Durst 138S vs 184 vs 1200 vs LPL 7451

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by snaggs, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    These local options are the Durst 138S and 184.. the LPL 7451 and Durst Laborator 1200 would have to be shipped interstate. Neither the 138S or 184 are cheap, but they will come complete with a full set of lenses for 35mm, 6x9, 4x5, carriers and heads (B&W and Colour), vacuum easel, floor pedals, all stripped and rebuilt by a guy who been serving this kind of stuff for 50 years. He has or can make by hand any parts/spares which are needed in the future.

    Im looking at about US$2250 for the 138S, and US$4500 for the 184S. The LPL and L1200 are probably about US$1400 including freight.

    I know they're not cheap, but it does include labour and installation. Any comments? I hadn't even thought of shooting some 8x10.

    Daniel.
     
  2. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Yeah - I have comments. It sounds like you're getting ripped off...! Well - they're certainly WORTH IT... it's just that you could do a whole lot better. I've seen L138s going for $500 or less on many occasions on ebay. The L1200s probably have SLIGHTLY tighter tolerances (the 138 is built like a tank - where the L1200 is built like a... a... ummm Ford, maybe. I'd personally recommend something a BIT better (that doesn't really NEED alignment) - such as a DeVere. You can occasionally find Fotars (huge, but precise!) and ZBEs (yet another step up). I wouldn't really touch an LPL. They're not as good as they seem... It'll do the job I suppose... they have a clean looking design - but if they go out of alignment (fairly likely) - the word on the street is that they don't re-align. Another really good one to look for (but rare in the US) is Kienzle (german).

    Good luck.
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I think that a lot depends on what your objective is. If you want to enlarge 8X10 then the 184 is your logical choice. If you want to stay at 5X7 then you could do worse than the 138 S.

    Those cheap 138 S that occasionally come up on Ebay are often missing key componants and if you don't know what they are, then you are likely to spend a lot of money getting the enlarger up to speed.

    I have bought condensers for my 138S that were supposed to be pristine and they ended up being scratched or chipped. So how cheap is cheap when you factor that into the mix.

    I won't go so far as to say that you are being taken. You can tie up a lot of money in short order when you start buying componants. One thing to be aware of is that the Durst Thorn lamps are no longer available. That means something else must be done for a lamp.

    I have the Saunders 4550 VCCE and it is a good enlarger too. I have not heard of any of them going out of alignment...maybe I just don't run in the same circles.

    My preference is for Durst 138S or 184...condenser rather than diffusion head.
     
  4. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Unfortunately, shipping a 138S from the US to Australia is not likely to be an in-expensive excercise!

    The reason that they're going to cost that, is he has a couple of incomplete chassis, spare parts and he's going to build one up, which will take him some time obviously. I'll also get to pretty much specify what heads I want. Any suggestions there?

    Are Durst 138S very common? I don't think there has ever been one for sale on the Australian ebay.

    Are the 138S one of the better 4x5 enlargers? I have to say, having the whole thing installed and calibrated for me is attractive, since I'm just getting into wet processes. I paid more money for my 24" DesignJet. Maybe there are some things I can get him to throw in out of his warehouse which will make it more worth it?

    Daniel.

    Edit :
    This was his suggestion too.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2007
  5. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Actually - you'd be surprised. You could ship an L138 for about USD 250 from just about any point in the world to another if you use international air hubs (airports that is) via DHL. If you're in australia - I'd expect that you'd get a lot of devere and durst action... compared to the american brands...

    good points, donald. Yes - definitely look for a complete (or more than) package. If you're impatient - buy the kit from this guy... but just know that you could wait it out a bit and save a LOT.
     
  6. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Daniel, I've figured out that you are in Australia, what part?

    I know of a DeVere 4x5" free standing with the drop table.

    Comes with format holders from 35mm through to 4x5 and two lens holders, one for 150mm lens which has a hole that you attach your lens using a retaining ring. The other uses the Leica thread for the screw on lenses for 35m through to 105mm.

    It is fitted with a colour head and is the version that uses a single 250W lamp. I know it has the 4x5 mixer box, not sure about the 6x7 mixer box.

