Aligning an Enlarger

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patrickjames

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Get the versalab and don't look back. The laser is the best way.
 
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jeroldharter

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Hard to stomach the cost of a Versalab, but it is the way to go.

Instead of a blind print exchange, APUG should have a Versalab loaner program and a lens rental program.
 

Nicholas Lindan

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If you are on a budget, the two mirror technique works as well as any other, though it can be a real eye-strainer and back-breaker. Have the hardware store cut two 2" strips from a 12x12" mirror tile. Scratch a hole in the silvering at 1" from the end of one mirror and put a cross-hairs around it with white tape or some such. The tile without the hole is on the easel, the one with the hole is either where the negative carrier should go or held against the lens flange, silver side down. Look through the hole and adjust the enlarger so the reflected image of the cross-hairs lines up with itself.
 

Anscojohn

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put a cross-hairs around it with white tape or some such.

*******
I do not understand this, but would like to.
 

PeteZ8

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If you are on a budget, the two mirror technique works as well as any other, though it can be a real eye-strainer and back-breaker. Have the hardware store cut two 2" strips from a 12x12" mirror tile. Scratch a hole in the silvering at 1" from the end of one mirror and put a cross-hairs around it with white tape or some such. The tile without the hole is on the easel, the one with the hole is either where the negative carrier should go or held against the lens flange, silver side down. Look through the hole and adjust the enlarger so the reflected image of the cross-hairs lines up with itself.

Pure genius.

What about, a negative, with several very sharp lines across it? A few thin pencil lines on plain paper, photographed from a tripod/copy stand with a small aperature for good DOF (in case your camera isn't perfectly aligned, either) should generate a good target image.

Project that negative onto the easel and use a grain focuser to check edge-edge sharpness.
 

Neal

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Dear Existing Light,

I've used both types and I prefer the Versalab. The Zig-Align is a great product and the one with the multiple LEDs is probably better at squeezing out the most perfect alignment but the Versalab is so quick and easy to use I find I bring it out any time I want to touch up the alignment for a print.

Neal Wydra
 

dancqu

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A Real World Test For Alignment

Real world because the test is performed upon
a projected image.

All that is needed is a square. The image projected
can derive from the negative carrier itself or some
negative.

If the source is truly rectangular and the image
projected is a true representation of the source
the enlarger is aligned.

If you've a square you're ready to check the
enlargers alignment or perform an
alignment. Dan
 

Philippe-Georges

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put a cross-hairs around it with white tape or some such.

*******
I do not understand this, but would like to.

Dear Anscojohn,
Could you please explain this a bit (in simple English)?
Thank you,
Philippe
 

Dave Martiny

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I agree with dancqu.

Project the rectangular, focused image of my empty negative carrier onto the easel to a size of about 8x10. Get a single piece of 8 1/2 x 11 student graph paper, 4 or more lines to the inch, and place it on the easel or baseboard. Rotate the carrier or the paper so that one edge of the projected image is perfectly aligned with a line on the paper. The opposite edge of the image should be perfectly parallel to a line at the opposite end of the paper; adjust the enlarger accordingly. Repeat for the other dimension of the carrier. My enlarger needed only a slight adjustment.

Best regards,

Dave
 

Jim Jones

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Pure genius.

What about, a negative, with several very sharp lines across it? A few thin pencil lines on plain paper, photographed from a tripod/copy stand with a small aperature for good DOF (in case your camera isn't perfectly aligned, either) should generate a good target image.

Project that negative onto the easel and use a grain focuser to check edge-edge sharpness.

A piece of clear film lightly sanded with fine and course sandpaper makes a good and convenient alignment target for condenser enlargers. I suppose it will also work on diffusion enlargers. After all, the objective of alignment is to project the negative onto the easel with all four corners sharp. Why use more sophisticated systems that merely help one to get negative, lens mount, and easel parallel?
 

Denis P.

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Dear Anscojohn,
Could you please explain this a bit (in simple English)?
Thank you,
Philippe

I have and use the same system, so perhaps I can explain it better.
And for non-native English speakers, the photos should also help :smile:

In short, you have two mirrors, and on one (smaller) you scrape (remove) some silvering, so that you can see through the small hole you made (basically, you remove reflective surface in a small circle). Then you draw a target on the reflective surface AROUND that hole. The hole can be physical (drilled in the mirror), or you can just scrape (remove) silver reflective surface, without drilling the glass.

The photos should make everything much clearer...

My system has a DRILLED hole, with target around it, but you can also just remove the silver reflective surface, like I said. Then draw a target around the hole - either directly on the glass (like I did on mine), or first tape some clear sticky tape around the hole, and draw the target on that (if you don't have a pen that can write on glass...).

Let me know if you need additional explanations.
 

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ic-racer

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I'm also not satisified with just the laser/mirror alignment. I always double check with the grain focuser on the corners vs center.
Realize that the grain focuser that can see the edges will set you back an additional $250.
 

