Here is a quick tip list on letters for the HELP! desk:
Please confine yourself to only one question per letter. Both postal letters and e-mails are fine, although we prefer e-mail as the most efficient form of communication. Send your e-mail queries to email@example.com with Help in the subject header and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. Although we make every effort, we cannot promise to answer every HELP! letter.
When sending a response or suggestion that refers to a published letter please include the month and page of the original question.
All postal letters to HELP! must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope to be considered for reply. We will respond to e-mail queries with an e-mail.
Bordered Print Responses
Not sure where you got your information concerning bordered prints or Prestige on the back of prints, but apparently not from the right source. Most independent labs now offer bordered prints as a normal service.
Prestige was the watermark on the back of Agfa paper. Agfa just went out of business in the last few months but that paper can still be found in some labs. The actual paper used is not what is important here. The ability to print with a border is important. Please check out www.ipiphoto.com for a listing of independent labs; my guess is 99.9 percent of those labs can print with a border. If you would like, please give my e-mail address to your reader and I will be more than happy to make prints with borders for them.
I read your column about the bordered prints on Prestige paper. Prestige paper was manufactured by Agfa, who sadly has left the photo industry. But bordered prints are a breeze; we print them for our customers all the time. Feel free to give the Carters my e-mail address, or point them toward www.picturesmatter.com where they can find a real photo lab near them. Almost any independent photo lab can easily make beautiful bordered prints.
Jim's Photo Lab
El Paso, TX
Get out of the office more! Virtually every lab I know in our nationwide association of independents, the Independent Photo Imagers, makes bordered prints with ease. We have over 600 labs in every major (and a lot of minor) markets in the US. It's easy to find us at www.ipiphoto.com; just drop in your zip code to find the lab nearest you. Passionate about our profession, we welcome all with interests or questions about photographic imaging, including editors of great magazines like yours.
Rainbow Photo & Digital
Thanks to these individuals, and other readers, who wrote me about the major error in my HELP! reply in the January 2006 issue of Shutterbug about making prints with borders today. I have heard from labs all over the U.S.A. saying that nearly all labs can make both borderless and prints with borders today from 35mm negatives. All of the 50 some rolls I had processed in the Midwest in 2005 were borderless so I assumed that was the standard these days. Upon rechecking with the five local one-hour and overnight labs I regularly use I found they can make prints with borders--but only when requested. I even got the Prestige paper watermarking manufacturer wrong since these readers said it was from Agfa not Kodak. Boy, when I make a mistake I really make a big one. This data should assist our readers who want prints with borders. These three replies also included some helpful websites for additional processing questions or just for locating a good lab in their locale. I do appreciate these clarifications about my major error.
Enlarger Lens Query
Q. I have recently been looking (in the UK) for a wide angle enlarging lens to cover 35mm negatives (I have restricted height in my darkroom). I had no success in any of the usual UK sources, but then discovered a Beseler 38mm f/4.5 on eBay in the US, with just 2 minutes to go. It was not expensive, so I took a chance and bought it, but I have since been unable to discover anything at all about the lens. I did a quick search and discovered that the Beseler HD lenses were made by Rodenstock, but when my lens arrived, it said, "Lens Made in Japan." I also found a post that said their budget lenses were branded Beslar. Could you please tell me just what I have bought, and what I can expect from it? I work in mono only, and the Beseler part number is #8638.
A. I have both Beseler HD 50mm (labeled "Made in Germany") and Rodenstock Rodagon 105mm enlarging lenses. I believe the Beseler HD lenses were made by Rodenstock since they have identical preset aperture rings and operating controls. For further information on the subject I contacted our darkroom expert Darryl C. Nicholas. His reply was: "Yes, Beslar is the Beseler `budget' line... I had always thought that Rodenstock made them... but maybe they are made by someone else... I really doubt if it matters much... all lenses today are made by computer... and are much better in quality than they were a few years ago." I agree with Nicholas, I don't believe you can go wrong with most any recent enlarging or camera lens today, as they all are far superior to those made just a decade or so ago. I hope your shorter focal length lens performs well for you. Getting a wider angle lens was a good choice for making larger prints in a darkroom with limited height or a short enlarging column.