Tonight Paula and I had the privilege of being the first, besides the inventor, Pat Brady, to test his new light source for enlarging on Azo paper.
Heretofore, Azo has been a paper for contact printing only. It is a slow paper and if one wanted to enlarge on this most beautiful of silver papers, the enlarging times were unduly long--easily getting to 15 minutes to one-half hour with a conventional enlarging head. A few years ago Durst came up with a 5000 Watt bulb so that one could enlarge onto Azo, but the cost is $6,000, I believe, and most folks would have to get their wiring upgraded to carry such a load.
Pat Brady's invention, by comparison, is a dream--no extra wiring, no hot lights, and short exposure times.
His invention is to use a set of four custom-made bulbs that put out light in the near-UV part of the spectrum. The four bulbs insure even coverage of the negatives. By using that part of the spectrum that Azo is most sensitive to, enlarging times are shortened considerably. Paula and I enlarged 4x5 and 2 1/4 negatives. Our exposures ranged from 30 seconds to two minutes and that was with our Super XX film which has a fairly high film base + fog density. With modern films, the exposure times should be less.
The housing for the light fits Beseler and Omega 4x5 enlargers and comes with its own voltage-regulated solid-state power supply. Each of the components is handsomely designed.
Although we will not be enlarging our LF negatives, because of this new light, at some point I look forward to reprinting all of the 35mm work I did during my first year as a photographer.
I understand that the light will be going to a few others to test during the next couple of weeks. After that, it will be at the LF Conference in Monterey in April and, I believe, it will be for sale at that time.
Paula and I think this is a great invention, and we hope it will help increase the sales of Azo as this slow paper will now be able to be used by those who only make enlargements. And that will help keep Azo in production.