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  1. #11

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    I never assume anything is level. And I never assume a level is level either, until I check it.

  2. #12
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie View Post
    Enlarging lenses are flat field and one is dealing with a minimum depth of focus, not to be confused with depth of field.

    There is a reason we focus on grain, if one considered that there is a good deal of tolerance then the need for grain focusers would not be needed
    as we could slap a negative in , focus by eye at a distance and close the lens down.
    -) Taking lenses are flat field too.

    -) using a grain focuser means setting focus by means of the lens. Setting focus by means of the easel would yield much more tolerance.

  3. #13

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    You have to decide for yourself how good is good enough. If you are not making huge prints your darkroom setup should be more forgiving. There is not a lot of point beating yourself over the head because the prints are not "perfect." If they have to be perfect then you probably need a new, dedicated darkroom with all the whistles and bells. From what you say I don't think you are there yet. Do the best you can and try to improve all the time. I'll be you can get some fine work from your setup. I've had first class dedicated darkrooms with temperature controlled water and a darkroom that was a coat closet with a cheap Sears enlarger. The last one was a pain but put out great prints.

  4. #14
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    When I printed from Pocket Instamatic negatives a few weeks back, I had all kinds of alignment woes. Compared to printing from 4x5 negatives, it was a struggle for me. Maybe it was the tuna can I used to make a recessed lens mount. But my first print, with negative held in an open-air mat board negative carrier, had an area in mid-foreground where the grain was significantly out of focus, while the rest of the negative was sharp. Pepper to smooth, it is real noticeable.

    So for the second print I used glass. I hate mounting in glass because of the four surfaces that have to be clean and scratch-free. By the time I had the assembly in place, another speck would appear. You know I don't work in a clean room, but working from a tiny negative roughly 8mm x 10mm was a challenge which I enjoyed by the contrast with how easy it is to work with 4x5.

    With 4x5, I can focus on the grain, or not. If there is an area where the grain went out of focus - it doesn't change the appearance of the print because the grain is so fine in the first place.

    I notice alignment problems when I go to mat the print. You know that really, the frame of the negative is square. If I've skewed the alignment, the print will be keystoned and the mat will have to be cut keystoned to match.

  5. #15
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    When I printed from Pocket Instamatic negatives a few weeks back, I had all kinds of alignment woes.
    Glass carrier for those and Minox is the only way to go for anything beyond 3" size prints. The paradox of film photography. Those little negatives take much more skill to enlarge than an 8x10 negative !

  6. #16
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    Glass carrier for those and Minox is the only way to go for anything beyond 3" size prints. The paradox of film photography. Those little negatives take much more skill to enlarge than an 8x10 negative !
    It is a paradox for sure. As I move up in negative size, and realize each size up got easier to print... I often think that the "perfect" film size ever... was probaby 127.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    It is a paradox for sure. As I move up in negative size, and realize each size up got easier to print... I often think that the "perfect" film size ever... was probaby 127.
    I'll agree on that. 127 was treated like the Edsel of film, but was probably the best in the hand-held category. Some times the best things never catch on.

  8. #18
    Curt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    I was in the camp of "why bother" until I tried printing my first 20" x 30" enlargement. After two days of working on getting good exposure, dodging and burning, then processing and split-toning, I got what I thought a perfect looking print. I then spent some money to mount it and hung it on the wall. Only then I noticed that when you get real close, it is obvious that the center is perfectly sharp but the edges are slightly blurry. That same week I bought Versalab Parallel. From that point on, any time I print bigger than 8x10, my first step is to check alignment. No more uneven sharpness for me. When you pay attention, uneven sharpness looks even worse than blurry all-over. Make your own conclusions.

    This crossed my mind also with my Beseler 45mx. The failure is in the design and the alignment has to be watched. The greater the wear on the enlarger the greater the chance for misalignment.

    A note on the Omega B600, I have one but do not use it anymore, it has no provision for alignment. It came new perfectly aligned. The negative plane and the lens plane are very precise, parallel. The head raises up and down parking on the negative carrier. For an inexpensive 6x6 enlarger it is simple and accurate. The best work can be done if one uses a high quality enlarging lens. El Nikkor, Schneider, etc.. My original setup was with an Aristo Cold Light head from Fred Picker.
    Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by anikin View Post
    I was in the camp of "why bother" until I tried printing my first 20" x 30" enlargement. After two days of working on getting good exposure, dodging and burning, then processing and split-toning, I got what I thought a perfect looking print. I then spent some money to mount it and hung it on the wall. Only then I noticed that when you get real close, it is obvious that the center is perfectly sharp but the edges are slightly blurry. That same week I bought Versalab Parallel. From that point on, any time I print bigger than 8x10, my first step is to check alignment. No more uneven sharpness for me. When you pay attention, uneven sharpness looks even worse than blurry all-over. Make your own conclusions.
    Not to start any argument here, but I find it strange that the center is sharp and the four corners are blurred. If that's the case I would not lay it to enlarger alignment, but more to negative buckle or the enlarger lens itself. Now, if you have a sharp center and one or two corners out-of-whack then it's an alignment problem. Still, a perfectly aligned enlarger gives peace of mind. I do do as Ian said earlier and tilt my easel at times to help control minute perspective problems and never noticed any lack of sharpness in that area, but I said minute. JW

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by JW PHOTO View Post
    Not to start any argument here, but I find it strange that the center is sharp and the four corners are blurred. If that's the case I would not lay it to enlarger alignment, but more to negative buckle or the enlarger lens itself. Now, if you have a sharp center and one or two corners out-of-whack then it's an alignment problem. Still, a perfectly aligned enlarger gives peace of mind. I do do as Ian said earlier and tilt my easel at times to help control minute perspective problems and never noticed any lack of sharpness in that area, but I said minute. JW
    Normally I would agree with you. Negative pop is a real problem, even with much smaller enlargements. I've even seen it on 8x10" prints before I started to use glass carriers. However, I know for sure that it was not a problem here, since I used a glass negative carrier and once alignment was done, the problem was gone permanently. By the way, notice, I did not say "corners", but "edges" - left and right edges as a matter of fact .

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