THE THEORY BEHIND THE USE OF CONDENSER LENSES.A “condenser” is a lens just as the lenses you use on your camera, a very simple lens but never the less a lens. Any type lens can be used in
a condenser system. These are the most commonly used lens types used for
condenser heads. 
#2, UN SYMMETRICAL DOUBLE CONVEX #3, SYMMETRICAL DOUBLE CONVEX #4, NEGATIVE MENISCUS, thin
center and #5, POSITIVE MENISCUS, thick
center and

All Durst condensers are PLANOCONVEX, Type 1. The DeVere system is using both PLANO CONVEX and POSITIVE MENISCUS, Type 1 and type 5. If parallel light rays from
a distant light source, ex. the sun, is projected through a lens it will
create an image of the light source behind the lens. 

You have probably seen this effect when using a magnifier glass to start a campfire. The bright spot created by the magnifier is in fact the image of the sun that is focused as a small bright hot spot. In a condenser system this property is used in reverse. The lens is used to turn the globe of light emitted by a lamp filament in to a bundle of Collimated light rays. The lamp is placed at the point of focus and is projecting its light through the lens from the flat side of a PLANO CONVEX lens. When you focused the image of the Sun with the magnifier you may not have noticed that the image of the sun was not entirely sharp. Looking closely would reveal that it had a “halo” around it. The halo is due to Spherical Aberration. All lenses are born with a series of defects in relation to focusing an image sharply. Condenser lenses and magnifiers are very simple lenses and tend to have quite a lot of spherical aberration as their worst fault. Spherical aberration is a lens fault causing the light rays passing through it to focus in two different planes. A “condenser” is a lenselement just like the lenselements used in any taking or enlarging lens. However it is most often a cheaply made lens and of lower quality, than a lens element used in a camera or enlarging lens. In camera and enlarging lenses Spherical aberration is minimized and controlled by using different types of glass and counter acting with several lenses of different shape and type. When designing an advanced condenser system the Spherical Aberration is controlled in a different manner. By placing the lamp ¼ Focal Length (FL) inside focus, which is away from the point of focus in the direction of the condenser lens, it is possible to obtain almost true Collimation with one condenser lens. Using two condensers in a
pair further reduce the spherical aberration to 25% of the aberration
created by one lens. Already now you can start to see the relevance of Durst using two PLANO CONVEX condenser lenses in a pair and of supplying a way of adjusting the distance from the lamp to the condenser lens. By using two Plano Convex
lenses in a pair Collimation is increased because S.A is decreased. If we
had not decreased S.A it would have caused a lot of light to spill to the
sides and thus create flare and loss of light. 

The two drawings above illustrate how S.A is controlled by moving the lamp. Looking at the drawings you may get the impression that moving the lamp will solve all problems because it is shown that the light beam are almost parallel. Unfortunately true Collimation is only possible with a true “point” source of light. A true point does not exist. If a point is visible it has to have a size. The size of the point ( The light filament in a lamp with a clear cone or the size of the cone on an OPAL bulb.) creates a new problem we have to look at, in order to understand what makes a Condenser head function. The light rays emitted from any given point on the lamp filament, or the cone of an OPAL lamp, is creating it’s own set of parallel light rays. This model shows how a
“theoretic true point” would render the light rays. 



Now – if you IMAGINE the filament as an infinitive amount of tiny points. Then you will understand;
The optical engineers that designed the condenser systems worked with and used the fact that part of the light would be diverging. They used this property to create enough coverage for the negative in question with the shortest possible distance from lamp to negative. Let us look at how they did that: 

The angle of divergence and the resulting size of the light cone can be calculated. Angle of Divergence = S ∕ R Radians. Example:
S = 4mm, R = 380mm and the filament needs to be projected 380mm (1 FL) to
Angle of Divergence = 4 ∕ 380 Radians = 0.01052631578 Radians Light spread
= 380 x 0.01052631578 = 4 mm Now let us look at the actual condenser lens sitting right in front of the lamp in a Durst 10x10 Condenser head and let us assume that we use a DULAMP 1200TOP which has a filament with a size of 15x15mm. The diameter of the filament would be approx. 21mm. And let us assume that Durst had placed the lamp in the correct spot as previously determined, which was ¼ inside focus towards the first condenser. S = 21mm, R = focal Length of LAZUCO 181 condenser = 250mm. The diameter of LAZUCO is 181mm. The distance from the lamp to the first of the two LACON 380 condensers is approx. 1100mm. The diameter of the LACON 380mm is 380mm Angle of Divergence = 21
∕ (250x 0.75) Radians = 0.112 Radians We would need the diameter of the light cone to be exactly 380mm to cover the entire surface of the LACON 380mm lens. The light cone is obviously to small to cover the entire condenser. The diameter of a 10x10” negative is 14.14” = 359mm. Assuming that the natural light fall off created by the enlarging lens is equal to the natural light fall off created by the shooting lens (which is rarely the case in practice) we would need the condenser to be almost totally covered. How did Durst fix that? They moved the lamp closer to the first condenser! (And therefore introduced a heat filter before the first condenser). Angle of Divergence = 21
∕ 115 mm Radians = 0.183 Radians If you try and recalculate the last example with the distance being 125mm from the filament to the first condenser you will immediately see why accurate positioning of the lamp is so important when we talk about point light sources. You will also understand why the PULAMP with a diameter of the filament of less than 7mm will not cover 8x10” formats. And that the PULAMP can only be used for formats with a diameter not exceeding 248mm = max. 7x7” neg. Let us try to calculate the 10x10” situation using an OPAL lamp with a 4” cone. Angle of Divergence =
100 ∕ 75 mm Radians = 1,3 Radians With a light cone of that size there will be a lot of stray light / flare inside the condenser head. Also, you can use any fstop even f5.6 and still have the entire aperture filled with light. You have in effect created a “projected diffused light” which is an intermediate between Specular light and diffused light. The next issue we need to look at is the actual size of the filament that are being projected into the Nodal point of the lens = right at the aperture Focusing the filament right in the center of the enlarging lens has the purpose of maximizing the amount of light being output to the printing surface (photo paper or film.) Since enlarging lenses of different focal lengths have different sizes of the Iris Diaphragm (Aperture) the same lamp filament needs to be projected with different sizes depending on the lens in use. Ex. The diameter of the aperture in a 300mm Schneider Componon is approx. 50mm at f5.6. The diameter of the aperture in a 360mm EL Nikkor is 65mm at f5.6 and a 150mm Rodagon has an aperture with a diameter of approx. 25mm at f5.6. The area of the aperture
opening at f8, in any given lens, will be half of the area at f5.6. The area
at f11 will be half that at f8 and so on. 