    I have an almost identical enlarger, which is brilliant, These were sold in quite large numbers in Australia.

    Mick.
     
  7. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    If this is going to be your first enlarger or for your main use, why not stick to something easy and care-free. If the LPL enlarger that you're looking at is in good condition, it's just as good as any other enlargers. The beauty of LPL products is that you can still get all parts and accessories new.

    I use an Fuji-labeled LPL enlarger that has the same column design. I bought it new two years ago, and it's not gone out of alignment or caused any problem at all with my regular use. A lot of schools use this Fuji model in Japan, and I have not heard anyone complain about the out-of-alignment issue with it. Maybe some products come with some defects when they get shipped out of the manufacturer, but that can be said about anything else, too.

    Once you have a good working set, then start searching for something else that takes more effort and patience.
     
  8. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    The LPL is in another state (about 3000 km's away), and I don't know what it has, how to set it up. It will arrive and I'll figure it out by myself.

    The Durst 138S comes complete, installed, pluged in and demonstrated in my house.

    I thought the Durst sounded like the easier option, but it seems most people are recomending against it. I can probably save about $750 and get a Durst 5500 from the same place that has the 138S.

    Daniel.

    EDIT : Looks like you guys were right.. I have found a 138S for about US$350, and it will cost me the same to get it crated and shiped. So a pretty good deal. Hopefully it will have most of the bits! He also has a modernish Baeslar 45.

    I also found a 184 for about US$750, but the guy who has it knows nothing about photography and just somehow acquired it. So I have no idea what it has, other than a Colour head and a case with some filters or something.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2007
  9. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Durst makes an outstanding enlarger. You mentioned the head(s) as being for B&W and Color, but what exact heads are you talking about? Some color heads are obsolete, but the condenser head seems to be ageless. My feeling is a rebuilt/refurbished 138 with a condenser head and a full set of condensers, lenses and lens boards, and neg carrier, delivered and set-up for $2250 is a good deal. Could you look at it before purchase, to see the quality of the rebuild?
     
  10. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I have a 1200 and have used the LPL enlargers. Both are excellent but the Durst is much sturdier and less prone to vibration.
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't think I've ever seen anyone recommend against a Durst 138S!

    The only problem with it is tracking down all the annoying little pieces that whoever sold it to you didn't realise that you would need - like condensers, lens boards, negative carriers and inserts, and the bolt that holds the ballhead to the undercarriage (anyone got a spare one of these? I still need one...).
    Getting a complete and working 138S is worth a lot over a possibly incomplete one off ebay!
     
  12. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Well I know I will get a Condensor head.. and I know there is also a Ilford 500H I can have with it too. I'll get some more details. Basically, you tell me what heads I want and he can dig them out from somwhere. I am concerned about the bulb problem.

    As far as the quality of rebuild goes.. I don't have a problem there.. I watched him make a laser collomiter for testing and alligning elements in lenses from scratch on his lathe.

    Its all very confusing, which is why I havn't got past "intention" to build a dark room as opposed to setting one up in the past. Is there a list of bits I can find somewhere to judge whether a ebay 138S is complete or not on the net?

    Daniel.

    PS. Sometimes I'm tempted to just click on the "Add to Cart" buttons on BHPhotoVideo for a Beseler 45 and be done with worrying.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2007
  13. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    One last question.. what is the vacuum eisel for? i.e. what is the benefit.

    Daniel.
     
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  15. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    If you can get both a condenser head and a set of condensers, and the Ilford 500H head with a working controller, then by all means go for it. That's a great combination! You can buy a bulb conversion for the condenser head, or possibly make another bulb fit (check the threads on this site). You can also get a RH Designs timer built especially for the Ilford head, should the original Ilford controller fail at a later date. I think the package with only the Ilford head is worth the price, especially if the seller has all the parts and will set it up.

    The Beseler 45 is nice, but the price you will pay at B&H is probably more than the price you quote for the Durst 138. And I think the Durst 138, especially if it has the Condenser and Ilford 500 heads, is so much better.
     
