4x5 enlarger recommendation?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by ITD, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. ITD

    ITD Subscriber

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    I'm starting a search for a second-hand 4x5 or maybe 5x7 enlarger since I recently got hold of a Super Graphic, my first LF flutter.

    I've got no idea about the relative merits of the various makes, and also have a couple of additional things I'd want out of a LF enlarger, so I thought I'd ask around. Note that I am in the UK, so that probably constrains the responses somewhat.

    Firstly, my current enlarger goes to 6x6, so I'd like a second enlarger to be able to handle other MF formats as well as the LF. So I need something which either has the right masks/carriers, or for which these are easy to find.

    Secondly, I use RH Designs f-stop timers, so I would have to be able to use that with any new enlarger.

    And thirdly I'm in the UK, so even if shipping from US were possible, I'd likely have voltage problems.

    Price constraints - I have a psychological limit of around £500, but recognise that I might have to vary that to get a good one, but I'm definitely not in the £1000 or more market.

    I probably just about have space for a floor-standing model, but given price constrainst above, will probably be better off with a benchtop version.

    Anyone got any suggestions?

    Thanks
     
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  2. snallan

    snallan Member

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    My personal recommendation would be a De Vere. I haven't used any other manufacturers models, but the De Veres' are very well built. Very solid, very precise, and having the head positioning and focus controlled by wheels attached to the baseboard makes focussing a breeze, especially if you are doing big enlargements - no reaching above your head to try and find the focussing knob. :smile:

    Many come up on the auction site, both 504s and 507s, with a variety of heads; parts and negative masks are easily available, both second-hand and new. Prices vary quite a lot, but in the range £200 - £500. A lot will depend on location, as they are usually pickup only (but most enlargers of this size would be, given the likely cost of transport). I picked up my 507 for under £200.

    Though they are big, robust, and pretty heavy, I have managed to move a floor-standing 507 by myself, and it all fitted in the back of a Laguna, so you don't necessarily need a van to move one. Another thing to consider on size, is the height of these beasts. A floor-standing De Vere is nearly 8ft tall (total design height 94"), with the wall-mounted and bench models, you have more flexibility on the height, if I remember correctly, the column is around 4.5ft in height (I will check this later for you, if you need an accurate height).

    RH Designs do a cable to use their timers with the De Vere transtabs.
     
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  3. Renato Tonelli

    Renato Tonelli Subscriber

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    My recommendation is for the Durst models; the reasons are the same as Steve's for the DeVere. Durst comes up for sale a little more often. You won't go wrong with either. Both are expensive but will last a lifetime of heavy use.
     
  4. Paul.

    Paul. Member

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    Another vote for DeVere.
    My 504 cost me £500 with 4 lenses in lens panels and 3 neg carriers, it was a private sale.
    The 24volt 250watt halogen lamp, I get replacements from my local electrical wholesaler, cost about £9 so I keep a spare on the shelf.

    I purchased a 6x6 neg carrier second hand £20 and a 6x9 neg carrier new £60 from Odesey and all bits are available from them.
    Mine is a 1975 machine and is still as solid as the day it was made even after having spent 30 years in a pro lab.

    I may be wrong but belive the Durst is now obsolite and have no idea where you may get spares.

    I chose the DeVere as I find the front of base board ajustments a real benifit, I suffer from arthritus in the neck and shoulders and wonder how I managed for so long without it.

    Regards Paul.
     
  5. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    I don't know where you are in the UK, but I do know that there are some seriously cheap 5x4 enlargers on the auction site regularly. One thing you may or may not know is that you can choose to view items for sale in distance order with the nearest first. It's an option in the dropdown menu at the top of the listing and is invaluable when looking for something that is collection only.

    I bought a wallmount 5x4 once, but I've never been able to use it as it is just too big and heavy for my plasterboard walls. Even luckier was the fact that it had the special extra long column! :rolleyes:

    Edit: Just remembered that Secondhand Darkroom Supplies have a couple of 5x4s (inc deVere and an LPL) in your price range and are prepared to post at cost.
    http://www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/info.php?p=3&pno=0
     
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  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I don't think any of the 4x5 enlargers were poor quality. I would check ebay.uk and other suppliers in your area and see what brands are popular. I have 2 Omega 4x5s, but they are popular in the US. If I were in the UK I'd look for a Durst or DeVere. But really if the price is right, any of the popular brands will make a fine enlarger.
     
  7. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    Another nod for the DeVere. I use a bench 504 with multigrade head and its an absolute joy to use, the base board controls are a great asset and these machines are built to last. They are rock solid.

    Check auction sites such as Ebay and/or private sales for there are some real bargains to be had especially in the current climate.
     
  8. mealers

    mealers Member

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    Take a look at Second Hand Darkroom Supplies, they usually have a good selection of used 5x4 enlargers.

    As other people have said, ebay is your best bet for picking up a bargain if you are willing to travel to collect.
    I bought a LPL 7452 off there for £200, I was gobsmacked when I saw it here for £2999!!
     
  9. ITD

    ITD Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I looked at SDS but there was quite an array of stuff for sale - what's the difference between a 'varicon' and a 'dichromat' for example?

    I felt burned by a previous purchase from them (which was too small to make a great deal about at the time) so I'm instinctively wary of them. I'd prefer to try an ebay sale or somewhere else before paying an overhead to them...I'd at least like to know more about the real value of what I'm buying before paying anything to SDS.
     
  10. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    The Dichromat enlarger(s) on that website, have a colour diffused head, The varicon enlarger has a condensor head. I would suggest you will be better off in the long run with a diffused head instead of a condesnsor head, but that is your call.

