What is your experience with enlarger combinations and quantities?

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KennyMark

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Based on your experience and knowledge, what constitutes an ideal number of enlargers (and models, heads, etc) for a multi-format shooter (35, MF, LF) enlarging up to 20x24 in color and B&W, in a space that allows for up to three people to work comfortably? You can pick whatever you want. As long as we're creating the ideal, feel free to add your $.02 about sink size and quantity too. I've seen a lot of great setups in the darkroom portrait section and would like your thoughts on what you would do given the above circumstances.
 

adelorenzo

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Well, I have an LPL 4550XLG that I use to print 35mm, 645, 6x9 and 4x5 formats. I have the variable contrast color head that I use for black and white filtration. 50mm, 105mm and 135mm enlarging lenses cover all my formats. I don't print larger than 11x14 so far but the specs on this enlarger are that it will do 20x24 on the base.

If you are enlarging larger formats you'd need a bigger enlarger, of course.
 

Jesper

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I use a Focomat V35 for 35mm, a Durst something for 6x6 and a wall mounted DeVere 5108 for everything else. It takes a lot of space but I have the luxury of a two room darkroom. The Durst is hardly ever used so I could put it into storage with the rest of the enlarger collection (sometimes I suspect enlargers breed among themselves every time I look there are more of them).
 

lightwisps

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I to have a Saunders LPL 4550 XL with a color head. Best enlarger I have ever had. And I do both B/W and Ilfochrome 20X24 on it. It is an amazing piece of equipment. Not sure about how much room 3 would take up though. But not all that bad. Don
 

bdial

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My recommendation would be 3 4x5 enlargers.
The LPL's are lovely, and rather more compact for their capacity than machines like the Beselers or Omegas.
My second choice to the LPL would be a Durst, mostly because the Dursts aren't so common in the U.S.
 

ic-racer

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Based on your experience and knowledge, what constitutes an ideal number of enlargers (and models, heads, etc) for a multi-format shooter (35, MF, LF) enlarging up to 20x24 in color and B&W, in a space that allows for up to three people to work comfortably? You can pick whatever you want. As long as we're creating the ideal, feel free to add your $.02 about sink size and quantity too. I've seen a lot of great setups in the darkroom portrait section and would like your thoughts on what you would do given the above circumstances.
Ideally, it is nice to have an enlarger set up for each format. Although most enlargers will do a variety of formats, switching and aligning lenses, changing condensers and film carriers and or light boxes can be fiddly and time consuming. Since enlargers are inexpensive, the number of enlargers one would have could be based on how much space is available in the darkroom.
 

Jeff Searust

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I have a beseler MX45 and a 23, and have given away all of the smaller enlargers. --- I really only use the 4x4 enlarger as I have film plates for about every size I use. --- I do have a 6x17 enlarger that I have been building ...
 

bsdunek

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I use a Durst 606 for 110, 35mm and 6X6. Later I added a Kindermann 6X9 for my Mamiya Press negs. I probably could get by with the Kindermann alone, but I do like the Durst. I also have a Minox enlarger, but that's pretty much a special case.
I would think a 4X5 would handle everything, although there might be some difficulty with small or subminiature film sizes.
 

Nige

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I like having 2 enlargers (LPL C7700 & LPL 4500?) as I can flash paper with the one I'm not enlarging with, but I don't have to share with others... To share with others, something with a lens turrent (with 50/80/135 or whatever lenses installed) and maskable neg carrier would be handy. Each setup ready to go. Are you intending these to be used concurently?
 
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KennyMark

KennyMark

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Great feedback everyone. I appreciate it.
Yes Nige, I intend to either permit them to be used simultaneously by family and friends, and in dedicated format mode when I'm working alone. I read a post by one photographer here that said they like to have the ability to leave a negative in an enlarger while they work on another to take a break from it for a while. That appeals to me.
I'm familiar with (and own a couple of) most of the enlargers mentioned so far except for the DeVere and any of the LPL models. So I read up on the LPL and see that there's primarily two differences between the 4550XLG and the 4500II, namely column height, baseboard size, and 50 watts of light. Other than those three things (still learning how to count) are there any differences in how they operate? The 4500II seems much better priced used these days. I like the idea of switching out a module instead of an entire head. Perhaps the difference is academic, but it seems like less effort.
As for sinks, if you use two, is one mostly covered and/or used as counter space?
Keep it coming people.
Kenny
 
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As for sinks, if you use two, is one mostly covered and/or used as counter space?
Keep it coming people.
Kenny

Yes,when I was up,I like the space to place items so they can dry off.what can I say;I'm spoiled when it comes to darkroom space.
 

