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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Is my enlarger too bright?

    Even with my lens stopped down to f/16, an 8x10 exposes it only 10-15 seconds. Is this a problem? I heard that shooting 35mm stopped down to f/16 starts to cause a reduction in sharpness due to diffraction. Then again, the DOF is better. Should I use a dimmer or something, or not worry about it?

  2. #2
    E76
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    Either your enlarger is too bright or your negatives are too thin. If your negatives print fine, then I would look at ways of reducing the light output. Depending on your enlarger lens, you're only going to want to stop down one or two stops to gain maximum sharpness (check the lens' datasheet for the optimum aperture). If your enlarger is aligned properly, DoF is the least of your worries. A dimmer isn't a bad idea, and neither is a lower wattage bulb. I know some enlarger heads, such as the Chromega, included little ND filters to slip in front of the bulb; that may be another option.
    Last edited by E76; 01-20-2009 at 11:32 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Spelling

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Check you're using the correct lamp. As the previous poster says your negs may be too thin as well.

    Ian

  4. #4
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    The negative was a BW400CN; perhaps that is more see-through than a silver negative. What is a desirable exposure time for making prints, anyway? The enlarger is a Beseler Printmaker 35 with the stock lens as far as I can tell.

  5. #5
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    You can use any time you like to make desirable prints.

    Consistency is the real problem with short times, plus if you wish to hold back an area or burn an area, longer times will assist you to be more consistent.

    I usually ensure that I expose for at least a three second exposure, this gives the lamp time to warm up and be consistent.

    Using f8 will bring your times down to 5 - 8 seconds, nothing wrong with those times, as long as you are consistent.

    You don't mention whether your enlarger is equipped with a colour head, if it is, you can make neutral density by adding equal amounts of all three colours. For instance:- adding 15 units of Cyan, Magenta and yellow is ½ a stop of neutral density, 30 units of each is 1 stop of neutral density.

    C41 B&W film is usually thinner than many home developed normal B&W films, especially if you have under exposed and have slightly thinner than normal negatives for that process.

    If you enlarger is the condenser version, then coupled with a thinnish negative, I can well believe the times you are doing to be about normal.

    As for using a dimmer, I don't believe it would be too good an idea, unless you used the dimmer all of the time. My reasoning is that as you reduce the light output, your lamp changes colour, this in turn will change the colour of the light reaching your paper, which in turn changes the contrast.

    This may mean that you will have lower contrast prints, forcing you to use a higher contrast filter.

    If your enlarger is equipped with a Beseler lens, it would be at the worst, of quite reasonable quality. Generally the type of market that an enlarger is designed for, should give you an idea of the type of lens.

    I'm assuming your enlarger is for the lower end of the market, schools, public darkrooms, amateur home phorographers and places like that. This would suggest that your enlarger and it's lens are of quite serviceable quality, learn how to make it sing, you should be able to surprise yourself with what you will be able to wring out of it.

    You'll know when it's time to move on!

    Mick.

  6. #6

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    Personally, I would be more comfortable exposing in the f5.6 to f8 range depending on the lens. If your enlarging timer gives you 1/10th second timing experiment to see if you can actually see a difference in the prints made at f16 and f8. If not why worry? You don't mention whether you print with VC filters but I never print without a filter in place and that will ,of course, increase times.

  7. #7
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    It's no big deal, Better. As others have said, when you begin using real b/w film, instead of that chromogenic stuff, your exposure times should increase. This will allow you to choose the optimum aperture for sharpness, and a suitably long exposure time to allow convenient burning and dodging. FWIW I always use F11 and make all exposure changes through altering of time. My Rodenstocks and Nikkors are all F/5.6 max aperture, so the two-stops-down "rule" applies.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  8. #8
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    All the above is good advice. I like times of at least 15 sec. for straight printing and up to one min. if there is burning/dodging to do. I keep two wattages of enlarger bulbs around when I need them. 211 - 75W & 212 -150W. A 213 is 250W, but I've never needed that. These are the standard old enlarger bulbs. Yours may take the newer Halogen type. See http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_sea...ulb&rfnc=2101& for some popular bulb types.
    Bruce

    Moma don't take my Kodachrome away!
    Oops, Kodak just did!


    BruceCSdunekPhotography.zenfolio.com

  9. #9
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    I had similar issues with my darkroom setup right out of the gates. I was getting exposures of 3sec @F22 (80mm lens with 6x6 negs) on kodabrome II. Granted Kodabrome is a speedy paper, I initially swapped out the 150w bulb for a 75w. I got the new bulb for $2 + shipping on ebay. As I was frequently using old paper I also added a small ammount of Benzotriazole to my Dektol which reduces age fogging by slowing the paper down. The combination allowed me to use slightly more sane exposure times at F16. I was also using Fuji Neopan Acros which has an almost completely clear base.

    Also, have you tried putting a contrast filter in the filter tray?

  10. #10
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Yes eventually I will probably be using contrast filters for my multigrade paper, but right now I don't have any.

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