Basement Darkroom..

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by PKM-25, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

    Nov 25, 2004
    Multi Format
    As I live in a small condo in a ski town, space is at a premium. So I soup film here, but I can not print it.

    However, a buddy of mine about 30 minutes away has interest in turning one of his basement rooms into a working darkroom. We are both pretty handy and he has lots of fab equipment, room to work so I think I want to do this.

    While I will work with some 35mm black and white, most of it will be 6x6 due to style of shooting. I see lots of great deals on darkroom and enlarger set ups, D2's, 23C's and 45MXT's, etc. So I am looking to develop a game plan here that will allow us to print 16x20's with ease.

    Which enlarger?

    What is the best glass for 35 and 120, price no object?

    Timers? All that jazz...

    I am thinking any of the above enlargers in good condition will be fine but as this is purely a B&W darkroom, I am wondering about things like the optimal light source, etc.

  2. Paul

    Paul Member

    Nov 20, 2002
    8x10 Format
    The best enlarger is going to be one that is for sale nearby so that you can have a look at it and will not have to pay to ship it since that will cost as much as you are likely to pay for the used enlarger itself. As long as it is one of the decent brands like Beseler, Durst, etc. that are known to be well made and for which you will be able to find parts, manuals, etc. the only other things to look for are it's condition and ease of allignment.

    As for lenses, it is a buyer's market. Look for Rodenstock, Schneider, Nikon. The are all excellent. I just paid $50 for a brand new enlarger lens that retails for $700+. If you will be doing only 35mm and medium format, get an 80mm lens. For 4x5 you will want a 135mm or a 150mm.
  3. jp80874

    jp80874 Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Bath, OH 442
    ULarge Format
    If you haven’t read it already I would encourage you to read the Darkroom Portraits thread, 521 posts as of this writing. That may help you add more questions to your list. Many of those may already be answered in other threads here.

    Four years into my darkroom I would say plan for growth and evolution. From the original plan I have quadrupled the number of electrical outlets, added a second enlarger, doubled the space, gone up in format from 6x7, to 4x5, to 8x10, to 7x17 and tripled the sink size. Answering your specific questions, I like and am using the Saunders LPL 4550XLG/VCCE and Durst 138S with 12x12 cold light enlargers, Rodenstock lenses appropriate for the format, and RH Designs StopClock Vario timer. I also use a Gralab 300 timer sweep second to tell me how long to keep paper in the chemicals.

    Good luck. I am sure you will enjoy it.

    John Powers
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Jan 2, 2005
    North East U.S.
    Multi Format
    The APO lenses are considered by many the best "price is no object" choice. If you get a copy of Post Exposure by Ctein there is an extensive comparison test of enlarging lenses. As stated, Beseler, Durst, Omega, LPL, not to mention DeVere are all excellent enlargers. Each has their good and bad points, but for any of them, assuming they are in good repair, a bad print won't be the enlarger's fault.

    There is endless debate on diffusion vs condensor, vs point source light, Ctein (in Post Exposure) has the best objective description of the differences that I've seen. The bottom line is that you can make good prints with any light source, and the differences are mostly a matter of taste.

    Shop in Craigs list, or on ebay for "pick up only" units that are within what you consider easy driving distance. I bought my LPL 4500 that way and paid a fraction of the typical ebay price, and I was the only bidder.

    I second the recommendation of a Gralab for timing processing, though an ordinary clock with a second hand works fine too. For the enlarger, I think I'd recommend either something very simple like a time-o-lite, or very fancy like the RH Designs or a Darkroom inovations f-stop timer. The middle-of-the-road digital timers are sort of the worst of both worlds, IMHO, though that's what I currently use.
  5. I picked up [pun intended] a super Chromega 5D-XL Dichroic, two Rodenstock six element lenses and an Omega/Arkay 150 20" wide drum dryer from a local Craigs List.

    If you were living in Australia, a large hairy spider crawling up your leg is required.

  6. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

    Sep 16, 2004
    Toulouse, Fr
    Large Format
    Hi !
    As for the lens, do not buy something which is not 6 lenses design. Today, being cheap on this subject is irrelevant as there are plenty on the market second hand. I use Nikon lenses with joy and they are good. My former camera club darkroom was fitted with Schneider and they were good.
    For the enlarger, pick the biggest and sturdiest you can find ! A pro model is a must as these are build like tanks to support years of abuse in a professional 8 hours lab... BUT, ensure you've got all set of condensers, negative masks, and the like ! Sometimes it will take you years to find that little piece of metal (or glass) you can't make yourself and was missing ..; Been there, done that ;-) So this means that either you know the enlarger well or have the manual at hand... Ask the pro labs in your town they could be delighted you remove that old beast rusting up in the corner that even the scrap metal buyers didn't want...
    Just my 2 cents ;-)
  7. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

    Feb 5, 2005
    Eastern Cana
    Multi Format
    I've mentioned this befor but one cannot help repeating a good idea.Advertise in your local paper.Our daily has a "free" add section.Got this idea from my camera shop manager.Received 23 hits in three days.Lots of them out there.

    Good Luck,