BW Enlarger Light Sources, part 2

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by jp80874, May 19, 2005.

  1. jp80874

    jp80874 Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Bath, OH 442
    ULarge Format
    BW Enlarger Light Sources, part 2

    As recently as May 11, 2005 we had a lengthy discussion on the merits of different light sources for a B&W enlarger. There were 31 comments and 1,325 views, so it is obviously of interest to many of us. I am looking at used several Durst 138S with 8x10 conversion and 240mm lens. One vendor has offered either the Aristo Cold Light head which we discussed in some detail or a “new convection cooled 300W incandescent light source, 240-250mm lens required” at a 28% reduction in price over the Aristo.

    Do any of you have any experience with incandescent light in enlargers and can you offer advice as to which will serve what need better? My need is to enlarge 8x10 B&W negatives up to 20x24” to the highest level of quality I can reach.

    What comes to my mind when incandescent lighting is mentioned relative to enlarging is Edward Weston and one of the boys doing contact prints with a bare bulb in the kitchen. With much less talent, I may need better tools. What can you tell me?


    John Powers
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Milwaukee, W
    I have a Durst S45...basically the same thing as a Durst S138. I use it with an incadescent bulb. Plenty enought power foe 10x enlargements from 35mm. Durst condenser system is very nice. I also have a cold light for it that I do not use because I prefer the condensers.
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Large Format
    The incandescent light sources are typically used with condensors. Without condensors and using a single 300 watt lamp then you are looking at major unevenness issues. A 300 watt lamp, in my opinion, is too low in wattage for an 8X10 enlarger I personally would look toward probably 1000 watts minimum (possibly higher) Even using an improper incandescent lamp with a condensor enlarger is asking for some problems for focusing the lamp.

    When you mention a 138S conversion to 8X10 (using incandescent lighting)you would need to look to a much more extensive conversion. Because is it more then simply sticking a 300 watt lamp into a housing and expecting to achieve good results. A incandescent light source with condensors in a good quality system becomes a functional optical system collimating and focusing the light at the nodal point of the enlarging lens.

    If it were me and I was going to want the best print quality, based upon my experience with Aristo cold lights, Saunders diffusion light sources, and a Durst condensor system, I would look toward purchasing a Durst 8X10 condensor enlarger. That raises the height and weight issues that you have already mentioned. I believe that it is possible to circumvent that issue as I have already mentioned. It would require modification of the column...depending on the model it would be possible in most cases.

    In my opinion, considering a condensor enlarger, I would not buy anything other then Durst or Devere. They have optical systems that are well designed.

    If you have the money and are really want the best equipment then look to Jensen Optical and purchase the new 8X10 condensor enlarger with the 85 inch height.

    I personally think for my own printing that I would be very inclined to consider printing with a point light/condensor source as opposed to an incandescent lamp/condensor source. My personal experience places diffusion and cold lamps at the bottom of the pile...this is based upon my opinion after having printed extensively with all systems excluding the point light source.

    The reason that the cold lamp is utilized for the 138S conversion is that it makes it easier for the conversion...not necessarily the best in my opinion.
  4. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

    Feb 28, 2003
    Santa Barbar
    You can't really compare an 810 to a 35mm, 10x enlargement. At 20x24, you will be making a 2.5x enlargement with a neg that has over 50x the area. You need alot more light than 300W. A 1212 coldlight is about 200W and it is many times more efficient than a 300W incandescent. I agree with Donald, you will need 1000W of incandescent to use this enlarger with 810. I don't know about all the other light sources or enlargers. I have a Beseler 45M modified to take the 810 adapter. It works fine, prints fast, and fits in a small darkroom. Because of the diffused light, negative defects and 6 surfaces of dust and dirt and Newton rings don't show up. A point source or condenser will accent dust and defects.

    Maybe you should start by contact printing. Nothing better and 810 is a nice size.