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  1. #11
    pstake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Probably.

    The valoy print looks darker and more contrasty. Both of these things can make a print look sharper. The slightly smoother gradation you get from a diffusion head can also have an effect. Very hard to evaluate the lenses this way.

    I don't think anyone will be able to give you accurate observations based on scans.
    Thanks, Michael.

    It really shouldn't matter but due to my various neuroses, it will nag at me if I am using the much-more convenient enlarger, knowing that I'm not transferring my zeiss taking glass as effectively as I could. I prefer to get the sharpness / lens situation nailed from the start and not have any questions about it left in my mind thereafter, even it if means no autofocus. As with all other technical aspects of photography, confidence in the process I've established frees me to focus (pardon the pun) on printing.

    Guess I'll be doing a little testing. I'm going to make the same print using a known tack-sharp negative on the v35, using each lens focused manually.

    If anyone knows a better method, please let me know.

  2. #12
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    The real question is: Does it really matter?

    You might see a closer approximation of the actual sharpness when you start making larger prints. But then again, I don't know what size you're currently printing at.

    I will say this, though: If you want to compare how sharp your prints look from two different enlargers, you ought to be using the same lens. And you need to try to match the contrast, taking into account the higher contrast a condenser enlarger automatically gives you.
    Also, are you using a high quality grain focuser? You can fine tune the focus of the V35 by rotating the helical ring at the lens.

    My own V35 is a dream to use, and I love it to bits. Compared to prints from my Omega, using the same 40mm Focotar lens, with prints made to the the same final contrast, I can't see that much of a difference, honestly. Until I go to 11x14 size, that is. And this is where the V35 starts to really shine for me. But it's still subtle, and I would be equally happy with the prints from either machine. The difference is, to me, how much easier it is to use the V35, how much fun it is, and the amazingly consistent results.

    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  3. #13
    pstake's Avatar
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    http://www.google.com/products/catal...ed=0CEwQ8wIwAA

    Above is a link to the grain focuser I use. It's a Bestwell Micro Sight. I've used worse...but not sure if it merits "high quality."

    The V35 is absolutely a pleasure to use. Quick, easy and consistent. I made eight identical postcards in about 15 minutes. I might have done two with the Valoy.

    Thomas, are you saying that with the same Focotar 40 on your Omega and V35, prints look about the same until 11x14, at which point the V35 prints are better?

    My prints are usually smaller ... 4x6 (postcards), 5x7 ... and most often 8x10. Sometimes 11x14 but that's the biggest size for which I have trays to process.

    I'll be doing some testing to settle the matter once and for all, for myself and my peace of mind, if nothing else. Same enlarger, negative, both lenses — on both enlargers — using the under-the lens filters on the Valoy II and the closest approximation via color head on the v35.

    Thanks for all the feedback, Thomas and Michael.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    The real question is: Does it really matter?

    You might see a closer approximation of the actual sharpness when you start making larger prints. But then again, I don't know what size you're currently printing at.

    I will say this, though: If you want to compare how sharp your prints look from two different enlargers, you ought to be using the same lens. And you need to try to match the contrast, taking into account the higher contrast a condenser enlarger automatically gives you.
    Also, are you using a high quality grain focuser? You can fine tune the focus of the V35 by rotating the helical ring at the lens.

    My own V35 is a dream to use, and I love it to bits. Compared to prints from my Omega, using the same 40mm Focotar lens, with prints made to the the same final contrast, I can't see that much of a difference, honestly. Until I go to 11x14 size, that is. And this is where the V35 starts to really shine for me. But it's still subtle, and I would be equally happy with the prints from either machine. The difference is, to me, how much easier it is to use the V35, how much fun it is, and the amazingly consistent results.

    - Thomas

  4. #14
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pstake
    Above is a link to the grain focuser I use. It's a Bestwell Micro Sight. I've used worse...but not sure if it merits "high quality."
    I'm sure the Bestwell is all right. The one I use is a Peak Model 2. Link It does the job nicely, but I'm sure your Bestwell does the job similarly.

