Beseler Minolta 45a color head
I picked up a Beseler Minolta 45a head. It's clean and it appears to be in good condition. Everything I tested on the controller and the head with the exception of the color analyzer seemed to function as described in the manual. I'm going to clean the color filters and inspect the exposure tubes tomorrow, then try some printing.
I have a few starter questions:
1) I can't get the color analyzer to work. It displays __E for the R, G, B values at all apertures. I've got a negative in the holder and enarged to 8x10 size on the easel. What are the proper conditions or technique for getting a color analyzer reading?
2) What is the typical life of a focus tube or an exposure tube when used for 35mm enlargements to 8x10? The exposure tubes must still be in usable condition because the exposure dry runs I did completed in about 7 seconds with none of the channels lagging behind the others, and no error codes on the controller. The focus tube works too, but it is sputtering in a way that may indicate that it is near the end of its useful life. If I decide that I like this head for color work, I will get some spares (watch for more cheap heads to scavange tubes from, most likely).
3) How do you print a ring-around using the ring-around feature on the controller? If I had a Saunders PR810 easel, I would try to make eight of the nine ring-around exposures as wallet-sized prints on a single sheet of 8x10. But I don't have one. What's a good technique that doesn't consume a lot of paper?
4) Any other practical tips to get the most out of the 45a?
I never bothered using the color analyzer or the ring-around, so i can't help with that.
Instead i just made some test prints and made corrections from there. I think i made 5 or 6 prints to get it correct but when you find the correct settings you will see that there is little need to make much adjustments if you stick with the same color negative film. It usually takes only one sheet to make a small adjustment if needed.
Spare tubes are hard to find now, there's usually some on the auction site but they are not cheap. I bought a few and have a complete spare head with controller just in case but i have yet to burn out a tube so i think they last quite well. That said, i don't used the 45A for B&W so it does not get that much use.
Skip, good choice. Do you have the manuals for this head? If not, I can post a zip file of all of them.
Focus tube sputtering is normal, it's cycling many times a second. Tubes in general last a long time. I have at least 600-700 8x10s on my current used set, printing at f/8. I am going to start printing at 5.6 with a new enlarging lens I have, that will double the life of the tubes vs f/8.
I rarely use the ringaround or analyzer these days, but they are nice if you print on a lot of different papers or with different film emulsions.
That's good to know that the focus tube is acting normal. The ends near the metal caps are a bit darkened, which the manual says is a sign of age. I will get a spare so I have one on hand.
My head didn't come with a manual, but I searched APUG and found where you posted a link to one previously, so that's what I using. It was a zip file that had scans of both old and new version of the manual and a bunch of documents from ColorBat. All very helpful. Here is the link from the other thread:
I had a very good time printing today with the 45A. It didn't take me long to get the hang of it. I started with the suggested settings in the manual for color negative film, and it only took me three exposures to zero in on the proper density and color balance. The same basic settings worked for most of the roll, which had been shot over the span of about an hour under the same lighting conditions. I did have to tweak density on a frame or two, and the 45A makes this very easy to do without changing the aperture of the lens or affecting the color balance. The last few frames were shot on a different day and under different lighting, and so required some adjustments.
My paper is old, 10 or 12 years, not stored particularly well, and it has a faint greyish cast to it. So none of these prints are presentation quality. But it's perfect for me to practice with. Sadly, I've got another 200 or so sheets of it.
Dry to dry with the Fujimoto CP-31 is definitely the way to go. It makes the whole process of color printing much simpler.
Ed, in case you read this, my developer is getting quite dark, an almost purplish color, and this after only about 40 prints through it. I'm replenishing about 10ml per print. Is this normal?
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Skip, good to hear it is working out well, and that you found the manuals link. Developer does tend to darken, I think, mine definitely does to some extent. Nothing much to worry about as long as it is still working well I'd say. I use that same replenishment setting on my cp31 setup as well. It is pretty frugal with chemistry, when set like that. Definitely a nice thing from a cost perspective.
If you can align your enlarger well enough that you can have the corners sharp at f5.6 or close to wide open, that will help extend tube life. For medium format I was exposing at f/8, but with laser alignment, I think I can print sharp prints now at 5.6 or 6, hopefully.
Are you printing 35mm only? If so, get and use the 35mm mixing chamber, it concentrates the light more, saves tube life, and brighter focusing, etc. I have at least 2 of those, if you need one.
The vast majority (80% or more) will be 35mm. I do shoot MF in color neg also, and 4x5 now and then. I'll PM you.
For 35mm, I'm using a 63mm EL-Nikkor on a Beseler 45MCRX. Alignment holds pretty well once set. The EL-Nikkor goes from f/2.8 to f/16. I'm exposing at f/5.6 and getting even sharpness across the frame at near 8x10 enlargement. Exposures are about 7 to 8 seconds. My printing numbers yesterday on a roll of Ektar 100 ranged from 121/101/66 to 133/112/77, with some variations in the red/cyan numbers. This is really old paper, so not sure if that is typical.