Quote Originally Posted by tsoved View Post
I set up my makeshift home darkroom for the first time last night, and, so far, I'm bitterly disappointed. The enlarger is pretty lightweight and certainly lacking in other areas as well, so the problem could just be vibrations. It's a dreadful Omega B22. The lens is an EL Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 which I think I've had pleasing results from in the past on other enlargers.

However, looking through my grain focuser, I notice what I assume to be diffraction becoming obvious two stops down and becoming downright hideous stopped all the way down.

So, I try to print at f/2.8 or f/4, but I don't have any filters, so my exposure times are 2-5 seconds. Thus far, the pursuit is a grand waste of paper. Please advise. Should I put the enlarger in the recycle bin with the soda cans and cardboard boxes? Should I spend all the money I don't have on a better enlarger and a Rodenstock or Schneider lens?
Yes, diffraction starts the moment you stop down, but you need to take into account the lower contrast, less flat field, smaller image circle and increased aberration when using the lens wide open. The usual recommendation to stop down two or 3 stops provides the best compromise in most situations. Simple advice, well tested and proven.