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Thread: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

  1. #1

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    Question My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    I recently switched back to my Omega D2 condensers after having used an Aristo Cold Light for a while and has recently noticed that there are some scratches and blemishes on BOTH of the lower condensers. This doesn't seem to affect 35mm much since the center seems ok. But for 4x5, it's definitely a problem.

    Any negatives with just putting the white diffuser that came with the Aristo in the bottom of the condenser can with the condensers sitting on top? This seems to have masked the blemishes but has cut the mount of available light down a bit. I didn't notice the scratches visible on my prints I made tonight until I already put up all the chemicals so I haven't tried a print with this configuration yet but seems like it would work. I think I can get a brighter bulb as well.

    I'm also considering buying some additional condensers. There are some on a certain auction site for not much money. I sort of don't want to go back to the Cold Light (it's just too bright and I miss being able to use a red filter to compose). Color lights are rather pricey still. An LED head would be nice - I think CatLabs may have one that works for the Omega but it's really expensive.

    Anyways, surely I'm not the only person to have scratches so thought I'd check to see what folks have done in similar situations?

  2. #2

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    If you like to print regularly and with a condenser head, I just would try to repair my enlarger (buy spares). I prefer condenser heads to anything else.
    If not, I'd simply dim your Aristo head with e.g. a filter or whatever, or better, DIY a new LED based head. It's quite easy.

  3. #3

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Quote Originally Posted by jose angel View Post
    If you like to print regularly and with a condenser head, I just would try to repair my enlarger (buy spares). I prefer condenser heads to anything else.
    If not, I'd simply dim your Aristo head with e.g. a filter or whatever, or better, DIY a new LED based head. It's quite easy.
    Indeed I used a filter with the Aristo. But it's blinding when I need to lift the head to check for dust (since the filter sits in the throat of the enlarger right above the lens). Likewise I can't use a red filter to compose with it. I thought about selling it but I might keep it - does seem good for portraits for instance.

    I'd like an LED head and have thought about building one. I'm waiting for the Maya Darkroom Timer and with that I might be able to use a DC relay which makes a LED head a lot easier. Otherwise you have to get around the LED delay problem if you're switching the LED off/on via the AC supply. Otherwise I need an AC relay (ssr/triac I believe) to be able to switch the DC side of the LED to avoid that. Huge benefit of LEDs is their instant off/on time but in order to do that you need to switch them off/on past the AC/DC power supply.

    The other issue is contrast filtering. Most white LEDs can't get you up to a grade 5. Looks like using near UV LEDs might do it? I'm having to make a copy neg due to running out of contrast on my existing setup so that's certainly a trade-off (on the other hand making copy negs seems like fun so maybe not a big deal).

    In the short term I may try the cold light's diffuser with the condensers to see how that goes. Might work well enough not to bother, though I am looking on a certain auction site for condensers. Found a few that are reasonably priced.

  4. #4
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    I recently switched back to my Omega D2 condensers after having used an Aristo Cold Light for a while and has recently noticed that there are some scratches and blemishes on BOTH of the lower condensers. This doesn't seem to affect 35mm much since the center seems ok. But for 4x5, it's definitely a problem.

    Any negatives with just putting the white diffuser that came with the Aristo in the bottom of the condenser can with the condensers sitting on top? This seems to have masked the blemishes but has cut the mount of available light down a bit. I didn't notice the scratches visible on my prints I made tonight until I already put up all the chemicals so I haven't tried a print with this configuration yet but seems like it would work. I think I can get a brighter bulb as well.

    I'm also considering buying some additional condensers. There are some on a certain auction site for not much money. I sort of don't want to go back to the Cold Light (it's just too bright and I miss being able to use a red filter to compose). Color lights are rather pricey still. An LED head would be nice - I think CatLabs may have one that works for the Omega but it's really expensive.

    Anyways, surely I'm not the only person to have scratches so thought I'd check to see what folks have done in similar situations?
    How deep are the scratches? Could they be polished out with rubbing compound? I doubt you would distort the shape enough to make any difference.

