dr bob, you have got it. Donald may be correct (it would take a team of experts years and there would probably never be final conclusion) a WELL made condenser may produce a better image - to the collector/potential customer in does not matter one bit.
So, are you making images for yourself or for a market? While I will agree you should make the best image possible, that would mean learn how to use the tools you have decided to use. You don't have to stay with them, but I think it is a mistake to always listen to what authority xxx says and stop using product y because they use product x.
It's like dr bob and Donald have both stated..it really only depends on personal preferences.
Besides, these discussions are always a great way to find out what others are doing.
Tim, There is an increase in both overall and local contrast when using a condensor head. I don't find it to be anywhere near the one paper grade that has been reported by others. The noted increase is, from what I have been told, to the scattering of light in a diffusion head actually reducing contrast.
Originally Posted by noseoil
It is not that the condensor head creates more contrast. If you think about it contrast is already there on the negative thus it can not be created. It is just that the condensor head more accurately represents the contrast.
I have made a slight adjustment in my development times. Nothing earth shattering in nature.
I find myself printing at fairly high contrast settings on some of my condensor prints...for instance the Dock image that is presently posted in the gallery was printed at grade 3 1/2. The negative density range was 1.10 on that image. The other image (Wood Detail) that I have posted has a negative density range of 1.30 and was printed at grade 2 1/2 on my condensor enlarger. According to the Negative by Adams...those should be showing chalk and soot tonalities.
So in summation...The condensor enlarger does more accurately represent the information on the negative. It does not create contrast since contrast is already on the negative. Finally take the information that people report with a "grain of salt"...as Fred Picker used to say "Try it"...Good luck.
BTW: at the start of this thread, Donald directed me to an article on the Durst USA website. While the article is heavily slanted toward condensor enlargers, it none the less made for interesting reading. The article was well hidden in the website; here is a link that I hope will work: http://www.jensen-optical.com/PDF_FI...ED%20LIGHT.pdf
Very true. But what I have learned from this thread is the tremendous difference between condensor enlarger design/quality. I wasn't aware that there was such a difference; I think my Omega B-22 may have to go!
This is one of those areas that can turn into a can of ..... something. My take on this, having used both condenser and diffusion is closer to what Les said above. It is the printer, not the enlarger.
"If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will fall over" - Fudd's First Law of Opposition
While there are definitely differences between the two, I think it is important to remain realistic about the importance of one over the other. Get your working methods down, and either can produce excellent prints. But some people make it sound like if you're not printing with a cold light head, you can't produce exhibition quality prints. This is absolute bollocks, of course - my person experience has pointed out that I can produce some thoroughly high-end prints on my grumpy Omega D2 condenser in a temporarily converted laundry room with blankets taped over the door. Some people take it to heart, though, that condenser enlarging is somehow intrinsically inferior to cold light, and seem willing to do everything short of taking out a third mortgage to get a cold light head. Regardless of the difference, great prints can be made with either type of light source. The difference can be important, but it's nothing to panic over if you don't have the "right" one.
Great prints have been made with both systems.
IMO, some of the arguments in Jensen article piece (link provided above by Doug) are nonsense. Comparing shadows cast with sunlight to shadows cast by diffused fluorescent light completly ignores the enlarging lens. After arguments have been made to persuade many readers that sunlight and shadows shows the collimated light sources are superior, the enlarging lens is finally mentioned and conceded to have some role in the process. There is also use of moralistic words rather than technical terminology, e.g., diffusion density isn't "washout", nor is it "flare".
For a truly excellent and scientific comparison of diffusion and condenser sources, try to find a copy of "Controls in Black-and-White Photography (2nd ed)" by Richard J. Henry. It is out of print but can be found at the internet used book search sites.
If you want to compare sharpness from the two types of enlargers, be sure to carefully match the contrast of the prints. A more contrasty print will be perceived as sharper.
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Dead ON!!! There are a number of "cracks" in this article ... one in that he assumes that every lamp merely radiates in all directions - the last time I looked, the EYA Halogen lamp in my D5500 has a built-in parabolic reflector. That serves to "directionalize" - collimate to some extent - the output from the filament. *After* this "raw" light (from either system) passes through the enlarging lens the rays (see "ray trace") follow the same paths anyway ... otherwise there would be no definite focal plane.
