not really ot: vc printing with a leitz focomat IIa

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by skeeter, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. posted this in the black and white printing forum and got only one
    response (thanks lee). looking for more input, so i turn to the
    most vibrant forum on photo.net. any input would be welcome.

    "I have a besseler 23c-II and am considering obtaining a leitz
    focomat IIa enlarger for b&w printing. i currently use vc paper, and
    although i could go for graded paper, i would be interested to know
    if there is an easy and effective way to use contrast filters with
    the leitz enlarger. also, if anyone has any experience with both
    enlargers, i would appreciate an opinion as to whether the leitz is
    really so much better than the one i have that i will be happy to
    have acquired it. (i print to 11 x 14, and have a rodenstock roganar
    (sp?) 50mm and nikkor 1.4 75mm lenses for the 23c.)"
     
  2. The 80mm f/5.6 Nikkor is a better lens, as is the Rodagon in 50mm. The Leitz enlarger probably has the Focotar. The 23c-II is a double condenser enlarger. I'm not sure about the Focomat but I think that the Leitz Valoy has a single condenser. If so the Besserer might give you a bit more contrast, The biggest problem is that if the lenses aren't exactly matched to the cams you'll go crazy trying to keep an autofocus enlarger in focus. Stick with what you have and possibly upgrade the lenses with Rodenstock Rodagons, Schneider Componons or top line El Nikkors.
     
  3. I'll give it a shot...

    I've never used a Leitz Focomat enlarger, but assuming that it will accept the 50mm Rodenstock lens on it (or any conventional enlarging lens) you can buy a set of Ilford filters that fit under the lens with an attachment that affixes to the lens with three pressure screws (which have rubber bumpers on the ends so as not to damage the lens). The mounting attachment comes with the filter set.
     
  4. Scratch that... maybe. I looked up the instruction manual for the Focomat IIa, here: http://yandr.50megs.com/leica/focomat/2a.htm

    Although this enlarger has two rotating lenses (on which the attachment I mentioned might not work) the manual mentions a rotating filter holder. If that's the case then the under the lens filters I mentioned may fit in the holder. It is my understanding that the rotating filter holders are standardized in size. On the Bessler that I use it has such a rotating filter holder and the filters I mentioned fit in it. The only reason I use the attachment instead is to get the filters closer to the lens. The holder and the attachment are just trays. The filters are mounted in small frames which fit in either the rotating holder or the attachment. Does this help or am I missing something?
     
  5. yeah i've heard others talk about using contrast filters below the enlarging lens. it just seems to me that this would have a significantly greater chance of affecting the print than when placed between the light source and the negative.
     
  6. the 23c-II has a filter tray between the light source and the enlarging lens.
     
  7. Skeeter, I second Al's advice. The best you can do for your B&W enlarging is to keep your 23c and upgrade your lens. Presently I am using a 50mm/2.8 Rodagon (6 elements, your Rogonar is a 4 element lens) which is very good, but my previous lens was a 50/2.8 El-Nikkor which is even better and cheaper to boot --unfortunately it developed fungus and when I tried to clean it I decentered one element that never could be repositioned right.

    If I remember clearly, that Beseler model has an over the negative filter drawer for the VC filters. Just use it.

    Also, make yourself an alignment tool out of two mirrors, removing a small peephole from one and drawing a cross centered on the peephole. THat mirror goes in place of the negative holder and the other one on the easel. Looking through the peephole tells if your enlarger is aligned or not and which way to adjust. Costs a few bucs and is as effective as a laser one.
     
  8. "...it just seems to me that this would have a significantly greater chance of affecting the print than when placed between the light source and the negative."

    Yep... that's true. You have to keep the filters clean, dust free and avoid scratches. Aside from that I understand that it is debatable whether the under the lens filter degrades the image to any noticable degree.


    "the 23c-II has a filter tray between the light source and the enlarging lens."

