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Thread: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

  1. #1

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    Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    Does anyone regularly use a step wedge in assisting getting the right contrast/exposure when printing using an enlarger?

  2. #2
    Big Negs Rock!
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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    In Tim Rudman's Toning Book a wedge is SOP. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the Agfa one that he uses, but I do have the Stouffer wedge and it works well.
    Mark Woods

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  3. #3

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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    Thx how do you use it? Do you enlarge it by putting it in the negative stage, perhaps next to the actual negative being used? (That would probably require using a 4x5 Stouffer step wedge..)

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    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    I see absolutely no reason to use a step wedge when enlarging . Unless of course you want to hang on your walls a bunch of step wedges.

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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    Quote Originally Posted by bob carnie View Post
    I see absolutely no reason to use a step wedge when enlarging . Unless of course you want to hang on your walls a bunch of step wedges.
    I was just thinking that it would provide an objective way of seeing how different exposure settings are affecting your prints. If I'm using a 10x10 enlarger, the glass neg space gives me room to add a step wedge next to the negative, thus allowing me a way to compare how different contrast filters/exposure times are working out.

    And, step wedges can be beautiful?

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    You use a step wedge in place of film. If you are enlarging, you place it in the negative
    carrier; if contact printing, in the contact frame, etc. Step wedges are extremely useful for objective testing using a densitometer to plot sensitometric curves. I use them for setting up formal parameters for silver masking and color separation negatives. A good idea if you're trying to calibrate for certain alternative processes too. But just for ordinary enlargement onto VC papers, completely unnecessary. A simple test strip or two will tell you what you need to know.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    Cyrus - a step wedge is precisely made on a special type of film, and would not give you objective results unless it matched to same kind of film you were enlarging from,
    with the same degree of fbf and dev stain, etc. You would ideally want to make your
    own step wedge shooting a printed Kodak gray scale, using your own film and dev method. Old step wedges were made for Kodak Sep Neg film (similar to Super XX) and
    had quite a bit of yellowing to the film base. New step wedges are much cleaner and
    probably made from TMX on a film recorder.

  8. #8
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    I use my step wedge on photographic paper quite a bit. Here are some examples. You have to contact it or project it (or both) depending on what you want to test:

    1) Making a M/Y printing table for multigrade paper (contact)
    2) Calibrating a Green/Blue two-exposure (so called 'split') printing system (contact)
    3) Comparing graded paper for its ISO(R) (contact)
    4) Testing just the the filters' ISO(R) on different enlarger heads (contact)
    5) Comparing best contrast obtained between different enlargers, testing lens, flare, and filter (projection)
    6) Testing for flare in the system (ie compare the projected ISO(R) to the contact ISO(R))

    I have used #6 above both for testing lenses and testing stray-light masking around the edges of negatives.

    Quick-and-dirty ISO(R) without a reflection sensitometer: Throw out the 'almost white' and 'almost black' bands, then count the number of gray bands inbetween. Multiply by 15 and you get a reasonable estimate of ISO(R).

    Like Bob, pointed out, unless you like testing paper and equipment, you don't need one with usual enlarging. I will mention, though, that there are so many threads that start out like this "Lost my contrast..." that many enlarging problems can be isolated with a step wedge.

  9. #9

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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    ...there are so many threads that start out like this "Lost my contrast..." that many enlarging problems can be isolated with a step wedge.
    Good point!

    A step wedge already contacted and processed can be a handy reference when judging test strips or work prints. You can look at a part of the print that came out too dark or light. Find a similar patch on the printed reference strip, see how many steps away it is from a patch you would have liked.

    A step wedge contact printed with your negative can tell you the range of your negative.

    Then you can compare that test contact print with your collection of printed test strips at different grades or papers to get a good idea which would be good for the negative.

  10. #10

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    Re: Using a Stouffer 21-step wedge in enlarger printing

    Not when making the enlargements. But you can learn a lot about how a particular paper allocates the limited range as among the shadows, midtones, and highlights by printing a 21 step wedge at various different contrasts.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

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