Good First Enlarger

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by BySumbergsStache, May 27, 2016.

  1. BySumbergsStache

    BySumbergsStache Member

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    I'm just starting out with making prints. I'd like to do BW and color prints, and I use 35mm and 4x5 film. What is a good first enlarger? Also, what are some good resources for enlarger information?

    I've used the Omega D2 at school to make enlargements of 35mm and 4x5, however with school being out, I no longer have access to it. In addition, I'd like to do color film too.


    CT
     
  2. MattKing

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  3. MattKing

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    Beseler 23 series would be a good choice.

    If I were you I would search the local Craigslists and then post links up here and ask advice.
     
  4. Jim Jones

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    Yes, Craig's list or any of many other sources. Most of the better 4x5 enlargers will accommodate 35mm film. With some, accessories beyond negative carriers are required for different sizes. I had to improvise a couple of accessories to use 35mm film in my ancient, but excellent, DeJur 4x5 enlarger. It still isn't convenient for multi-contrast or color printing. Avoid Testrite 4x5 enlargers, sometimes sold as Tower and perhaps other brands. When considering any enlarger you are not familiar with, look for manuals online or ask questions here.
     
  5. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber
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    Since you want to do 4x5 you might as well just pony up for a good enlarger. A Saunders/LPL or a Durst 1200 would be best/easiest to find of the good ones. If you have to get a D2 or a Beseler, but they just aren't as good. It may take you a while to find a Saunders/Durst but you live in CT so there should be someone around you at some point that wants to sell theirs. Craigslist.....
     
  6. canvassy

    canvassy Member

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    I have a Beseler 23C II as my first enlarger, and it's an awesome choice. I really enjoy using mine. However the OP wants to do 4x5 and the 23 series doesn't go that big.
     
  7. Zathras

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    I agree regarding the Beseler, don't like 'em at all, but I have used the D2 for many years without problems. The Omegas are relatively easy to find, although not always in good condition. They're also easy to fix and parts are fairly easy to source, since so many of them were made over a period of many years. A properly set up D2 is a very good enlarger. The Saunders/LPL or a Durst 1200 are also excellent choices, but likely to be much more expensive.
     
  8. MattKing

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    Missed that, sorry!
     
  9. RalphLambrecht

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    any Durst enlarger will be worth a try.
     
  10. tedr1

    tedr1 Member
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    Check out ebay.com for LPL 4500 II models these are 4x5 and will also do 35mm (you will need lenses) and the 4500 II model doesn't fetch the premium prices that the 4550 XLG models go for. Chose the models having the color dichroic filtration module, this will work for color and also for B&W variable contrast printing. What you lose with the 4500 II compared with the 4550XLG is about 6 inches of height and a slightly smaller maximum print size, however the prices can be dramatically lower for the 4500 II models, they are almost being given away. Budget for a 4x5 glass negative carrier, this will also work for medium format and 35mm negatives.
     
  11. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Beseler 23 will not handle 4x5 negatives
     
  12. John Koehrer

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    In the US the easier to find will be Beseler or Omega. Durst is less common and parts can be very hard to find.
    Both the Beseler and Omega 4X5's are proven machines used in most labs.
    I'd tend to go with Beseler because parts between models are pretty universal, same lens boards & carriers.
    Some of the older Omegas need lens mounts/cones for different fl lenses.
     
  13. Luis-F-S

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  15. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    I agree. And to substantiate Patrick's claim, just look to the question of alignment: the Beseler and Omega designs don't compare to Durst and LPL. The latter two offer a solid metal negative stage whereas the former two are basically plates attached to the chassis with screws and nuts and bolts —a movable affair (rather than permanently fixed) which for those who are detail freaks, would require frequent adjustment —, particularly exasperated by the fact that each time you clamp a negative carrier down on the stage, you are, in effect, "tapping" it a bit and thus moving it. Vicious circle.

    However, as already said here, Beseler and Omega are perhaps easier to find in the U.S. ... though I don't necessarily agree that Durst accessories would be that difficult to obtain in today's wwworld. It's just a matter of money.
     
