I wouldn't want to not have a normal enlarger lens available for doing smaller test prints though.
I've been looking for an affordable 305 Computar or 300 Apo Sironar so, essentially, my enlarging lens will cost nothing. The great thing about this is it appeals to both my greedy brat little boy inside and the practical adult cheapskate I also am. I love it when things work out.
I just realized... my enlarging lens for 6x12cm will be free too. My 4x5 kit has a 135mm Apo Symmar.
Anyone in the market for a very nice non-N all-black 135mm El Nikkor or brand new 135mm Fujinon EX?
Have you even handled a piece of paper as large as you're proposing? You're probably going to need a crane (wooden bar with clips on a couple of strings) to transport sheets gently from roll to enlarger to developer without inducing crinkles. 16x20 is difficult enough by hand.
Nope... no manual dodging/burning. Ain't gonna happen. I'm too lazy and have lost my agility anyway. And I ain't quite THAT crazy. I'll be making dodging masks on an inkjet printer to sandwich with the negs. The film will be on the print side of the glass and the mask on the light-source side. I probably won't do split contrast for two reasons: 1. I don't like the hue shift, 2. They don't tone evenly. If I can find high quality graded paper in 56" wide rolls I'll use that. I won't be using full-size sheets of paper for testing. I'll be selecting important areas (highlights, mid-tones, shadows, main subject) to test with small pieces of paper torn off of a full sheet and processing those together. These smaller bits will be laid out like a jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing. After I determine what needs to be done at the extremes I can interpolate fairly well what needs to be done in the other areas. It's true that I may waist a few sheets even after I create the initial mask but once the final mask is done each subsequent print will be pretty close... not that I'll ever need to make more than one print of anything because that insinuates selling some work... probably won't happen.
I've printed 16x20 but nothing larger. I'm aware of the handling challenges. I can learn from the best who've done it for years and can emulate their workflows. I may need to hired a buddy to help... paid in beer and BS-talk. My inclination though is to build one large tray on a pivot for draining and with pumps to facilitate quick filling and emptying and with built-in washing capability. If I develop for five minutes and use a water rinse before the stop bath I think this will be a relatively easy and viable solution. Regarding filling the tray; It may be better to pour the solution in from a bucket.
ADDED: Getting the exposed paper to the tray will be fairly easy... just roll it up, lay it at one end and unroll it. If I use a one-tray method that eliminates wet handling of prints until it comes time to dry. I'm assuming I won't have chemical contamination issues. Perhaps I'll need to add a second tray for toning and a third for a final wash. I don't know yet. I'll be using roll paper cut a bit too long so any damage I do to the ends will be trimmed off. Now that I give it more thought I'm thinking of making a long thin clamp that tightens evenly across one end of the paper so I can use it like a hanger.
You might find Clyde Butcher's work interesting. http://clydebutcher.com/technical-info.cfm
I had the opportunity to visit his darkroom a couple of years ago and found it quite amazing. His website doesn't list what lenses etc. he uses, but I do recall reading that info somewhere.
Cheers, and good luck.
Oh yeah... I do like Butcher's work.:)
Apo El-nikkors will be the best choice, for these prints, however the cost and availability make them nearly impossible to find/afford.
Grab this before it's gone!
There's no real advantage to an Apo-El in this case over a regular Apo Nikkor other than one stop of speed. Besides, the last 300 for 8x10 I recall ever being sold went for something like ten grand. 305
regular apos go for a tenth of that. The Rodagon G is the only conventional enlarging lens made for
mural-sized magnification with medium format film. There are numerous ways to make dodging/burning masks to register to the original. You can simply use frosted mylar and smudged pencil, or more neatly, layer up dilute red creocin dye, just like it was done for decades. Generally way
faster to do it the old way than scanning and Fauxtoshopping.