Simple Technique to Focus the Enlarger Lens

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by TerryM, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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  2. jvo

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    i have a darkroom man servent, one of his qualifications is he has better eyes than me.... he does all my focusing, then goes and sits in the corner.

    p.s. he also makes my afternoon espresso!:angel:
     
  3. John Wiegerink

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    I have a dog that parks his butt in the corner real well. Now I just have to train him to make my coffee and focus my enlarger. I have never had a real problem focusing my enlargers, but some folks do. Barry Thornton has a good section on the subject in his book Edge of Darkness. I believe it's chapter 11 "Focusing on the Unseen" and it goes into detail about using grain focusers of different types. Also, he makes clear that the enlarger must be in good shape and alignment before you even worry about focus. A few folks here "POOH POOHED" Barry's writing, testing, reasoning and results, but I'm not one of them.
    JohnW
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  4. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Its a problem that definitely exists. I never had the problem until I started shooting Ektar, but I can't focus medium or large format Ektar for the life of me even with a grain magnifier.
     
  5. rpavich

    rpavich Subscriber

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    Ahhh thanks for clarifying
     
  6. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Subscriber

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    Can't focus medium format or 4x5 even with a grain focuser??? That's very strange even with Ektar's almost non-existent grain. Are you using a glass carrier?
     
  7. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    No I don't use a glass carrier. Why is it strange that I have trouble seeing something that is "almost non-existent"?
     
  8. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Subscriber

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    I'm not doubting you, but there are other ways around this problem. I use at least a 15X grain magnifier and 20X is better for films like Ektar/Tmax. If you can't see the grain then go to something like an eyelash, letter block, clothing stitches and as long as one of those are in the plane of fine focus you picked with your camera you should be good to go. You might have to focus on the eyelash, for instants, and then tweak slightly before or after that point of focus to get the sharpest print, but once done you can use that reference point from then on with that film. As long as your film isn't buckling (popping) in a glassless carrier?
     
  9. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    If I could see anything that sharply I could just use the grain. I often can't. .
     
  10. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Subscriber

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    I surely don't understand now. I never have a problem finding an edge of something in the negative to focus on. Be it grain or an eyelash? Be it HP5+ or Ektar film?
     
  11. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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  12. esearing

    esearing Member

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    Fine adjustments can be made with a DIY project. Take two lensboards for your enlarger and add bolts with wingnuts and springs to separate the lens boards. Turn the wingnuts slightly to change the distance between the lens boards. You can also use this setup to adjust alignment.
    Order of assembly
    bolthead
    washer
    lensboard
    washer
    spring (around bolt)
    washer
    lensboard with lens attached
    washer
    wingnut
     
  13. I found that I got the best focus using a focus enlarger such as a Peak. I check each negative even though it rarely shifts from negative to negative.
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    As I posted earlier - good luck finding a sharp edge in a negative from a pinhole camera!
     
  16. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Subscriber

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    That's true Matt, but you could pick the sharpest "something" in the pinhole negative. Would you really use Ektar for pinhole?
     
  17. guangong

    guangong Subscriber

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    The whole business with aluminum foil, cutting slits, etc sounds like too much work. I’all stick with my grain focuser and Leitz Focomat for 35mm. Focus once and that’s it except for exceptionally big enlargements. Has worked flawlessly for me for over 50 yrs. For larger formats a grain focuser is enough with Beselar 4x5.
     
  18. However, using a grain focuser one can get as sharp a print as possible from a pin hole negative.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Yes I would - 100 ISO is ideal as far as speed is concerned, because that gives me practical exposure times with my f/207 pinhole. This is E100G rather than Ektar, but you get the idea:

    upload_2017-12-22_12-39-30.png

    Only if you can actually see the grain when you use it. This is a three minute exposure from a 6x9 TMax 100 negative - just about impossible to see the grain:

    55c-2017-08-16-res.jpg
     
  20. Thus the reason to use traditional grain film.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    T-Max 100 has better reciprocity behavior than FP4 or my favorite traditional grain film of similar speed (Plus-X), which sadly is no longer being made.
    T-Max 100 really does hit the sweet spot with this application (120 film, 6x6 through 6x9 format, pinhole size giving f/207). It just is hard to focus when it is in the enlarger.
     
  22. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Yes, I'm afraid that something about $100 more than I can afford might be the only solution.