  5. #5

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    How deep are the scratches? Could they be polished out with rubbing compound? I doubt you would distort the shape enough to make any difference.
    I was pondering that. Looks fairly shallow at a glance. The other blemishes seem like they might be internal, but if I could buff that scratch out that might do it. I read a filler of some sort might work for the scratch too.

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    I was pondering that. Looks fairly shallow at a glance. The other blemishes seem like they might be internal, but if I could buff that scratch out that might do it. I read a filler of some sort might work for the scratch too.
    Just get a fine line permanent black marker and fill it in. Grinding it out will change the curve.

  7. #7
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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    Just get a fine line permanent black marker and fill it in. Grinding it out will change the curve.
    Would that really affect the performance of the condenser that much? The condensers are quite large and the curve is pretty steep. And all that is far behind the negative, especially the top condenser.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #8

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    I saw the black permanent marker trick (either here or somewhere on the Googles) but I can see it right on the print as a definitive scratch (even wide open though the print in question was at f11). Will it help that much since it's right in the film path?

    For the auctiony place, I found used ones for $35 or so and ones mentioned to specifically be in good condition for $65. Not horrible though an unforeseen expense for sure. I read of a suggestion to use tracing paper on the top condenser which might help (though that confuses me :P I would have though under the bottom condenser would make more sense?). My cold light diffuser might work well enough as well if I don't mind the light loss.

  9. #9

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    Indeed I used a filter with the Aristo. But it's blinding when I need to lift the head to check for dust (since the filter sits in the throat of the enlarger right above the lens). Likewise I can't use a red filter to compose with it. I thought about selling it but I might keep it - does seem good for portraits for instance.

    I'd like an LED head and have thought about building one. I'm waiting for the Maya Darkroom Timer and with that I might be able to use a DC relay which makes a LED head a lot easier. Otherwise you have to get around the LED delay problem if you're switching the LED off/on via the AC supply. Otherwise I need an AC relay (ssr/triac I believe) to be able to switch the DC side of the LED to avoid that. Huge benefit of LEDs is their instant off/on time but in order to do that you need to switch them off/on past the AC/DC power supply.

    The other issue is contrast filtering. Most white LEDs can't get you up to a grade 5. Looks like using near UV LEDs might do it? I'm having to make a copy neg due to running out of contrast on my existing setup so that's certainly a trade-off (on the other hand making copy negs seems like fun so maybe not a big deal).

    In the short term I may try the cold light's diffuser with the condensers to see how that goes. Might work well enough not to bother, though I am looking on a certain auction site for condensers. Found a few that are reasonably priced.
    Some thoughts:
    I rarely use the red filter to compose. Do you have a good easel? I know excessive power is awkward, this is the main reason I switched LED.
    Delay is not a problem at all. If LED delay or heating time is always the same, it's not an issue in the real life. You must keep exposure times reasonably long and that's all (to me, it must be between 10 to 20 seconds or even more, regardless of the source).
    I use several enlargers, and it is true, contrast ranges are not the same as with tungsten lamps but, who cares? Most of my prints are made with #1 to #3 filters under 2700-3000K LED based heads. If you need #5 often, I think you must check your procedures. To me it is mostly an internet technical topic than a real life problem. There are also variations between tungsten lamps and filter brands and paper ability to reach highest contrast. So just try it, I'm printing with LED for some years and filtering is not an issue at all.
    My main issue with LED could be brightness; you need to check which sources work for you. High power bulbs use to be big, they are sometimes difficult to fit or may not fit, and DIY LED plates need to be big to have a high output. I had to rethink and rebuild some of my sources to work better... there is always space here to improve, but this has not prevented me from making good prints since almost the first day.

  10. #10

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    Re: My Omega Condensers have scratches - any negatives (hah) with using a diffuser?

    Id use the cold light head and get an Aristo dimmer if too bright. Thats why they made the D750. I got rid of condensers 30 years ago and never looked back!

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