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Light table and loupe recommendations

M

mikel

Seems like my old light table is dying, so I guess sooner or later I will need to get a new one. Thus the question - does anyone have any recommendations? I need something like 9x12 or 11x14 light table/box, preferably with two l&s. I also prefer 5500K over 5000K, but these are rare nowadays. Any thoughts?

Also, I'm thinking about getting new loupe as well (had been borrowing one from my friend all the time).

I need a loupe in magnification range of 4x to 6x, because basically these are always used for contrast/color check. For real big magnifications I use projector or microscope to determine sharpness.

So, I would be really happy to use Zeiss, but their Triotar 5x for 35mm seems to be cheaply built. It looks like the barrel is made of plastic and I'm not sure if there is a rubber over the eyepiece (I wear glasses, so it's always handy). Also, it's not clear to me whether it's achromatic and has aspherical lenses. So, I was also looking at Schneider 6x (aspheric), Mamiya 5x (achromatic, metal barrel), Rodenstock 6x (aspheric), Leica 5x (achromatic, metal barrel, rubberized eyepice, "distortion-free" (doesn't say it's aspheric).

Of all these, Leica is the most expensive, Mamiya is the cheapest. Leica seems to be best built though. At the same time, there is no information about it on the Leica's site, which makes me wonder - perhaps some other manufacturer makes them for Leica?

So, money is an issue to some degree, but truthful color reproduction (as it is on the slides! Don't need a loupe if I can't see the colors right!) and contrast are two most important factors. Any recommendations?

Mike.
 
W

wojo

Mike,
I'm sure that you'd get a laugh out of my light box, homemade, and with a couple of 7 1/2 watt white christmas l&s for illumination. Also has a section with rails cemented on to the acrylic top to make cutting negs into six frame strips a snap.
But you may give thought to using a 50mm lens, as a loupe. Gives about 4x and very close to a full frame. I'm using an ML 1.7 and was using a 1.4 that had oily aperature blades, since cleaned. If you wanted to be fancy, I imagine you could add a step up ring to the front so as to keep the lens at a nice constant distance. I'm just guessing about the 4x but that seems pretty much in the area.

Happy shooting,
wojo
 

pecker

Member
Kaiser light table and Schneider loupe are my recommendations. Used mine for years and would not use anything else.

Doug
 
M

mikel

Wojo,

Yeah, that's funny. Well, in my case that's the reason why my lightbox is "dying". It was custom-made long time ago. Now I can't find any l&s that would work in it and personally don't want to waste any time on this (don't have too much of it anyway!). So, it's just easier for me to buy something. After quick search on B&H I'm intrigued by two items:

Logan Electric 8 x 10" Slim-Edge Light Pad #A-5A with Two 5400K (Color-corrected) L&s ($89.95)

Logan Electric 11.5 x 16" Slim-Edge Light Pad #A-3A with Two 5400K (Color-corrected) L&s ($179.95)

These are the only two with 5400K l&s. Which is weird, I always thought that 5500K is the closest to daylight as it can be, so I'm surprised to see so many manufacturers use 5000K l&s. Am I missing something and things have changed in the past decade?


Mike.
 
M

mikel

Doug,

which Kaiser table? (model/size). And Schneider loupe?

I heard too that Kaiser tables are pretty good, but they're hard to find here (B&H has only two models in sizes acceptable to me). They have a really huge one (14"x23") that is available as used for $275 and has dual 5400K l&s. But that's just way too big for me.

Mike.
 

colin

Well-Known Member
Mike I use and am very satisfied with a Portatrace lightable. As I am heavily into C645, I use an "old" Hasselblad Chimney viewfinder as a loupe. I think it's about 3 or 3.5 times magnification.(available very cheaply)
Colin
 
W

writing4me

I'm also a 50mm lens loupe user. I find I don't need a step ring at all. I look through the back of the lens and 35mm slides fit right against the rim of the front of the lens at the perfect distance for sharpness. -Lynn
 
M

mikel

Funny thing is, I also use 50mm Planar sometimes for the same person. But it's not as convenient as using loupe anyway, which is why I keep bugging my friend every time I need the loupe
He has some old design Leica loupe, which is pretty good.

Mike.
 