Originally Posted by MichaelBriggs
The REAL reason to collimate is not to affect "sharpness"; it is to provide even illumination across the focal plane.
I've worked with optical systems with adjustable collimation. To set these up, one removes the projection lens and works the adjusting screws (or whatever) until the lamp filament projected to the focal plane is *centered* and in the best possible focus. That will insure the most even illumination possible over the plane of focus.
A system with condensing lenses - IMHO - n.b. - is NOT clearly and absolutely superior. It is more complex, heavier, more expensive - "feistier" in many ways - and possibly delivers "brighter" light (tad more efficient).
While I doubt the "superiority" I don't think there is an "inferiority" either. It is a matter of ... aesthetics, tastes, superstition ... whatever... a LOT like everything else in photography.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
I certainly don't want to start a war over this matter. It has been argued consistantly over many years. In fact I argued the side of diffusion sources for many years. That was before I tried both systems.
My results indicate that a well designed condensor system gives not only greater sharpness in the print, it also gives improved local contrast in the print. I think the only way that I became convinced was to try it.
If local contrast and sharpness do not exists to a degree when they are presented to the enlarging lens the enlarging lens has no ability to create what is not there. The argument about the enlarging lens really doesn't have a bearing in this matter so far as I can see. The enlarging lens has no capability to impart a characteristic that does not exist prior to it's involvement in the process. Use a crappy enlarging lens and you will get crappy results with either enlarging system. Use a better quality enlarging lens and you will get better results with either system. The type of light that is passing through the negative equates to "junk in junk out" when it comes to the lens.
So far as I see it based upon results from both enlarging systems in my darkroom the Durst condensor system is far superior to the Saunders VCCE system in terms of sharpness and local contrast. It is also inferior to the Saunders VCCE or an Aristo Cold Light head that I used for years before in terms of apparent dust and scratches on the print. I find that, in my experience, the increased sharpness and local contrast comes at a price.
The question that I never considered in all of my years of arguing diffusion light sources was "why does a diffusion source eliminate dust to a great degree and not effect sharpness to the same degree?" ...as I see it the enlarger or lens has no ability to differentiate between sharpness at one point and not another. If the enlarger light source is washing away the dust then it must be because the light is not passing through the negative as perpendicularly in a diffusion source. If it is washing away the effects of dust on the negative then it must by consequence be washing away local contrast and sharpness. This affects sharpness in my experience, in my darkroom, and on my prints.
I don't know that I accept Ed's explanation for the sole consideration for collimated light sources. That may be one consideration based upon his experience. I find it difficult to accept that this is the only consideration. It is sort of like saying that the only reason for the use of salt in my diet is for electolyte balance in my body. There are other considerations as well, as I see it. For one my food tastes better with salt. Or for that matter it would be akin to saying that automobiles are manufactured for transportation only. That statement is very limited...it takes into account none of the attentuating and coincidental considerations.
However, I think that everyone should use whatever they choose. I honestly hope that more people buy and use diffusion type enlargers. It will make my prints look awfully good by comparison. Good luck.
Who said "sole"? - Or "Only"? I thought I made it very clear in the last paragraph that other reasons were there - and that I recognized them ... "Tastes good", "Feels good" ... aesthetics -- or whatever. And ... I checked ... the "IMHO" - "In My Humble Opinion" seemed pretty clear to me.
Originally Posted by Donald Miller
I was trying to make the point that there was NO clear-cut winner **IMHO**; and that some of the arguments supporting "condenser" systems seemed a little weak. Did I miss something ... was "evenness of illumination" cited anywhere?
Ed Sukach, FFP.
I think that it was cited in your earlier post. Apart from you citing it, I don't think that anyone engaged in enlarging a photographic negative would consider that a debatable issue. It would appear that it must be a "given". For without that then all else is for nothing.
Originally Posted by Ed Sukach
I don't really care to debate this issue. I am happy that you are happy with whatever system you choose to use. Good luck to you.
I recently started to use an enlarger with a diffuse light-source after several years with a pure condenser (Durst L54).
My conclusion so far is that both have their applications. If sharp grain is what you are after a good (!) condenser has an edge <g>. My snapshots on Tri-X simply have more snappy grain and appear sharper when enlarged with the condenser. Otherwise a diffuse light-source is easier to work with. I haven't found any pronounced differences with respect to better tonality besides a 1 Grad difference so far but keep looking. It is to early to draw any further conlusions.