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  1. #1

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    Aligning Enlarger

    I recently purchased a Beseler 23C-II. I'm the third owner that I know of and it had been setting in a garage for the past couple years. I cleaned it up and printed with it yesterday. I noticed that when the center of the image was in focus, the corners weren't. When the left corner closest to me was in focus the rest of the image wasn't, and so on. It wasn't drastic, just little tweaks to the focusing knob would put the other areas of the negative in focus but I'm assuming the enlarger is out of alignment. The print also displayed out of focus areas.

    I've read in the manual how to align. I've also read people use home made laser aligners and products such as zig-align. My question is, will the method outlined in the manual, using a carpenter square and level suffice? Do the newer alignment tools available do a much better job than using a square and level?

    Thanks,
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    Kenton Brede
    http://kentonbrede.com/

  2. #2
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    I have never used the laser, only the square and level. I suspect that the laser may be quicker, but the square and level certainly worked well for my Beseler 45.

  3. #3
    Patrick Robert James's Avatar
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    A laser is the easiest way and most accurate. If you can afford it, get one.

  4. #4
    Henry Alive's Avatar
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    I always had doubts about the correct alignment of my enlarger, even when my squad and the level said it was fine. When I bought the laser I discovered it was quite out of alignment. I really recomend you to buy the laser.

  5. #5
    craigclu's Avatar
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    I wish someone would have talked me into a laser device years before I finally purchased one. Fast and easy with results that are easily seen. The 23C series doesn't adjust all planes easily but some shim stock will be a great help and you may not readily see the access points for each needed adjustment but commit some time to an initial set up and only small tweaks should be required after that. There's no shortage of techniques and tools for the task but the laser makes it so simple and easy that you're apt to actually keep your gear more tuned because of the ease of doing it.
    Craig Schroeder

  6. #6
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Robert James View Post
    A laser is the easiest way and most accurate. If you can afford it, get one.
    Patrick Robert James, as it happens, I was looking for an alignment tool, and so I have been doing a little research. I used to think as you do, that lasers are most accurate, but I have been led to believe than an even more accurate device is one that uses multiple reflections of the test image. Laser reflects only once, from the mirror, and you check if it hits the bull's eye. Zig Align, and similar systems, reflect the image multiple times, against two mirrors, magnifying any alignment errors much more than a single-reflection laser device would. If you have the time, the maker of zig align describes this difference between lasers and his device here: http://www.zig-align.com/zig-align/z...s._lasers.html

    Having said all of that, until now, I have relied on spirit levels, sheets of flat glass, and a scratched negative that I would check using my grain focuser. I feel I should do it in a better way, but perhaps I will find no effect on my printing at all.
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  7. #7
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I have a 45MXT and I use a level. First I make sure the bench is perfectly level and I try to make head aligned the neg stage then the lens stage. I also have a negative of some screen I shot. I project the grid on the base board and use a grain focuser.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  8. #8
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Since you can see that it is off, try it with the level and see if it makes a difference. Like others, I recommend the laser.

  9. #9

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    Laser. Much better than Zig-align, which is better than levels. You won't regret it. Worth every penny. I've had mine for 12+ years and it would be one of the first darkroom items to be replaced if lost or damaged. Very useful for copy work as well.

  10. #10

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    Another vote for lazer. It's worth every penny and then some. Very quick and precise. You don't know how great it is until you get one.

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