Advice on MF enlargers

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by ben-s, Jun 19, 2007.

  1. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    Hi all,
    This is just a tentative feeler question really;
    I currently have a Meopta Axomat 5 enlarger, which I really like- it's well built, has an angled column, and the focus stays where you put it.
    The downside is that it's limited to 35mm, and I have an increasing number of 645 negs that I want to print.

    Thus I'm looking around for a bigger machine, without spending too much.
    I'd like to stick with an angled column if possible.
    I've been looking at the Opemus 6, which seems to be around £200 with a standard head.

    What do people think of these units?
    Can anyone recommend any other suitable enlargers?
     
  2. Peter Williams

    Peter Williams Member

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    Ben-

    How large do you think you will want to print in the future? If you are going to upgrade your enlarger and there is any chance that you will want to go larger than 6x6 in the future (which I think is the max for the Opemus 6), I would suggest getting a 4x5 enlarger. They are typically going to have greater stability than a smaller format enlarger and you don't want to get trapped by maximum negative size and have to buy yet another enlarger down the road. I use the Beseler 45MXII and really enjoy it, but aligning the lens stage has been a pain. I was able to pick up mine in like new condition with the condenser head and a 150mm Nikkor lens for $300USD used - if you aren't in too big a hurry, these deals can be found.
     
  3. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    The meoptas are very highly regarded as simple well amde units. They come up used here and there too. If you scour ebay there are plenty of Dursts, the very occassional Kaiser and a fair few LPLs. All are pretty good and if I were you I would look at what crops up on ebay and then google them. Many enlargers will be fine and so I would keep an open mind and watch out for bargains. I got my Durst 138 (for 5x7 negs) for 50 quid...but then again I had to collect it from Dunbar, Scotland! If you think you might leap to 5x4 at some point, a Dever 504 would not be a bad bet! work great for MF too.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Any of the Omega D series enlargers would be quite good too. Any will handle negatives up to 4x5, and parts are relatively easy to come by. An assortment of light sources, both condenser and diffused, is available as well. Don't sell them short. They are sturdy, reliable, and relatively simple machines with not much to go wrong.
     
  5. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    Hi Ben,

    I'd take a look at eBay. As Tom has mentioned there are plenty of bargains on there. I've got a Kaiser which I'd recommend, very well built and excellent quality. I've seen one recently go by on eBay with no bids and a starting price of £100. You should be able to get a decent newish LPL 7700, Kaiser, or Durst for £100, probably less. Then if it doesn't come with a lens, a good 75mm or 80mm Nikon or Schneider lens shouldn't set you back more than 20 or 30 quid.

    As far as 5x4 goes, well only you can decide there --you'd need a bit more room and I'm sure that if you wanted to upgrade in a couple of years they'll still be around on ebay, probably even cheaper than they are now.

    You don't see many Omegas and Beseler's, they tend to be North America only.

    Mike
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, I've got a Philips PCS130 with PCS150 light source/control unit. This is a well-built enlarger that can do up to 6x7 with the right condensers (many on the used market only come with condensers to do up to 35mm, though). It's an unusual unit in that the PCS150 uses three separate bulbs to provide independently-controlled red, green, and blue light rather than the more common white light with (for color enlargers) cyan, magenta, and yellow filters. The PCS130 is solid and has some nice features, like a tilt head and perspective control.

    The downside to this unit is that it's long been out of production, so spare parts are hard to find. The bulbs are unusual 14v 35W halogens. They're still available (they were -- and perhaps still are -- used in certain medical and dental instruments), but they're a bit pricey -- US$10 to $30 apiece.
     
  7. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    If you're not going larger than 6x9 (medium format), and like your Axomat, I think you'd be more than happy with a Meopta Magnifax (model 3 or 4). Try to get one with a diffused head ("Meopta Color" or something) - so you don't have to mess with different condensors - that is, if you don't mind diffusion enlarger heads. Bear in mind that if you get a color head, you should also get the diffusion boxes - at least the one for 35mm and 6x9 formats (6x9 will also work for smaller formats - 6x6, 645 and 35mm).
    Added bonus with the color head is that you don't need additional filters if you use VC papers.

    Meopta Magnifax is a sturdy machine, a lot better than your Axomat. Those should be plentiful in UK - search ebay and other usual sources (ads, etc.), it should cost you well below £200 (more like £50!) for a used one with a couple of lenses, transformer, the whole shebang...

    Denis
     
  8. max_ebb

    max_ebb Member

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    I found a Beseler 45MCRX with 3 lenses, 3 film carriers, a condenser head, and a dichroic color head on Craig's list for $225. The dichro head has a separate exhaust unit that attaches to the head with a flexible hose (to eliminate vibration from the exhaust fan). Buying a 4x5 enlarger on ebay, the shipping could be $100 or more.
     
