Some problems after my first night with the 23C-II...
I'm impressed by the ease of use of this simple machine.
Some quick problems, though, that I would love some help with.
I can't get the corners sharp. I am using a 50mm EL-Nikkor 2.8 so the lens isn't the problem. Short of buying a glass carrier, how would I determine if it's simply negative curl creating this issue? When I stop down to f/8 on an 8x10 print, it's only noticable when you come pretty close to the print. At 16x20 it looks pretty bad. It's not one particular side or corner either, it's all of the corners though the rest of the negative looks sharp. Does this sound like alignment or simply the usual 35mm negative curl?
Second, my enlargement exposure times are ridiculously short. I was using some old Agfa VC RC paper in Ilford Warmtone developer. At f/8 for an 8x10 even a ten second exposure is pushing it. At f/5.6 and a ten second exposure, the paper is spending maybe 15 seconds in the developer before I have to pull it out. How would I go about getting longer exposure times so I can actually dodge and burn? I don't want to go to f/16 as diffraction noticably cuts down on sharpness. Would a dimmer switch work? FYI, the bulb is 75W.
Third, the negative popping is absolutely driving me nuts. In the five seconds it takes me to get a sheet of paper out of the bag (paper safe is in the mail), place it in the easel, and turn on the timer...the image is already out of focus and comes back into focus during the exposure. A wonderful blurry print. This is the one problem that is really irking me. I would like to get the universal Anti-Newton carrier, even if it only solves this one problem...but then, isn't that carrier nearly the same price as a cold light head (please correct me if I'm mistaken)? Wouldn't that also solve the negative pop due to heat? But if the glass carrier solves both the corner sharpness and the popping vs the cold light only solving the popping, I think I would opt for the carrier for now.
I'm still pretty new to printing, folks, so thanks for any words of wisdom you may impart upon me.
The 23C-II was my last enlarger and I have a question for you: what size negatives are you using? I've had the same problem with corner sharpness and I was never able to solve it to my satisfaction. The enlarger is a good one if it is set up perfectly level and locked in place. I'd be interested to know how you solve these issues but I always assumed it was due to the lenses I had for the enlarger - they were both a rather awkward length. I printed mostly from 6x6 or 6x4.5 negatives.
I do have a couple of comments: If I remember correctly there is a place for a piece of glass between the light source and the diffuser - perhaps a piece of heat-absorbing glass would help the negative popping. I'm sure someone else here could give you some idea of where to pick one of those up.
Also I believe you can use ND filters to increase the exposure time. If you have one for any of your lenses you should be able to place it on the filter holder and have plenty of clearance to get your image through without hitting the edges of the filter. If you don't have any neutral density filters I would recommend buying one as they can be very useful in many different ways.
Best of luck - I'll be following this one closely as I'm sure I'll be putting that machine to use again sometime in the future (right now it is sitting abandoned at home in Canada.) If I think of anything else I'll be sure to share.
The AN glass carrier is worthwhile. Keeps the neg nice and flat. I just sold one for about $45, so you can find them sometimes for a reasonable price. You can make a glass negative carrier yourself out of sheets of glass. Might be good for testing at least. Are you using multigrade filters? If not, using the filters would add to exposure time. A dimmer switch is not usually good for VC papers because it changes the color of the light. Don't be afraid to stop down to f11 if you need more time for dodging. Also, don't pull the print early from the developer as you won't be able to get a full range of tones. Good luck.
I am still fairly new to printing (< 2 months), but I currently have the 23C-II and I just want to confirm that the condensor stage knob is correctly set to the top for 35mm? Just a mistake that I learned very quickly. Secondly, if negative curl seems to be a problem, you might want to look at purchasing a Negatrans. I was able to find it on the 'bay for very little. I don't seem to suffer from curl or corner softness. I also use multigrade filters and that helps with exposure time. Good luck!
Currently in rotation:
Yes, the condenser has to be all the way up (or almost all the way). I was wondering about that, too.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
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Have no experience with this particular enlarger, however, two observations.
As Vaughn says, is the condenser set properly?
If times are too short, how about a lower wattage bulb. If it uses the regular style bulbs, the PH211=75W, PH212=150W, and PH213=250W. Another thought is a piece of density filter above the negative carrier.
Just some thoughts.
Would James' suggestion of a ND filter be a better option than a switch?
Originally Posted by Jon Shiu
On this particular shot I used a 3.5 contrast filter, exposed for ten seconds at f/8 and even so I couldn't keep it in the developer for more than 30 seconds, which still seems short. I had to pull it, the entire image was just getting too dark. I'll see if I can post a photo of the print when I get home.
I use a 23CII exclusively, and I also had a problem with negative "pop". I obtained a piece of heat absorbing glass, especially made for this enlarger, and it solved the problem immediately -- I believe I got it from B&H.
Regarding the sharpness issues, it sounds like you need to give your enlarger a thorough alignment. You can search these forums and find a wide variety of methods and contraptions that users will recommend for this, but I did it the conventional way by following the instructions in the manual. If you don't have a manual, you can search these forums, do a Google search, or check out ebay. Start by making sure the baseboard of the enlarger is perfectly level in all directions, using shims if necessary. Then make sure that your easel is level as is sits on the baseboard, again using shims. Then follow the directions in the manual making sure that each stage is level as you go. I've done this and have no problems with corner sharpness.
I use Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper, and I also have exposure times of from 8 to 13 seconds at f/8 for an
8 x 10, and I don't find this a problem, even when I want to dodge or burn, which is not often. I often will print smaller and have no hesitiation to stop down to f/11, with no noticeable loss in image quality.
When I was using a 23C, I had the same problems with the corners being out of focus. A glass neg carrier solved the problem.
Beseler made a variable resistor unit to increase the exposures, but the best solution is to use the variable contrast filters, or even an ND filter above the lens. That Nikkor 50/2.8 will give best sharpness around f8.
Thanks everyone for the responses. I am using 35mm film and have the condenser head set all the way to the top as it should be.
Are there regular style bulbs that are less than 75W? I'm using a PH 75W bulb.