    I have used both of the bench Dichromat models shown in the site. The Cheaper one is the oldest one and is obviously priced accordingly, the later one is the same model as my own, but mine is the free standing one with the drop table.

    If you can, ensure that you get negative mask inserts for the sizes of film you use. These enlargers, or at least the Mark IV, have a negative stage which has slip in aluminium inserts for 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 4x5". There is also a set of glass inserts as well, but I hardly ever use them myself unless doing humongous enlargements.

    I don't think there was one readily available for the 645 format. I couldn't find one available in Australia so I had some steel plates laser cut expressly for that format, as well as another set for my Horizon panoramic 35mm camera.

    Using 35mm on these enlargers requires you to have a reversed bell shaped insert, which enables the film to be close to the lens for focusing. With 4x5" you need a flat plate lens holder and you will slide the lens through and hold it in place with a threaded retaining ring (generally).

    Possibly the best combination of lenses for the DeVere 504 is a 50mm, 100/105mm and a 150mm lens. With these three lenses you are covered for any format between 35mm and 4x5".

    Whilst the 100/105 length is a bit long for the shorter medium formats, it will allow you to enlarge any format from 645 up to 6x9. The extremely long bellows on these enlargers, means you can safely enlarge smaller formats with a longer than normal lens with ease.

    You can find quite a few shorter enlarging lenses to cover 4x5", but I do believe the best coverage and also in helping to reduce corner fall-off, is obtained with a 150 lens.

    The extremely long bellows on the DeVere enlargers is one of their best points. With this feature you can use the 150 or a smaller lens, to get quite small enlargements from 35mm. It is possible to do same size prints that are not contact prints if you so desire.

    Unbelievable enlarging situations are handled with absolute ease, when using a DeVere.

    Mick.
     
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  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I haven't found that to be a real problem. I regularly enlarge 4x5 with a 135 mm EL-Nikkor and have no issues with light fall off at the edges.
     
  12. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Frank, yes normally it isn't a problem, but if you shoot something on 4x5 with a 90mm lens then depending on the coverage of that lens there is the possibility of light fall-off around the edges. Maybe about ¼ of a stop fall-off.

    If you then enlarge with a slightly wide lens that has something like 1/8 of a stop fall-off, then you are looking at a possible 3/8 of a stop fall-off at the extremes.

    Quite a lot of people use oldish wide angle lenses, my own 90mm lens is a case in point. It is a Schneider 6.8 90mm Angulon, it has light fall-off measured on the baseboard of a ¼ stop, at the full frame corner edges.

    Using a friend's 135mm enlarging lens we measured fall-off at the baseboard at 1/8 of a stop at the negative edge.

    Using my Componon S 150 enlarging lens we measured light fall-off of 1/16 of a stop at the negative edge.

    Not much, but there and measurable and actually possible to see with the eye, on a straight print.

    If you need to enlarge full frame then it could become a bit of an issue, or at the least, you should be aware of these things.

    Mick.
     
  13. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Comparing the falloff of the Componon-S 135 and 150, they are nearly identical when stopped down. The 150 is slightly better when wide open. BTW 151mm image circle for both comparisons.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    IR, I take your point, but I measure on the base board, I take nothing for granted.

    It is there that I firstly see a slight difference, then I measure that difference. It isn't a problem but when a lens is put onto an enlarger there are other variables, especially evenness of light distribution.

    By it's nature any 4x5 equipment will be built to a professional level and should perform equally, but in reality there are always subtle differences.

    If you do know about any possible equipment deficiencies or differences beforehand, then you can take them into account when evaluating your possibilities.

    Mick.
     
  15. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    I sometimes wonder which "beautifully made and cleverly designed British enlarger with a formidable professional-use reputation that I refuse to buy or use...because it has a glassless carrier" is referred to by Barry Thornton in "Edge of Darkness"

    It does sound very suspiciously like a DeVere; there can't be too many Pommy enlargers that match that carefully lawyer dodging description .

    That said, I've not had focus problems ever with my 504, and would never change it.

    Regards - Ross
     
  16. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I actually did not see your post but, I don't disagree with your results on the 135 you tested. Always best to test!
     
  17. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    I have an LPL and am extremely pleased with it. The spring counter-balance is perfect, so you can lift the entire head up & down with your little finger. There is a remote-focusing want that is simple and works well. I had a Zone VI and a Beseler before, and the LPL is much better. It's a well thought-out design.

    Charlie
     
  18. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    Hi,

    Another vote for the De Vere 504 from me. I have a 504 and 203 each with the Ilford 500H MG heads and they are the best I've used for mono work. If you hunt about a good 504 should come your way for £300 to £500 ish on Ebay - but you will have to travel to collect it. If you end up with a 504 with a MG head version your RH Designs f-stop timer will not work the MG Head as the MG Head uses its own dedicated timer and probe. However, RH Designs do a special version of their superb Analyser for the Ilford 500H MG Head which works it beautifully. Talk to Richard at RH Designs for more information.

    All the best,

    Neil.
     
  19. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    Yes, I’m quite pleased with my Jobo/LPL 7450. Apart from the features Charlie mention I particularly like the VCCE module that, almost, keeps the exposure constant when changing filter grades. To me it also appears that LPL’s claim that their diffusion boxes are capable of higher contrast than ordinary diffusion enlargers is true. However, this assertion is only based on limited experience with other diffusion enlargers.

    What I don’t like is that it’s hard to align the LPL enlargers since it has to be done with shims.

    Claes
     
  20. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    That is also my experience when enlarging negatives, exposed with a 90mm f4.5 Grandagon, with a 120mm Rodenstock Rodagon WA.

    But then again, I have not measured the light falloff.