Good First Enlarger

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

  1. OP
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    BySumbergsStache

    BySumbergsStache Member

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    that's great 4season! However all the 4550XL I see are in the 1k to 2k, which is way beyond my budget
     
  2. farmersteve

    farmersteve Member

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    I can't recommend a specific enlarger for your needs but I just picked up an Omega B22 with a box of extras for peanuts on Craigslist. People just want to get rid of this stuff and I'm afraid a lot of it ends up in the landfill... Craigslist is your friend!
     
  3. Ashfaque

    Ashfaque Member

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    I think you'll find one very easily soon. Whatever brand you buy make sure its parts are available though. I remember reading here or at FADU that Durst parts can be quite expensive, especially neg. carriers (- if you have to buy them separately).

    However, if you can find a used Kienzle that would be the best thing. But they're rarely seen on the used market. Perhaps you'll be. Speaking of Kienzle, they make spare parts for other brands too.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016
  4. John51

    John51 Member

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    If you won't be doing medium format, why not get 2 enlargers? 35mm condenser enlargers are dirt cheap and some like the extra punch to prints that condensers give. Downside is that extra care has to be given to dust removal.

    That would give you something to use while waiting for a 4x5 enlarger at the right price.
     
  5. OP
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    BySumbergsStache

    BySumbergsStache Member

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    John that is tempting, but I don't want to overspend money or deal with too much stuff. It'd have to be a great deal ... hm I don't know that does sound like a good idea.

    However, I am thinking about starting medium format and getting a new TLR this summer .... hm I guess I could get a really good 35mm enlarger right now, and then wait for a good 4x5/medium format enlarger later.
     
  6. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber

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    Finding a good enlarger that goes to 6X6 is often easier to find than 4X5, there were many entry level enlargers that with a good lens and care in handling can deliver good results. Drust 600, 601 and 602 are good choices if you find on with the 35mm and 6X6 condenser set, the one I have owned I the past to sit along side my D3 had a masking negative carrier. Others are Vivitair, just one condenser. You can also look into a Federal, they often show up on Shoopgoodwill.com, both diffusion and condenser. I have a Stowaway that I take with me when I am on the road. 6X9, my model has a 2 element lens with waterhouse stops, I thought it was to be loser, turns out I rather like the look. An Omega B or Bessler 23c are bigger and heavyier, the Bessler useds an adjustable condenser so no need to find and buy condensers.
     
  7. OP
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    BySumbergsStache

    BySumbergsStache Member

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    Paul over my extensive nationwide Goodwill search, I found more Bessler 23C enlargers than anything else. Is it a good enlarger able to do color that you would recommend? What would be a fair price for a complete set with negative carriers?
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The 23C is very good, They look a little crude compared to Durst but are very capable machines IE: stamped metal components vs machined.
    Color heads for the Beseler are pretty common too. The condenser head can be used with color printing filters but it's much easier
    with the dichroic heads.
    Condenser version with two lenses and 35/6X6 carriers ~$100 little more, little less sometimes with the rest
    of the darkroom thrown in.
    Around this area we have many very optimistic folks that think they've appreciated in value.(!) One recently
    on CL $20. for a complete darkroom.

    Checkout "sad but happy" in this forum. Gotta keep an eye on estate sales.
     
  9. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I would suggest you narrow it a little to a diffused light source enlarger, as opposed to a condenser light source enlarger.

    I have done colour from colour negative and colour transparency film, on both condenser light source and diffused light source enlargers. In all scenarios I have found using a diffused light source is better for reducing spotting, reducing contrast and slightly more evenness of light spread, compared to a condenser light source.

    Probably the best of the lower end enlargers would be the Meopta Magnifax 4 which is a brilliant enlarger. The colour head has one very nice feature that is usually only found on top end enlargers, a Neutral Density (ND) filter. Last century I had a Meopta enlarger with this head and a wonderfully easy to use ND filter, it is a very under rated enlarger and was an incredible value for money enlarger. It was also very well built, not built to professional standards, but certainly perfect for the advanced amateur and financially struggling professional photographer.

    Having an ND filter in a colour head is a brilliantly easy way to effortlessly enlarge various magnifications from the same negative and with a simple change of the ND filter, you can expose (within reason) all magnifications with the same exposure time. Thereby eliminating another possible variable for a colour change, slight as it may be. An ND filter is also very handy for doing B&W and if by your reckoning you should need to stop down say ½ a stop, a simple twist of the ND filter and it is done. You then expose the next sheet of paper at the same time, same aperture, but it is effectively ½ a stop different, makes darkroom work that little bit easier.

    I also agree that an LPL 4x5 enlarger could be a very wise decision, I have had two of them for personal use. The 7700 with colour head for negs up to 6x7 and the original 4500 with a colour head, both were excellent, I wall mounted both for stability and the ability to run a drop table for very large prints or high magnification.

