3 enlargers, which should go?

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Bruce Appel

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Last week I picked up a d2 so I can finally start doing some 4X5. I already have 3 enlargers in my darkroom, so something has to give. I have a beselar 23c bought new in 1967 equipped with a cold light head. Its pretty beat up, tough to get aligned properly.No easy way to use multicontrast filters because of the light. I also have a little omega c700 left over from bathroom darkrooms, where I needed something small and light.I also have a focomat ic that I found at a flea market cheap and couldn't resist.
My thought is to dump the beselar (despite sentimental attachment) , and the little omega, and use the d2 for mf and larger, use the focomat for 35.
On the other hand pairing everything down to just the d2 is attractive space wise.
What would you do and why?
 

Lee Shively

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If you have the space to use it, keep the Leitz enlarger. I just replaced a C700 and a Leitz Valoy with an LPL medium format enlarger. My darkroom is more convenient to use now but I miss the look of the prints I got from that old Valoy. If I had the space, I would set it up again in a heartbeat and use it for all my 35mm. The Focomat enlargers are superb--I used them at the newspaper where I used to work.

Of course, if space is at a premium....
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I'd keep the Leitz and dump the Omega C700. If you have room for the 23C it might be worth keeping, since you might decide you prefer cold light for some things or smaller, grainier, dustier formats, and there are a lot of options and parts available for the 23C on the used market.
 
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Bruce Appel

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While I like the cold light on the besler, not being able to use filters is a pain.After going back and forth between cold lights and condensers, I am not convinced that cold lights are that much better. I really can't see the difference in the prints, as long as the negatives are developed properly.
 
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Bruce Appel

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The problem is the color of the light is wrong for multicontrast papers.
 

bobfowler

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Keep the Focomat and the D2, sell off the rest and use the proceeds to buy more Rodinal!

My $.02
 

wfwhitaker

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Four enlargers? That's nothing!

Keep the Focomat and the D2. That's a great setup. You can always get a cold light head for the D2 if you want.
 

Emile de Leon

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Actually the focomat (if used with a focotar) will produce better prints corner to corner w/35mm, even wide open at f4.5, than any other enlarger made. Keep it as well as the d2 and you will not regret it. You can even use a small color head and fit it to both enlargers if the need arises. Emile. www.deleon-ulf.com.
 

Emile de Leon

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Dear Jay,
In answer to your question..
1. The condensor/light combination is unparalled. The condensors alone if produced today would make the enlarger unsellable because of the extreme manufacturing cost. The Leica condensors blows my Durst condensors away.
2. The Valloy/Focomat enlargers are perfectly aligned from the factory. When used with a Focotar lens (esp the Focotar 2) the corners are all in perfect illumination and focus, even wide open. If you stop down a half stop to f5.6 it even gets better! The condensor holds the film in perfect flatness.
3.Focus is a dream whether in auto or not as in the Valloy. Helical focus reduces mistakes and stays put. This enlarger inspires complete confidence where others do not. No negative pop, no focus slip.
4. As a complete unit this was the best enlarger for 35mm ever made. You have to use one to see this. It is the sum of the parts.
5. Better to have a perfectly aligned enlarger and use at an optimum f stop than to stop way down to cover for other problems inherent in the designs of other brands. Diffraction enters at lower f stops.
6 It is aligned for life!
7. It is fun to use!

Reason enough?
I really like the Valloy 2 for it's light weight and compactness.
Best regards,
Emile
 

Lee Shively

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The Leitz enlargers are different. The 35mm negative carrier is open at the top and the negatives are pressed down flat by the bottom condenser with an anti-Newton ring glass plate in between. It makes for a very flat negative. If the autofocus is set perfectly on the Focomats, you will get totally reliable focus every time you change image size. If you exceed the print size for autofocus, the manual focus is controlled by a helicoid focus system--no bellows involved which prevents any possible slippage. The enlargers take big frosted #211 or #212 bulbs and the enlarger heads are rather large with a silvered internal surface that makes for an especially fine quality of the projected light. They came with very high quality Leitz Focotar lenses that were known to be extremely sharp even at maximum aperture (although I've used Schneider and El-Nikkor lenses on them and they look every bit as good to me). For 35mm, the Leitz enlargers are outstanding.

(Damn. I've almost talked myself into getting that old Valoy out of the attic.)
 
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Bruce Appel

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The focomat is sweet to be sure, but it is not magic. Granted I haven't used it with a focotar, but a good 6 element nikkor. I can't say the prints from the focomat are any better than those from my beselar.It certainly is a nicer machine to use. The auto focus is a delight, the alignment is on the money and the whole machine is just extremely well made. Whether or not it makes prints better than other machines I can't say.
 

Lee Shively

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I had a Fujimoto dichroic head enlarger that I used for 35mm until I found the Leitz Valoy at a garage sale, complete with a Leitz 50/4.5 Focotar lens. I paid $7.00 total for the whole thing with a copy camera attachment. After I rewired the Valoy and used it for one printing session, I got rid of the Fujimoto. I've also used various Omega and Beseler enlargers in the past, as well as my current LPL. No comparison.

I don't know how or why but a print from the Leitz enlarger just plain looks better than from any other enlarger I've owned. There is a subtle quality to the grey tones I don't see on other prints from a 35mm negative. It really has little to do with the Leitz lens because I used a 50/2.8 El-Nikkor most of the time simply because the brighter image on the easel was easier on my aging eyes, especially when using filters. But having to remove the lamphouse to place filters on the condenser and not being able to use a 4-blade easel effectively and having limited ability to crop and a few other PITA circumstances made me switch to a newer, more convenient to use enlarger. I still have the Valoy. If I ever am able to set up a larger darkroom, it will be back in use in a heartbeat.
 

dancqu

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jdef said:
... and sell everything else to finance the purchase
of neg holders (if needed), lens boards/cones/lens turret,
and a dichroic head for the D2. Good luck. Jay

Did small format condensers slip your mind? Dan
 
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