What is negative magnification

The enlarger

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short version

If you want to enlarge your negatives yourself, you have to reckon with some costs. However, these depend just as much on your requirements as when buying camera equipment. If you buy used, you can get by on 100 euros or even significantly less; However, depending on the equipment requirements and the negative format to be enlarged, it can also run into the thousands.


What you need:

• Darkroom
• Darkroom lighting
• Enlarger
• Time switch
• Chemical trays
• paper nippers
• stopwatch
• thermometer
• Measuring cup
• bottles
• chemicals
• Inert gas

The darkroom

You don't need a fixed darkroom for enlarging either. In principle, the same applies here as for film development.
Since normal photo paper is not as sensitive to light as normal negative material, the demands on the darkness are not quite as high.
But clearly: the more light-tight your Duka is, the better.

In general, a darkroom is best divided into a dry and a wet area.

In the dry area there is the enlarger with its additional devices, in the wet area the trays and solutions find their place.
This separation is important because the enlarger works on electricity and therefore does not like water. In addition, splashes of developer or fixer / stop bath have the unpleasant property that they spread as dust after drying. This dust can not only be noticeable on the enlargements in the form of dark points, but can also destroy the negatives in the long run.

Therefore, you should attach great importance to cleanliness. This is of course easier if there is a surface under the pods that can simply be wiped off with a damp cloth.

The easiest and cleanest way to work is when the negatives are on the far left, then the enlarger and then the trays come in the correct order.
So to the right of the enlarger, the developer tray, then the stop bath and then the fixer. Finally, on the far right, watering should take place.
The whole thing can of course also be built from right to left.

Let there be light ...

The fact that you can work with light in the darkroom at all is due to the fact that the photo paper is not sensitive to certain wavelengths of light (i.e. light colors.
The lamp has no influence on the paper as long as its light is only emitted in this wavelength. Unfortunately, different papers have different sensitivities for different colors of light.
Today, the classic red duka light is no longer used frequently because the gradation changing papers also react to red light.
A "dark amber" light is usually required for these papers.

What exactly you need depends on the type of paper you are using. At the beginning you will have to seek advice from specialist dealers. But be careful, don't spend too much money. In any case, ask for a "light bulb" that you can use in an existing socket.

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The enlarger

Depending on the requirements, enlargers can be divided into different categories.
There are enlargers for black and white or color and there are also different enlargers for the different negative formats. Depending on the type, however, many enlargers can also be converted or upgraded for different tasks (including repro cameras).

Construction of a typical condenser enlarger (for the black and white duka)

A column is attached to the base board (9), on which there is a device (1) with which you can influence the height of the lamp head and thus the degree of magnification.

The lamp head consists of the actual lamp housing (4), in which the "light bulb" and the condenser are located. There may be a filter drawer (5) under the lamp housing, in which e.g. filters for multi-grade papers can be inserted.
The negative stage (6) should be equipped with movable masking belts.
The distance between the lens (8) and the negative can be changed using the focusing mechanism (7). This allows you to focus exactly on the negative even with different magnification scales.

By loosening the fixing (3) you can change the position of the rod (2) to which the lamp is attached to the condenser. This allows irregularities in the illumination to be reduced or completely eliminated.

To buy?

If you intend to buy an enlarger, you should better buy a model that is also suitable for the next larger negative format. Then you still have some reserves, and the illumination of the smaller negative is more even.

In this case, however, make sure that the enlarger is over Mask bands or the like allows the superfluous "luminous surface" to be covered. Enlargers usually have a base board, a column, and an attached head that can be adjusted in height.
In the head of the enlarger are the light source, the light mixing box or the Condenser, the Negative stage and the lens housed. In terms of its function, the head is similar to a slide projector with which the negative is projected onto the base board.

Color enlargers are equipped with a "light mixing box", black and white enlargers have a condenser. The condenser (occasionally supported by a frosted glass pane) ensures uniform but directed illumination of the negative.
It creates a very directional and hard light. This makes the enlargements sharper (which is why this type of enlarger is also preferred for small images), but unfortunately even the smallest dust particles and scratches become visible in the enlargement.

