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Let's say that I'm pondering an enlarger...
Old 08-11-2005   #1
Stephanie Brim
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Let's say that I'm pondering an enlarger...

What do you guys use? I'm looking through Ebay and I'm guessing that, after I get a scanner, this should be my next large purchase. I'd like to make some prints of photographs myself.

I'm going to be learning this, just like everything else, by winging it and reading up online as to what to do. I know that my first few prints are probably going to turn out bad. I'm okay with that...have to learn sometime.
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Old 08-11-2005   #2
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Seriously? I have a Bessler Printmaker 35 gathering dust. No neg carrier but it does have a lens (50/3.5). give me a couple of rolls of Plus-x or Tri-X in 120 and I'll be happy to make a trade. Since I don't have a neg carrier it's probably worth ~$40 USD. Two Pro-packs of Plus-X or Tri-X will cover that with little issue.

Let me know what you think.

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Old 08-11-2005   #3
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I got an unused Durst M600 still packed in its original box off of EB** for $80 including shipping. The story I got from the seller is that he bought it from some type of US Navy surplus auction. Which makes you wonder what else the GOV has squirreled away

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Old 08-11-2005   #4
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Think about the largest-size film you think you might ever want to try, and make sure you buy an enlarger that takes that size (or the next bigger.) It's very annoying to spend a lot of money for an enlarger that handles up to format size X, then discover you really like using a camera that takes larger format size Y.

Sure, there are a lot of cheap enlargers around now, so you might think you can always pick up a bigger one if you need it... but after enough unsuccessful sellers have given up on eBay and chucked their old enlargers in the landfill, what will you do?

Also, there's no sense buying anything other than a major brand such as Beseler, Omega or Durst. If you eventually need accessories or parts, you'll probably have to buy them used; they'll be easier to find if you own an enlarger that was popular before we all went to Digital Hell.

Personally, all other things being equal, I'd recommend buying an enlarger with a dichroic color head rather than a traditional b&w condenser head. The color head puts out a more diffused light, reducing the Callier effect that makes prints look grainier than they should. And by referring to a chart, you can use the color filters as variable-contrast filters (on variable-contrast papers, of course.)

Finally, the first thing you should do upon buying a used enlarger is align it: set it up so that the baseboard, lens board and negative stage all are parallel to each other. Some people say they do this with a grainy negative and a magnifier; I say don't screw around, get a carpenter's level and line everything up that way. Be sure to check both front-to-back and side-to-side.

What I use: I have a Chromega B66-XL, which is Omega-speak for an Omega B66 enlarger (which handles negatives up to 6x6cm) with a Chromega dichroic color head and an eXtra-Long 54-inch column for making bigger prints. I am ashamed to say that currently it sits disassembled on a lower shelf in my darkroom/workroom, because I very seldom have time to print and need the space in my tiny apartment more than I need to have an enlarger set up all the time. (If I need a digital file, it's quicker to chuck the negative in my film scanner than to make a print and then scan it, and if I need a real print, there's an excellent custom lab two blocks away.)

I really got a lot of satisfaction out of printing, though, so someday -- maybe if I live long enough to retire -- I hope to set up the darkroom again and have some fun. I just hope I can find some papers I like -- all my favorites (e.g. Agfa Portriga-Rapid, Kodak Polymax Fine Art FB Special) are now out of production!
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Old 08-11-2005   #5
Stephanie Brim
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I have no money right now, and I'm just thinking about it. Hell, my boyfriend is picking up my scans from last week. I have to sell some stuff in order to pay my bills this month.

Right now, a scanner is top priority and will be the next thing I get. I'm just getting some opinions now while I'm waiting on job applications to go through. :/
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Old 08-11-2005   #6
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Oops, should have said this before I said anything else: Ideally, before you buy an enlarger and set up a darkroom of your own, you should try out the process using someone ELSE's enlarger in someone else's darkroom... if you can find one.

It used to be easy; every one-horse community college in every podunk town in America offered some kind of beginning b&w darkroom class and had a big community darkroom to support it; I knew people who took 'Beginning Darkroom' year after year just so they'd continue to have access to the school darkroom.

Now, though, I don't know. But it's worth asking around, maybe at a store that still sells chemicals and printing paper (if you can find one of THOSE!)
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Old 08-11-2005   #7
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Eh, B&H is where I get most of the film I buy lately because I can't really get anything around here that I want and they sell the Ilford papers, which is what they use at the high school here. I could get access to the high school's lab, but I'd have to ask the art teacher.
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Old 08-11-2005   #8
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i'm using a omega d5 with dichoric head....i can do up to 4x5...works great...though i wish i could get an affordable foot switch for it...

jump in and do it...i'm almost completely self taught...it makes every picture worth more when u have to develop the film for an hour then print it for another hour...
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Old 08-11-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
Think about the largest-size film you think you might ever want to try, and make sure you buy an enlarger that takes that size (or the next bigger.) It's very annoying to spend a lot of money for an enlarger that handles up to format size X, then discover you really like using a camera that takes larger format size Y.
Hmm... good advice, well worth thinking a lot about it.

