Federal Enlarger Condenser/Diffuser

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Hello All, I've recently aquired a Federal Enlarger 450 and after tearing it down for cleaning I have discovered that it includes a set of condensers that were an accessory (according to the book) for this enlarger. It also has the original "light distribution unit" made of plates of sandblasted glass and opal glass. The original diffuser uses a #211 clear lamp and the condensers use a #211 opal lamp. Okay, so here's the conundrum: The condenser system requires a sandblasted glass "light distribution plate" that fits into 2 clips above the lenses. This plate is missing as well as one of the clips. On the other hand, the original diffuser unit is intact but I don't have the clear lamp. As I see it I have 4 choices but have no clue as to which is best.

1- Use the opal lamp with the diffuser unit, (opal glass with opal lamp) and pull out the condensers?

2- Use the condensers in conjunction with the diffuser unit (modified to fit) above the condensers.

3- Use the condensers with some sort of homemade "light distribution plate"

4- Somehow find and afford a #211 clear lamp...

Any suggestions? I am teaching myself darkroom so this is my first attempt at any sort of enlarger stuff. I'll be using the enlarger mostly for 4x5 negs.

Thanks in advance, Matt S.

-- Matthew Slaske (mslaske@usol.com), July 31, 2001


A properly designed and focused condenser system shouldn't need a diffuser between the lamp and the condensers. Try it with just the opal bulb and the condensers.
There should be some way of altering the distance between the lamp and the condensers to get an even illumination. If there isn't, or it's impossible to get the illumination even, then the condenser system was poorly designed to begin with, and the diffusing glass is a bodge to make it work. In that case, there's absolutely no point in using the condensers.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), August 01, 2001.

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