Anscojohn

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Dennis P,
Thanks for the pictures. With that and going back to Nicholas Lindan's expositon I understand. But, if the graph paper or the carpenter's square works, I guess I would consider using it.
Zone VI recommends a sheet of double-thick plane glass and two brand new pencils. Put the glass in the carrier. Bring it down to the level of one pencil on one side. The other pencil should fit exactly the same way. I have not tried it.
 

richard ide

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You guys and your small stuff. Try aligning a 1200 lb. enlarger that will enlarge a 30" x 48" negative onto a 88" x 192" vacuum easel with a 50' track and then adjust the lightsource accurate to 1/10th stop over the whole area.
 

Colin Corneau

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Didn't know they made 30x48 negs, Richard...what, did you draw the short straw for that assignment?
 

richard ide

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No I had a business catering to silk screen printers, architects, cartographers, and the display industry. Large negatives like that were primarily halftone.
 
OP
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Thanks for all of the responses. I think I'm going to splurge and get the Versalab. The Zig-align claims to be more accurate, and it may be. I'm printing 8x10's and 8x12's from 35mm negs for my graduation portfolio/exhibition at school in December, and I'm not sure if the extra precision provided by the Zig-align is actually worth the cost right now. I'll be able to justify the cost later when I move up to medium and large format and start printing bigger prints.

At the very least, I'll have a new toy to play with :smile:
 

Martin Aislabie

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I'm also not satisified with just the laser/mirror alignment. I always double check with the grain focuser on the corners vs center.
Realize that the grain focuser that can see the edges will set you back an additional $250.

Ditto :rolleyes: :D

Martin
 

dancqu

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Sharp All Over But Not Aligned

I'm also not satisified with just the laser/mirror alignment.
I always double check with the grain focuser on the
corners vs center.

An image may be sharp four corners and center with
the enlarger quite out of alignment. You've heard of
Scheimpflug.

The method I've described assures correct alignment.
The method assumes the projected image to be
composed of four 90 degree angles.

With the image focused as well as it might be, test
three of the four corners with a square for a true 90
degrees. If the three measure true then the enlarger
is aligned; the image will be sharp corners and center.

No alignment tool other than a square is needed. Dan
 

Philippe-Georges

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I have and use the same system, so perhaps I can explain it better.
And for non-native English speakers, the photos should also help :smile:

In short, you have two mirrors, and on one (smaller) you scrape (remove) some silvering, so that you can see through the small hole you made (basically, you remove reflective surface in a small circle). Then you draw a target on the reflective surface AROUND that hole. The hole can be physical (drilled in the mirror), or you can just scrape (remove) silver reflective surface, without drilling the glass.

The photos should make everything much clearer...

My system has a DRILLED hole, with target around it, but you can also just remove the silver reflective surface, like I said. Then draw a target around the hole - either directly on the glass (like I did on mine), or first tape some clear sticky tape around the hole, and draw the target on that (if you don't have a pen that can write on glass...).

Let me know if you need additional explanations.

Dear Denis P.,

Thank you for the explanation, now I do understand what was said.
I do not want to look like a fat nor a bohémien, but your simple and effective trick looks like the Hasselblad parallel mirrors system from the 80's, this is what I still use for reproductions.
The problem is that in order to use this wonderful device, one has to be able to look trough the hole, so the enlarger-head must be removed. This causes a change in the top weight of the whole construction. Doing this, I have seen an important change in the inclination angle of my Omega D3. So, I guessed that the alignment whit-out the head will not be the seam as with the head.
This is why I put a rather long, very thin a light sheet of glass in the negative carrier slot (plexi will do too) put on 2/3 of the column's height. This sheet is just long enough to hold the little and round mirror with the hole. On the base board the larger mirror is placed directly under the small one. Then the image of the concentric circles is checked on their parallelism, and when needed the enlarger is tuned. I repeat this with that sheet of glass slided in the lens-carrier slot too.

Thanks again,

Philippe

P.S. Sorry for this bad English!
 

Martin Aislabie

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An image may be sharp four corners and center with
the enlarger quite out of alignment. You've heard of
Scheimpflug.

The method I've described assures correct alignment.
The method assumes the projected image to be
composed of four 90 degree angles.

With the image focused as well as it might be, test
three of the four corners with a square for a true 90
degrees. If the three measure true then the enlarger
is aligned; the image will be sharp corners and center.

No alignment tool other than a square is needed. Dan

I align the enlarger with the Versalab but double check (paranoid?) with a Focus Finder

That way I know it is both correctly aligned and sharp corner to corner

The Versalab is one (very accurate) way of doing it – but not the only one :smile:

Martin
 
OP
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Just ordered the Versalab from Freestyle.

Over the last two months, I think I've bought enough stuff to pay their bills for the rest of the year :smile: (ok, a bit of sarcasm/exageration there :smile: )
 
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