Just a general question for all you printing gurus. What is the most effective way to arrive at exposure times when enlarging? I shoot 35mm (if that makes any difference), and use the old test strip method. Since I dropped and broke my enlarging timer, was curious about the ones I saw on the RH Designs website,( i.e. Analyzer Pro). I can't help but feel I'm wasting my paper by cutting it up in all those strips! I don't want to spend more money on something that is really unnecessary. Should I consider the fancy one with the exposure meter or continue with test strips???
Thanks in advance for your advice!
p.s. I do like the simplicity of the analog timers, like the Gralab.
One should really use the camera, as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind.-Dorothea Lange
Well, as you get more settled, use the same film type for a long period of time, enlarge to standard sizes, get more control over the process of exposure and film development, you'll find that your exposure times become more consistent, so you can often print without a test strip, or you'll maybe do a test strip for one exposure on a roll and then arrive at a standard time at least for the first proof with all the other exposures.
I've tried doing B&W using one channel of a color analyzer and just found it not terribly accurate. Maybe if I had worked more with it, I could have improved the technique, but test strips are simple and informative, and you can even dry them in a microwave oven to check for drydown effects with fiber based paper.
I gave up on test strips long ago - they usually don't contain enough information. I use full sheets and simply make my best guess at exposure. If the test exposure looks too light, I make one about 25% longer. If the second one is too dark (as it usually is) I interpolate with the third.
If you have reached to point of having rather consistent negatives, this method works very well.
They make a scale that has steps in it and you can lay it on your paper and it gives you a rough estimate of your printing time.
I still do test strips - or should I say: I do test strips again.
I never use less than half a sheet, and place it where there are consistent key areas across the sheet. I do the exposure in half-stops: 2,3,4,6,8,11,16,22,32 seconds or parts of this scale. This is in addition to measuring key areas with my Ilford EM10 meter, I find that the combination also gives me a fair idea of the effect of burning/dodging.
I then make a test print, with burning determined from test strip and experience. This is usually close enough that the next one is a final print with only very minor adjustments.
MF film developed in non-staining developer I go straight from metering to test print and final. But that's because I know that enlarger/film combination so well that I really only have to adjust for which paper I'm using...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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I'll start with a programmed channel on the ColorStar 3000 analyzer. From there it is an aesthetic decision. I may go lighter, less contrast, wherever.
I've found the analyzer to be consistent and accurate ... but, - as is the case with any exposure meter, not a be-all, end-all panacea, just a good place to start.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
I too have always wondered if there was an easier way. I've always done test strips that ranged from 1/4 width to a full sheet depending on the negative. I too have been tempted by the heiland splitgrade and the Analyser Pro. Since the Heiland doesn't fit my enlarger I purchased an Analyser pro. Even if I don't like the analyser, the f-stop printing for test strips will be wonderful. I think that in reality it is just another tool in my printing toolbox. I'll let you know in a couple of days when everything is all set up.
i dont print a test strip of the image, i print a test strip to find my base enlarging time (minumum time for maximum black). i suggest checking out: Fred Picker Zone VI Workshop
a lot of good information on the basics of negative and print exposure, just note the book quality does not do the images justice, but the info is great.
I have used the Analyser Pro for almost a year now and I must say it works a treat. Worth looking at!
I have used the Kodak Print projection years ago. It has been a long time though. Does anyone make paper that is specifically designed for test strips or do you still have to make your own?
Do not question what you have not done, question what you will not try.