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  1. #11
    noblebeast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
    ... It does sound like an alignment problem. Is there a uniform loss of sharpness around the periphery of the frame? If the image is sharp along a particular radial axis when the center of the image is in focus, the baseboard is not perpendicular to the optical axis of the lens.
    Well, that's just it. The outer edges are out of focus/less sharp all the way around. When I do adjust things one side, for example the left side, will seem to get slightly sharper, but it doesn't translate all that well to the print, and of course doesn't help the right side out too much. I should note this particular adjustment is made using the side to side adjustment of the lens holder. The front to back adjustment (23C owners will know what I'm so poorly describing here) has absolutely no effect on the image sharpness. All this leads me to suspect crummy optics. I just obtained a Rodenstock 75mm from my camera repair guy and have mounted it on the enlarger and will try it tonight (I have to wait for dark to have a darkroom that will live up to its name). But even in the dimmed light in the room I can see a bit of difference when I project my home-scratched reference negative, especially when I stop down. Granted, it's not a Schneider APO, but it should let me know if I'm barking up the right tree or just chasing my tail.
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  2. #12

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    I had a similar problem some years ago...ended up my easel wasn't level.

  3. #13
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    I wouldn't spend money on glass negative carriers yet. They really are not necessary unless you go up to 5x7 or 8x10. If the problem is negative pop, it can be alleviated by turning on the lamp and letting the negative warm up . Once in a while you will get a neg that seems finicky in this regard but it can still be exposed satisfactorily. I've only had one 4x5 negative that gives me this problem. It ahouldn't ever be a problem with 35mm.

    Make sure your condensor setting is right for the format. You can actually "focus" the condesor by turning on the lamp, no negative or negative carrier in place and "focus" the projected light on the baseboard by moving the condensor adjustment. Try it, you'll see how it works.

  4. #14
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    Not to belittle you problem, but this could save you all that money on that Holga that you were planning to buy.

    Besides that, what's with all the sharpness fetish anyway. Sally Mann and others have headed back from that elitist F64 club started by Adams et all, and now is showing a lot of disdain for sharpness.

    Do we really need all that realism in the world today.

    Noblebeast, perhaps you are on to something and don't recognise it's benefits.

    Maybe you are a trendsetter and just didn't realize it.

    Maybe this is the "next big thing" and everyone will think you are a genius.

    So, go ahead align your enlarger, buy a sharp lens, and watch fame and fortune go swirling down the drain.



    Just a thought

    Michael McBlane

  5. #15

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    SOunds a lot like negative pop like some have suggested. The wonders of heat expansion. I never believed it until I saw it happen and set out on a mission to figure out what to do about it. The different levels of sharpness on the edges tells a lot.

    I am poor as well and was using darkroom time at the community college. The enlargers were the same as yours if I remember correctly. The looser a neg is held in the carrier the larger the pop. you have to tighten things up so the neg is really held tight with no room to shift. In my opinion if you can shift position of the neg when it is held in the enlarger things are too loose and negative pop will be bad.

    I removed the annoying spring that pops open the carrier a little when you take it out of the enlarger. This allowed the carrier to lie flat on top of the neg. Then I made sure the enlarger clamped tight as hell on the carrier. The condensor weight is what is holding the carrier in place but it was not aligned so it layed flat across the carrier. Higher in the back by a smidge. If I remember corectly this was solved with brute force.

    The problem was not totally solved but the smaller aperatures took care of the rest. To totally get rid of the problem you will need a glass carrier.

    Good luck, I do not think new lenses will solve the problem.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  6. #16

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    I have an older 23C II enlarger with condenser head and El-Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 lens. Sharpness isn't a problem for me with the lens wide open at f/2.8. If your 23C can't accomplish 35mm full-frame sharpness at *any* available aperture, the lens could be the culprit.

    Finally, I don't remember if you said that the lens was clean or not. There aren't any smudges or anything like that around the edges are there?

  7. #17
    noblebeast's Avatar
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    Thanks again for all the new replies.

    Negative pop is probably not an issue since I am taking sooooo long trying to get the damn things in total focus. But making sure said negative is clamped tightly in the holder makes sense - I will add that to my next experiment.

    Lenses and condensers and everything else I can find have been cleaned till they cry "Uncle!" After my initial tests with the new used Rodenstock, I believe the lenses are indeed the culprits. Word of advice: if your lens only has four aperture blades, you are probably not getting the finest German glass.

    Although now that I read Blansky's post, maybe this crappy focus thing is serendipity helping me to find my photographic voice as it were. I can see it now: fame, fortune and millions of my fuzzy photos hanging in optometrists offices all over the world. That'll be an amazing fifteen minutes! Then I can sell my wonderful fuzzy-focus enlarger lens to a Noblebeast wannabe for thousands of dollars on Ebay. Maybe I better hang on to this thing...
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  8. #18
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    One of the most useful accessories I have in my darkroom are two "Softener" (that's all labeling they have) filters. I bought them on a whim from a "miscellaneous" used filter box for very little money - mainly because they were 40.5mm filters - just the right size to fit my Rodenstock enlarging lenses. They work *beautifully* in printing portraits.
    I now rarely use the Hasselbad "Softars". There is more flexibility in keeping the sharpness in the negative and softening the enlarging image as needed.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  9. #19
    jovo's Avatar
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    Entry level lenses are usually 3 element affairs...by all means borrow a better one, try it out, and I'll bet your problem will disappear. I've never been disappointed with my El Nikkor lenses (a 50mm, a 105mm and a just obtained 150mm).

    The 35mm negatives are small enough that warping or popping in the carrier shouldn't be a factor. Glassless carriers work quite well. Look to the lens for a 'cure'.

  10. #20
    noblebeast's Avatar
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    I am officially declaring my sharpness issue an enlarger lens problem. The better lens made all the difference in the world. Not that the enlarger still couldn't use a proper alignment, and after noticing that my 8X10 Speedeasel had more waves in it than the North Sea during a storm (thanks Donald - hadn't thought to check it) I'll be getting something a bit flatter. All of the other advice was terrific too, and all are things to remain aware of in the future (I'm still mulling over Blansky's suggestion though).

    Forgive the redundancy, but APUG is the best of its kind! (Sean, we need a cheerleader emoticon)
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