M

mikel

"for the same person" ---> should read as "for the same purpose"

Mike.
 

pecker

Member
Hi Mike, The light table that I'm using is a Kaiser "Pro 5000 XL," I haven't looked at the market for a while so I do not know if it is a current model. I use the 4X Schneider Loupe. I think that people have varying opinions about the power of their loupes, some favor higher power but this is what I like. There was quite an extended argument on another list last year over loupes and after a while it got a little ridiculous; Schneider, Zeiss, Leica, etc., it's hard to go wrong with any of them. The Schneider came highly recommended by a couple of photographers whose opinions I value, so I bought it and I am very pleased with it. For really critical examination at higher magnifications I use a microscope, maybe that has something to do with why I prefer a lower power loupe for general viewing on the light table. Good luck with your search and decision.

Best wishes,

Doug
 
S

spluff

Hi Mike,

You haven't mentioned the size of transparency/negative you are looking at. For a 6x6, Schneider do a great 3x loupe. It can also be adapted to view prints as well.

Horseman also do good loupes - I've never used one, but a few dealers have recommended them to me.

I also have a Silvestri (10x) - and the one I have that has a measuring gauge built in so you can measure objects within the image - although frankly I've never used it to measure anything!!

Hope that helps,
Cheers, Saras
 
M

mchristensen

My first light-box was the PortaTrace - about $60; does the job nicely, but it is not portable. Since then I've learned to shop for light boxes which have at least the 5000K color corrected l&(s) and a "CRI" index of 91 or better. Most lightboxes should be "on" for about a minute before you use them for the lights to reach proper illumination. I like the Logans too -- but don't know their CRI index. I want a portable light box to plop down on an editor's desk, throw on a sheet of slides ..and hand him/her a good loupe which makes their viewing a pleasure. These are busy people who would just as soon throw your images in the trash can if they appear out of focus or have distortions - sure, they'll be polite (sometimes), but don't expect them to feel the image unless it is dynamic and visually appealing. If they start squinting or contorting their face to view your images on a cheap light table and an inferior loupe -- you're wasting your time.

Loupes -- well I spent too much time on this one. I wanted something which allowed me to see the whole 35mm slide with clarity (no pincushing or barrel distortion).. and was not too pricey. Compared the Schneider 4x to the Rodenstock Aspherical 4x -- and while they were ever so close to each other I got the Rodenstock 4x Aspherical -- to my eye it was just a small bit better and a few dollars less than the Schneider, although I think the Schneider appears to enjoy better sales in camera stores.

Depends on your purpose and use of course. One thing that is important - when you show your work to clients, you want tools that say you're serious about your work -- that means pro gear, and presentation skills -- give your client a nice looking loupe and portable light table to check your slides, and work your magic from there.

If you are serious about publishing for magazines or competing in the art market (I'm not, but thats always an option)-- use the tools that the editors, publishers, etc. have come to recognize as belonging to a professional. These are the people who labor hours over light tables with loupes -- they know a good one from a mediocre one -- you'll score points if you have serious presentation tools -- don't go to the editor with an inexpensive loupe and clunky/heavy light table; and don't show your slides by holding them up to a window or some other non-color corrected light source. That's fine for the casual consumer, not potential clients and people who will look at your slides for commercial use. Simply said, you need the tools that convey your professional attitude and seriousness towards producing fine images; and a decent light table and loupe are required. Remember, when you hand over your slides to a potential client - you want him/her to feel the image -- free of distortion without having to suffer resolution and focus problems. A good loupe will allow you to do this, and your meeting places will not always have access to a light table. I've done presentations at restaurants and client homes which required me to bring my light table and loupe to the client; however, when I go to an editor's office, I'll use his large light table. I'll have my loupe at the ready if needed.

Of course, all of the above is a moot issue if you don't have the images needed .. but, throw away that cheap plastic loupe - and spend the money on one that
 
M

mchristensen

reflects the professional you aspire to be.

If you're using a G2 with Zeiss glass, you're already a fanatic about contrast and resolution - don't blow a presentation with inferior presentation tools. You don't need the most expensive, just the best.
 
W

writing4me

If you're showing slides and transparencies to a client, editor, etc then I agree with Michael. Your tools must look and act perfectly. I wouldn't have been quite so "relaxed" in my suggestion had I realized this was a question for professional display situations. Tools you use at home to scrutinize slides and transparencies can be very different, less cutting edge in appearance (sometimes downright ugly), but still be highly effective in getting the job done. But I'd never let a client see home-made or ugly tools. -Lynn
 
M

mchristensen

Lynn, agree 100% -- at home I use the PortaTrace and prior to getting my Rodenstock -- used a reversed 50mm lens - very effective in a pinch. Sorry I went a little off topic .. too much coffee. I guess the best way to shop for loupes & light tables is to use them, which is not always possible.