f f5.6 f8 f11






When calculating the distances for the condenser system we will always calculate with distances that are LESS than one focal length. The distances from the lamp to condenser #1 and from the Virtual Filament to the center of the main condenser lens will per our previous discussion always be less than one focal length. Therefore we will have to use the following formulas: I1 =
(M1) x EFL When calculating the distances for the Image system (negative to print) we will always calculate with a distance from the negative to the enlarging lens which is LARGER or equal to the focal length of the enlarging lens. Only when focusing at infinity (making a print where objects are life size) is the distance (bellows extension) from the negative to the Nodal point equal to the focal length of the enlarging lens. Therefore we will have to use the following formula: I2 =
(M+1) x EFL In both cases the overall length of the system may differ slightly from the value obtained by adding the Object distance to the Image distance. If you use a condenser system to make prints that are the same size or smaller than the negative a whole new set of conditions will take effect and calculations made for those situations. In practicality you do not need to worry about all this theory. Durst has already provided a table showing all the necessary condenser and enlarging lens combinations. Refer to you enlarger manual for details. Calculating the EFL
(Effective Focal Length) of a lens (set of condensers) is quite simple. 





When calculating the size of the projected lamp filament for an afocal condenser system things grow a bit more complicated. In order to understand this model in relation to the other models shown it is very important to be aware that any of the two lenses (F1 and F2) can be a set of condenser lenses in contact or near contact. It can be a set of three or four condenser lenses for that matter. If that is the case then the EFL of this lens is first calculated with the previous formula. In this case M = F2 / F1 = 570 / 250 = 2.28X Therefore, if we used a DULAMP 1200TOP with a 21mm filament we would produce a projected filament with a size of approx. 48mm in diameter. This would fit the 300mm Schneider Componon at f5.6. Now let us assume that the negative is positioned 70 mm under the last condenser lens which would position the negative approx. 500mm from the Nodal point of the enlarging lens. With a 300mm lens and a 500mm bellows extension we calculate the print size in the following manner. We know three parameters: Effective focal length of the enlarging lens is 300mm The long side of our negative is 10” = 254mm (8x10”) The bellows extension is 500mm Then we need to find M, which is the degree of enlargement. M =
EFL / (O2 – EFL) Thus we can print a 12x16” print from an 8x10” negative with this specific combination of lenses and still maintain all parameters optimal. The
following is a drawing of a Durst 10x10” condenser head. The drawing is true
to scale. The blue frames in the head indicate the two surface coated
mirrors. The larger of the two mirrors can be tilted down to cut the light
path short and concentrate the light on smaller formats. 

With their two condenser heads – LACO 57 and LACO 1010 Durst has taken “Condenserprinting” to the highest possible level obtainable within reasonable means. The heads are extremely easy and comfortable to work with and they are of very high mechanical and optical quality. The Durst system standard configuration is three condensers and two mirrors. The use of two mirrors makes it possible to change the distance from the lamp to the nodal point off the lens. The Durst system offers 9 condenserlenses of different focal length accommodating almost any focal length lens on the market. The most usual
condenserlens is Plano convex. For each negative format Durst is using
THREE Plano Convex lenses. With a few exceptions the convex side is facing
the convex side when two condenserlenses are paired. Had the focal length not been reduced the lamp would have had to be placed almost four feet away from the condenser lenses and the enlarging lens would have had to have been placed another almost four feet away from the condenser lenses. Thus making the whole system at least nine feet long. When designing a real effective condenser head the challenge is to be able to maintain the image of the lamp filament in the center of the lens while at the same time being able to focus the negative on the paper. Therefore only certain focal length enlarging lenses work correctly with certain combinations of condenser lenses. The Durst Condenser model 250 has a usable diameter of 250mm and a focal length of 375mm. The Durst Condenser model 380 has a usable diameter of 380mm and a focal length of 570mm. Durst has further introduced a third condenser lens quite close to the lamp. The function of this lens is both to enlarge the size of the lamp behind it but also to increase the degree of parallelism (Collimation) of the light rays. Enlarging the lamp or the lamp filament is equal to creating a light cone large enough to cover the format in question as discussed earlier. One of the mirrors, the
large mirror, can tilt from its top position to a 45 degree angle and thus
reduce the distance from the first condensers to the two second condensers.
This feature is used when the 10x10” head is used to print smaller formats,
5x7 and smaller. 



Continue....to Article about Film Exposure and processing for Condenser & Diffused Light heads. 



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