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  1. #11

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    If you use the black paper mask to space the negative from the top glass, then Newton rings ought not to form in the first place. They occur when the smooth top surface of the negative is held tightly to the bottom surface of the top glass. The mask should provide a small amount of clearance and prevent the problem. The negative will be restrained within the depth of field about the negative's plane of focus to keep the projection crisp.

  2. #12
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    There is another issue which hasn't been addressed, namely that the negative might either be out of focus or diffraction within the image itself. While the grain is evident or prominent as you say, that is referring to the silver grain of the physical negative and not about the image on the negative. What was the f-stop of the image you took? If it was f16-f22 on a 35mm camera, no amount of darkroom manipulation will make it sharper than what is inherent in the negative itself. The focus enlarger can tell you want the maximum sharpness of the negative is, not what the sharpness of the image is.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  3. #13

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    My enlarger do this....

    Is it possible that your focus is shifting because your enlarger head is creeping down or bellows is creeping down?

    Check your focus before and after the exposure and compare.... is it shifting?
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  4. #14

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    Ian -- I am definitely going to give the glass carrier a try. Also, thank you very much for the explanation of DOF and enlarger alignment. It was an excellent explanation and very enlightening!

    Kevin -- The problem I am having is that when I focus the projection at f/2.8, the grain is sharp. When I print stopped down,though, the grain is not even visible in the print. I have printed from these negatives in the past on different equipment with pleasing results, so, in this case, fortunately, the negatives are fine.

    tkamiya -- I had initially ruled this possibility out simply because it's such a struggle to get the enlarger head to move at all (it could use a good greasing, I think), but I will definitely take your suggestion and check.

  5. #15
    Rick A's Avatar
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    If you have sharp looking grain at 2.8 then it becomes diffuse at smaller f/stops I would suspect the lens has issues. You are describing an issue I have never seen even with cheap lenses. I own two new version El-Nikor 50/2.8 lenses and both remain tack sharp throughout the entire range of settings.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

  6. #16

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    Let's hope you have got a good lens and maybe lenses are much cheaper in the U.S. but I wouldn't sell my El Nikkor 2.8 for $20 unless I was in debt to the Mafia and the Goodfellas were surrounding me and had taken a liking to it . These lenses never sell for anything like that price in the U.K. More like $60 and even then a bargain

    Might be worth getting an expert to look at it

    pentaxuser

  7. #17
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsoved View Post
    I set up my makeshift home darkroom for the first time last night, and, so far, I'm bitterly disappointed. The enlarger is pretty lightweight and certainly lacking in other areas as well, so the problem could just be vibrations. It's a dreadful Omega B22. The lens is an EL Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 which I think I've had pleasing results from in the past on other enlargers.

    However, looking through my grain focuser, I notice what I assume to be diffraction becoming obvious two stops down and becoming downright hideous stopped all the way down.

    So, I try to print at f/2.8 or f/4, but I don't have any filters, so my exposure times are 2-5 seconds. Thus far, the pursuit is a grand waste of paper. Please advise. Should I put the enlarger in the recycle bin with the soda cans and cardboard boxes? Should I spend all the money I don't have on a better enlarger and a Rodenstock or Schneider lens?
    As your original post states - soft prints, I would suggest the solution to your problem is the exposure and development of your negatives. Get that right and the rest is easy.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #18

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    Rick -- The lens has been in storage for a few months and may not have fared well as it was moved from closet to closet, but I'm pretty sure it was working well the last time I used it (November, I think). Previously, I had been using the newer version of the EL Nikkor 50mm f/2.8, and I loved it. Are there any optical differences between them? Or does the newer one just have a fancier looking barrel?

    Pentaxuser -- I may finance my next trip to the UK by smuggling a bag full of them, then! Unless someone on here can correct me, central Arkansas has a dearth of analog photography supplies and services (except for the fellow in Sherwood that sells Weincell batteries and Super 8 film), so I may be hard pressed to find an expert to look it over...

  9. #19

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    cliveh -- I know firsthand the woes of lousy negatives. But the reason that I am perplexed by these prints is because I've printed from these very negatives before on other equipment with excellent results (my pictures themselves may not be great, but the prints were razor sharp and exposed to my liking).

  10. #20
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsoved View Post
    cliveh -- I know firsthand the woes of lousy negatives. But the reason that I am perplexed by these prints is because I've printed from these very negatives before on other equipment with excellent results (my pictures themselves may not be great, but the prints were razor sharp and exposed to my liking).
    Take the enlarger apart, as you may have a shot away filtration system or bits blocking the light path.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

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