The cheapest "analyzer" is the Ilford EM-10. It can usually be bought on eBay for about $10, which won't buy many sheets of paper...
With a little practice, it can be used to: Estimate exposure, adjust aperture to get same exposure at different enlargement, evaluate contrast, select paper to give desired tone curve.
Probably more too, but these are the things I use mine for. It has saved me several hundred sheets of paper so far.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Tell me, when you do a conact sheet of your negs, do you do a test strip to determine the correct exposure? Probably not. You likely have a predetermined time, aperture, and enlarger head height, right? (If you don't, you should.)
When I make a typical 5x7 or 8x10 enlargement, if the negative exposure is normal, I know the ballpark time and aperture for my enlarger. The only variables are the density of the neg and the actual degree of enlargement, or the degree of cropping, if you will. Once you have determined this by writing down the pertinent data a few times, you can just refer to this info to get you close to the correct exposure. Rip up an 8x10 sheet into 2 inch squares and use one or at most 2 to fine tune. You can even determine whether the contrast grade you are printing with is appropriate.
But like I said before, everyone has an individual working style. If yours is to refer to a printing meter as opposed to going intuitively with a gut feeling, then by all means buy one of those Ilford printing meters. Some people can't (or rather think they can't) take a photograph without a light meter accurate to 1/10th of a stop that can switch from incident to reflected mode (to 1 dgree) with backlit LCD digital and analogue readouts! To each their own, and more power to them.
(Sometimes I wish I had me one of those printing meters, especially when making different sizes of the same negative.)
...preferring to be on the shiny side of the film
Perhaps jameiscool had a bad day?
Do not question what you have not done, question what you will not try.
Yep, just raise the enlarger head, set the aperture, and expose for the same time. That puts it in perspective! Thanks Frank. When I get proficient (or don't have to work for a living anymore) I can see where this will be a benefit. Never enough time to do all I want to do!!! I liked the suggestion of figuring the base time using a clear strip of film. I'm definately going to try it out.
Originally Posted by frank
I've heard of the EM-10, but had forgotten about it. Hmmmm, a new toy. I have too much stuff cluttering things up now! I think I'll go with the less is more attitude.
One should really use the camera, as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind.-Dorothea Lange
I take a representative neg out of the neg page, put it in the enlarger, project it onto an 8x10 sheet of paper (old exposed paper, back side), stop the lens down to what looks good. Then I take the neg out and put it back into the neg page. Put page onto new 8x10 sheet and then expose it for the time I had determined gives me max black.
IMO people should try and start to gain a feel for what looks "right" when they project the image onto the focus sheet rather than always rely on test strips and analyzers. I do the same thing for color and am usually within a couple of seconds of a perfect exposure everytime.
It amazes me that people will repeat the same things over and over again and learn nothing from it.
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try this with a unexposed but processed sheet of film then find your max black time. That way you take into consideration of the material that the image is on. I think you will be closer that way. Btw, I use the test strip method for every neg. I have been playing with fstop printin, but so far only in my head.
Obviously I have already determined what the max black is with just the procedure you describe or I would not have been able to know what time to use. But thanks anyway. I do use test strips for split grade printing, but that's about all.
I thinks it's better to learn what key your neg is singing in and then go from there. It's like music, you will never be able to play anything with any passion if you don't know what the different notes sound like in your head.
Many years ago I built a device that slides the test paper (I usually use 4x10) under a 1 in slot. Place the slot under the part of the print you want to judge exposure by and give a variety of exposures while sliding the strip each time. I find it very easy to judge the exposure when I can see the same area under different times. But a lot slower then most people's methods.
I've been making test strips as described as "the best" in most books, by exposing seperate strips of paper to the same part of the image for various times. When I first started, I simply used half an 8 x 10 sheet and uncovered more of the paper each exposure. I always had to use some guesswork to accomodate for numerous exposures etc., but it worked and was much faster than the individual method.
I guess my point is, agreeing with the folks who seem to be saying that everyone has their own methods as to what works, what gets the results, and what is fun. On this board we can simply expand our thinking by seeing what others do. Thanks all.
I just got my analyser pro. I still need to fine tune the everything; however, from what I've seen so far it's outstanding. I made a few test strips and have already fallen in love with the test strip function. f-stop steps with no calculations in my head. Yehaaaa!