Richard -- While a slight loss in grain edge sharpness is noticable in many focusing aids in the center of the image when stopping an El-Nikkor from f/5.6 to f/8, it isn't conspicuous in prints.
There often is a difference between the focus plane in focusing aids. Perhaps some aids are designed to be used on the bare easel while others are intended to be used on a piece of paper the thickness of the photo paper. The difference is inperceptible to many of us. Sloppy manufacturing and user maladjustment can also cause errors.
The purpose of aligning enlargers is to make the image on the easel as sharp as possible from corner to corner. Several methods of checking this alignment use indirect and artifical ways of achieving this. It doesn't matter if the film, lens board, and easel are perfectly parallel as long as the image is sharp from corner to corner! To check this in a condenser enlarger, I lightly abrade one surface of a piece of clear film with both coarse and fine sandpaper. With the lens aperture wide open, all corners of the image should simultaneously become sharp as you focus. If so, enarger alighment is O.K. If not, some enlargers have adjustments to correct the problem. Also, the negative carrier can be shimmed with tape to fine tune the alignment. When all four corners of the image are sharp, the alignment is good and the center should also be sharp. If the center is unsharp, it may be due to film buckling. Your glass carrier will solve this problem. Some cheap lenses do not form a perfectly flat image. In this case, stopping down may let them be used.
I have both the f2.8 and f4 Nikkors and apart from the fact that the f2.8 is clearly brighter for focussing, I'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them at the kind of enlargements I do (up to 11" x 14"). I only ever use a glass neg carrier for 2 1/4" square by necessity and find it a right pain. All those extra surfaces to collect dust and the occasional print that shows Newton's rings (despite the glass manufacturer's insistence that this is "anti-Newton's ring glass") leave me doing my utmost to avoid complicating matters even more by using glass for 35mm printing!
Originally Posted by Steve Roberts
I made some test with the different lenses and couldn't tell anything different with my enlarger. I have been playing with the glass carriers and I did find that without glass my edges were fuzzy from the center sharp with out glass. This was wide open on the lens though. I am going to stay with the glass for the time being. I did see some dust spots but that is normal for my setup anyway. I haven't come across the rings yet but will deal with that when and if it happens.
Thanks for your info.
Originally Posted by RichardH
Unfortunately, on the occasions that the rings appear I don't usually notice them until the otherwise perfect prints (yeah! - right!) are dry. They don't show up very much in darkroom light and when the prints are wet. I normally aim to print at about f8 and any small amount of curvature on a 35mm neg isn't a problem (though the subject matter often is!)
Thanks Jim and Steve for the info.
Now that everything is plumb and square and flat, it's time to make the perfect print. I print both B+W and color with the color head. I am going to try the C-41 B+W film that I have never tried or used. All the jars and storage bottles are taking over my darkroom. Seems I can't move without bumping into a bottle on the floor. So, I want to downsize my storage space and just keep a few chemicals for processing. I don't have much room in the darkroom ( converted spare bathroom ) and it has gotten so tight with space, I can't move for the bottles in the way.
In the 80's, I had a pro color lab and had plenty of room. Roller transport, Durst roll paper printers, 1 enlarger. Seperate color and B+W darkrooms.
Tray processing color is a totally new experience now.
I bought a bunch of Pentax Spotmatics' and am having fun going through them also. I like manual cameras and have all ways liked being the one to blame if it didn't turn out right. The new cameras have taken the fun out of shooting. Auto this and auto that.
I tried digital recently and didn't like it at all.
Enough rambling. Thanks for the info sent.
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Last year I bought used metal El-Nikkor F/4 lenses to replace community DR crap 3 element and some F/3.5 optics. I found the F/4 had better contrast than older (somewhat dirty) Leitz F/4.5 optics. In my judgement (no testing data) the Nikkor F/4 performs as well at F/8 as the faster El Nikkor. If enlarging past 8X all bets are off since the F/2.8 is multicoated and 6 elements. The F/2.8 should be better to the corners on a wider range of apertures. The bottom line is the El Nikkor (Tesser) F/4 is a very good lens if used in it's sweet spot.
Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 09-24-2012 at 08:55 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I used the ,almost universally derided ,F/4 Nikkor 50 for years,before I traded up to the 50/2.8,then the 63/2.8.
Originally Posted by Richard Jepsen
I have grain-sharp,corner to corner enlargements from all of these lenses.Rumor has it the 63/3.5 was the pick of the litter.
It is a tradeoff between sample variation,and alignment IMHO.And the 2.8F lenses are all great at 4-5.6,and increasingly poor at F8 & below.