Another consideration is the size of the lightbox and it's internal light distribution. Almost all lightboxes have variances in light output from edge-to-center -- not a big deal for the casual user, but if you use your studio light meter you can measure the variations. My PortaTrace exhibits this problem although, to my naked eye I can't detect it. In presentations, I tend to arrange my best slides in the center. I don't know how the portable light tables perform in the uniformity of illumination - but there are many here with more experience than me, perhaps someone has such an insight.
 
W

writing4me

That's a good point too Michael, about the light distribution. Which have you (and the rest of the list members) found to be most even in illumination? For my own use, I really never need anything larger a clear-file page, but I'm not sure which size of table Mike L wanted in his original post. -Lynn
 

bobbl46

Well-Known Member
Some food for thought for the cost conscious. We do have cost concious readers, I'm sure! (Inspired by admissions of using 50mm lenses as Loupes!)

For years, I’ve used what I am sure is a medical X-Ray plate light box, bought from an Office Clearance company as a “used†item. It’s easily large enough to take 2 x 36exp unmounted 135 film, or about 50 mounted slides.

It has very even illumination, right to the edges, over the whole of the diffused Perspex area, due to the 2 daylight tubes mounted behind the Perspex, and the white curved reflectors behind each tube. The light is noticeably less warm than other “purpose built†photographic light boxes I’ve seen. Despite it being quite old and that the tubes have never needed changing (!), it looks nearly ideal in terms of colour balance. It does look a bit utilitarian ... so may be one for the back room or home, rather than for the front office!

Cheers, Bob.
 

pecker

Member
Even illumination is one of the features that attracted me to the Kaiser box, although I am sure that others are also well designed and constructed.

Doug
 
M

mikel

Douglas Shea,

Yeah, Kaiser 5000 is their high-end model. They have various models in that series, but most of them are pretty big (14x14 and up), some use high-frequency l&s for superb flicker-free image. Some use 5000K l&s, others use 5400K l&s. But, since I'm looking for 8x10 (or 8x12) up to 11x14, they're pretty much out of the picture. I simply don't want to have such a huge table, since I don't shoot medium format (as of yet) and find it easier to deal with smaller number of slides at the same time (as opposed to putting 50 of them on the same table).

The biggest plus about Kaiser is that they're photography oriented company, while there are many others out there that are simply looking to make an easy buck.

Michael Christensen,

Actually, I personally think that CRI should be over 93 at least and as I mentioned in previous post - I prefer 5400K color-corrected l&s over 5000K ones. As about leaving it for a minute to warm-up - it's true for any lighting equipment. Bulbs in enlargers, projectors, strobolights, even flashes need some warm-up time before they reach optimal color temperature and stabilize their output.

Also, I technically don't see a point of even having a light table if it has non color-corrected l&s. What for exactly you need such table?

Now, I don't need it for commercial work. I only have one client. But that client is very picky and demanding. That client is me


So, as I always like to say, "I'm not rich enough to buy cheap stuff" and thus I always look for quality products. What's the point of getting a loupe (for any money) that distorts the image or is always out of focus?

Besides, portability is important not only for pros, but for serious amateurs as well. After all, you wouldn't want to have 20lbs light table that you would always have to get from that top shelf in your storage and haul it to your room, set it up, then get back, etc.

Light distribution is also obviously important. For that reason it's best to get units with cold-cathode tubes instead of fluorescent l&s, because the latter are usually mounted right underneath the viewing surfaces, while cold-cathode ones are mounted on the sides. Also, that's why I like Leica loupe - it has ground glass. Which means, it will provide even better light distribution.

And yeah, we're fanatic about colors and contrast


Logan Electric seem to be pretty good. Although I don't know what the CRI in their tables is.
Although it's kind of surprising that they don't actually make them in here (States that is). They make them somewhere else and distribute under their brand label.


Mike.
 
U

urgenta

Hi

The combination of Kaiser 5000 and a Rodenstock loupe is an unbeatable team. But sometimes, if I need a smaller equippement, then I use a GEPE G2002. It's easy to carry with me. It's screen is 18cm x 13cm. The overall size is 22cm x 19cm x2 cm. I can use it with batteries or a separate poweradaptor.

Hans Villars, Switzerland
 
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