Rounding up a few final bits for use with my Beseler 23C II, have questions.
I should mention ahead of time that I barely have a clue what I am doing but I am trying to get the equipment sorted out before I get into relearning fully how to use it (last time in a dark room was high school).
The biggest question is a lens compatibility issue. With the S.K. Componon 50mm F4 that I got with the enlarger I could get a 35mm image in focus if I cranked the focus until the bellows was positively mashed flat into itself. I got a good deal on a like new Nikkor N 50mm 2.8 and really liked the extra stop for focusing brightness. Unfortunately now the bellows would have to be mashed more than flat to get the image in focus. I read about this in another thread with actually the exact same situation and after verifying he wasn't operating it wrong, the advice was to get the Beseler 8022 5/8" recessed lens board and that would allow the extra room for focusing (hopefully this huge lens fits in the recess). Unfortunately the original poster never mentioned after whether the advice worked or not and that particular lens board only seems to be available new at the moment and for a ridiculous price so I just wanted to confirm that getting that was the right action to fix the issue. (might have just found one cheap but don't know yet) Seems odd that they would design the thing so that the lens for the most common film size used with it barely works right, I feel like I am missing something.
Second question that relates to that, my 23c is the regular height, but I got the XL booster bracket along with it for when I might make larger prints later. Would I still use the 50mm lens to do 35mm prints of the smaller size or does that extra height change what lens I would want? Also what effect will that added height have on my current focusing problem? It seems like enlargers work like parfocal camera zoom lenses where you set the focus and then can zoom in and out without changing the focus.
I figure I might eventually just put the XL bracket in and leave it there, if nothing else the extra distance would reduce the light and give me more working time when making prints right?
I have more questions but that's a big enough mess to start.
I haven't used a Beseler 23c so don't have first-hand answer for you. But looks like a flat lens board would be appropriate, part number 8021
If that's the board you are using, maybe you need to raise or lower the entire enlarger head and try focusing again. It's not that you set the focus once and then zoom without having to focus again... You have to work both the height and the focus until you get the size enlargement you want and it is in focus.
Probably your head is too high. Just lower the head and you should be able to focus an 8x10 image easily.
Fiddled with it all again and got it to focus this time, not sure what changed. The El-Nikkor 50mm 2.8 is too tall on the back side of the lens board as the red filter drawer hits the lens when you try to close it. Not really an issue as I hadn't planned on using it anyways, I focus on white paper. Its odd though as that means the 5/8 recessed board would never work correctly in one of these.
As far as moving the head the only adjustment other than focus and overall height is the one with the focal length scale printed on it and that doesn't do anything for the focus when I turn it to lower just the uppermost part (the head?). 35mm is all the way to the top according to the scale.
Even though I can make it focus now it does need to really mash the lower bellows flat to get things in focus with either of the 2 lenses, this is an annoying problem because its creating so much tension as it compresses that the focus starts to slip in what will be my usual normal operating range. If I were to move the focus range down just a little bit so there is less bellows compression then its all fine. Its not just in need of a rebuild as its really annoyingly stiff even if it wasn't slipping.
EDIT: the more I search on the net the more I read about people having this same issue, apparently using a 50mm lens for 35mm on this enlarger requires everything to be operating near the ends of its adjustment ranges and it causes issues for a lot of people since the focus assembly slips from the pressure of over crushing the bellows right at about the point where you get things in focus.
2nd edit: Read through the manual and found that you pry off a back panel on the unit and fiddle with a couple adjustments to make things stop slipping, hopefully that will work but its 1:45am and my allen wrenches are in my truck, will fight with this tomorrow and re-edit the post into a summary since I figure others will have the same issues.
Last edited by PPPPPP42; 12-30-2013 at 02:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
When teaching I had a room filled with Beseler 23's (10) and never, on any of them, did we have to have the bellows flat. Never. We used Nikor, Schneider and Rodenstock 50mm lenses for 35mm negatives. Each had its own fiddling, but all were roughly the same settings on the lower bellows, since they are all 50mm lenses. The top bellows setting is very important. Make sure it is at the top of its travel for a 35mm neg. Beyond that, I can't say what is wrong, but difficulty in focusing with a 50mm lens is definitely unusual.
Last edited by Whiteymorange; 12-30-2013 at 10:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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I've had several 23's (still have one)and no problems with any lens I use. Make sure the condensors are set for 35mm, and they are inserted in the head properly. As for the el-Nikkor hitting, somethings not assembled correctly, it shouldn't hit anything. I have a 50/2.8 on my currant 23C and it fits fine.
Hmm, my above post isn't editable now so here is my summary.
The head of the unit is adjusted all the way up which is the labeled 35mm position, adjusting the height of that changes the cone of light on the film which changes the brightness of the image but in no way effects focus.
The El-Nikkor 50mm 2.8 lens does actually work now, I was using the lens board flipped over so the lens was in the shallow recess since I was trying to get it as high as possible to help solve my problem. This lens so barely fits under the sliding drawer in a 23c II (not the later type) that just the depth of the recess in the otherwise flat lens board is the difference between hitting it or not. So that problem is solved.
I had to take the panel off the back from the focus assembly area and crank the tension up on both the 4 set screws on the shaft the knobs mount on, which had started to work slightly loose, and more importantly the 4 screws for the 2 big tension straps. Otherwise as the bellows reached full compression the rollers were slipping and I wasn't getting the last critical bit of adjustment range I needed. This adjustment is in the manual. I also discovered that some irritating play that was making it hard to fine focus was between the knobs and the shaft itself, the flats inside the knobs aren't cut precisely enough so I will shim them with epoxy or metal repair compound to fix that.
(This paragraph edited after another test)
Now I can get the image in focus normally though when I crank the enlarger up to the top of its travel (over 22" which is a massive print that hangs off the base board) I use up every bit of focus adjustment, probably by design.
This means the lower bellows goes from fairly squished to smashed flat at full adjustment. The only way to change that would be to go to a different focal length lens since the distance between the film and lens has to be what it is to focus and that smashes the bellows, so no way to change that.
It does somewhat make sense since the 23c is technically a medium format (2x3 in the name) enlarger and so it makes sense for the smaller 35mm film size with 50mm lens to require operating right at one end of the adjustment spectrum. I tested a bad 80mm lens that came with the enlarger which would be about normal for medium format and it is in focus right in the middle of the focus adjustment range.
Maybe this will all be of use to someone in the future as I have seen this topic in several forums. I will start a new thread for additional questions later.
Last edited by PPPPPP42; 12-30-2013 at 12:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by Rick A
I really wish I was in PA right now as I have a 23C there and could take pictures and measurements to make sure yours is set up correctly.
I use a Schneider Componon S 50mm and doubt I've ever gotten close to mashing the lensboard to the stage. What size images have you been trying to make? 8x10 and 11x14 should both be easy to do - smaller and larger than those can get trickier.
Gee, I am having a hard time envisioing what the problem is. I've had your exact combination of enlarger and lens for 25 years with nothing close to your problems. Maybe you could take some pictures of your setup so we could see what's going on.
Something is wrong with the setup of your enlarger if it cannot easily be used with a common 50mm lens.
I am wondering whether the negative holder stage is correct.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2