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  1. #1

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    The precise enlarger...

    I did about an hour google marathon search session basically asking what the most precise, adjustment laden enlarger is in terms of alignment and came up with an amazing amount of nothingness.

    What I mean by this is for example, the design of the bellows and stage assembly of the Beseler CB7 has a more precise and adjustable alignment system than the more spartan but still popular 45MX. I have the assembly for a mural enlarger project and it got me thinking about why more enlargers do not have some form of worm driven adjustment on all critical axis like precision X, Y & Z staging does. For example, when in my early 20's I built and aligned hi-tech wafer probing stations that employed an extreme amount of precision and adjustments:

    http://www.ppli.com/

    I find the alignment of enlarger to be used for large prints along these lines and would like to either build in more precision and adjustment or cut to the chase in terms of what is the most capable enlarge in this regard. I don't believe they have to be 8 feet tall and weigh 400 pounds, I worked on this kind of stuff, it was the design, not a massive build that made it work well.

    So my question is what is the most precise and adjustable 4x5 enlarger out here that would not be a huge amont bigger than my current 45MX?
    "I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~

  2. #2
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    4x5 enlargers aren't, and don't have to be, precision machines. Admittedly a 5lb sledge hammer is part of the alignment kit for a 45mx, but it does a good job for the money. If you really want to be dissatisfied with this enlarger try measuring the illumination uniformity.

    As someone said: "35mm cameras resemble watch works, 11x14 cameras resemble furniture."

    Probably the most alignable enlargers are the old rectifying enlargers. But I doubt you could find many that were under 8 feet tall, or weighing less than 400lbs.

    If you are looking for the most machine-tool-like 4x5 enlarger that would fit a domestic environment then the Durst 138 and L1200 might make you happy. I don't know that either has worm-gear adjustments for alignment.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
    f-Stop Timers - Enlarging Meters
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/da-main.htm

  3. #3

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    That is kind of what I thought too, but I also thought somewhere between a 5LB sledge and a half a million dollar wafer probing setup ought to be feasible too. That's why this CB7 head I just got has me wondering. Not only is it in mint condition, the worm gear movements on both the neg and lens board stage just make so much sence.

    I agree with the illumination in the 45M series though, it really needs to be a 7" cone instead of the 6.4" one it seems to be, but I think I can rig something there too, l'll just have to see what this newly acquired 45S color head puts out in that regard.

    The thing with the 45MX is that I used it in high school, then the college class I took, then at two of the three newspaper jobs I had, so it spoke to me on it's merits and availability when selecting an enlarger for the long term, spare parts and eventually for a workshop environment. It also kind of selected me since it was all a big bad ass package deal and was a two hour drive away to pickup.

    I guess the reason I ask this stuff is because I now have different wants and desires and can actually see my self making some rather innovative and not very expensive improvements to the 45 if I felt like it was worth it. I guess you just end up with a different take on it all after working on things like those pricey X,Y,Z stages not to mention other fun self propelled projects.

    For example, if I had nothing better to do with my money, I might hire Chamonix Camera to make me a totally modular vertical and horizontal mural enlarger...the 4x5 of they make that I own, it's very well thought out and precise.

    Precision can help get a handle on consistency and I like consistency...:-)
    "I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~

  4. #4
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PKM-25 View Post
    ...large prints ...
    Critical alignment is needed for large magnification ratios. Many people (like myself and Nicholas) will go to a bigger negative when making a very large print. That keeps the magnification ratio down which means we don't need 'micrometer precise' alignment.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    Critical alignment is needed for large magnification ratios. Many people (like myself and Nicholas) will go to a bigger negative when making a very large print. That keeps the magnification ratio down which means we don't need 'micrometer precise' alignment.
    That's just common sense. But are you saying you would just get a 4x5 LVT made of a 120 neg if going to a size like 40"? Because that part does not make sense...

    I feel like even a 30x40 from a 4x5 neg is would benefit highly from some better adjustment.
    This is a really weird craft at times, who in the hell would ever say no to some better design implementation in terms of precision? Especially if it could be done without a lot of mass and expense.

    I just wanted to check to make sure the enlarger I would rather use does not exist and it does not seem to, so I will just make it out of the one I have.

    By the way, that Durst L1200 / VLS501 set sure looks nice, but I do not yet have that kind of room and it goes for a pretty penny...;-)
    Last edited by PKM-25; 01-11-2013 at 09:39 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    "I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PKM-25 View Post
    That's just common sense. But are you saying you would just get a 4x5 LVT made of a 120 neg if going to a size like 40"? Because that part does not make sense...

    I feel like even a 30x40 from a 4x5 neg is would benefit highly from some better adjustment.
    This is a really weird craft at times, who in the hell would ever say no to some better design implementation in terms of precision? Especially if it could be done without a lot of mass and expense.

    I just wanted to check to make sure the enlarger I would rather use does not exist and it does not seem to, so I will just make it out of the one I have.

    By the way, that Durst L1200 / VLS501 set sure looks nice, but I do not yet have that kind of room and it goes for a pretty penny...;-)
    "Go to a bigger negative" as in "choose a camera with a bigger negative." If a small negative needs high magnification, sure one has to toil with the exacting details.

    I do see you point in the original post and have often wondered the same thing as to why I cant have and x and y micrometer knob to set the alignment of the lens stage.

    I will say that one of the best alignment stages I have is on my D5500 Omega.
    The thumb screw in the middle sets front-to-back tilt and the other two adjust side-to-side tilt.
    Last edited by ic-racer; 01-11-2013 at 11:27 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    ok,here is another thoughtwhy is it thatequipment,featuring fine adjustmentsneeds frequent adjusting. why not built something self-adjusting or adjustment free?
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  8. #8

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    Precise enlarger question: Option #1: Durst. Option #2 Durst. Option #3: Durst. ...Affordability question: Answer #1: luck. Answer #2: patience.

  9. #9

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    I could see getting a L1200 when I have the room. In all honesty, the 45MX is doing fine at the max size I can print which is 20x24 for now. That with the Versalab laser and it will suffice.

    I just wondered what was out there and how much adjustment it had.
    "I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~

  10. #10

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    The Durst 138 has adjustments for the adjustments, all over the place. You just don't see materials
    and machining like that any more. But these things often cost $15,000 or so when they were new.
    But they were also marketed for industrial use, and a lot of the ones out there have taken a lot of
    wear and tear over the years. I takes some patience to find one in good condition. But if you have
    the opportunity, you should at least look at one to appreciate the quality of the original manufacturing. A vintage Durst is like a Ferrari. A Beseler or Omega is like a Chevy - works fine, but
    not even in the same league.

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