Enlarger help

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Weegee, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Weegee

    Weegee Member

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    Hey all -- Saw these enlargers in a listing for an upcoming auction. I've never seen anything like them. Look familiar to anyone, and does anyone know if they are decent for large format work? The enlarger on the right is a Federal 45 ( I think), which I know nothing about, either. All advice, user experiences, values, etc., appreciated. Thanks. http://www.millerauctionservice.com/pictures/index.php?crnt=6&type=1
     
  2. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The one on the left looks like my "Old Shaky" from the late fifties. Made by Testrite. Mine had a Sears Tower label on it. Only for medium format, I think 6x6 was the max. On less your in a desert, free would be to much. Well, free for a first enlarger....

    Never owned a Federal, the one on the right. It may be older, better built. But, gotta be really cheap. Beseler and Omega 4x5s are unbelievably inexpensive, and speaking for the Beseler, very sturdy, great design, and lots of accessories available.

    Don't know where your from but if your near the auction house listed, maybe consider picking one up either in St. Louis, Chicago, or smaller nearby cities.

    JMHO
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    My first enlarger looked like the one on the right. IIRC, paid a scalding $20 for the entire DR including the enlarger(which was a diffusion not condensor)back in 1965. That money paid for everything I needed including paper and chems, books, the whole nine yards. Of course, that was big money back then, especially for a 13 year old that had to spend hard earned bucks to get it.
     
  4. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Testrite and Federal made low cost photographic equipment. If you're just making small (less than 8 X 10) prints, they will be OK with a good lens. I wouldn't recommend either one of them. I have a 60 year old Testrite tripod I'll give to the buyer though, to make a set. "Old Shaky" could be a good name for it too!
     
  5. Weegee

    Weegee Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. I wasn't familiar with either enlarger, and forget to mention I have already located a Beseler 57MVT for the 5x7 negs. I'm really just looking for something to print the 4x5s with. However, if I can somehow get my hands on an 8x10 enlarger, I won't even worry about the 4x5 stuff. Just haven't been able to find one yet, especially one both close to me (midwest) and affordable. I know it's crazy, and I should probably never think about it, but mural prints from an 8x10 negative are incredible.
     
  6. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The Federals are not very good, and not suitable for 4x5 at all. For starters, there's no place to put variable contrast filters. You could rig something up to hold them under the lens, but it will be an inconvenient, Rube Goldberg device. I had one just like the one on the right as my first enlarger, donated to me by a gracious uncle. It got me started, but I outgrew it quickly. No reason you can't use a 5x7 enlarger to print 4x5 negatives.
     
  7. Dan Dozer

    Dan Dozer Subscriber

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    I've got an older Besler 57MB and use it all the time for both 4 x 5's and 5 x 7's. Works very well. Only thing wrong with it, and this is going to sound crazy, is that when the diffusion head is closed down on the negative carrier there are light leaks coming from around the joint between the two. You would have thought that Bessler would have made an enlarger light tight! I just cover the head of the enlarger with a black cloth and don't worry about it. However, it does seem to be a design flaw.

    Suggestion on an 8 x 10 enlarger (because they not easy to find at affordable prices) - I recently converted my 8 x 10 Kodak 2D camera into a Horizontal enlarger. No modifications to the camera were necessary so I can still use it if for taking photographs. But now I have an 8 x 10 enlarger that, once I got a cold light head for it, only cost me about $20 for parts and a couple of days in the work shop. The cold light head is a 10 x 10 unit that supposedly came from an old Durst 8 x 10 enlarger.
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Weegee, why don't you get or make a negative carrier for your 5x7 Beseler?
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Yes, seems like the logical thing to do.
     
  10. Weegee

    Weegee Member

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    Hey .. thanks to all for the info. I greatly appreciate it. In a nutshell, I have acquired in the last three months a 4x5 press camera, a 5x7 Burke and James field camera, and an 8x10 Kodak 2D. This, after shooting digital for the past 10 years. I have begun using the 5x7 camera and hopefully soon the 8x10. The 5x7 enlarger has carriers for both 5x7 and 4x5. But after seeing some recent mural prints made with 8x10 negatives (and some contact prints), I was blown away. I may not even take the 4x5 out again. College was a long time ago, so I am kind of relearning the whole black and white darkroom thing, but having a blast. Anyway, thanks again to everyone for the information and pointers.
     
  11. elekm

    elekm Member

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    "old Shaky," huh? Doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

    You should look for a 4x5 Beseler or Omega. They're fairly cheap now, so there's no reason to settle for a lower-level enlarger. You'll also want to invest in a good lens. And it is an investment.
     
  12. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I was about 12 and loved that enlarger at the time. Purchased it myself from money from my paper route.

    Much later, as an adult, I purchased a Beseler 23C XLII (still have) and notice a huge difference.

    I now think of that first enlarger as Old Shaky, he did the best he could and so did I.