Budget 4x5 enlarger

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by RoBBo, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    This year my school (Columbia College Chicago) decided to let a large group of 'extra' students in, more money for the school and all that.

    Seems they did not anticipate how crowded our darkrooms could already be.
    It's not even midterms yet and there are already daily waiting lists for enlargers, even though each of the 4 darkrooms has about 20 or more.

    I live with 3 other photo majors in a small apartment and we've decided to sacrifice one of the bedrooms to use as a darkroom so we don't get completely screwed this semester, but we only have a 23CII and need to print 35 to 4x5.
    I've been looking on ebay a lot but I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking at/for.
    The only 4x5 enlargers I'm familiar with are the Omegas (I think they're D2s?) at school, and the way the condensers are set up in those sometimes leaves you with 'hotspots' on your prints.

    Anyone that could give me any information on the resale value (Not worth...) and quirks of some common 4x5 enlargers, would be greatly appreciated.
    Or anyone looking to sell one for pretty cheap...

    EDIT: This probably should have been in Darkroom equipment. Moderator?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2007
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    All 4x5 enlargers are budget today. Basically it's more an issue what you can find in good condition and reasonably complete.

    Beseler made various models over the years. They all use the same neg carriers and for the most part the same light sources. The CB-7 is bigger and would take a small amount of work to fit one of the more common light sources to it. But it uses the same carriers and lensboards of the the other Beselers.

    If you surf over to the KHB website you can check out their info on the Omegas.

    http://www.khbphotografix.com/omega/

    IMHO look for something

    1) Complete. All the neg carriers and lensboards you might need.

    2) Of course working.

    3) local so you can pickup.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This thread is fine under enlarging.

    Another source for info on Omega enlargers is www.classic-enlargers.com.

    Omega D-II and D-2 enlargers, as well as other models are plentiful and cheap, and you can find lots of neg carriers and accessories for them. Lots of Beseler 4x5's out there too, and they are upgradeable to 8x10".
     
  4. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Classic Enlargers are pretty extravagant.
    It took me a couple of years watching ebay before I found a very nice D2V XL with Componon lenses, boards and carriers for formats from 35mm to 4x5 and a few extras. I paid $170. The reason it took so long is that I wanted to find one close enough to pick up and avoid packing and shipping costs.
    Good Luck in your search.
     
  5. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    On the one hand, I'm glad to see that there is so much demand for traditional darkroom work, but on the other hand, that does present you with a problem!

    Any 4x5 enlarger made in the last 20 years or so will probably suit you well. Apart from Beseler and Omega, there are also LPL, Durst and (much less common in the US than the UK) DeVere; all good makes. If at all possible, make sure the enlarger has all the negative carriers and condensers (or mixing boxes if it comes with a colour head) for the formats you need as these can be expensive and possibly difficult to find later. You will need lenses for all the different negative sizes too of course.

    The auction site is the obvious place to look at prices. I do not know about the US, but UK dealers do not seem to have noticed that prices have fallen through the floor and are still trying to sell enlargers for several times the price they fetch on the auction site, so by all means check out the retailers, but be aware you may be paying over the odds there.

    These are all heavy items and sellers may not be willing to ship so a local pickup (and someone with a car) will probably be needed.

    Good luck, Bob.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2007
  6. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I use the Beseler 45MX - Agree with most of the others posting here that virtually any 4x5 can be had for cheap, and will be solid. Look for a local sale - either Craigslist (i.e. http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/for/288408556.html) or the auction sites. Try to find someone liquidating the entire darkroom so that you get all the little things you need - focusing scopes, measuring beakers etc...

    One thing that I like about the Beseler with condenser head is that to change formats, you just turn a knob and move the upper bellows - no changing condensers. If you are shifting from one format to another frequently, changing mixingboxes or condensors can be a PITA.
     
  7. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    Ah, and another question is raised...
    How well do the filters on a color head translate to the standard filters of B/W printing?
    Seems like it might even be cheaper to get one with a color head...
    Too bad I couldn't have grabbed that Hope in the classifieds a few days ago.
     
  8. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Some papers and some heads cannot quite reach Grade 5 between them, but other than that, it is arguably easier to use a colour head than keep faffing about with individual filters, but that's largely a matter of personal preference.

    For me, I would not buy a condenser head, preferring a colour diffuser, but others swear by them for their perceived greater sharpness. Yer pays yer money, and yer takes yer choice... See if your college has a requirement - the teaching staff may have a preference; not likely, but best to check first: lecturers can have weird ideas sometimes...

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  9. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    They're not so common anymore, but there was a Federal enlarger called the 450 that could accomodate 4x5. I have one, its smaller than an Omega or Beseler, and mine fits perfectly between the toilet and the shower.
    Good luck!
     
  10. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    "The only 4x5 enlargers I'm familiar with are the Omegas (I think they're D2s?) at school, and the way the condensers are set up in those sometimes leaves you with 'hotspots' on your prints."

    When using 4x5 negatives, remove the adjustable condenser completely and see if this solves your problem.

    I am very pleased to learn that the school wet lab program is very well enrolled. We are having the same experience here.

    Jim
     
  11. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    There are 2 or 3 on ebay right now. You would need a modern lens.
     
  12. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    I have, and the problem persists, might be something about the combination of that enlarger with that lens.
    135mm Nikkor f/5.6 I believe.

    Mark_S, thanks for that Craigslist link, I'll defenitely be contacting them as soon as I figure out what exactly our price range is, it sounds like exactly what we'd want.