    Yep... and the Focomat IIa doesn't. Am I correct? But the Focomat apparently comes with the little dinky orange filter that goes into the rotating filter tray under the lens. (The Besslers also have this too in addition to the big filter tray that you metioned.) If the Focomat IIa comes with the dinky orange filter then it must have the under the lens tray... which will accwpt the framed filters I mentioned. If you go that route the only thing you have to be careful with is making certain that the filter holder is centered directly beneath the lens. If it's off a little it may cause vignetting. I use the attachment because then they are always perfectly centered... and the filter is closer to the lens too which supposedly decreases the chance of distortion resulting from the filter. The above the lens filter is probabaly the preferable way to go, but if you are trying to find a way to use filters on a Focomat then the under the lens type is probabaly your only solution.

    FWIW, I haven't had any problems with the under the lens filters and I know someone else who uses them too and she does pretty well with them. She works in a darkroom and teaches printing as well. It's just faster and more convenient with the under the lens filters.

    I don't claim to be an expert on this matter so please take this advice with a grain of salt. I'd be very interested to hear other people's expertise on the matter.
     
  9. FWIW, when I said the under the lens filters were faster and more convenient what I meant was that it is faster and more convenient if you do split filtering and change the filters several times for each print. If you make a couple of test strips with two differnet filters and then perhaps burn with yet another filter when making the actual print then you're looking at changing filters maybe six or seven times for one print... and it's a little faster doing that if the filters are under the lens.
     
  10. I use an Omega B-22XL purchased about 1965 with a 50/2.8 El Nikkor I bought in '62 and an 80/5.6 Componon I got on close-out special when the Componon-S lenses came out, when, in the 1980's? And all these years the filters I've use are under the lens filters. I have an old set of Kodak Polycontrast but since about 1968 I've preferred using DuPont Varilour filters. The prints look fine and are nice and sharp! The whole secret is to not obsess about a bit of dust on the filters and keep your greasy fingers off them! It's constant cleaning that screws 'em up!

    I epoxied the filter holder to the metal do-hicky that had the red filter after removing the red filter from the frame. That way I don't have to use those stupid little set screws that came with the holder, and changing lenses is easy.
     
  11. I used filters under the lens with various set-ups for years and the prints were fine, even printed commercially for a while on a 45 Besseler. No worries, the prints look fine. Most of us use filters on our taking lenses, no difference really I think.
     
  12. the 23 has a way to align it from front to back, but there is no way to adjust horizontal tilt (as you look at the negative stage from the front). mine has a slight horizontal misalignment compared to the baseboard which is level. i'm not sure if the misalignment is significant. my feeling is that the negative curve with an open carrier is more significant (especially with 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negs). perhaps a glass negative carrier and better lenses will solve the problem (which, it occurs to me, i never really described...some of my prints seem to not be sharply focused over the entire frame. i haven't been able to determine whether this is an enlarger or lens problem). hey guys thanks for your input. i got more action here in two hours than "over there" in two days.
     
  13. "And all these years the filters I've use are under the lens filters."

    See... if Al does it that way it's got to be okay. ;>)
     
  14. Thanks for the confidence! Sometimes I am wrong though. Just ask some of the women in my life.
     
  15. Al, I think the real solution to Skeeter's problem is to just go digital. Agree? ;>)
     
  16. Are you crazy? Digital? Do you have any idea just how difficult it's gonna be to rebuild the ol' 23-C II to project a digital image on the baseboard?
     
  17. Easy,

    Digital = 0,1 = 0FF, ON. Hey the Bessler has a switch.
     
  18. The thing is that you cannot mount other than the specific Leica lenses on a Focomat lla and llc. And these Focotar-lenses are really not state of the art (exept the Focotar-2 5.6/100mm. A pity, because mechanical and erconomic wise these machines are not to surpase...
     
  19. May I repropose a look at my darkroom?. I'm very happy with the Focomat IIa's performance: great tones and details. VC filters under the lens have NEVER been a problem. If you have a close look at #10 you can see how I managed to mount two of them which can be swung in and out individually. That gives a variety of choices, the most practical being to be able to do manual split grade printing which I perform assisted by the Heiland analyzer/timer.
     
  20. Hi Lutz, I'll show you the differences between different EL-lenses. We should meet soon
    anyway...
     
  21. Ilford Multigrade filters come with their own holder, which is fastened between the lens and the lens ring of the enlarger. So it would fit either of these enlargers. Very satisfactory in use (mine now about 15 years old), EXCEPT THAT when I do any final large print I substitute an Ilford Multigrade gel filter in the filter drawer in place of the under-lens filter, because it makes a visible difference to image quality. (Yes, that surprised me too, and no, the small filters are not dirty.)
     
