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  1. #1
    JeffD's Avatar
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    Yet another Versalab laser / alignment question

    I recently picked one of these up, and, for the most part, have been very happy with it.

    One thing that kind of confuses me though.

    I have an old Beseler 4x5 enlarger, and, noted something strange. I remove the lens, in order to check the negative carrier, which is a glass carrier. I place the device in the middle of my baseboard, and align so that the reflected dot is perfectly reflected back on the versalab device's center spot. Great. However, if I slide the versalab box across the easel an inch or so, the spot drifts off center! I don't know why. If I have a perfect alignment in the center of my easel, how can sliding the device on my baseboard cause the reflected point to drift?

    As a secondary question, how are people making tiny adjustements to their Beseler 4x5 mcrx enlargers? I am doing "in and out" alignment of the negative carrier via the screw which moves the entire assembally "in and out" from the frame, then making "in and out" adjustements to the lens with some paper shims.

    Even though Beseler provided me with a copy of a docuement outlining alignment technique, there doesn't seem to be an easy way of making "left right" and "in and out" adjustments of both the negative carrier and lens stage completely independant of one another!

    Thanks for any answers on my versalab / alignment questions!!

    -Jeff

  2. #2

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    I experienced the same problem and contacted Versalab. They could not resolve it and so suggested testing the unit as per the included instructions. If it fails said "test" , it needs to be sent back for realignment ("Just how far did you drop it?"). My Parallel failed. But before sending it in for repair I had an idea. The same may be true of your situation since the clue is in your question. You moved the unit on the easel. Could it be that my top of the line 4 bladed 20X24 easel wasn't truly flat, thereby misaligning the laser when moved? How to test? The flattest thing I could think of was a plain plate of glass. So I zipped off to the hardware store to get a piece large enough to cover any unseen irregularities on the surface of the easel. The Parallel now passes the alignment test and the dot doesn't move significantly with the glass covered easel. Apparently, since I had been aligning with a focus sheet (always 11X14 or larger) in place I hadn't noticed the slightly raised 8x10 positioning slit in my Saunders was lifting up one side of the Parallel box - causing the alignment problem. I have since constructed 2 easels of melamine to enlarge past 20X24, confirmed their surfaces to be flat, and found that they align perfectly every time without the glass.

    ...happily ever after.

  3. #3
    Loose Gravel's Avatar
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    The Beseler 45M can be a bugger to align, especially if you are doing it with a laser. I don't use a laser, but instead use mirrors. You can shim the baseboard in 2 dimensions. You can move the lens and negative platform together in 1 dimension. The lens can rock from side to side, but there is no precision in this. I had to add adjusters to my enlarger to give 2 dimension control at the lens stage. Also added an adjuster to give side to side adjustment of the negative/lens stage. This gave me plenty of control. When I added the 8x10 adapter to the enlarger, I just shim this to align it to the other negative stage.

    If you don't use the laser, it might be easier. That is to say that the laser shows up the slightest flaw. When you stop down a little, you are adding depth of focus, so maybe all this precision doesn't matter. Better is the enemy of good enough.
    Watch for Loose Gravel

  4. #4
    JeffD's Avatar
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    Wow, I hadn't even thought about the easel not being consistantly flat.

    From what you are saying, It would have to be flat in at least one place (the middle where I calibrated it), then slop off from there, as I don't think I am hitting the saunder's "paper groove", and thereby causing the problem.

    However, the dot can be centered anywhere I put the device, from what I remember, then it moves away from the center as I slide the device. That would lead me to believe that the neg carrier is not consistantly flat, which I would highly doubt, since it is a new beseler glass carrier. Also, I haven't dropped the laser.... yet! This is kind of a mystery to me! Weird.

    For the neg stage, I have been aligning the dot in the area of the easel that would be the center of the enlargement, and just going with that. After then bringing the lens into alignment, grain seems to be reasonably focused across the image area, but not absolutely 101% crisp. I have pretty high quality glass for lenses, so I don't think that plays into it much.

    As to the Beseler alignment, I can align the negative carrier via the "in and out" main screw for the entire assembally (I never had to align the neg carrier left and right), the lens can easily be pivoted left and right, as was noted, without any difficulty.

    The challenge has been aligning the lens "in and out" independant of the rest of the assembally (including the neg stage). So far, I have fudged it by putting folded up paper shims in the gap behind where you make the "left right" lens adjustments, and it can be brought into at least temporary alignment. This is pretty much a cludge. Wish a knew something a little more precise.

  5. #5
    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    Shouldn't you be testing against the base board and not the easel? The easel moves around as one crops, changes paper sizes, etc. I level mine against the base board.
    Robert Hall
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    Technology is not a panacea. It alone will not move your art forward. Only through developing your own aesthetic - free from the tools that create it - can you find new dimension to your work.

  6. #6

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    Negative carriers, in general, may NOT be perfectly flat. Examine the carrier sideways to light in order to either confirm or deny. The glass (of the carrier) itself may not be smooth, thus reflecting the light at different angles over very small changes of position. Versalab provides special (smooth) glass reflecting plates for use in glassless carriers.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hall
    Shouldn't you be testing against the base board and not the easel? The easel moves around as one crops, changes paper sizes, etc. I level mine against the base board.
    This is why I level AFTER composing. The surface projected upon needs to be parallel to both the neg. stage and the lens for optimum focus. If you're using a baseboard, wall, whatever - then yes, align to that. I use easels with a drop table, so I align to the easel.

  8. #8

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    lensboard alignment

    Once again, Fred Picker solved this problem 25 years ago. When he marketed the Zone VI Beseler 45- one of the modifications was to add "a kit" that would provide for simple and precise front to back lens stage alignment. The kit involved a rubber sandwich between the kit and the lensboard secured by three screws. The lensboard needs to have to have three holes drilled in it and each lens requires its own board and kit. It's essentially a more formal and engineered form of shimming and once put together can be adjusted with an Allen wrench.

  9. #9

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    When you are using that series of Beseler enlarger you are moving the easel back and forth. Therefore it pays to have a very flat able.

  10. #10

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    I use a Beseler 45, and the neg. stage adjustment is "crude". What I do is use a Verslab type laser alignment tool, do the baseboard (with shims), next to neg. stage (do the best to adjust this using a large sheet of glass where the neg. goes), then adjust the lens stage. EVERYONE HERE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR WHEN ADJUSTING THIS ENLARGER: Run to B&H's web site, look for something called the Delta "bes align" lens plate. It's basically what was described here as the Fred Picker design. It's two lens plates sandwhiching a piece of dense foam with three adjustment screws. You can really make micro adjustmenst with this to the lens alignment. EASILY the best $30 I ever spent (No this is not an ad! It just works great.)

    P.S. If anyone wants to know how to make a $25 laser alignment tool out of those cheap lasers shown on TV to level picture frames, etc., drop me a line!




    Quote Originally Posted by Changeling1
    Once again, Fred Picker solved this problem 25 years ago. When he marketed the Zone VI Beseler 45- one of the modifications was to add "a kit" that would provide for simple and precise front to back lens stage alignment. The kit involved a rubber sandwich between the kit and the lensboard secured by three screws. The lensboard needs to have to have three holes drilled in it and each lens requires its own board and kit. It's essentially a more formal and engineered form of shimming and once put together can be adjusted with an Allen wrench.



 

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