by Chuck McKern
With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.
Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE. Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.
We have a Bessler 45V-XL enlarger with a 45A enlarger light system. The computer part of the light system is sick. We are having a hard time finding some who can repair it. Seems that parts are hard to find. Any ideas or suggestions?
Below is a list of service facilities that should be able to help you service your Beseler enlarger.
I have a Nikon N-70 and 50/1.8D lens. I want to buy a flash but can't decide between SB-22S and SB-27.
Per Nikon docs, SB-27 performs monitor pre-flashes and uses distance information from the lens, while SB-22S does none of the above.
So, in theory, SB-27 should work much better for off-the-center subjects. But is it really true in practice?
My experiences with the pre-flash system have been that it does provide more precise exposure as does the distance information, which provides camera to subject distance information to the meter.
The way I see it, if you have a camera that can utilize these features (and you do), why not use it to its fullest extent by getting a flash that will compliment the meter fully.
In reading through some of your back issues I saw a reference to your using the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens as a benchmark. But the Nikkor 50mmf1.8 has a higher grade on Photodo. Why not use the f1.8 version since it's sharper?
Since we occasionally get questions relating to grades posted on Photodo.com we'll provide a little background and detail.
Photodo posted tests conducted on a wide variety of lenses using Hasselblad's Ealing MTF equipment. All lenses were tested at infinity and MTF was measured at 10, 20, and 40 line pairs/mm. I'm using past tense here since the site hasn't been updated since June of 2000.
Photodo "grades" are weighted averages of 48 measurements taken at apertures between f8 and wide-open. Those averages are weighted 60% for f8 vs. 40% for other apertures. As with most tests you could debate the value of the weighting but we'll leave that to the news groups.
While this weighted average creates a decent benchmark for judging the general quality of a lens we doubt you'd be able to see differences between a 4.2 & 4.4 grade, which is the difference between these two lenses. It's also not the whole story. We don't shoot every image at infinity and the test doesn't take into account other variables such as flare, ghosting, or rectilinear distortion. None of this is a criticism of Photodo. We applaud their effort to do some real testing within of a very subjective topic. By the way all of this information is available on the Photodo Web site. Unfortunately most folks just look at the grade and take it as gospel for which lens is "best" without really understanding what is being measured.
Getting back to your specific question. Why the 50mm f1.4 over the 50mm f1.8? The f1.4 version is a 7 element, 6 group lens versus 6 elements in 5 groups for the f1.8 version. The f1.4 version has less distortion - though frankly both are excellent lenses. The f1.4 is so sharp with such minimal distortion that it is used by several publications as a benchmark optic.
If I remember correctly the new 50mm f1.8D and previous generation 50mm f1.8 non-D lens have identical optical formulas, the differences being the upgrade to "D" compatibility and the addition of NIC coating in the new 1.8D version.
I have been searching for strobe equipment and have come across a set on Ebay that I am considering purchasing. I am new to this whole thing and was wondering if the strobes were of good quality for a beginner. I haven't been able to find much about them during my on-line searches. They are the Yinyan studio strobes (BY-400SD and BY-240SD). Please let me know what you think!
I am afraid that I am not familiar with Yinyan strobes. I would be careful here. Make sure you can get replacement lamps (both modeling and flash tubes) for these units with relative ease before buying them. Also find out if the strobes can be used with accessories like barn doors, snoots, different size reflectors, etc.
An advantage to buying strobes from better known manufacturers is that you'll be able to find accessories and replacement parts with relative ease. That's not always the case with unknown or knock-off brands.
I have an Epson 1280 printer and I've been making 11x14 prints on Epson Glossy Photo Paper. Someone at the camera club recently told me that I should switch to matter paper because it's archival and all my prints will fade in a couple of years. It's a lot of work creating these prints and I don't want to have to redo them in a few years. Is she right?
Oh, what an ugly subject. There are a couple of things to understand before we start digging in to specifics. The life of any print is determined by its exposure to sunlight, whether it's mounted under glass, and whether the back of the frame is sealed. If your prints are framed and not in direct sunlight all day you should get more than a few years out of them.
Taking all that into consideration print life depends on the paper ink combination not just on a particular paper or ink. Epson has a chart on their Web site with guidelines on print life.
The first thing you'll notice is that there are some big holes in the chart. For example Epson Watercolor Paper used with a 1270 printer has no rating. There are only ratings for the Ultrachrome and Archival inks with this paper. Does that mean you can't use that combination? Absolutely not, it just means that the chart is incomplete. As a matter of fact Gary uses this combination and has had stellar results. Epson used to indicate on its Web site if individual papers were considered archival or non-archival. It no longer does so.
And what about those print life ratings of 100 years? Chances are pretty good that if the print fades at 95 years instead of 100 that neither of us will be around to listen to the complaints and if we are we probably won't give a damn.
The Readers Respond
About CD readability... After several years of experience in the computer labs of the school where I work, re writable CD's most often can only be read by the drive that created them. We discourage the students from using them. If you burn on the same drive you will read on then it should be ok.