    Quote Originally Posted by pstake
    Thomas, are you saying that with the same Focotar 40 on your Omega and V35, prints look about the same until 11x14, at which point the V35 prints are better?
    Yes. It seems that the larger the magnification, the less 'perceived sharpness' from contrast and grain seems to matter, and true sharpness shines through.

    Regarding the enlarging lens and your comparison. You don't really need to move the 50mm lens from the Valoy to the V35. It's not the easiest thing to calibrate it for the 40mm again once you're done. But moving the 40mm Focotar from the V35 to the Valoy makes sense, and will make the comparison viable. Why do double the work, AND be stuck with the 'wrong' focal length lens on the V35?
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by pstake View Post
    Thanks, Michael.

    It really shouldn't matter but due to my various neuroses, it will nag at me if I am using the much-more convenient enlarger, knowing that I'm not transferring my zeiss taking glass as effectively as I could. I prefer to get the sharpness / lens situation nailed from the start and not have any questions about it left in my mind thereafter, even it if means no autofocus. As with all other technical aspects of photography, confidence in the process I've established frees me to focus (pardon the pun) on printing.

    Guess I'll be doing a little testing. I'm going to make the same print using a known tack-sharp negative on the v35, using each lens focused manually.

    If anyone knows a better method, please let me know.
    I understand. I have the same neuroses. It took me months to decide between a Schneider and Rodenstock even though I knew there was no difference and I wouldn't be able to see one anyway.

    If you are mostly printing 8x10 or smaller, both your lenses will produce tack sharp prints. The most critical things are enlarger alignment and negative flatness.

    If you're going to try to test the lenses, make sure to print with each lens at a few middle apertures.

  6. #16
    pstake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    I'm sure the Bestwell is all right. The one I use is a Peak Model 2. Link It does the job nicely, but I'm sure your Bestwell does the job similarly.
    A little embarrassed to admit that my grain focuser was not focused correctly on its internal reticle.

    I bet my prints get a bit sharper, now.

    sheepishly,
    Phil

  7. #17
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    I have two enlargers in my darkroom, a Durst Graduate, (giving that snap to resolution and sharpness) to prints made with a condenser enlarger. The other is a De Vere 504 with a Dichromatic Head. I use both depending on what I’m trying to print; however, the De Vere is the one which I use to produce ultimate quality in terms of exposure and contrast. In short, it is the dog’s bollocks of enlargers.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  8. #18

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    Interesting thread, as I've been going through similar issues with my two enlargers/lenses. For the last couple of years, I've been using my old Focomat 1b with the 50mm Focotar 2 lens.......this is very easy to use, with accurate autofocus speeding things up considerably. The only thing not to like about it is the amount of dust and scratches that show through to the final print.......I end up spending ages on spotting! I know that the real answer is to improve cleanliness all round, but this is not easy, especially when my darkroom doubles sometimes as our kitchen!! So, I've recently re-commissioned my Durst 305 with colour head........certainly less spotting is required, so for the time being this is my in-use enlarger. Now, the question of which lens to use? Using the Durst, I've been comparing the Minolta CE 50mm f2.8 lens that I've always used in it with the Focotar 2, and I'd say that the difference in print appearance between the two lenses is at least as great as between the two enlargers. The Minolta is clearly more contrasty, giving the initial appearance of greater sharpness; under a loupe, however, the sharpness seems to be the same, at least on a 10 x 8 print. The Leitz lens seems to handle contrast in a more delicate way, somehow, if that makes sense? I guess which one is "better" depends very much on the negative, and also on the effect desired. Anyway, my point is that it would definitely be worth comparing the two lenses in the same enlarger, as any comparison of different enlargers with different lenses contains simply too many variables.......and that any presumed difference between the enlargers (ie condensor vs diffuser) could be, in fact, more a matter of differences between lenses?

    Anyway........all very interesting stuff!

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