DREW WILEY

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Two conflicting problems are time and space. The more enlargers the better. I can load up different ones with different negs of different formats using little snatches of time during the week, and then more efficiently print them during a single session on the weekend. And I have
parallel systems for color versus black and white work. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to squeeze in yet another 8x10 enlarger, which
I have footprint space for, but will have a hard time getting thru the aisles for initial installation. But I prefer smaller enlargers for everything from 4x5 down to 35mm. But none of my enlargers are in the sink room - that's a bad mix unless you have no other choice. Chem and water
vapor don't mix well with optics or film handling.
 

eddie

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...I intend to either permit them to be used simultaneously by family and friends...

If you're planning on multiple, simultaneous users, you'll need a way to separate the printing stations. Plywood dividers, between the enlargers, extending out 18-24 inches (if printing up to 20x24 inches) will allow users to pull out paper without any exposure from another enlarger. You may want to look for pictures of community/college darkrooms to get an idea for design plans.
 

Red Tractors

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It's hard to go wrong with LPL enlargers, unless price is an issue. In which case you can get a whole lot of enlarger for very little $ with used Omegas.

If I had $3000 to throw around, a new LPL 4500 or two in addition to my Omega D5XL.
 

Mark Fisher

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I think it depends on what you really shoot mainly. If you shoot a lot of 35mm, the Leitz is great.....had one, but sold it because I hated the color head for BW printing and I mostly shoot medium format. I'm a huge fan of the LPL VCCE enlargers. The variable contrast head is an incredible luxury that I'd never want to do without again. If I could have my ideal 2 enlargers it would be an LPL VCCE in 4x5 with a drop table for big enlargements and a Leitz with a VC head. If you want three then I'd go with a rescue enlarger for that one......I have an Omega D2V that I couldn't bear to see going to the dump! Also, I have an 8' sink and wish I had about 12. 8 seemed huge at the time.
 

jose angel

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My reason for using several enlargers is to avoid the pain of being adjusting with every change of lens... it could be great to have a multiformat enlarger, but in my experience it is unpractical. Some enlargers get out of alignment with a simply change in the head`s height... so I prefer to use at least two enlargers.
I work in two darkrooms, #1 with a condenser 35mm head and glassless carrier, and another dichroic 4x5" with glass carrier, #2 with a condenser 6x6 head with two carriers, glassless 35mm and glass 6x6, and a second enlarger, also condenser, with a 6x9 glass carrier.
Think that if you don`t plan to have big enlargements from 35mm film, the 35mm enlarger can be ruled out... in the other hand, if you don`t shoot medium format so often, 35mm enlargers are tiny and very comfortable to work with; in this case, a 4x5" enlarger could be the best companion. As mentioned, it will depend on the formats you use most.

If I were building a new darkroom, and money were not an issue, I`d have a condenser 35mm/6x6 enlarger and a dichroic 4x5" one... to my taste, the best ones are the Durst A300 for 35mm, Durst M805 up to 6x7, and Durst L1200 up to 4x5". If money is an issue, the best amongst the cheapest to my taste are the Meopta Opemus 6 condenser, and maybe a LPL 4550 dichroic. With most cheap (but good) enlargers you can get the very same results, but with a noticeable lower confort level.

About sinks, I like to use two sinks; a small (kitchen type) one for film developing and chemicals drainage, and a big second one for the trays and washing devices.
Big, flat sinks have a slow liquid drainage action, they never get completely clear and it easy to keep chemical remains on it. If chemicals were water and soap, no problem, but if you want to get rid of a selenium solution (or pyro, or whatever dangerous chemical), any trace of chemical could be dangerous for your health.
For this reason I like to have an small sink, with a good drainage action, where residues are easy to drag with water. Better if your trays fit in to be cleaned.
Plastic sinks are not so cool, usually on the small side, but functional and with the better drainage. Wood ones are cheap but take a lot of work (depending on how good you made it), steel ones are supercool, light and strong but usually with not so good drainage.

Just build a darkroom for yourself, or maybe for you plus an assistant; three persons on a darkroom working at a time is not so realistic (at least if you are doing serious work). Simply too much people (you`ll need two sinks, three enlargers, etc... Do you really need it?)
Just my 2 cents.
 
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L Gebhardt

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I use two 5x7 Durst 138S for all formats. One is setup with a variable contrast head for black and white and the other has a color head that is used for color. The color one can only handle 4x5 film however. I don't find it a big deal to swap the lenses to go from one format to another. I used to use two Omega D5s in the same type of setup before I decided I needed a 5x7 camera.

I do wish I had more negative carriers for the Durst. That's the one thing I don't like swapping formats in.
 

fotch

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One of the reasons a individual who works alone in the darkroom has multiple enlargers theses days is they have become so inexpensive.
 
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