanners. I don't have experience of drum scanners, so I won't go there. But my darkroom prints are better than anything I have done with my Minolta Dimage Pro and my father's Epson V750. So my take is: If you can scan it, you can print it. I have not even used grades as high as 5, maybe 4 max. It is more an issue of getting the exposure right, because a thin negative will give a way shorter paper exposure than a normally developed one. In any event, I think the published guidelines err on the side of a slightly denser negative than is necessary for 35 mm, seeing that the larger formats can bear quite a bit of extra development without grain becoming an issue. An over-developed 35 mm negative may show significantly more grain than a slightly under-developed one, even on slow or medium-speed film. So it is not a bad idea to practice slightly shorter developing times for the same film in 35 mm compared to 120 or larger. The one thing I find challenging printing thin negs on my own setup is that the short exposure gives me very little time to do dodging and burning. One may use ND filters, but I haven't got one that fits the lens thread, and haven't gotten round to getting a stepping ring.

    Another possible recourse is to intensify the negative. I have not tried this myself. However, Tim Rudman gives good guidelines in his "Master Printing Course". His intensifier of choice is mercuric chloride, if I recall correctly. It is a chemical that I have not been able to obtain, for reasons probably related to its toxicity. There are other methods too. You may consider taking more than one frame where possible, so that if one negative is ruined by intensification, you at least have something to fall back upon. You may also consider exposure bracketing, so that you have negatives of different density for scanning and printing purposes. This will work with landscapes and such, but probably not for unposed people & street photography etc.
     
  15. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    While scanners deal with thin negs better than VC papers do, they can also handle a properly exposed and developed negative with absolutely no problems at all. If you aim for normal development or very close to it (e.g. aim for paper grade 3), then you will be able to scan and to wet-print all your negs with no trouble.

    If your negs are so thin that making a good print from them requires intensification or toning then your negs are FAR too thin, even for optimal results from a scanner. The scanner will give you an image, but it won't be nearly as good as the image from properly developed film. If the negs print at grade 5 then the scanner will work OK, but again that's a neg that's definitely thinner than you want it to be.

    If a neg is so dense that the scanner is troubled, you're well into the film's shoulder and it's going to print badly anyway.
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I've deliberately printed LF negs with no visible silver image at all - just the residual pyro tanning stain,
    right onto VC papers with beautiful full-scale results. Not that I recommend doing this unless you're
    just experimenting like I was (it's tricky); by I doubt an ordinary scanner would be of any value at all in such a circumstance.
     
  17. mexipike

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    Thanks all, just to clarify my negs are not so thin that they would be unprintable, in fact many of my older negatives are probably on the denser side of the spectrum. I've just always heard that a slightly less dense negative scans better and was considering targeting that. It seems rather that the best system would be to target easy to print in the darkroom negatives and then make the scans right with PS, as darkroom chemicals/paper cost much more then photoshop time (mine that is.)
     
  18. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Yep. While slightly thinner is easier on the scanner, the difference (with a good scanner) is minimal. Not worth significantly perturbing your process.

    I aim for about Grade 3 on my negs and they both print and scan perfectly.
     
  19. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I think you are over thinking this.

    It will print just fine using any enlarger. Yup, I use a commonly available VC paper. My enlarger is an Omega D2 (condenser head). Besides, it doesn't sound like you are talking about substantially thin negs either.
     
  20. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Scanner negs need to be fully exposed for shadow detail, then developed to less contrast than that required for a diffusion enlarger. A condenser enlarger fills the bill or diffusion and one paper grade higher, probably #3. The problem with standardizing on 3 is it limits how much higher you can go.

    I use Delta 100 developed to print on #2 with focomat ic or other condenser enlarger, scan with KM5400 original model.

    Ideally for dual work flows, expose at 1/2 speed and develop 20% less. You will love these negs with full shadow detail and very fine grain. They will not look flat either.
     
  21. cliveh

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    Condenser - no question.
     
  22. DREW WILEY

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    Doesn't need to be a condenser head, just high contrast, whatever the means. A good VC paper will get
    around grade 5 or so, way past this kind of problem.
     
  23. cliveh

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    But a condenser will give you much more inherent contrast before you even introduce filtration or graded paper.
     
  24. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Agreed, but also more spotting afterwards. And the pros & cons of condenser vs diffusion heads were
    spelled out decades ago, so no need to repeat them. And it's not particularly hard to diffuse a condenser
    head if you need to.