4x5 or 6x9 enlarger?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by bwakel, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    I've been finding my feet with a hand-me-down 6x6 enlarger and I'm really enjoying lith printing in particular. I am becoming a bit frustrated with the quality of the ancient machine that I'm using and more so by the fact that the 6x9 and 6x7 negs whose composition I so carefully composed are having to be cropped!

    I've been looking for a secondhand 6x9 enlarger on the web but had a couple of questions:

    There seem to be a number of people on the web who recommend a 4x5 enlarger over a 6x9 as it's likely to offer more even lighting of the neg. Is this folklore or reality?

    I can see the benefits of a 4x5 enlarger as neg-size fever may well strike and I'll buy a large format camera at some point in the future but just how big are these enlargers compared with my 6x6? I've seen a De Vere 504 for sale which looks like a great enlarger but will it fill my rather cramped dark room?

    Thanks for your assistance

    Barry
     
  2. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Member

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    Hi Barry,
    You should get a 4x5. You will get even light for your 6x6, 6x9 and the day you will jump to 4x5, you will be set.
    Devere enlargers are among the best, sturdy and a joy to use. Nowadays they are not expensive anymore. Go for it, you will not regret it.
    Best regards,
    Guillaume
     
  3. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Member

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    Forgot the size issue...
    It will change from your 6x6 for sure ! Make space for it !
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My best advice may not be so good...

    I have two enlargers: One 6x6, and one 5x7". The 6x6 was all I needed for may years, until the LF bug bit me... The Durst 138S cost me shipping plus NOK 1000 (about $130). Three lenses (150 and 180mm Rodagon, and a 4 1/4" Wray "Supar") cost another $80, and shipping a complete set of condensers from Australia cost $200. Total cost for that beast is less than the 6x6 Opemus 6 cost me new.

    Having the ability to make enlargements from any size film from half-frame to 13x18cm? Priceless. And the Durst 139S is the largest enlarger that will fit under the ceiling in a normal room... :smile:

    In a pinch I could even set up the Opemus on the table of the Durst!
     
  5. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I started with a Beseler 23C. It has good even illumination all the way out to 6X9. I then got a Beseler 4X5 with all the neg holders I need. The lens boards are interchangeable between the two. I find now I use the 4X5 enlarger for pretty much everything from 35 to 4X5. FWIW -the 4X5 enlarger is a LOT bigger than the 23C (bigger footprint and height). Make sure you have room in your darkroom.
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Is the Devere you are looking at bench or wall mounting or freestanding? The important thing is how much headroom do you have to the ceiling - i.e. will it fit? Also, is your bench strong enough to take an enlarger that weighs as much as you do?

    If it fits, then get the 4x5. It just gives you more options, all else being equal. It was made for Pro labs so is built like a tank. Make sure it comes with all accessories: negative holders, light boxes/condensers, power supply, etc. as these can sometimes be expensive and often difficult to find individually.

    Good luck, Bob.
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I also recommend going for a 4x5" enlarger, if you have the space. They are sturdier than smaller enlargers, which will be a benefit for all the formats you enlarge with it.
     
  8. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I'm not familiar with the Devere, but it seems that as soon as you are looking at enlargers that go beyond 6x7, there isn't all that much increase in size compared to some 4x5 enlargers. In other words, I've seen a lot of very compact 6x6 and even 6x7 enlargers, but no compact 6x9 enlargers (I don't consider the 23C compact)

    In fact, I think an Omega D2 without the XL girder is not much larger than the 23C. I don't have actual dimensions, so verify if necessary. And of course, when trying to fit in a fixed location, 1 inch could make the difference.
     
  9. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    My personal experience:
    I used a 23c for years. When I started shoot some B&W 4x5 I searched Ebay until I found a D2V with all the boards and lenses that I needed for the 35mm 6x7 and 4x5 formats that I shoot. I packed the 23c away in the garage and used the D2 exclusively until I started missing the swinging lens and the smaller, more gainly size of the Beseler. Now I have them both set up and use the 23c for 35mm and rollfilm and the D2 exclusively for 4x5. Being primarily a 35mm and rollfilm photographer, I use the 23c the vast majority of the time and, if there were a nearby public darkroom with 4x5 capability, I would save myself the space of the D2 and all of it's accessories.
     
  10. Johnkpap

    Johnkpap Member

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    I think you should go for the 4x5 Enlarger, I some years back bought a Durst L1200 for next to nothing at a Govenment Auction, it was a wonderfull Deal. I remember removing my old 6x6 LPL 5700, and installing it in its place, the nice thing about the L1200 is that it can be torn down and put back to-gether in bits which is how I got it in my first Darkroom as it was quite small.

