Grain Focusers: Is searching for a higher power better? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I'm one of those weenies making 8x10 prints from 35mm TMX. Grain is, alas, difficult to actually focus on at this scale with my wimpy 8x or so focuser, covered as it is with rust & fungus.

I'm likely to attempt buying (and using) a 25x magnifier (microsight I think) for enlarging. Any one use such a high mag focuser?

BTW, I'm aware of the issues with focusers and VC paper, but since the alternative is not using one and that's failed me in the past, I'll have to live with it.

-- John O'Connell (, May 12, 2001


Hi - no help here...but your Q brings up one of my own: I am not aware of the issues with focusers and VC paper - can someone enlighten me?

Also - I have used a grain focuser with 35mm 8 x 10 up till now. I have recently switched to medium format and find that I can't see the grain as well as before. Is this because it is less noticeable in this format or because I need to step up to a higher power ?

-- KL Vance (, May 12, 2001.

Hi, both of you, T-max in large-format is much more difficult to focus and it's still possible with regular magnifier. So a new piece, with clean glasses, might work fine for smaller formats. The chromatic focusing problem with VC paper, when viewing, green and blue light won't focus at the same plane, will probably don't bother anyone at this small magnification (8x10' print), mainly if one follows the common advice of stopping down a bit, uses regular lightning sources and lenses free from obvious chromatic aberrations. So, a little practice and good alignment are well enough for perfect focusing, no matter which film or format. Good work.

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (, May 12, 2001.

The Microsight focuser gives an unambiguous focus quickly. I use it before putting in the VC filter most of the time, although I see no focus change after the filter goes in. I can focus well enough without any magnification, but it takes longer and is not as certain.

-- Keith Nichols (, May 12, 2001.

I use a Micromega magnifier..I think it's now sold as a Peak or something or's around 25x-30x or so, and I still often have to find an edge to focus on because the grain just isn't big enough. But it does help.

-- John Hicks (, May 13, 2001.

What 'issues' with VC and grain magnifiers? Is this the mythical colour/focus shift that only Ctein can see?
Anyway, I'd recommend getting a long reach or jumbo grain magnifier, such as the Skoponet, or Paterson Major. I've no idea what magnification they're supposed to be, but they work just fine with any film.

-- Pete Andrews (, May 14, 2001.

The Peak (formerly Micromega) No. 1 focuser works just fine for me on an 8x10 enlargement from 4x5, Agfapan 100 or Tri-X, a 2x enlargement. Grain pattern is clearly visible in the magnifier. I should think you wouldn't have any problem with 8x10 from 35mm using this device. Expensive, but you only live once and why make prints that aren't as sharp as you want? It has a 10x enlargement ratio.

Suggest focusing using full white light rather than using the blue filter. Whether or not the blue filter contributes to the mis- focussing that Pete alludes to, is of not consequence to me. I just I can't see worth a d--n using the blue filter. Old eyes (presbyopia).

And, you shouldn't disparage yourself for making 8x10 prints from 35mm. 35mm wouldn't exist if it didn't well serve a purpose for many people.

-- Charlie Strack (, May 15, 2001.

This "can't see the grain to focus" comment always confuses me... Using a Peak Microsight I may not be able to see grain, but I can still see the emulsion/image and if it's fuzzy or not.

-- Nigel Smith (, May 15, 2001.

I use the small Paterson aid and find that if I stop down about two or three stop from wide open, the grain pops out. May be a lot of reasons not to do this, but it works for me.

-- Gary Calverase (, May 23, 2001.

Slightly off track but I manage better using a basic Patterson than the higher powered 'Scoponet' (Now Durst).More importantly calibrate the magnifier for your eyesight (With or without glasses)with the utmost care. Use 2 magnifiers and double check before every exposure, I use full aperture and no filter - this doesn't seem to shift when I stop down. I do need to home in on an area of contrast change to hit it right every time! Rcommend Barry Thorntons book 'Edge of Darkness ISBN 1-902538-09-9

-- David Wallbank (, May 25, 2001.

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