  9. haris

    haris Guest

    I use Magnifax 4 (old model, over 20 years old, new model is 4a), and I have both b/w and colour head (Color3, new model is Color4). Works with negative sizes up to 6x9cm. It is very simple made machine, but it means it is sturdy, not many things can go wrong (be broken) and if something go wrong, simplicity of making means simplicity of repairing (people make they own spareparts). I bought all original spare parts (negative carriers, mixing chambres, additional condenzor lens - included is one for MF, but if you work with 35mm you need replacement one and replacing is easy, you just pull condesor draw from enlarger and put other in, no need for unscrewing head or else) directly from Meopta for really affordable price, even for that old model they had original spare parts (well I think it is because I belive new model, 4a use same parts as old model 4, but check if you are interested, I can't promise it is true :smile:).

    I also have Opemus 5 (up to 6x6cm) which is even easier, you don't need to change mixing chamber or condensor lens when swiching between 35mm and MF, you just change enlarging lens for negative size you work with (or b/w - colour head if you want to swich graded - MG/colour papers).

    Dursts or LPLs or others "westerners" are better looking models, maybe smoother during work, and I would like to have some of them. Meoptas are like old USSR things: Because made in pour former communist countries for pour people they are ugly but made to last and for people which can't buy new things every now and then, so they are made to last lifetime, or to be easy to repair/adjust/modify if needed. And made to use easy to find, standard materials (well in case of enlargers it is only a bulb, so no room for error there :smile:).

    Only problem you could have is problem with enlarger bulb for "regular" b/w head, Philips not manufacture them anymore. There is one thread about possibility of other manufacturer to manufacture them and to be available throug regular Philips selling channels or at fotoimpex.de so check at fotoimpex for that.

    Colour/multigrade head use halogen lamps which are for now easy to find, but I would make stock of them too, new EU regulations and things could make them unavailable too in future...

    And one more thing: Magnifax column is not angled, Opemus column is (but at old model Opemus 5, I don't know for new model)... :smile:

    P. S. Just checked at www.Meopta.com new models are Opemus 6a (up to 6x6cm) and Opemus 7 (up to 6x7cm) both have angled column :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2007
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've been using an Opemus 6 with colour head for umpteen years, and it's just great.

    Even if I also have a Durst 138S, I still prefer the Opemus for negatives up to 6x6cm!

    I have only the one mixing chamber, for 6x6, and use 50 and 80mm Meopta Anaret-S lenses.
     
  11. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    I have been using the real old Opemus std, a 3 and a 5 color. I ended up replacing the colorhead with a condenserhead because I found the setup not stable enough for the heavier colorhead. Apart from that I liked using the Opemuses since they are fairly sturdy, simple and easy to use. The built in focusing aid worked really well too. I was lucky getting most of the enlargers I have owned for free and you might be that lucky too.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  12. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    I use an Opemus 2a, which probably is 40 years old. It works very well! A simple, small and relatively sturdy enlarger.

    Trond
     
  13. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    Thanks for the advice everyone,
    Nice as it would be, I don't think I realistically have space for a 5x4 enlarger.
    I think I'll have to stick with a MF, at least for the time being.

    I'm watching a few different units on e*bay at the moment, a couple of LPL 7700s, and a Durst Modular 70, which I thought looked quite good.
    There aren't many meoptas on there at the moment.
     
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  15. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    There´s one thing you have to consider with 645 negs, and smaller enlargers - particularly those without an angled column. Because of the orientation of the exposure on the film, it can be difficult to make bigger enlargements.

    I´m having a hard time explaining it properly... Compare the way a 645 neg is oriented on a film strip, as opposed to a 35mm neg. The 645 neg sits vertically while the 35mm neg sits horizontally.

    With my Durst 605, which is do adore, I can´t make much bigger than 8x10 with a 645 neg. It´s got a straight column. It´s a massive pain in the arse. The easel won´t sit on the baseboard properly, if you follow me. I hate cutting negs into single frames (as opposed to strips) but sometimes I have to if I want to make a 16x20 enlargement. You don´t get this problem with 6x7, for example.

    I´ve got no problem printing these 645 negs on my Omega 4x5 enlarger.

    Something to consider, I suppose. I wish I had considered it more before I bought my 645 kit! Oh well, live and learn...

    Good luck!
     
  16. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    I started in 1966 with a Opemus 2A. Not too bad but quiet some light leaks. That was later a small problem when printing color prints together with the color filters in the drawer. Later it was easy to use it for M.C. filters.

