Enlarger adjustment troubleshooting
I am in need of some advice once again. I am the lab tech for a darkroom in Philadelphia called Lightroom. We have three Omega pro-lab 4x5 enlargers. All three seem to be in terrible alignment based on some test prints I did on each. One of them I used a Beseler level adjustment to bring the negative stand into alignment with the base on which the easel sits. The image was still terrible out of focus in one corner while three others were pretty good. One of the other enlargers is still way out of focus on three edges after the negative stand alignment. How else can I troubleshoot this problem? Are the lenses the next likely culprit? They are all secure on their lensboard, and the bellows seem nice and tight. Not sure what else I should look for..
Thanks for any responses
The lens board, the negative stage and the baseboard should be level on all both axis. Start from the baseboard then work your way up when you're leveling them.
"Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
My baseboard is my point of reference since I cant adjust that. I am not sure how I can adjust the lens board, and the negative stage is the only thing that Im able to loosen the screw on three sides and adjust. How can I adjust my lensboard?
Shim the bottom of the enlarger column.
Tom, what exactly do you mean? Stick something under the enlarger column to wedge it up? The focus issues are more complex than one edge being out, it seems multiple edges are out in different degrees.
Originally Posted by Tom1956
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Contact Harry. He knows more about Omega enlargers than the designers, it would seem.
Your lens stage and the film stage isn't parallel to each other. I tried the exact method you are talking about, using Besler's alignment jib to align my Omega D2. It is possible but not terribly accurate or quick.
Baseboard being off by a few mm makes no difference in sharpness but film/lens stage makes awfully big difference even if it's off by a fraction of mm. Difficulty in doing all this is, as you said, the baseboard will have to be the common reference point. As you push UP the besler tool to the lens stage, and as you try to move the film stage, their relationship to the baseboard changes.
This is a business, correct? If so, can you hire someone who has the proper tools and have done this number of times? Or do you really want to do this on your own?
My solution was to invest in a laser alignment tool. It fixes none of the above mentioned problems but as I can see the changes in real-time, it makes the process much easier.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Presuming the enlarger column is secured to the baseboard by 3 thumbscrews, loosen the appropriate ones and fold up some paper or something to stick under there to cock the enlarger column angle a wee bit.
Your description of "Omega pro-lab 4x5 enlargers" makes me think that you are identifying the enlargers by the head that is on them.
Originally Posted by Nikanon
What you need is the model number of the enlarger chassis (D2, D5, DII, D6 or ??), and then the instruction manual for that model.
The instruction manual will have instructions on aligning the enlarger.
Harry Taylor is a good suggestion - here is a link to his website: http://www.classic-enlargers.com/. Most likely you will be able to obtain both a manual and advice from him.
Another good source is KHB Photographix (referred to by Harry as "the Canadians"). Their website is here: http://www.khbphotografix.com/. They too are a great resource for both a manual and advice.
Both sources may be able to recommend someone to do the alignment for you.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
The Versalab Parallel is one such laser device. I use one to quickly check my Omega E6 (5x7) occasionally. It's very convenient to use, but it's only totally effective if your enlarger has all the appropriate adjustments available. If you find the column requires shimming (very time consuming operation) I'd opt to use metal shimming for a more permanent fix, as paper would tend to settle over time. However, using paper can indicate exactly where the shims needs to be placed. We're likely talking about shimming in fractions of a millimeter.
Originally Posted by tkamiya
Last edited by silveror0; 07-09-2013 at 06:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.