I did think about this when I got my enlarger 8 years ago. I could not dream I would use anything larger than 35mm so I went for a Leitz V35. Now I am considering getting another one for up to 6x9 (cm), but with your advice I should really get a 5x7 (inch), or rather the next step up. But they are too large as I do not have a permanent darkroom. I am considering the 6x9 approach and that I may settle with contact printing or just scanning 5x7. For the moment I have decided to wait, I have a simple old 6x6 enlarger from my father that I can try in the mean time.

I saw an enlarger in an ad that should take care of it. It seems to be sold now, but it took up to 24x30 (cm) negatives. 3.6 meters high and about 600kg. I would not know where to put it though... (price was about $800)..

/Håkan
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Old 08-12-2005   #10
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the omega d2 is a solid, affordable workhorse. it goes up to 4x5.
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Old 08-12-2005   #11
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Stephanie,

While it is all very well and very nice to use an established brand enlarger; I am a Durst man myself but there again, there were some remarkable enlargers from the past which are not appreciated, thus worth next to nothing, but still can be very competent tools.

Case in point:

More than ten years ago I bought a Wasp IIIA enlarger, made in the UK in 1949 for formats up to 4"X5" for the equivalence of a little less than $40. I stripped it, gave it the fine polish the original manufacturer could not afford to lavish on it, made some new carriers, had a new lens panel made to take an old Schneider Componon 150/5.6, and it out-performs anything you care to poke a stick at. Checking even my local eBay (Australia) where the selections are much more limited, a Blumfield 5"X4" - a most beautiful machine - turned up a few months ago and remained unsold at the equivalence of $35; I fear it mght be on a scrap heap now.

I think in the current climate these high-end enlargers of yesteryear can provide great performance for very little money; what they need would probably be appropriate upgrades in terms of negative carriers and lenses which would not be excessive. Of course there are a lot of lesser makes and models which would be less than satisfactory, but careful choosing and inspection of any individual example can indeed pay divident in terms of financial savings and ultimate performance.
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Old 08-12-2005   #12
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I have a Vivitar with fiber-optic color head that is just perfect for me, except for the cheap plastic carrier--and one day I'll have an aluminum one made to replace that.

If you want a good stable versitile machinethat is still in production, try the Saunders 760 series. You can get a VC head that's great for b&w.
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Old 08-12-2005   #13
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http://cgi.ebay.com/Old-Antique-Sola...QQcmdZViewItem

hmmm...bargain hunting?
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Old 08-12-2005   #14
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Don't know what enlarger costs in Iowa, but here in Germany you can get some old and small one for free or less than 20 Euro. Often nobody wants them even under those conditions .

I have an Jobo C6600 (LPL) which nobody wants. I don't want the 'sending away' trouble, so the condition were picking it up at home or a lab meeting in the region,
and paying me a Coke during I explain it. :-)

/rudi
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Old 08-12-2005   #15
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I have had good luck with the small Bogen models that will do either 6x6 or 35mm. They are cheap, light(easy, cheap to ship from Ebay) take common enlarger bulbs and can be fitted with better lenses. I would buy a Nikkor or schneider lens for these enlargers. I have
found several enlargers at yard sales and flea markets too. The advantage is you can set up or breakdown your enlarger to use in a bathroom when needed. I have put together several complete darkrooms for about $100 this way.
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Old 08-12-2005   #16
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Stephanie, your best bet is a local purchase. You will save on shipping charges and be able to examine the equipment. I came across this ad a few weeks ago. Alan is one of the folks at the Classic Camera forum. I am sure others that know him well can chime in, but I have dealt with him in the past and he takes very good care of his equipment.
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Old 08-12-2005   #17
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I believe Omega made some of the finest enlargers. I would recommend an Omega B-22. An excellent enlarger for negs up to 6x6. Rock solid and built like a tank.
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Old 08-12-2005   #18
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> Which makes you wonder what else the GOV has squirreled away

I found a Weston Master 715 in its original box, fully functional, looked unused in an old lab. It is from ~1940 and had the contract number engraved on it. I am currently trying to find out information on an RCA Type C-1 night vision scope built for the Navy Bureau of Ships that is probably the same vintage. It still works.

And enlargers: the price on good enlarger lenses are way down. Get a good Nikon or Schneider, or other 1st class lens with whatever enlarger you get. The prices are pennies on the dollar compared to the original sale prices,
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Old 08-12-2005   #19
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Hi Stephanie, given your financial situation and the fact that you don't need the enlarger right away, just keep your eyes open locally. 35mm enlargers are frequently given away or simply thrown out. Try putting an ad in your local paper or the closest city paper, and I'll bet you'll be offered several for free. I've got 2 35mm enlargers that I would give you, but the shipping cost would not make it worthwhile for you. Whatever you do, don't pay more than $50 for any (okay maybe for a Leitz) complete 35mm enlarger with lens.
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