    I can't find anything other than manuals for the Federal 450s on ebay.
    Have a link maybe?
    Seems like I could get a decent modern lens for 4x5 for under $100 on ebay, so that's not a major concern.
     
  13. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    My 50-year-old 4x5 DeJur is a fine enlarger. Even the original lens compares well enough with a newer EL-Nikkor. Adapting this enlarger to 35mm did require some knowledge of enlargers, and the lack of a filter drawer is a nuisance. Another sturdy old enlarger is the Solar. Testrite made 4x5 enlargers, but they are flimsy. If your spare bedroom is big enough, you might consider an Elwood. They seem awfully primative, but I used one for years. Uneven illumination in an enlarger can be caused by a lamp out of position or the wrong condensers. Many good enlarging lenses have a bit of a hot spot in the image center when wide open. One can usually convert a condenser enlarger to diffusion, but that doesn't insure even illumination.
     
  14. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    Craigslist is the best place to look for bargain enlargers if you live in a metropolitan area like Chicago. People on Craigslist like to sell things locally, and you can get some deals that would be impossible on E-bay.

    Here is one that is available in Chicago right now:

    http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/for/288408556.html
     
  15. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    Mark_S has already directed me to this same listing, shot the guy an email with an offer, it sounds like the most viable option for us right now.
    Thanks.
     
  16. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    Got a hold of a Beseler 45M.
    Now I just need a filter pack and a longer lens.
    Bitchin.
     
  17. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    Ok now that I've got it, I've got a few questions.
    First off.
    How important is a voltage stabilizer?
    I'm pretty sure the D2s at school don't have them and I've never noticed any 'fluctuations', is that just luck?
    Contrast filters.
    I have the older head that does NOT have a filter bay in the head, though there appears to be a filter bay just above the lens board, seems to be about 1.5" or 2" square, can I buy a filter pack in the right size to fit this slot somewhere? Or do I have to buy an Ilford pack and cut it down and put some soft of handle on them?
    Lenses, right now, I have 3, 50mm lenses, obviously, I plan on printing from bigger than 35mm negs or I would have just gotten another 23C.
    Does the lens I use matter that much for my format? Or can I use a 50mm for 4x5 if I adjust the condenser? And if I can, would that allow me to make much larger prints? Or just give me some weird soft edges/vignette?
    I'm looking at a Fuji 180, and a Nikkor 75 and 135, not sure really which of these to get and how the condensers settings match up with what lens I'm using. (I'm used to an Omega D2 at the moment)
     
  18. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you're printing colour the stabilizer matters more.

    You need a lens at least long enough o cover the negative.

    The Nikon 75mm was a budget lenses. The 80mm was the better item.

    A 180mm will cost you a little enlargement size from 4x5 and will really limit you with smaller formats.

    If that's a Nikon 135mm it'll be just peachy for 4x5.

    I'm assuming the 45M has a knob on one side with a guage. Turn it to adjust the condensors for the format. Fairly simple if it's like my Beseler.
     
  19. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    "How important is a voltage stabilizer?"
    Not at all really if you are printing b&w: their main use is in colour work where keeping the colour temperature of the lamp steady is important.

    "Contrast filters."

    You will either have to cut some down or use the Ilford under-the-lens filters which come with a holder that attaches to the lens but they are quite expensive. You could put the filter on top of the negative in the negative holder but that is probably a bit fiddly...

    "Lenses"
    A 50mm lens will not cover 4x5: you will get severe vignetting. 150mm is the standard for 4x5 but a 135 will probably be OK. The 180 will also probably be OK but you will need the head up higher for a given size enlargement over the 135 or a 150.

    Good luck, Bob.
     
  20. weststarflyers

    weststarflyers Member

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    RoBBo, have you try to convert your 4X5 camera into an enlarger? Graflex used to make a Cold Light back with a simple carrier for this cameras and the results were exceptional. I use to use one of those. Of course, my suggestion is more like a worst case scenario.
     
  21. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    Don't have my own 4x5 camera as of yet.
    I know the series of purchases seems odd, but trust me, it was necessary.
     
  22. radiantdarkroom

    radiantdarkroom Member

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    I have a Omega D6, it's a butt kicker if you want it ($150), but I'm way up in Canada Fredericton New Brunswick.
     
  23. rmartin

    rmartin Member

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    I picked up my D5500 off of Craigslist (Phoenix). I avoided ebay so I could see the enlarger before purchasing and avoid the outrageous shipping costs that come with 4x5 enlargers. I know it is statistics of low numbers, but I am very happy with my craigslist transaction after being sorely disappointed with many of my ebay transactions on photo gear. Maybe talking to the guy who actually used the enlarger helped compared to the "sell your stuff on ebay" crowd.
     
  24. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Have you been downtown to Central Camera? Last time I was in there they had several 4x5 enlargers, including with color head, at tempting prices. You could probably talk them down some -- there isn't a very large market for enlargers these days.

    mjs
     
  25. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I gave up on Graigs list. I saw an enlarger and made the contact and got a commitment. Was getting ready for the trip when I asked for directions they said it had been sold.

    The second time was two weeks ago. It was in Santa Rosa and the sell had agreed to sell it and I was actually in San Fransciso when I checked the location and was going there when I got an email in the RV park which had a connection and the guy told me he sold it to someone else.

    Either I have run in to some people with other agendas or Craigs list is not worth the effort. So when you see an enlarger for $100.00 with carriers and lens, forget it. Go to that dreaded eBay or ask around instead.