Peak Model 2 Focuser - How to properly use?
Good Evening, Hope everyone is well.
I recently picked up a Peak model 2 grain focuser used and sorry to say I have no idea as to how to properly use it to attain maximum print sharpness. I've looked for a manual online but have found none.
I print 6x7 negs onto 5x7 paper using a Nikon 80mm lens on a 23C condenser enlarger. I understand that you should not stop down the lens more that a couple of stops, but have really short printing times of around 6 to 8 sec. at f16!
The prints just don't seem as sharp as they could be. I open up the lens all the way, focus, then stop down wait 5 sec. for the enlarger to stabilize, then expose the paper and develop as usual. The enlarger has been calibrated so all that seems okay.
Hi Marco, I've got a Model 1 Peak focuser, and find it quite easy to use.
Originally Posted by Marco S.
First, you align your eyepiece (rangefinder type double image) by turning it until the image is 1 as you look at it.
Second, raise the little door and expose the mirror so that when you are focusing your negative the image is projected onto the mirror.
Third, look through your eyepiece, and focus your enlarger using the image you see. You may have to move it around to find a section of your image with enough detail for you to focus by.
That's it! That's all there is to it. Just be sure to keep the little door closed when you're not using it, so the mirror doesn't get scratched.
I don't understand what you were told about stopping down your lens. You can do whatver you like with it, to get the print as you want it. Of course, you open it wide to focus, then adjust for density to print. My times usually run around f/11 - f/16 for up to 30sec. I've done as wide as f/5.6 before, but that's not the norm.
Unless there's a problem with the lens you are using. Do you have any other lens to use? In my 30+ years of doing this, I've found (IMO) Nikkor lenses to be rather soft when it comes to detail. I stick with the German lenses (Zeiss, Schneider, etc) and find that combined with the Zeiss glass my cameras use, the prints are so sharp, they could cut steel.
If your film shooting/processing has been standardized, printing becomes a breeze. But if your exposures vary too much in the camera, then printing can take a while.
What paper are you printing on? That can make a difference to the trained eye as well. I used to use Agfa papers, but since they're gone, I tried the Forte, Foma, and finally settled on Fotokemika paper (fiber). The same Plus-X negative printed on Fotokemika looked much sharper than when printed on Forte.
I'd like to help you with this, if you're interested. PM me if you've got any more questions about it.
Last edited by Rolleijoe; 10-07-2006 at 12:29 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: forgot to underline the steps
I'm using Ilford MGIV in fiber and RC coated varieties. I also have some AGFA papers that I use as well.
The only adjustment on the Peak Model 2 is the eyepiece rotates until the grid in focus. Should this be done on the easel? I have always put a piece of paper on the easel the same thickness before focusing.
As far as the Nikkor lens, they were highly recommended here so that's what I have. I'm not sure how to check if the lens is defective.
Thanks for the reply,
Marco, focusing the eyepiece can be done anywhere, it needn't be on the easel.
Two other things for sharp prints besides grain focusing:
Make sure your enlarger is in alignment and check grain focus in the middle and corners of your easel.
Use a focusing sheet. That is to say, put a piece of the same paper that you're printing on in the easel when you're focusing. The thickness of paper raises the focuser and without it, your focal point would be below the surface of the paper. It's also easier to position your easel when your negative is projected onto white than onto most easel surfaces.
For my eyes when using a grain focuser the image is usually too bright when the lens is wide open, stopping it down a stop or two may help. If you are using a thick paper, then you should have a scrap sheet under the focuser so that it is at the same height as the paper emulsion. Nikor lenses are respectable, and dare I say it, any difference in sharpness between them and similar German lenses is probably more a matter of taste than actuality. It's not too likely that your lens is defective, though it's possible. Another important factor in print sharpness not mentioned yet is negative sharpness. Unless you are cropping heavily, a 5x7 from a medium format neg at F16 should be sharp almost regardless of the focus. Do your learning with the focuser with a known tack sharp negative, or double check the negative you are using with a magnifier.
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If you are using multigrade filters, and/or a colour head, make sure you focus with no filters in the light path.
With filters in place, it is extremely easy to get the focus, ever so slightly out of focus.
The human eye has difficulty in low light and also towards the red part of the visible spectrum. I found out about this after getting eye problems and studying some of the possible problems I may encounter with some reference material supplied by my Opthamologist.
I then focused the enlarger with magenta filters in place and made a print, compared it to one focused with no filters in place. The difference is that the white light focusing was more accurate.
Now, I have an eye problem, that makes red/magenta light a problem, your eyes shouldn't have a problem as mine, the problem generally, is overcome by young healthy eyes quite easily.
However the problem does exist for human eyes in general, according to the Opthalmic charts I looked at in books in the surgery.
I've always focused with the filters above the condenser in place. I will try taking out the filter next time I print.
Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
I almost never crop, except for the slight loss of print area that gets left out when printing a 6x7 neg. onto a 5x7 sheet. Perhaps I should just start printing more 8x10's instead.
I do use a tripod and monopod whenever I shoot MF, so my negatives are relatively sharp.
I will double check the alignment on the 23C, and try out all the suggestions given. Thanks for replying.
Making 5x7 prints from 6x7 negatives is not demamding at all. If you are using anything but the coarsest grained emulsions and developers you will only be able to focus on projected details instead of grain.
The eyepiece adjustments are to suit YOUR vision. The filters should be out of the light path. The lens should be wise open for focus, stopped down 2 stops for exposure. Any modern enlarging quality lens that is not defective will do fine in this application. Glass crriers can aid your sharpness. You could be experiencing negative pop that occurs with open frame carriers due to heat but it does not sound likely.
If your prints are not suffieintly sharp then it may be necessary to look at you camera technique because the prints should be so sharp that there is more detail visisble in the print with using a loupe than can be seen by the unaided eye.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
No doubt that my technique may be a bit off as I have no formal photographic training, having learned everything from books and the internet. But I do try the best I can and enjoy the hobby immensely and it gives me great satisfaction sharing my prints with family and friends (or anyone that will, have them!).
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
Thanks to everyone who took the time to kindly reply and offer help and suggestions. Your time is valuable and using it for learning, teaching and sharing will never be in vain.
We don't seem to have covered your second point about short exposures of 6-8 secs at f16. Maybe this isn't a problem now but as I understand it and based on my 80mm Rodagon there is likely to be a f22 setting on the Nikkor, I would have thought, which will double exposure.
6-8 secs at f16 does seem to be very short. Dodging and burning becomes difficult at 6-8 secs so if you need to do any then longer exposures will help. Is it possible to lower the bulb rating to reduce power and lengthen exposures?