  16. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Like many things in life Snaggs, maybe it's really unimportant what you choose. Many of us here are coming from a perspective of 'absolute quality' - something stemming from insecurity. I'm including myself in that. Even 'inferior' enlargers can yield absolutely STUNNING images. I've seen it. I wish I could live by my own advice. A friend of mine once wanted me to recommend a camera to start shooting with. It told them to go down to the local pawn shop and pick up one of their rolleicords for $60. They did some AMAZING work with it...! The lenses were a bit foggy -but It had character. Quality. in the subjective sense. I'm dating this girl who just picked up a digital camera and I got her onto using a holga. Again, I'm just STUNNED by the images. They're really beautiful. So - like many things in life - maybe if you choose for the right reasons - and maybe it doesn't reallly matter WHAT you choose. But choose something - and start kicking a**...!
     
  17. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    A vacuum easel is designed to keep the paper sucked down and absolutely flat without using metal blades which would normally be around the edge of the paper creating a white border.

    There are quite a few other things you can do with a vacuum easel, but that is and would primarily be, the reason you would use one in your darkroom.

    You would need something that gives suck, either inside or outside your darkroom. Often people make their own vacuum easels using drilled opaque plastic sheeting and a house vacuum cleaner, to provide the suck!

    Mick.
     
  18. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    How bad is a beseler 45? I really just want a good easy experience for my first enlarger. I have nobody other than myself who is interested in analog photography, infact, my closest photo friends would actively discourage me.

    However, I just don't want to come home at the end of a day and sit in front of a computer! It is just dull.

    I just wonder about something as old as a 138S. I need an easy solution.

    Daniel.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The Beseler 45 is a good machine. Tons of them about, a near infinite supply of spare parts and accessories, the heads can be flipped horizontal for projection enlargement beyond the baseboard. Because there's tons of them out there, all but the most exotic of accessories can be found on the used market for not much money. If you buy a used one, it will probably need alignment, but this can be done easily enough. I put together my Beseler 45M??? (I forget exactly which model it is) with dichro head for about $600 USD, including shipping. Toss on another $200 for a couple of other bits (135mm lens - I got an El-Nikkor 135mm f5.6 NEW IN BOX for $90 on Ebay, a spare lensboard drilled to size for the 135, a negative carrier for my Xpan negatives), and I was up and running.
     
  20. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Thanks for everybody's help so far. I just got some photo's of a 184 enlarger. Anyone have an opinion on it based on these photo's? Since its all I would have to go by.

    Daniel.

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  21. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I don't see a negative carrier in the photographs. The lamp house appears to be tweaked where it mates with the condenser housing. The bellows are shot from what I can see.

    The bellows and the lamp house should be able to be resolved without too much problme...the neg carrier may be another matter. It could be in a box and not shown...but ask about it before you buy it.

    What condensers come with this enlarger? are they scratched or chipped...even a small defect will show. What formats will the condensers cover. The lamp at 300 watts is way, way undersized. The thorn lamp is no longer available..but you can buy a lamp kit from Jensen for something south of $800.

    What focal length lenses? what shape are they in?

    These are all things that I would want to check out before I obligated myself. It is unlikely that the chassis is worn out...they will last several lifetimes unless severely abused.
     
  22. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Donald - if you look closely - you can see a neg carrier in the neg stage.
     
  23. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Yep, you're correct. I sure missed it.
     
  24. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    I have a Laborator 1200 for sale in Boston. If you are willing to drive with a vehicle it can fit, I'll sell it very cheaply. The enlarger is complete with condenser head, lens board and negative carriers for 4x5 format. I already have a Laborator 138 and another smaller Durst, so I just can't justify keeping 3 enlargers. Reasonable offers for swap also considered, but not with another enlarger. Also, I have the original operator's manual. Please PM for more details.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2007
  25. raizans

    raizans Member

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    if you don't mind my asking, who's selling this durst 138s? and what state is he in?
     
  26. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Well, the state the enlarger is in isn't the question, the question is, which country is the enlarger in?

    Some people for some obscure reason try to stay completely unknown, then request information which almost requires country or major region based information to get an answer. Not the best way to get accurate information.

    I'm assuming the originator of the thread is in Australia, possibly in Perth, Western Australia, or perhaps the enlarger is in Perth, hence the 3,000 Klm trip.

    Mick.