    If you do end up sourcing a diffused light source 4x5 enlarger, ensure you have the 4x5 mixing box. Without the 4x5 mixing box you really cannot enlarge 4x5 negatives. Most, if not all 4x5 enlargers, come with a 4x5 mixing box and a 6x7 mixing box. The difference is usually about ¼ to possibly ½ of a stop in light intensity, with the smaller light box being brighter.

    If an enlarger you are looking at, has the 4x5 mixing box, but not the smaller format mixing box, don’t worry, just use the larger mixing box for all formats. I have been using my current enlarger, a DeVere 4x5 with colour head with the 4x5 mixing box for all formats down to ½ frame 135 format for the last 15 or so years.

    Mick.
     
  10. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber

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    Over the years I have used Bsessler 23cs on occassion, an excellent enlarger, a classic design, rugged, there are color heads and you do color with filters, I use filters with my D3. Wilson Camera here in Scottsdale AZ has complete 23c outfit with a color head for $150, don' now what it would cost to ship it. No matter what color head you get be sure and check to make sure the filters have not faded.
     
  11. mixthe76

    mixthe76 Member

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    I agree! The Beseler 23c's are very good enlargers for the price and don't take up too much space. The added mechanical crank that raises and lowers the enlarger head is a plus for me too, as opposed to the motorized ones.
     
  12. Stephen Prunier

    Stephen Prunier Subscriber

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    Depending on where your located in CT, I would look around NYC/NJ on Craigslists, and maybe try calling some photo shops in the area. Check the back of Shutterbug for some shops. I know there's a couple in CT that deal in used/vintage gear. Also, this is were having some patience can be well rewarded.
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    a used Durst is always a good option as first enlarger but you must give up on 4x5 when getting started or it gets too expensive and cumbersome to get started.That said the Durst L1200 is a fantastic 4x5 enlarger but hardly qualifies as a good first enlarger.In my view it's the best last enlargerThere is no way up from it;just the best enlarger ever made in my opinion.
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Your first enlarger might as well be your last depending on your luck. Dursts are wonderful for precise functionality. Refurbishing an older one is fun
    provided you have sufficient basic shop skills like you might use for tricking out a motorcyle or hotrod etc. I've turned down plenty of free ones, simply because I was able to be choosy about the very best picks. But Saunders, Omega, and Beseler rigs are also desirable, even if not the same level of classic machining as Durst. It's a great time to set up a darkroom!
     
  16. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    Drew is onto a good idea, BUT...watch the cost.
    I got a Durst L-1000 that was missing parts, and I thought it was a good deal. That thought lasted until I started gathering the missing parts, and the total price of the enlarger went up and up, and it was no longer the deal that I thought it was. And I still have more parts to get or fabricate.
    So for a Durst, you REALLY want to make sure you have ALL the parts for it.

    It is similar for most any other enlarger.
    It is just that the Durst being made in Italy, and the company now out of the enlarger business, the availiblility of spare parts is less and more expensive than US enlarger like Omega and Bessler.

    If you have the room for two enlargers, the idea of a smaller enlarger for 35mm and 6x6/6x7 and a second enlarger for up to 4x5 is a good one. I find that the smaller enlargers are sometimes easier to use than the larger enlargers. In fact my Durst M600 will easily pack away into a box, which is what I have been doing in prior rentals (apartment and houses) where I could not set up permanently.
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Durst is one of the companies that made true commercial enlargers, so many of those units got decades of hard use, yet could easily last another
    century with a thorough tuneup. Condition is everything. And yes, finding spare parts requires either luck, patience, a serious budget, or machine shop skills. Accessories can be all over the map in terms of price, but more often than not, downright expensive. But you're talking about machines that originally sold in the fifteen to twenty thousand dollar range, or even dramatically higher, and that simply cannot be made again in terms of
    current labor rates. Their 4x5 (maximum format) and smaller units came from a different division, well-made, but not in the same league. You're
    talking about postwar Italian machined stainless steel, etc, and fine-tuning adjustment atop other fine-tuning adjustments, versus modern anodized aluminum like Saunders, Omega, etc. You can make great prints with any of these once their properly leveled and adjusted. It's just really fun to
    work with a beautiful piece of equipment. My Sinar Norma camera is analogous.
     
  18. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    You already know how the Omega works, it will do 35mm-4x5, and they show up all the time on Craigslist. Just be patient and a really nice one will pop up for a price far below your budget.
     
  19. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Or, have you seen this? Good price.

    (there was a url link here which no longer exists)
     
  20. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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  21. eli griggs

    eli griggs Member

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    I own and use Omega 4x5 and 5x7 enlargers and have used Bessler lg. format professionally. My first unit was a 23cII but its not LF. I have not had issues with setting up and using the Omegas, no loose fittings, nor complicated adjustments.
    I recommend you look for a d or e model and, if you are able to rebuild electronics, a super chromega dicro head and power supply. Its great if you find the color unit and power supply working, but often the units need a rebuild.
     
