aperture setting for enlarging lens
hi. i have an omega d2 and use a 135 lens for my medium format negs. but in order to get more time to deal with dodging and burning, i tend to close down the aperture to f16 or even f22. is this okay? it feels like a dumb question, but as a newbie, i feel uncertain of myself. thanks for the help!
Which lens are you using?
Most enlarging lenses have a "sweet spot" at about two stops down from the widest opening. So if you have a 135mm f/5.6 lens, you can most likely get the best response at about f/11.
Most likely you needn't worry about f/16. And f/22 isn't likely to be substantially worse.
If you have complete flexibility, f/11 would be a good target.
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Once past the sweet spot the diffraction starts to dominate and eventually softens the enlargement. Stay near the sweet spot.
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hi! thanks for the help. the lens is a schneider-kreuznach componon 5.6
Robin Bell, one of, if the, top printers in the UK reccomends closing the enlarging lens down all the way to give you more controll over the final print, and as he has printed for all the top names in the world of photography, if it is good enough for himthen it is good enough for me, so I tend to close my lens down all the way, and I have yet to see a difference,
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I have a D2 also and use it for medium format and 35mm enlargements.
I wonder what kind of exposure time you are getting with more reasonable and common setting like f/8? I typically print at f/5.6 (my 50mm lens is f/2.8 max) or f/8 (80mm f/5.6). Maybe one stop smaller if I need longer time. Enlarging to 8x10, I get very comfortable printing time to do all the manipulations I want to do. I never had the need to go as small as f/16 or higher.
What kind of light source are you using? I'm using 75 watts bulb which is standard on D2. Are you possibly using 150 watts? Are you printing small? Are your negs on thin side? Are you using contrast filter? (without it, timing will be about 1/3 of using a filter)
Just today, I printed 8x10 from 35mm and my exposure was 35 seconds at f/5.6. This frame was little bit on dark side.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I have heard of people using ND filtration before the condensers to allow more time for dodging. And as posted above you can maybe change the wattage of your bulb.
Another possibility is to use neutral density filtration between the light source and the negative stage.
I have a Zone VI cold light with the Aristo V54 lamp. It is so bright (and I prefer printing smaller enlargements) that I was also forced at times to stop down the lens to f/22. To preserve the "sweet spot" mentioned above I purchased some large, inexpensive sheets of 1-, 2-, and 3-stop neutral density theatrical (Roscoe) filters from a local theater supply company. A custom cutout piece of the 2-stop material was then inserted and pushed my apertures back to the f/11 range for my preferred exposure times with a 150mm f/5.6 lens.
This should also work nicely with a bulb and condenser enlarger. I'm now using an Aristo VCL4500 light source that is - by design - a much lower intensity device, so the filtration is no longer needed.
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If you have a good lens, you can use it wherever you need to in order to get the times you want. There are certain f number settings that will give you better results than others, and these best settings will vary with the lens in question. But I highly doubt anyone could see the difference with a quality lens unless the magnification was very high (i.e. very big prints and/or very close viewing distances).
It is personal preference, but I try to enlarge in "shutter priority mode." I aim for a rough time that will allow me to burn and dodge the way I need to, and use the diaphragm of the lens to get exposure close. Then I fine tune with time.
It is far more important having your enlarger properly maintained and aligned than it is to always print at the sharpest f number setting, assuming you have a nice lens.
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Try it for yourself! Do straight prints so you don't need to do any dodging or burning. Do wide open f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32 if you have it. Check the results for yourself, use a magnifier. Check edge/corner sharpness and illumination, center sharpness. You may find f/11 is the sweet spot or f/8 or you may find you can't tell the difference. Wide open may have corner illumination issues.
With fast RA-4 paper I sometimes need f/16 or even f/22 to get a reasonable exposure time, especially with small paper. With small paper it isn't noticable to use f/16 or f/22, the results are just fine. With larger paper I can usually use f/11 and with dense negs even f/8.