Enlarging for the first time! - The "noob's" call for help.
I'd first like to say hello, since this is my first time posting at apug!
I don't mean to be a boob but my first contribution to the forum is a call for help. My dilemma involves my exploration into the field of enlarging. I am an architecture student, so I don't have any formal learning experience with photography. (I've picked it up as a general hobby) I've been shooting b&w 35mm and 4x5 with a few cameras I found at a local flea market and I've been developing myself using a paterson tank and chemicals off of bhphoto but this is really my first time trying to enlarge.
I need your help.
First thing's first, I have a Saunders LPL 4550 XLG VCCE Enlarger in my possession. It is new, never used. This will be the first time it is being unboxed.
What I need from you is suggestions about additional supplies I'll be needing, including lenses and other parts that I need in order to make the enlarger functional. Second, I would also really appreciate some guidance on where to start. Instructions are great, and if someone knows of any tutorials or guides, these would also be much appreciated.
I realize that this is really a bloody lame post, but I urge you to help me so that I can mature and join your more interesting conversations.
Your help is much appreciated!
I would get a 50mm and a 135mm APO enlarger lens. This will work for your 35mm and 4x5 negatives.
Then while waiting for the lenses... just sit in wide-eyed amazement at the incredible road you have laid in front of you.
Thanks for the lens suggestions. It really does seem like a huge undertaking! However, I remind myself that I am young (20) and this is something I've been wanting to try for quite a long time. I'll work through it one step at a time.
On the topic of lenses, I want to start developing 35's before going into the 4x5. Do you have any recommendations for good quality lenses that would fit the 39mm thread lensboard on the 4550 xlg? A specific lens would be awesome, but if not, brand, or features to look for would be great as well.
Hey Bill. Welcome
I like the Schneider Componon-S or the Rodenstock Rodogon (im unfamiliar with Nikkors for enlarging)
in 50mm for 35mm negs,
in 80mm for 120 formats like 645, 6x6 and even 6x7 if you get one that can cover
and for 4x5 you can go 135mm or 150.
All those except maybe the larger 135s and 150s will fit the 39mm lensboards.
Someone can tell you how to mount the larger lens if any special boards are needed.
Sorry I'm unfamiliar with that Saunders other than using an LPL in a school darkroom in passing.
You could have a look through the material linked on the IlfordPhoto website, here. These are good 'getting-started' style instructions and are certainly not limited to the use of Ilford products.
Also bear in mind that a lot of the bizarre 'instructional' videos seen on Youtube etc. are frequently not best-practice and are often based on no more than a knowledge-free interpretation of what someone once mentioned in a Flickr chatgroup.
The trick to repeatability and controllability of results, is consistency (accompanied by notes on what, precisely, you did). Consistently follow the information from Ilford (or Kodak, or Agfa etc.) as though you are making a cake and the results will speak for themselves.
For 135 film, the standard enlarger-lens focal length is 50mm. Choosing whatever six-element lens you can find from a major manufacturer will work fine. It may actually be harder to find a decent enlarging easel than the lens! I'd suggest using fresh RC paper, rather than fibre-based paper, to start off with as the results, and hence feedback and improvement, will be much quicker to achieve. I mention 'fresh' paper as old, cut-price, badly stored paper (from a certain online auction site for example) will lose out in contrast and other qualities, so making your initial learning curve steeper than it needs to be.
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You should be able to find a lens at fairly low cost.
Find a book that explains the process step by step.
The pitfalls i had while learning:
-The negative can overheat and buckle while focussing if I play around too long- Perhaps that is due to my old condensor enlarger.
- The paper can get pre-exposed on one edge when removing sheets from the pack, so now I remove a sheet more carefully, in the dark, and keep the bag folded around.
-Cut a sheet into strips to use for graduated test exposures. I now do it mostly each exposure, more effort but it saves time and paper over the session.
I was told that pearl paper was easiest to learn on and I have used it ( Ilford Multigrade) ever since.
I think Ilford likely has a good list, but here's mine:
3 trays at the size you want to print plus a larger one for washing (if you start with RC it doesn't need as much washing)
something with measurements to mix the chemicals - I have three plastic beakers that hold 1 liter each - label these with a Sharpie
tongs to move the print from tray to tray - each tong gets its own chemical and try to not touch a different chemical with each
large storage bottles for used stop bath and for fixer - developer is one shot, the others can be reused to some extent
easel to hold the paper under the enlarger (I have a four-bladed Saunders, but they aren't cheap)
timer for the enlarger (mine is a digital timer, I forget the brand)
multigrade filter set (if you plan on using Ilford paper, then I'd suggest their filters) - not sure where they go in an LPL, you may have to cut them to fit
I use a LCD kitchen timer to time my prints going through the chemicals.
Safelights appropriate to the paper (amber is fine for most, some need red)
get ready for some fun and remember that there are many mistakes, but you won't be the first to make them. There's always more paper to try again.
I'd suggest not trying any of the cool, but somewhat advanced things, like lith or liquid emulsion until you have the basics down.
Welcome to the best analog corner on the web! No question is too dumb to ask and you likely won't be the first to ask it.
If you haven't already got one you might want to get a grain focuser. If you have spent money on a 4x5 enlarger and are considering APO lenses then it may be that money is not a problem. If so I'd splash out for a Peak grain focuser.
If money is tight then a Paterson focuser should be quite cheap.
There's a printing how-to in the FAQ in my signature; it should tell you everything you need to get and how to use it.
Welcome to APUG!
Hello Hawke and welcome to APUG. The darkroom is where the magic begins. You cannot go wrong with the Nikon lens, and I would choose the F2.8 50mm for your 35mm. Good luck.