I tried out my latest acquisition yesterday which is a "vintage" condenser enlarger and to my eye it gives better highlights, sharper prints and much more punch than my other enlarger which has a colour head. I think I might soon also be a "condenser convert".
I have had the same experience...I have used cold light heads and diffusion enlargers and bought into the Callier effect that Ansel Adams claimed. Once I tried my Durst condensor I never looked back.
Originally Posted by TPPhotog
One could argue that the reason for the "more punch" that you speak of as being due to condensor enlargers typically requiring a negative with less contrast...however what I found is that the local contrast within the various tonal scales was improved...Increased local contrast translates to an improved sense of light from within the print. There is no doubt that sharpness is better in my experience.
Donald same experience here with the contrast, I didn't know the technical part of "Increased local contrast translates to an improved sense of light from within the print". I wish I could post a comparison but the only pictures I have printed with both is of residents with learning disabilities for a gallery I've been asked to put together for our residential home. Only having the condensor for a couple of days I haven't had a chance to print much of my "own stuff". There again I'm not sure if a scan of the print would pick up the subtleties.
Originally Posted by Donald Miller
Develope you negs to a lower contrast and you`ll have no trouble with condensers. The only disadvantage I have found is trying to get lower contrast. Diffusion is better, but with 99 % of negs, the prints ar indistinguishable.
A piece of drafting film above the condensers will lower contrast 1/2 grade.
Since I started filtering water and air in my film room, spotting has gone to nil. Thats where you attack the spotting problem.
Well said Ronald. I used to teach an adult education City and Guilds photography and most people consistently exposed negs well enough but almost always over developed making contrast control almost impossible. If condensers are frowned on it's too much development that could easily be the real problem. Agree with you over keeping clean although since I've been using condensers spotting out seems to have to be much more precise. I've just framed 3 38x30 inch prints made that way, and spotting them out was a real challenge to my sanity.
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I can not explain that; the light source itself being so diffuse.
Originally Posted by Ronald Moravec
I think I've room on the bottom lip of my Omega B8's condenser
holder for an eighth inch thick diffuser. I think a thin diffuse sheet
could be placed directly on top of the negative carrier. Dan
I imagine that the reason for this is that when one is doing this, you are in effect creating a larger light source by the diffusion. Taking this to the other extreme, a point light source will print with higher contrast and more apprarent sharpness then a condensor enlarger with a conventional lamp..This is due to the relative size of the light source. A point light source will more accurately represent what is on the negative...
Originally Posted by dancqu
Think of it this way, if you wish, the reason that there is more spotting with a condensor enlarger then a diffusion source is that the diffuse light source of a cold light or a diffusion enlarger present a light source in which the light beams are not aligned. The effects of this are that the scattered light beams of the diffusion source do not pass through the negative in a perpendicular orientation.
Thus taking an example of a dust spot on a negative, it would be present in both the diffusion source and also the condensor source. It is still present but the light of a diffusion source is passing around the dust and does not show it accurately. This same thing happens with detailed information on the negative...edge sharpness and local contrast both suffer because of this diffusion.
Looking for a really nice diffusion material. Might I suggest "Roscolux #115: Light Tough Rolux". This is a really nice material, very effective, and essentially textureless. I have utilized it in color printing and find that it demonstrages a high degree of color neutrality. It is durable, easily cut and inexpensive. If you can't find a local photo supplier it can be had from many theatrical supply houses. Failing that, ask your dealer if they deal with BKA as, even if they don't carry it (or even know what it is) they can order it for you. Tech info can be found at http://www.rosco.com/us/filters/roscolux.asp. Look towards the bottom of the page.
Thanks all for the insights. Yes, the main reason I want to add some diffusion to my condensers is to avoid blemishes on the negatives and I don't have enough dough at the moment for a cold light head. I work with a lot of old negatives (family negs from the 30's - 50's and stuff I collect) -- they usually have more problems than just dust (scratches, micro light holes in the negs, etc.). Of course I could do this type of work digitially (can I say that here even if it is in negative restoration?), except that I don't have acess to any top line computer/printer equipment and I can't imagine a digital print would have anything near the snap and sharpness of the darkroom process. I would prefer to look at a darkroom print (even with blemishes) than a flat digital print (even if it got rid of all the "flaws").
In an effort to try an assortment of "milkiness," I settled on this Bogen Diffusion Filter pack containing 12 different degrees of frost. I got it from MPEX - http://mpex.com/InventoryListKeyWord.aspx -- item number 500000000001-0000. This past weekend, I experimented with various combos to find pleasing results. It has obviously helped in cutting out some of the scratches and spots, though there is still plenty of crap that shows up on my prints.
Thanks all for the suggestions and help. I am going to start a thread called "printing vintage negatives, preventing blemishes." Please add your 2 cents to this thread to give me ideas in combating unwanted flaws on my prints BEFORE touching up the prints themselves. Thanks!