Help with getting started with enlarger
I have been following this site for a while and, after reading as much information as possible, I finally decided to step into the dark side and try printing my negatives. I would like to ask for help with some issues/doubts. Let me apologyze if the topics have already been discussed, but I am still quite confused and could not find a simple clear answer anywhere.
1. I am planning to purchase a Beseler Cadet II enlarger (I use 35mm for now and do not plan to go any bigger anytime soon) and I already own a lens. The enlarger will come in a kit with a Beseler 50mm f3.5 and a built-in lens board, according to the description. I want to use my Nikon El-Nikkor 50mm f2.8 instead. Will changing the lens require changing lens board too? I know this question might sound stupid but could you enlight me on the process of changing enlarger lenses? That "built-in" term makes me worry and would like to be sure the all will go trouble-free.
2. I am planning to print in 7x9.5in format and I would like to use a masking easel. Will an 8x10 easel be appropriate and do you have some suggestions for it?
3. My darkroom will have a very temporary type of set-up in a small bathroom. The floor is slightly tilted, so I was wondering how critical it is to have the enlarger leveled and if you have any suggestions on how to accomplish that.
4. Due to the very limited space, the safelight will be relatively close to the enlarger. How close do you think is too close in your experience? And how would you organize the position of the equipment to get the best practical layout?
Looking forward to hearing your valuable comments and thank you already for all the great knowledge you constantly share here.
You might want to put in the Nikkor, just to help insure against light falloff from center to edges. The cheap enlarging lenses tend to be pretty hot in the center. Can't answer your question about mounting. Most enlarging lenses come with the old Leica screw thread, so it should fit. Any easel will do. And you didn't mention what kind of safelight. If the floor is crooked, so what? As long as the enlarger is square with itself. Might be a problem with liquids in the trays, but not the enlarger. My point is, don't over-think it, and don't worry. Just get in there and get busy.
+1 everything Tom said. Change the lens as soon as possible. It took a few years for me to do that with a Beseler 23CII and it did the most to improve my product.
Welcome to a lot of fun.
I believe that the Cadet enlargers have a fixed lens board. I don't know how easy or difficult it may be to switch lenses. Beseler can be hard to reach, but they are still in business - I would try the telephone.
An 8 x 10 easel with movable blades should work well.
A tilted floor isn't a problem if the tilt won't make the enlarger and the table it is on unstable.
Try to bounce the safelight off of a ceiling - four feet is generally the minimum recommended distance between a safelight and paper.
“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
Glad to read of your decision to go dark. All good answers above.
1) I concur, switch that lens right away. The Beselar is good if you have nothing better, however you have something better.
2) any 8x10 easel will allow you to print in your desired format. Depending on how you intend to present or display your prints, you might want the more expensive 4 blade easel over the 2 blade type. The latter will be acceptable if you plan to trim your prints, but if you wish to preserve a white border, the 4 blade will let you make the margins symmetrical. I like working with the Saunders 11x17 and it's not very expensive used, compared with the 16x20 or 20x24 easels.
4) run a safelight exposure test to determine how much exposure to your safelight's location and orientation can be tolerated by paper on your baseboard without fogging. I like the reflected safelight orientation myself.
If you call it a "prime lens" because it's a fixed-focal length (i.e. not a zoom lens), then as Inigo Montoya said so eloquently, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
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As for the safelight, can you arrange it so that the light is bounced off the ceiling? If you have one that tilts on an axis there will be no problem otherwise with one that is like a beehive, cover one side with aluminium foil so the light source is pointing away from you. What size bulb are you using? I don't know if you can get them wherever you are but for B&W only I have a 15w which is more than adequate.
Thank you all for the answers. The safelight will have a 15w bulb and I think I could arrange it as to have the light bounced off the ceiling. I' ll do that. Good point. Yes, I' ll have to try to set-up a small table that would not shake or move. Glad to hear the 8x10 easel will work fine, I just found one for a reasonable price. Everything seems going and it's true that I'm overthinking a bit. I'm quite excited cause I have been willing to try printing for a long time. The only real worry now is to find out if the lens can be switched easily, I definitely want to use the Nikon.
I can' t wait to begin and forget the tedious process of scanning negatives.
Hope to be able to show some of my first attempts soon.
Last edited by mauro35; 12-31-2013 at 10:12 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Omega lpl 4500 dichroic head
If this topic is somewhere on this site please direct me if you know. So, I purchased an Lpl omega / Saunders 4500. My intention is to play with the 4x 5 format. Where can I find Tutorial on using this enlarger?
"Still in the Ozone"
Best to buy a x100 off box of postcard (VC) and try only easy negatives when you have finished the box go larger.
Originally Posted by mauro35
I have lost all photos of my first darkroom did 35 and 120 film. It was in a small bathroom did prints up to 16 x 20
For 8x10 I use a board over the sink for the trays. For up to 16x20 use set of shelf in the shower.
The enlarger was in side the towel closet would do up 11x14 if did 16x20 just set on sink board
I did find a photo very close to mine on the internet for the enlarger it even same Bogan 22a.