  22. comabereni

    comabereni Member

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    Hello, first post here. Reviving this thread because it references a 4x5 Omega enlarger I'm considering purchasing from a local seller for a home darkroom I am putting together. This will be my first enlarger and I'm at the stage of learning where I know maybe 1/2 of the questions to ask the seller when I look at it tomorrow. I did locate and downloaded the user manual for this enlarger, so I can at least see if all of the parts are there. It appears to have a negative holder and lens, and seems to be in good condition from the photos. Although listed for $250, the seller will accept $150. Any recommendations or things to look out for with this purchase? Is it a fair price for what it is?

    Here's a link to the classified ad: https://www.ksl.com/classifieds/listing/50525940

    Thank you very much in advance for your assistance.
     
  23. brent8927

    brent8927 Subscriber

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    I don't know much about the Omegas (I always used Beselers) other than they're top of the line like Beseler (maybe better?) but I would ask the guy to show you how to take it apart and clean it. That would allow you to look at the condition of the condenser lenses (I'm not actually sure if small chips/cracks would really affect your image, though in the enlarging lens they certainly would). I just mean the simple maintenance stuff you'd want to get to every year or so--don't take apart the gears and all that! If someone knows how to fix their enlarger it suggests they know how to take care of it and take pride in it--at least to me it does.

    I'd also check if there are light leaks in the bellows (turn it on and turn off all the lights, look for pinpoint holes). Enlargers are all aging, so it wouldn't be unusual if there were a few pinpoint holes. You can just cover them with gaffer's tape if they cause enough light leak to expose your paper. Most important is you just want to make sure the bellows are supple and not dry/cracked and ready to disintegrate. Also ask how you adjust the lens so that it will be plumb and level relative to the board (assuming it's adjustable, but Omegas are quality enlargers so I would assume it is). The instruction manual should show how that's done, but sometimes things are simpler when someone shows you.

    If the seller doesn't know how to take it apart, I do not recommend trying to figure it out while you're there. And if the seller seems trustworthy and the enlarger looks like it's in decent shape, it's probably fine--most people don't seem to know how to take enlargers apart to clean.

    I have no idea if it's a fair price--it's certainly better than the cost new! Enlargers are had to find and also hard to get rid of. Most of the time I see people either asking way too much for enlargers on craigslist, or asking too little. I fell into the latter category-I sold my Besler 4x5 enlarger to a photography student for about $80. It was in really nice shape and I took great care of it--I just couldn't keep it anymore and wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it. I would have hated to have to throw such a beautiful piece of equipment away. I see people asking $400 and $1000 in the Seattle area for the same enlarger on Craigslist--that's ridiculous, but then if it's someones hobby and they have money, well that's capitalism...

    The question is if it's worth it to you--I would certainly be willing to pay $150 for a clean and well-maintained enlarger. Omega and Beseler 4x5 enlargers are as good as they get.
     
  24. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

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    That Omega looks nice to me. I would make sure it comes with negative carriers and lenses, if so you've got a deal! I like the dichroic head, that's the way to go and it looks like a later model so that's good. One thing I really like about the Beseler and Omega enlargers here in the US is that parts and accessories are so easy to get. They were ubiquitous in school and commercial labs all over the country for decades; they perform very well with reasonable care.
     
  25. comabereni

    comabereni Member

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    It appears to come with one lens and, according to what I see in the user manual, also appears to have one negative carrier. Not sure if it's glass or glassless, or what size it is yet. The seller doesn't seem to know much about it or would probably have included better photos showing what lens and film carrier are included with it, and be able to better answer my questions. I asked for specifics about the lens and was only told is that it has one. Because of that, I doubt he/she knows how to take it apart, much less align or clean it. That said, the PDF manual I located are the original instructions and appear to cover alignment and maintenance. Given my current level of expertise, I probably won't be able to do much more than make sure it's complete with the printed manual in hand, check the bellows for decay and light leaks, and look for rust and obvious damage, but I am a relatively quick study and expect to be up to speed quickly. I can let this go and wait until I know and understand more, but I've been watching local listings for several months and later model 4x5 enlargers in nice condition for the low prices everyone says they should be selling for just don't turn up all that often here in this mountain town, so this might be the only 4x5 enlarger for a price this low to come along for another several months.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  26. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    That looks like a D5 with a DV Condenser lamphouse.
    Here is some info about the chassis: http://www.khbphotografix.com/omega/Enlargers/D5.htm
    Here is some info about the lamphouse: http://www.khbphotografix.com/omega/Condenser/DV.htm
    For clarity, that isn't a dichroic colour lamphouse - but you could use colour filters if you want to print colour. Or of course, variable contrast filters for black and white.
    It is a high quality, professional grade enlarger that was in production until 2014.
    If it hasn't been banged up, it is an excellent piece of machinery. It doesn't have a couple of the refinements that you might find on a D5-XL or D6, but it will most likely be a real workhorse, as well as a pleasure to use.
    You can outfit it to cover just about any format between sub-miniature to 4x5, although it isn't particularly well suited to formats smaller than 135.
    I have the older version of a D6. The listed D5 is probably newer than mine.
     
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