  22. Sorry, I didn't read the whole thread carefully enough, so I've duplicated much of what others have said. But under-lens filters DEFINITELY degrade the image slightly, even when brand new.

    It also occurs to me that fixing the Ilford filter holder under the lens with the Focomat will affect the auto-focus (because it lengthens the film:lens distance by about 1.5 mm. In this case it would obviously be better to use the three-screws fixing the holder to the lens, as Dennis says. The Ilford kit provides both options.
     
  23. Good grief, Lutz, what fabulous luxury!!

    I think you would find my set-up (the family bathroom) very amusing. It works well, but is tedious to set up/dismantle.
     
  24. Skeeter: I have both a 23CII and Focomat 1C, neither of which get much use. The 23C has a provision for alignment from side to side but not front to back. If it is off front to back, I would shim the affected corners of the column mount. There are 6 screws holding the column to the baseboard. I glued the horizontal adjustment after I got it where I wanted. I use Kodak VC filters under the lens without a problem. The Focomat has a mount that I made to mount the filters under the lens instead of using the lens mount adapter that Kodak supplies. I am using Schneider Componon's on both enlargers. 50 for 35 and 80 on the Beseler for occasional 6x negs. The Focomat had a Focotar 50 on it, that was filthy. I put on a Schneider 50 Componon for $50.00 and a Schneider to Leica adapter for $10.00. It works fine. I would upgrade your lenses on the Beseler before going for the Focomat Ia, unless it is cheap. Cheers.

    Mark J.
     
  25. Yes, you can mount other enlarging lenses to the Focomat IIa or IIc. Look for an extension tube called the DOORX.
     
  26. I'd look for a IIC, skeeter. Have you seen the condenser in a IIC? It is a huge chunk of water white optical glass. Condensers got a bad rap because Omega and Beseler used Coke bottle glass for its condensers. Leitz used water white optical quality glass for its condensers (the other enlargers with great condensers come from Durst AG, Brixen, Italy).

    Heiland Electronics makes a Splitgrade head for the IIC which replaces the top half of its head. With this you get automatic splitgrade filter printing.

    Another reason to go for the IIC is its great build quality.

    I am sure one can make a great print with either the Beseler 23C-II or the Leitz IIC. But for my money, I'd spring for a IIC.
     
  27. mark, you are correct. i misspoke. the alignment is off front to back, so i will try to thim it as you have suggested. thanks again to everyone for their input.
     
  28. Enlarger alignment, fore and aft. Enlarger baseboards and columns are generally inadequately engineered, and the column bends as the head is raised, causing alignment problems. I'm sure someone will tell me this is negligible in the Focomat, but some bending seems to me inevitable unless the column is hideously massive. In case it helps anyone, this (free, gratis and for nothing) is what I did with my Phillips (who? what?) enlarger.

    I discarded the baseboard and fastened the column directly to the worksurface. I fastened the top of the enlarger column to the wall by means of a length of threaded rod screwed into an expanding fixing in the wall at one end, and passing through a drilled hole into the top of the enlarger column at the other end. Two nuts (one inside, one outside the colum) allow forward and backward adjustment of the column. With the enlarger head at the top of the column (max bending), I then checked alignment (using a piece of developed film end with lines scratched on it as a test 'negative'; lens wide open, of course). After adjusting and tightening the nuts, the whole column became rock solid. It is then advisable to check alignment at lower enlarger head heights, but this should be spot on. Sideways alignment is adjusted on the enlarger head in the usual way.

    Man, has that cured my problem! I am not even slightly tempted to buy a better enlarger.
     
  29. thanks for the tip jonathan. the beseler has a pretty substantial frame and my impression is that it is not subject to that kind of stress movement, but i will check it at high and low settings.
     
  30. Don't forget you have three planes to get parallel: negative, lens and baseboard. Until I secured the top of my enlarger column I thought my alignment problem required shims under the negative carrier. I started with temporary shims, as a result of which I found that I needed fewer shims for smaller prints, and the truth dawned.

    By the way, I hate enlarger baseboards - they're never big enough, and things slip underneath them.
     

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