Cheap laser alignment tool!
I know this has been covered several times on this or other forums but...
I was all set to go about making or buying a tool to align my enlarger (I have never done this and couldn't seem to ever make it come out right with a negative with pronounced grain in the holder). About a year ago I purchased a laser level at Lowe's--on special for about $49.00--to put in a paver patio in my back yard. The unit has a spinning head to project a horizontal line as well as a vertical beam. I simply leveled the device as you would if it was on its tripod and used the vertical laser to shoot a beam up at a mirror on the neg stage as well as the lens holder and centered the dot. Worked like a charm! Not to mention the unit has about a billion other uses around the house! Before you spend any money on a dedicated laser alignment tool-check out a laser level at you local hardware store.
Mattk; do you do the lens stage and carrier separate or at the same time. also the mirror must reflect the beam back ,does the beam fall back on it self or what does it do to determine alignment. I'd be interested in trying that, sounds cheap also.mike
I simply leveled the device as you would if it was on its tripod and used the vertical laser to shoot a beam up at a mirror on the neg stage as well as the lens holder and centered the dot.
I'm reading the description but I'm not quite grasping the what it is your are doing and how you are doing it. Possibly because I'm not entirely sure what one does when aligning an enlarger.
I’ve been thinking along the same lines but never gotten around to buy a laser level. But I think I will now.
Which laser level is this?
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
How about a few pics of your set-up? I have one of these from Sears and it's a great tool but I'm still not 100% clear on how you're using yours. How exactly are you getting the enlarger parallel with the baseboard?
This is a good idea. I have a laser level, but it only projects laser chalk lines, it doesn't have beam that projects a single point. I wasn't aware that these things were available. This would seem to be a great and cheap alternative to the the products that are marketed specifically for enlarger alignment. (don't want to mention specific products)
I'm wondering if this one might work:
I noticed that some of the products that might seem to work say that they are "self-leveling". Obviously, unless the baseboard was perfectly level, this would only complicate the matter.
Thanks mattk for mentioning this.
In response to others' questions about using this sort of device:
The idea is to project the beam from the baseboard up to a reflective surface (mirror or glass) where the negative would be. The beam is reflected back, and if the two surfaces (negative plane and baseboard plane) are not parallel, then the reflected dot will not be in the same position as its source. The adjustments can then proceed. If my understanding of this process is not fully correct, or there is more subtlety than I understand, I hope the masses will chime in.
The model of the level is Johnson Hot Shot 40-0917. I take the level off the tripod and place it on a already confirmed (via a standard 4' bubble level) level baseboard. The level has adjustments to level and plumb on its own. The enlarger is a Beseler 45MXT. I first removed the lens holder and shot the beam at a mirror placed in negative holder. The beam is reflected down and the neg stage is adjusted until the beam reflects back on itself. Once that is done I repeat the process with the mirror in place of the lens holder--ta da! Done. Took all of 5 minutes.
Here is a link to the level-any model that has a vertical beam adjustable for plumb would work.
The model is listed at lowes here.
Yeah its $79.99, but I had already bought it to put in a paver patio (worked great by the way--I have a perfect pitch and the grade is spot on). I have also used it to put up shelves, frame part of my basement, and will be putting in a drop ceiling in my darkroom soon. Talk about bang for the buck!
Thanks again Matt!
I am really pleased that I will be able to perform enlarger alignment this way, and have another nice tool to boot! $80 is still substantially cheaper than the laser tools sold as enlarger aligners. Yay!