  16. tedr1

    tedr1 Member
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    PS to my earlier remarks about LPL4500II on ebay, there is only one complete unit on offer, and several parts units. If you can be patient a suitable unit may come along at an attractive price. The XLG unit listed at $1000 or best offer is a possibility however the module is for fixed contrast papers, of which there are now very few, whereas most people want either the color dichroic module or the VCCE KIF variable contrast black and white module for use with variable contrast papers. The modules are interchangeable by the owner. The $1000 unit if purchased at a suitably low price could be combined with a color module to make a very fine 4x5 B&W enlarger.
     
  17. Svenedin

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    I've had an LPL for 25 years. My one and only enlarger. It's excellent. Solid, reliable. They are now very reasonable on eBay or other sites like Gumtree. Ive seen them being sold almost unused still in their boxes for £100 or less. Parts are not difficult to find. Kaiser are very good too (German) but I don't know whether they turn up in the US. Lenses are cheap as well. I have upgraded my Tessar types for better Rodenstock and Schneider lenses for far less than I originally paid for entry level Schneider Componars (which are still good lenses nevertheless).
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
  18. Paul Howell

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    I recommend a D2 or 3 with a adjustable condenser head, then add a color head as you learn your craft. I print color with the D3 variable condenser head by using a set of 6X6 filters that I put either over or under the adjustable condenser depending on the lens I am using. A Bessler 45 is a also a good choice, again a condenser head with a filter drawer for a set of color printing filters or VC filters. On the higher end a Durst Pro Lab, they do show up on C list on occasion.
     
  19. ParkerSmithPhoto

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    Check Craigslist for an LPL but search nationwide. I found an LPL in Texas and got a great price, plus the guy had a FedEx account so shipping was nice n' easy. Trust me and the others, anything less than an LPL is a 1979 Ford Pinto trying to keep up with a 2015 BMW. A Beseler 45 is not too horrible, if you haven't yet experienced the glory of the LPL.
     
  20. Paul Howell

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    I have never used a LPL but I have had my D3 for 35 years and I bought it used. The D2, D3 and D5 are rugged, easy to keep in aliment, part are easy to find, lots of accessories like a masking negative carrier, cold light, color head, point source head, designed in the 50s, it is a classic, not a 79 pinto. I have used most of the other enlargers, Durst, Bessler, Federal, and Kodak, Durst and Bessler are very performers as well.
     
  21. I used Chromega Dichroic II 5D-XLs at the employees' darkroom, and later I found one on Craig's List that was being sold by a photo lab. I have not had a problem with parts nor with performance.
     
  22. OP
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    BySumbergsStache

    BySumbergsStache Member

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    I used search tempest to search the US nationwide Craigslist. I found these options. I did find a LPL4500, but it was priced at $1,000 and I'd like to keep the whole package (baseboard, carrier, condenser, lenses for 4x5, medium, and 35mm) under $500.

    http://nh.craigslist.org/pho/5596636404.html
    https://norfolk.craigslist.org/pho/5598915808.html
    http://allentown.craigslist.org/pho/5580223256.html
    http://muskegon.craigslist.org/phd/5565930750.html
    http://savannah.craigslist.org/pho/5596341522.html
    http://savannah.craigslist.org/pho/5596342682.html
    http://orlando.craigslist.org/pho/5574225988.html
     
  23. Paul Howell

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    The D5500 looks to be complete, need to find out if the seller has the negative carriers, the next D3 or D2 with the adjustable condenser also looks complete, the seller may have the negative carries. The first couple you have listed are incomplete the D2 is missing the main stage condenser and the Bessler is missing the upper stage. Unless you are in a rush I would keep looking for a complete kit, enlareger, negative carriers and lens.
     
  24. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    I would stay away from anything with fancy electronics or electric motors. Simple is better.

    Color supplies in home quantities have been getting scarce and expensive.
     
  25. OP
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    BySumbergsStache

    BySumbergsStache Member

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    Hi Ron, my other hobby is electronics and I'm actually an EE major so I don't think electronics or motors would be a deterrent for me. I enjoy the challenge.
     
  26. 4season

    4season Member
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    I hear Durst is good but have never used one.

    I was really pleased with my LPL/Saunders 4550XL. Variable-contrast and color light-mixing modules are available. "XL" designation indicates longer column and larger baseboard than the regular 4550. John Sexton used to appear in Saunders ads promoting this enlarger.

    What I love about LPL? It's easy to set up, easy to break down for transit and never seems to go out of alignment, and I've bumped into it pretty hard on more than a few occasions. If I were to do it over again, I'd opt for the non-XL model for it's more compact dimensions.
     
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