    A 4x5 enlarger gives you better lighting and are built stronger removing the vibrations from causing problems, the lighting is more even and you can usally print bigger as well due to the increase in working height.
     
  11. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I have both an ancient DeJur 4x5 and a much newer 6x6 Beselar C700 set up in the darkroom. Both are equipped with good Nikkor lenses. The 6x6 rarely gets used, even though it is more convenient for smaller negatives. Unless you find an irrestible deal on a 6x9, a versatile 4x5 sounds best.
     
  12. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I recommend a 4X5 as well. I print 35 1/2 frame, 35, 4X4, 6X6, 6X9 and 4X5 with my D 3, and I can print up to 16X20 from 6X9 with the D3 and a 105mm lens. The footprint is about the same as 6X9. The prices for 4X5 are rock bottom.
     
  13. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    Thanks and views on a Durst 805?

    Thanks to everyone for their consider opinion. Looks like the consensus is that I should look at a 4x5 enlarger. The De Vere that I mentioned had been sold when I e-mailed the company but I've spotted a B&W Durst 805 going for a reasonable price with six month warranty. Does anyone have any experience of this enlarger?

    Thanks

    Barry
     
  14. filmnut

    filmnut Member

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    I don't have any experience with the Durst 805, although I've used many other Durst's and found them to be very good, and very well built enlarglers.
    If it is good operating condtition, with all of its' accessories, it would likely be a good bet.
     
  15. Johnkpap

    Johnkpap Member

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    The durst 805 is a Very good Enlarger, will do up to 6x9, and has two heads avaliable for it. If you are buying it make sure you get a full set of Carrier inserts and at least the 35mm & 6x9 light boxes for the colour head or the full condenser set for the B&W head. You will need a Recessed Lense board for a 50mm lens also. All accessory's for a Durst are $$$ and are hard to find used.

    A replacement Carrier Bought new !!! could cost as much as a Whole Enlarger Used. Just keep this in mind - When I bought my L1200 I got very Lucky It belonged to a Govenment Dept, It was ordered with just about Everything made for it, 2 heads, a Wall mount Kit!! and a Set of Rodagon Lenses !!! The Enlarger is in Like New condition and I take great care of it.
     
  16. leeturner

    leeturner Subscriber

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    There are substantial differences in the size of enlargers. I have an old Durst L1000 and a floor standing DeVere 504. The L1000 is not a lot bigger than my Durst Mod70 but substantially more solid and a lot heavier. The DeVere is a different beast altogether. You need around 8' in height for the floor standing model plus its column is also bolted to the wall.
    The one difference between Durst and DeVere is that parts and service are available both new and used for the DeVere whilst I find it very hard to source Durst parts. The UK supplier (Northern Photographic) for Durst enlarger spares now has very little in stock compared to a couple of years ago.
     
  17. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    Final Decision!

    Thanks to your feedback I decided to go for a De Vere 504 so I get the full 4x5 benefits and the build quality and parts availability. I've ordered a MkV Dichromat bench enlarger with 35, 6x7, 6x9 and 4x5 holders from Secondhand Darkroom and will pick it up next Tuesday. The dimensions they've given me suggest that it will fit in my cellar darkroom, the main concern being height. The enlarger's 54 inches high but fortunately I have a brick and stone shelf quite low to the floor that appears to be deep enough to fit the base board and gives me enough clearance to the joists above. It means kneeling to use the enlarger but I'm in the same position with my 6x6 at the moment!

    I'll report back on how I get on with this new tool once I've got it installed and working.

    Thanks for all the help.

    Barry
     
  18. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Consider building a support to raise the easel. With the higher column, you may still have enough distance to get the image size you need. This will allow you to avoid the kneeling - unless you are praying to the gods of black and white.
     
  19. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    It is not unknown for people to cut a rectangle out of their ceiling board to accommodate the enlarger column between the joists of the floor above. In that case, it's probably best to box in the hole to avoid dust...

    Have fun, Bob.
     
  20. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    Got it

    Picked up the De Vere 504 today from the very helpful Peter at Secondhand Darkroom Supplies.

    It's a beauty. Makes my old enlarger look a bit puny! I just about managed to man-handle it down the narrow steps and through the low door into my cellar and it fits nicely onto the brick shelf without any need for joist-surgery as suggested by Bob!

    I've got the RH Designs Analyser Pro connected up to it and things are ready to go when I get a bit more time later in the week.

    Barry