    Latest point when printing 645 negatives is indeed valid. That's why I decided for a Dunco II 67 120 pro version.
    [​IMG]

    No problem for printing 645 negatives.
    All Dunco II 67 models are equipped with HLX light source, mixing chamber and condensor.

    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Another vote for Magnifax (I have two, both with Meograde heads). Simple, solid, and quite a lot of parts still available new. Most of what isn't, you can make up: turn down old tank gun barrels for the column, for example...

    If you can afford it, De Vere (bomb-proof and still fully supported) or Kienzle; Kaiser are still in the business too.

    A vote against Durst: zero support for older enlargers, even when Durst were still in the enlarger business.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  18. percepts

    percepts Member

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    I own both a Durst Modular 70 and the L1200. Currently have the L1200 setup cos I do 4x5.
    The modular 70 is a very nice enlarger which will do upto 6x7.
    The negative carrier is excellent and it is far better quality than a meopta enlarger. Either the colour head or the vario head are good for B+W. The vario head is approx matched to ilford filter sets. The condenser head is also availble for 35mm and 6x6 if you can find it on the second hand market.

    Tried an LPL for a day and took it back because it let light everywhere.
    Personally I prefer a vertical column so that image remains centred as you move head up and down but YMMV.

    I used Meopta's at college and until I used Durst I thought they were the D's B's.
     
  19. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Funny, the carriers I've seen on the "smaller" Dursts have been a lot poorer than the one in my Opemus 6. The carriers for the L138s are a different matter...
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Until a careless shipper broke two filters on my 138S head, and I tried to get replacements, I though they were the D's B's too. After that I just thought they were B's.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  21. max_ebb

    max_ebb Member

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    I had that problem with a Saunders 6x7 enlarger that I used to own (fairly small baseboard and non angled column). I fixed the problem with a fairly easy modification. First, I got rid of the small baseboard that came with it and made my own baseboard that was significantly larger. Then I took a piece of 6x6 inch lumber about 10 inches long and cut both ends at an angle. I mounted that to the back of my home made baseboard to that it angled forward, then I mounted the column on top of that (I used really long lag screws to mount the piece of lumber to the baseboard, and to mount the column to the piece of lumber.

    That gave me the ability to print a 20x24 in either direction (with the paper either horizontal or vertical on the baseboard), but introduced 2 new small problems. With the added height, when the enlarger head was all the way to the top of the column, it wasn't very sturdy (small rinky dink column). I made it significantly sturdier by V bracing the top of the column to the wall.

    The other small problem was that the enlarger head wouldn't drop low enough to print full frame 4x5 prints from 6x7 negs, so I sometimes had to use a raised baseboard on top of the home made baseboard to make small prints (I just used the original baseboard with 2x4's under it to raise it up).
     
  22. percepts

    percepts Member

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    Durst always claimed they would continue to supply parts for 10 years after they ceased manufacture of any given model or something similar to that.
    Since they shut down manufacture of enlargers altogether, I suspect that claim has gone out the window and now they are just selling outstanding stock.

    So how long out of production was your enlarger when it was dropped.

    p.s. I hope you kicked the shipper in the B's.
     
  23. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    Well if you can drive as far as Cambridge, the one below is an absolute bargain at the current price but it is finishing early tomorrow morning. Hope you see this in time!!!!!!

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Magifax-4-Enl...2QQihZ016QQcategoryZ29987QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
     
  24. ben-s

    ben-s Member

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    Thanks Peter, I did see it in time, and bid on it, but I didn't win.
    Bah Humbug.
    I sat there going up in £5 increments against someone's auto bid up to £40, then someone else pushed it to £50.
    Ah well... I'll keep looking (what's the emoticon for "rueful grin"?)
     
  25. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    I have an old (1940s?) 5x4 enlarger - The Wasp - which is not much larger than my Opemus 6. It is a simple condensor enlarger without any modern luxuries like a filter draw but is solid and reliable.

    Ian
     
  26. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Can't remember. The problem was about 20 years ago, and I don't know when the 138S ceased production.

    Certainly, they junked an awful lot of perfectly serviceable enlargers when they got out of that market, rather than have to maintain them.

    The shipping story was doubly sad as I had packed the head very thoroughly and they repacked it inadequately. I ended up getting quite a lot of compensation, not least because the idiot who arranged things was the son-in-law of the owner of the shipping company, and it had just been found out that he was cheating on the owner's daughter...

    If I'd known what I know now, I could probably have sourced the parts (broken dichroic filters) from the filter manufacturer, not Durst.

    Cheers,

    Roger