View Full Version : Magnifier for Spotting Negatives

Paul Metcalf
26-May-2004, 22:27
With my old eye syndrom progressing very well (thank you very much), I need a ~10x magnifier with 8-10 inches of working distance for spotting those very fine lines in negatives, which means something like a dissection microscope for adequately viewing the negative. But these will definitely make a dent in my bank account. Anyone have another workable solution that is more reasonable in cost (Please, no digital solution or post printing solution suggestions. I'm stricly looking to spot my B&W negatives. Thanks).

Sharon S.
26-May-2004, 23:06
You might want to look at a Donegan Optivisor...they have varying magnifications and the loupe is in the form of a window in a drop down visor...which is very handy. I use one help me spot prints.

Donald Miller
26-May-2004, 23:17
The Adams retouching machine may solve your problem. They come up on Ebay occasionally. I paid $60.00 for the one that I bought.

John Cook
27-May-2004, 04:50
I second the Optivisor. Have had one since recommended to me while in school in the 1960's. They work great. But haven't seen them as strong as 10 power.

Recently I also had my optician make a custom pair of reading half glasses for me with super "coke bottle bottom" lenses. Several diopters stronger than my normal reading glasses. The advantage is that the optical center of the lenses is spaced exactly to my individual pupilary distance and the lenses are slightly angled inward (toward eachother) in the frame to accomodate the slight natural "cross-eyed" effect of working so close to the print.

It's handy to have a friendship with a small optician who owns his own place. He has also made for me an old-fashioned gold-rimmed monocle with black neck cord to wear under the focus cloth. Neat!

David A. Goldfarb
27-May-2004, 06:01
I'd also recommend trying to find an Adams retouching machine. I think I paid about what Donald did for his. You can get them with one or two 3x magnifiers that can be combined or a higher powered binocular magnifier, and if it doesn't come with the magnifier you want, you can order another magnifier from www.veronicacass.com.

The Adams machine also lights the negative from below and has a rotatable cradle and handrest so that you can work comfortably on the negative without touching it with your hand, and you can set it to vibrate if you want to do pencil retouching.

Larry Gebhardt
27-May-2004, 09:41
There's a bargain on ebay right now - only 399.99 for an Adams retouching machine. Surprisingly there have been no bids.

John Boeckeler
27-May-2004, 11:20
I'm not surprised. $399.99 is no bargain for an Adams retouching machine these days. I bought one on ebay last year for about $50. Anyway, for most negative spotting jobs it's not necessary to use the machine. I just use a lightbox and a clip on magnifier from Edroy Prod. of Nyack, NY over my glasses.

Paul Metcalf
27-May-2004, 12:07
Thanks for the suggestions. John B., my gut feel is in agreement with your statement ref the need for the Adams machine, unless the vibration mechanism really helps in applying the retouch (I'm still researching this however). I suspect I'm looking to use pencil to touch up my B&W negatives, but what I'm struggling with is seeing those very small lines and adequately applying the pencil on the line with minimal overshoot (do you have a suggestion for this as well? the smallest brush I could find at the local art store is still too big, so I'm praticing with graphite pencils brought to the sharpest point I can get and also a 000000 Rapidigraph pen with spot dye - and these are still not fine enough).

John Boeckeler
27-May-2004, 19:48
Frankly, I've never had much luck at retouching small spots and lines on negatives. The vibrating feature of the Adams machine was no help at all, at least not for me. What I usually do is use a needle in a pin vise to slightly rough up or prick the negative on the base side above the spot or line. This roughs up the negative and holds back the light. Sometimes I use opaque medium for pinholes and lines. I've never had any success with graphite pencils or dyes, except when I have used dyes on negative masks to add density. When I need opaque medium and dyes, I buy them from Veronica Cass.

John Cook
28-May-2004, 04:09
I once worked for an old-timer who did all his retouching on an Adams machine.

He began with a mechanical drafting pencil with hard lead extended an inch and a half. He then placed the lead into a piece of folded fine sandpaper about the size of a matchbook. The pencil was twisted around and around until he had a one-inch taper on the lead, down to a needle-sharp fine point. It takes a hard grade of lead to work like this without snapping off.

Using the pencil, he made a series of tiny "check marks" on the negative until the area was dense enough. No dots. No solid straight lines.

John Cook
28-May-2004, 04:18
One more thing. These were 8x10 negatives for contact printing. Nobody is good enough to retouch 4x5 negatives which will be enlarged.

For that, I recommend applying various shades of light gray tempera to the black spots on the print. Maribu used to make a set of cakes in cool and warm tone especially for this. But I can't find them any more.

Next best thing is something like these cakes from Dick Blick. Get one black and one white and mix the two as you go along: