How on Earth do you use a Focus Finder

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by ted_smith, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    My frined, RJ, (fellow APUG member) gave me Focus Finder. How the hell do you use it?

    Everything I've read says something along the lines of "Place it on your enlarger easel so that the light from the lens is beamed down on the Focus Finder glass. Look through the eye piece of the FF and adjust your enlarger focus until the grain is visible in the FF"

    I've done that and all I ever see is a white light with the diaphram of the enlarger lens, which, if I adjust, I can see getting wider or narrower. I never see any grain.

    Where I am I going wrong? Before anyone says "Google it..", I have done, and everything I find just tells me what a FF is used for, not how to use it.

    Ted
     
  2. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    Not trying to be a smart@ss, but did you have a negative in the carrier?
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Use a denser negative. The 'clear' areas in the negative will have little or no grain on which to focus. What enlarging lens? I suspect it is a good one, but I was just testing some 25mm enlarger lenses last night an found a Voss that would not produce any sort of focused image at the edges when wide open.

    I suspect you are using a thin negative and are just racking through the point of focus without knowing it. Try a denser negative and stop down. Once you find the spot of focus you can open up again if you need to fine-tune it.

    And always be suspect of free things :smile: (That Voss I was testing was free).
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Move the FF around under the light circle until the viewfinder is dark i.e. when you are looking at a dense portion of the neg, where grain will be more noticeable. Then approximately focus by eye while not looking through the FF, and then look through the FF as you focus more finely.

    Caution! Do be careful with FFs... with an enlarger lens wide open and if you are looking at a thin part of the neg you can easily burn your retina. Start with your enalrger lens stopped down a bit until you are sure, when looking through the FF, that it isn't too intense.

    Oh, and don't start learning to use a FF with t-grained (tmax, delta...) films or slides you'll find it really hard to find grain at first! Get started with something with coarse grain. I am thinking N+2 hp5+ or such :wink:
     
  5. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    What make of finder? If a Paterson you first need to set the focus for your eyesight using the adjustable eyepiece. Slacken the adjustment screw (the eyepiece is a slide-fit) and move the eyepiece up/down until the bar in the centre is sharply in focus. Tighten the screw, making sure it has not drifted out of focus whilst doing so.

    Put a negative in the enlarger and switch the light on and open up the lens to maximum. Focus the negative by-eye on the baseboard/easel, or on a scrap piece of paper.

    Place the finder so the mirror is near the centre of the projected image (most finders only work over a narrow range close to the centre).

    Looking through the finder, slowly adjust the focus and you should see the grain and image snap into focus. With most film and a reasonable size enlargement you should see the grain but often with slow film and/or small enlargement you don't and need to focus on an edge of something in the image.
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Paterson focus finder I have requires the viewing eyepiece to be set for your own eyesight otherwise it's just like you describe. I also have Hocus Focus from Nova which I much prefer.

    Ian
     
  7. Mike Keers

    Mike Keers Member

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    I'd like to add that I find it better for my eye to swing the red filter under the lens, then you can use the lens wide open without frying your eyeball. Assuming you have the red filter. I have light sensitive eyes and i just can't look into my focuser with the white light.

    I only came by my first focuser a few months ago, and like you, was puzzled at first, but a quick google found me instructions and then it all snapped into place--it's easy, you'll wonder what the puzzlement was about once you figger it out. And I can even see differences in the grain from different processes, developers and films.
     
  8. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    The easy way is to focus on your board with a peace of enlarging paper without the finder and find a dense spot.
    Put the finder there and adjust your focus in small increments untill you see the grain.

    Peter
     
  9. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I wish that an American store like Freestyle or B&H would start selling the Hocus Focus. People who have them, seem to love them.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I can get one & post it to you when I'm next in the UK (4 weeks time) if you want, the minimum order & shipping charges make them too expensive for US buyers. I did this before for a US member of this site and the tracked shipping to the US was less than $5. I can easily add one to an order I'll be placing in a couple of weeks or so.

    Ian
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Hocus Focus has one wrinkle that you need to be aware of. You have to hold it - it doesn't stand on its own.

    For most of you, that probably doesn't matter, but for me, I need to either prop it against something (not always easy, as you need to set the angle precisely), or struggle with trying to focus the enlarger with my not so dexterious right hand.

    When I can get it to work, it really does provide a very bright and easy to focus from image.

