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  1. #1
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Agfa Varioscope 60 - Question regarding use

    I bought an Agfa Varioscope 60 which came with a colour head. If anyone has any tips on how best to use this enlarger I'd be most grateful as it didn't come with a manual.

    I'd rather not have a colour head as I've always preferred using my filters and am struggling to knuckle down the colour settings to correspond to my filter results. The paper's guidelines give me every enlarger but the Agfa Varioscope.

    This seems to be such a 'Doh' question but I've spent too much on wasted paper already and would really appreciate hearing your experience with this enlarger and any advice you can share with me.

    Thank you and kindest regards, Nicole
    Last edited by Nicole; 03-15-2006 at 06:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicole
    I bought an Agfa Varioscope 60 which came with a colour head. If anyone has any tips on how best to use this enlarger I'd be most grateful as it didn't come with a manual.
    Nobody forces you to use the builtin color filters. You can always turn all scales to zero and use external filters. In fact, I did this with my varioscope because the color head I had was a very old model with a high-voltage bulb (read: impossible to replace) and faded filters. I used the Ilford under the lens filters and got excellent results.

    One real problem with the variscope is that it doesn't use standard lens threads. Over the time, Agfa used different types of lenses in their enlargers. I had a set of "Color-Magnolar" lenses and these were nothing to write home about. The later "Color-Magnolar-II" are said to be better. I replaced the 105mm lens with a Schneider Componon-S 5.6/100. To do this a fried turned a adaptor ring on a lathe. If you can get a M42/M39 adapter ring, this could be used... just glue the ring with epoxy to the front of the lens holder for the 105mm lens. It would be better to use a 105mm lens with this, the 100mm Schneider lens was just a little bit short, you'd possibly run out of adjusting range with larger paper sizes.

    After that, the Varioscope was a joy to use, I used a grain focuser anyway and didn't rely on the autofocus.

    Have you read the article about calibrating color heads for VC-paper by Paul Butzi? It should answer a lot of questions.

    http://www.butzi.net/articles/vcce.htm

    Martin

  3. #3
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Martin thank you very much. I have 2 Leitz lenses (60mm & 105mm) for my Varioscope which I'm extremely happy with. I all seems in very good nick for it's age. I'll give the colour head a miss and try my trusty filters as you suggested.

    Does anyone have any tips on using the auto focus on this?

    Thanks again Martin.
    Cheers
    Nicole

  4. #4
    clogz's Avatar
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    There are really three types of filters and filter values: Durst, Kodak and Meopta. As Agfa was made in Europe I guess the filters belong to the Durst group. As far as I know Durst has two ranges of filter values: with max 170M or with max 130M.

    Greetings
    Hans
    Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.

  5. #5
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Hans the max. on these filter values is 99 for each M Y and C
    Best wishes
    Nicole

  6. #6
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    Nicole, I've used two of these enlargers, going on your description, I'm guessing that your one is about 30-35 years old.

    For using the colour head, the actual filter numbers don't mean that they aren't that different to more modern filters. Last week I was using a Durst colour enlarger which also has 100 maximum for C M Y.

    I was dialling in the enlarger for someone so that they would have an idea of what grade range the enlarger is capable of printing Ilford MGIV RC paper.


    I dialled 100 M for maximum contrast and got a print with correct density.

    I did the same with no filtration

    Then the final one with 100 Y.

    This then was the standard that this enlarger can do:-

    Maximum M = closest to grade 5

    Neutral = close to grade 2½

    Maximum Y = closest to grade 00

    It was then a simple step to work out approximate grades.

    Using my De Vere enlarger with colour head as a reference, we concluded that 100 M = about grade 3½ and the lowest grade was something like grade ½, quite acceptable really. My Devere enlarger can do a range from about Grade 4½ to grade ½.

    We used some grade 5 and grade 1 Ilfospeed paper as reference.

    Getting to the autofocus arrangement of your enlarger I have used both the Varioscope and the Leitz equilivent.

    For standard proof printing the autofocus arrangement is excelent.

    For critical enlargements, where you wish to have absolute grain sharpness, neither of them from my experience. had the ability to maintain across the range this requirement.

    I was using both of these units in an industrial application, so sharpness was pretty much a requirement of our customers. Our rule of thumb was normal proof prints and colour stats, autofocus, for anything else we used the grain focuser.

    Mick.

  7. #7
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    For a few years, part of my job was to recalibrate Focomat IIC enlargers that engineers had 'improved'.

    Properly calibrated, a IIC is MORE accurate than any hand focussing is capable of.

    So THERE !

    .
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  8. #8
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    DF Cardwell, one of the problems in this country is the dearth of skilled people to maintain equipment. Basically it's a numbers thing and the numbers of darkroom equipment mechanics/technicians available, was terrible 15 years ago when commercial darkroom work, was more or less at it's peak.

    I do wish we had, had someone like yourself that we could have called upon to maintain some of the equipment to the level envisaged by the manufacturers, when they originally designed and manufacturered it.

    It was not uncommon for an enlarger to be out of commission for up to 6 months awaiting a technician, terrible really!

    Perhaps, if we had been able to get our enlargers focusing systems properly calibrated, it would have been a different story. However the units that we used, whilst very good at keeping focus constant and virtually perfect, there was almost always a very, very slight manual change required, for super critical grain focusing.

    I have no problem with that as within the parameters of normal enlarging they do hold their focusing ability. But I think that when someone is making an exhibition type of print, they will check and re-check all things, before finally hitting the enlarger timer.

    Grain focus is one thing almost every person working in a darkroom at a high standard, considers a reasonably essential ingredient to making a good print.

    Mick.

  9. #9
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    Mick,

    Have you got a IIC manual ... weight in gold.

    Then you just need to break the fingers of the guys that ... never mind. :o



    ( but it's a problem everywhere, not a shortage of folks trained to fix the stuff, which is VERY easy... but a diminishing population that respects the gear, that understands that the stuff was brilliantly designed and built to run hard and never break.

    too many folks see an enlarger, even a Varioscop or Focomat and think, "Oooh, lookee ! I've always wanted to take one of them apart !", thinking that with a degree in ( pick a technical degree at random ) they are qualified to mess about with primitive photographic gadget built to the same tolerances as a Research Microscope.

    ah, well. keep the faith.

    don
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell



 

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