The hard light also calls for softer negatives, which can often only be achieved with a "loss" of sensitivity. The light mixing box of the color enlarger, on the other hand, creates a much softer, diffused light. The images don't seem quite as sharp, but processing is easier.

If you value maximum sharpness and have the time and peace of mind to work cleanly and precisely, you should prefer a enlarger with a condenser for black and white.

The quality of the enlargements depends on the interaction of many factors.
In the case of the enlarger, these are factors Steadfastness, the parallelism of the three levels (i.e. the negative, objective and magnification level), the evenness of the Illumination and the quality of the Lens.

The magnifying lens

You also need a lens to enlarge it. Under normal circumstances it should have the same focal length as a normal lens for the negative format to be enlarged, i.e. 50 mm for 35 mm negatives.
You can use longer (or shorter) focal lengths, but this reduces the magnification scale, which is limited by the maximum height of the magnification head.

Switch and rule

A Time switch the exposure time is not absolutely necessary, but it makes work easier and ensures precisely repeatable results.

There are many different types here too. Normally these time switches are connected to the mains with a cable and have a socket through which the enlarger receives its voltage from the clock.

With such a clock, you should make sure that it has a switch for permanent light and a large range of adjustable times that can be operated easily and (even in the dark) without confusion. The time range should extend from one to sixty seconds.

A preselected time must remain "stored" for several exposures, so the clock should not automatically run back to zero and forget the previously selected time.

I've used both analog and digital clocks, and in my opinion, both types offer (just different) advantages. So it is up to you and your preferences which one you prefer.

Swim and hold

Sets are occasionally available in specialist shops Development trays and the chemicals offered. Please ensure that the bowls are of sufficient size.

For large enlargements you also need large bowls, but for large bowls you also have to use more developer, which then gets more contact with the air due to the larger surface and becomes "bad" (oxidized) more quickly.

A good compromise are bowls of 24 x 30 cm at the beginning. Smaller trays only make sense if you are absolutely certain that you will not process any larger paper in the future either.
You need at least 2 bowls, one each for developer and fixer. It is better, however, if you also use a third bowl with a stop bath (interrupt bath), this will protect the fixer.

You can also use a bowl for watering, but you can also use a bucket or something similar.
You don't necessarily need paper tongs to start with, but I can only advise you to use them.
You not only protect yourself from contact with the chemicals used (this can lead to problems not only for allergy sufferers), but you also avoid fingerprints on the enlargements and "tipping over" of the developer by introducing fixer / stop bath.

There are different types of pliers. I prefer to use the metal ones that "grab" by themselves thanks to a spring mechanism.
Other types of pliers are made of plastic. These are open in the idle state.
But my preference is purely subjective. Metal tongs feel better in my hand, and I feel like they are easier to clean after prolonged use.

The stopwatch

You need a stopwatch to control the processing of the photo paper in the chemicals. Of course, this is also possible with a normal watch with a seconds display.

In principle you can also use the same stopwatch as for negative development, but it is more convenient if it has an illuminated (or self-illuminating) display.

The thermometer

You can also use the thermometer from the negative development.
However, a special cup thermometer is better suited for constant temperature control (if you have an unheated duka), as it is easier to attach due to its angled shape and the holder.

Bottles and measuring cups

In principle, the same applies here as for the negative development.

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The chemicals

To develop photo paper, just like for film development, you need developer, possibly a stop bath, and fixer.
The developer works in a similar way to negative development, but it is adapted to the special requirements of paper development.

There are different types that produce different results.
Some developers work softer, i.e. with more gray tones and poorer reproduction of black and white. Others are "harder", they produce deep blacks and bright white, but "lose" the midtones. Normally working developers should, if they are used with a normal paper gradation, reproduce all tones in an evenly graded manner.
For starters, you should therefore start with a normally working developer.

While the stop bath is the same as for film development, you should use a separate bottle for paper development. Otherwise, small paper fibers could come off. The next time you stop these films, they may end up on the film, where they can dry out and cause damage. The fixer is the same as for film material, but usually has to be used in a different dilution.

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