The Bestwell Magnasight is a fantastic grain focuser. It does have adjustment. There is a "needle" visible in the eye piece, and the eyepiece rotates. When the needle is in focus, the eyepiece is set for your vision. Keep it there and use as normal to focus the image on your easel.
Originally Posted by NedL
I really can't say enough about the folks at Bestwell. Great products but generally overshadowed by the Peak / Omega devices.
In this age of really cheap darkroom equipment, may I suggest an alternative to the grain focuser: A Leitz Focomat Ic enlarger.
It takes a little fiddling to get it set properly, but once you do it is the last time you will focus the enlarger for a very long time.
When is the last time you have had a complete eye examination by a doctor of ophthamology? It is possible that you are suffering from macular disease. See one soon, don't take a chance.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Magnasight is not a grain focuser in a traditional sense. It projects the image on a ground glass. What looks like grain is grain of the ground glass, not the image. That said, there is NO adjustment.
I am not sure if you are really seeing focus difference.
While I do not use it anymore, I did have Magnasight at one point. Now I use Microsight by the same company.
Is it possible that your enlarger is out of alignment that depending on where exactly you place your focuser, it'll tell you different results?
Or, is it possible that your enlarger drifts? Mine does, so if I want long enough after I focus it, it'll be out of focus.
My near sight is affected quite a bit. But I am able to use grain focuser quite nicely by taking my glasses which adjusts my far vision off.
I think you'll first need to visit your optometrist, then figure out what to do. I'm afraid, otherwise, it'll be a guess work.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Are you certain it's a focusing problem? Any vibration of the enlarger or baseboard will blur the print, as will negative popping caused by heat from an incandescent light source. Dust, debris and grease on the enlarging lens or in the enlarger's light path can soften the projected image. Some enlarging lenses vary slightly in their focusing between the widest aperture and the 'optimum' one (or so I've read - though these tend to be cheaper ones). Any non-parallelism of the negative carrier, lens or baseboard will also cause problems with sharpness. Cheap triplet enlarging lenses might show a variation between central and edge sharpness.
Can you lock the focus and height controls of your enlarger? Any movement or looseness there will almost certainly cause blurriness.
A trick I use is to place my cheap 'n' nasty (and probably wildly inaccurate) grain focuser atop an old piece of photo paper; it's easily forgotten that the paper had a thickness. Also, modern films tend to be almost grainless and therefore impossible to focus upon with the grain focuser.
I'm not saying any of these things *are* causing your problem, but they can affect print sharpness and should at least be considered before blaming the grain focuser. :->
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It is disappointing, I'm dealing with similar issues.
Thankful for the split prism on my FM2 and auto focus on the F100 & F5 & N90s.
My wife has an interesting take on this since she's been in glasses since elementary school.
Part of her photographic sensibility is showing others how she sees.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Ana´s Nin
Darn I just typed in a long response and managed to lose it when I tried to include a quote.
The prints are dry now and I compared them carefully. The 1st one was out of focus. The second one looks good. When my eye was close to the eyepiece it made it harder to see when the focus locked in. When my eyes were further away, it was easier to see clearly that the focus was just right. I can't focus well on things closer than about 6", and that might be all this is.
I got my current glasses about 3 years ago and will be going in for another checkup in the fall. My eyes are worse than they were 3 years ago, by about the same amount as they changed the prior 3 years. Before that I had the same prescription since high school. The ophthalmologist said it was normal and that it would continue. I'm 52 now and he said it often starts in the 40's.
I'm using an old beseler 23c and the focus is a bit tricky with 135 and the 50mm lens.. you have to go a hair past the focus and then "nudge" it just right into focus. It's easier with 120 and the 105mm lens. It's not perfectly aligned but it's pretty close. I worked on it a few months ago. Most of my prints are fine. My magnasight doesn't have a needle... it's nice and bright and I like it but obviously I need to be careful how I use it!
That's interesting! I'm not a sharpness fanatic. I've got a couple prints from negatives that were not perfectly sharp ( not out of focus, but shutter speed a touch low for handheld ) and the softness does not detract from the picture... ( clouds and water and a sort of misty evening feel... ) Those made me think about what sharpness and softness in a photograph mean.
Originally Posted by markbarendt
Thanks everyone, I appreciate the help and advice. I'm glad I found APUG!
All this reminds me of a time when my photo buddy, who IS a sharpness freak and used a Linhof for his color trannies, was starting to find softness in his shots. He’d complain about it, but never had his eyes checked and had never worn glasses. Finally, while we were driving to a vacation backpack trip to Wind Rivers in Wyoming, he was driving and I was starting to doze. The sun came out and he’d left his sunglasses out of reach, so I said he could use mine (prescription lenses). He put them on and shrieked “My God, look at the trees on those ridges … they’re so SHARP", and kept wearing them. But after a short time, they began to bother him (not the right Rx) and had to take them off. But the message had made its impact … get his eyes checked. After we returned home, he had them checked. It turned out that we were unaware that we both used the same office to have glasses made. I had to visit that office soon after and the optometrist started telling me of a guy who ordered bifocals – but he wanted the reading part placed in the TOP of the lenses so that when he was under the darkcloth with his camera, and leaning forward to view the groundglass, it would be more comfortable to see out the top of the lenses. You guessed it – it was my buddy. His trannies regained their sharpness.
FWIW, the vacation trip was cut short when he caught a virus that drained his energy, and it hit with full force after reaching 11,000 ft and we had to back down. It took him months to regain his energy level.
Last edited by silveror0; 06-09-2013 at 11:50 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I have a Magnasight but more often use a (cheap basic) grain focuser. Since I'm very nearsighted, I normally take my glasses OFF, as otherwise I have to use the bottoms of my progressive lenses and it still isn't as sharp as my near vision with my glasses off. So far it seems to work.
And speaking of view cameras and ground glass, using the bottoms of my progressives is a PITA under the cloth, and I often forget my dedicated reading glasses. If you see someone with their head under the cloth and their glasses dangling out held from holding the temples in their teeth, it's probably me or another nearsighted prysbopic photographer.