    Matt

    P.S. I find the grain right at the edge of a dark part of a negative to be a good spot to focus on.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You have to handle any grain focuser, even if it's just to place it on the baseboard & move it around. to find the right spot & then you have to remove it again after, actually far more of task than simply holding the Hocus Focus for a few seconds :D

    With the Hocus Focus you can have checked the focus and begun printing in the same time it takes to find the right position with a conventional focus finder. That's the beauty & simplicity of them, in addition they work easily at the edges and corners of an image where conventional focus finders are very poor.

    Ian
     
  13. catem

    catem Member

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    Even if the focus finder is correctly adjusted for your eyesight, it can be difficult to find the grain if, if for example the film is fine grain and medium format...it can seem more like divine inspiration to get the right point (but when you see it, you should know it!). It might be worth using a grainy film at first until you know what you are looking for, as it's so much easier to see.

    Find the best focus you can by eye by looking on the easel, and then use the focus finder & adjust the focus very slowly.

    If you are having trouble, it can help to use a blue filter if you have a colour enlarger, or you can get a piece of blue gel and adapt it to your finder (just in the eyepiece). You can focus with the lens wide open if it's easier, but check again at the aperture you're using to see if there's any change - it will easy to see as you know the change/movement would be very small. I don't focus on paper, but on the easel itself.

    It's good to keep checking the focus as you make more prints - you'll get to know how much (if at all) the focus on the enlarger slips as you are working.
     
  14. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    The kind of focus magnufier that you can place on the easel and view from some distance is much easier to use. There used to be a professional model that was a long thin rectangular box with two windows, one horizontal to face the enlarger lens and the other at an angle for viewing. This
    http://www.novadarkroom.com/product/313/Kaiser_Focuscope.html
    looks like the modern equivalent.
     
  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    If your enlargers focus is slipping, and it does happen, then it's usually the head creeping up the column. Many enlargers particularly Durst have friction pads which are supposed to prevent this, but they wear and need re-tightening every 3 or 4 years. The heads have a counter spring (cil) that makes moving the head up/down easier and if the pads are worn the head can creep very slowly up the column.

    You make a good point about most focus finders often being difficult to use with fine grain films, the Hocus Focus is more like focusing a small part of the image on a focus screen and I've not had a problem regardless of the format 120 up to 10x8 negs where the grain would be near impossible to find.

    I don't have shares in Nova :D They are just great focus finder.

    Ian
     
  16. catem

    catem Member

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    Mine is a Durst and I can leave it overnight without slipping which is pure luxury after having worked with many enlargers (more especially when I only had access to communal darkrooms) where you have to re-adjust after every print. Can often be an issue with second-hand enlargers, but at least if it's your own you can try to fix it as you say. Otherwise you can bet the best overall print you do is the one where you forgot to readjust the focus!

    Have never used a Hocus Pocus - but getting a Peake finder after using the Paterson ones was a good decision - worth the cost.
    (edit: or even the Hocus Focus :D )
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2009
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I have never had an enlarger head 'slip' however I double check focus before a final print because negatives in glassless carriers can move in-and-out as temperature changes.

    Ian, is Hocus Pocus the one that comes to a point at the base? Can you check the edges of the frame with it? What if you don't hold it perpendicular?
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Ian:

    My challenge is that I only have one hand (my left) that has enough flexibility and dexterity to either: hold the Hocus Focus so I can see the reflected image, or, adjust the focus knob in order to get the image in focus.

    I have to put the Hocus Focus down, in order to be able to do fine adjustments to the focus.

    Other focus finders stand on their own, so I can look through them while my flexible and dexterous hand adjusts the focus. In many cases, I can also move them around with my (not so flexible) right hand, while adjusting the focus with my left.

    A relatively rare circumstance, I know, but still of concern for some.

    I do use my Hocus Focus to check focus in the corners (because it really works well), but it is frustratingly slow to do any necessary adjustments (check, lay the Hocus Focus down, make incremental adjustment to the focus, pick up Hocus Focus and check again, repeat...).

    Matt
     
  19. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    Matt, could you use some cardboard and selotape to widen the base to make it self standing ?

    Martin
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Martin:

    I've experimented with a couple of things, including borrowing a glass sleeve from one of my wife's votive holders.

    The great thing about the Hocus Focus is that it is usable in the corners - but that requires that you be able to adjust the angle it is held at. It is that adjustability that makes constructing a stand a challenge.

    I still use it, and would certainly recommend it, but it really is better suited for "two-handed" darkroom workers.

    Matt
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I can appreciate your problem Matt, and completely understand.

    .
    Yes it is so you can tilt it to get best results at the corners. They aren't exactly sophisticated but the do work well.

    Ian