First enlarger for darkroom virgin

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Zuikopath, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Zuikopath

    Zuikopath Member

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    Complete rookie alert - I have been interested in photography for over thirty years but never tried developing and printing.

    I'm considering setting up a darkroom in a spare room and wanted some advice about a suitable enlarger.

    I mainly shoot 35mm but it would be good to get an enlarger which is also usable with 120 roll film and possibly 645 format if possible or at least is easily upgradable.
    I'm thinking B&W to start with.

    Any recommendations or advice would be welcome so I can do some more research - and so I don't end up with a lemon :confused:
     
  2. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    Yeah........what he said.I'm in the same boat.I developed in high school so I have an idea of how to screw up.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I am in US and here, we seem to have an endless supply of Omega D-II and D-2 in varying degree of completeness available. I actually have two - one is complete, the other one being rebuilt. These are big, heavy, and nearly 50 years old. They are pretty cheap, too. I can find them anywhere from free to $50 or so complete with lens and negative carriers. That's what I would recommend.

    If you can find a good one without damage, they can be cleaned up and put back in service. It will do 35mm, 120, and 4x5. A key here is to make sure you have all the right condenser unit and to get ones with good bellows.

    One caution is that they are quite large and heavy. If you can't have a semi-permanent setup and have to move them every time, it will tire you quickly.
     
  4. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    In the US - Beseler 23C's are good. Well built and plentiful. 23C, 23CII, or 23CIII are all good. They all take the same carriers which are relatively easy to find. This is good because when you get a used one, it might not have the carrier you want. They go up to 6x9.

    I have mine on a microwave cart and wheel it into the bathroom when I print. Pick one up on craigslist. I found a brand new unopened 23CII for $75 on craiglist.

    Oh, and Beseler is still in business, so you could get parts from them.
     
  5. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Look for a medium format Durst. Others to look for are Meopta (cheaper but very good quality), Kaiser, Dunco, Devere. If you are on a tight budget look for a Krokus (Polish) or one of the Russian models. You should be able to pick up a Gnome (UK made) for close to nothing.

    Beseler and Omega are common in the states but not so much in the UK. If you are going to get one of these it is best to get the 4x5 models.
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Omega B22, or better yet, B22 XL: common (perhaps the most common enlarger ever), cheap (if not free), and good enough.

    This being said, a brand new (imagine that!) Omega C-700 is not a bad deal at all at under $400 from Freestyle with a lens (Arista 50mm f/3.5). You'd need to get a neg carrier and a lens for medium format, however, and they are $70 for the carrier and $60 for the lens (again, Arista brand).

    A timer would also be nice, but a Gra-Lab processing timer (dirt cheap if not free), while a bit annoying to use, will do the trick at first.
     
  7. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Given that you are in the UK, Nicholas' advice seems spot on. If you can live with just 35mm, you might consider a Leitz V35 enlarger. In the US, you can pick them up for around $300 with lens and they are very nice.
    Do make sure you align the enlarger properly. Aligning basically means that the negative is held parallel to both the lens board and the easel. There is always some way to do this (but some are really difficult!). This is probably more important than which enlarger you get. Also, make sure you get a good lens. Most modern 50mm f2.8 lenses are fine for 35mm (Nikkor, Rodenstock, Schnieder). One more thing....make sure that you get the negative carriers and lens/lensboard with the enlarger. Getting the needed accessories later can add up.
     
  8. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    My comment was directed at Martin, since he's in the US.
     
  9. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Also check out the Saunders/LPL 6x7 enlargers. (MX & 6700)
    Have modified a universal carrier on mine to allow me to print up to 6x9.
     
  10. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I can recommend Kaiser. very modular, you can change and modify nearly every part. It is no problem to install a taller column or larger base board if you decide to print larger. You can easily convert an s/w enlarger to color or multigrade. As the system has stayed nearly the same since 30 years or so, it is no problem to use second hand parts to upgrade. They are also very well made. The 6000 series is suited for 35mm and 6x6. Second hand enlargers are so cheap nowadays ...
    You should also look for a Rodagon or Componon lens, which do not cost a fortune any more on the used market these days.

    Best regards, Benjamin
     
  11. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Keep an eye on ebay, the cheapest ones are (usually) "buyer collects". A good starter would be something like the LPL7700 with colour head - Avoid the LPL5xxx series, they have a cheap & nasty feel to them. If this is your first enlarger, look for one with:
    • Lens (75mm will cover both 35 & 6x6)
    • Negative carrier & masks
    • Transformer (for colour heads)
    • Condensers (needed for some B&W heads only)
    • Masking frame
    • Timer
     
  12. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    I would echo the recommendations for an LPL 6X7 enlarger. I just bought a used one with a dichroic head for a very reasonable price, and it is a quality piece of equipment.
     
  13. R gould

    R gould Member

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    Patterson have just introduced a new enlarger which comes ready for both 35mm and 120 6x6,which looks very good value for money and worth looking at,Richard
     
  14. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Shameless plug time-- I have an Omega B-66 Pro Lab out fit to sell with lenses and a condensor head and a dichroic head, for 35mm and 6x6cm. i'll even kick in a digital timer and an easel, plus a couple of other necessities.
     
  15. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    My advice is to find a medium format enlarger that will accommodate negatives up to 6x9, just in case you pick up a 6x9 camera in the future. Some medium format enlargers only take negatives up to 6x6 or 6x7.
     
  16. tlitody

    tlitody Member

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    Depends,
    If you want new then I'd suggest Kaiser which can be found at:

    http://www.kaiser-fototechnik.de/en/produkte/2_1_sortiment.asp?w=1348

    or

    Kienzle found at:

    http://kienzle-phototechnik.de/home_english/enlarger/enlarger.html

    but if you are looking for second hand then Durst is by far the best option as there is a huge amount on the market and they are quality unlike meopta or LPL which IMO are junk.

    get the following PDF which lists the last made models and will give you a grounding in what was/is available. There are a lot of older models out there too.

    www.darkroom.ru/info/manuals/durst_catalog_eng.pdf

    The simplest to use are the ones with with vario heads which just use one dial to alter contrast but the colour heads work too by using yellow and magenta. Or you may opt for a B+W head and use ilford MG filters but you need to make sure you have a filter drawer for those otherwise you need an under the lens filter holder as opposed to over the lens (and film) drawer.

    The M805 is a pro level and very good and have corresspondingly higher prices. The Modular 70 is very good too as is the M670

    I'd suggest the M670 or equivalent older model is the minimum for your requirements. Just be careful about which head it has with it and also whether is has mixing box for bot 35mm and 6x7 (which also covers 6x4.5 and 6x6) format.
    If you want to use 6x9 the the M805 is required or even the L1200 but the L1200 is big and heavy.

    Personally if money is no object I'd go for a Kaiser 4560 or 4471 otherwise a durst M805 or Modular 70. Or M670 if you are on a tight budget.
     
  17. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    I'll back that up - my second enlarger (which I still own) is a Saunders LPL 670XL with condenser head. Handles up to 6x7 and carriers can be found cheaply online. I also have an Omega D-II (I'll also second that recommendation) which handles 2x3 and 4x5 duty.

    Dan
     
  18. Zuikopath

    Zuikopath Member

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    Great responses - thanks for all the suggestions and advice.

    This Interweb is a great resource and the friendly, helpful members here put the cherry on top.

    I now have a lot of learning and research to do...!
     
  19. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    It goes without saying - Once you start messing with medium format, the sweet call of large format becomes difficult to resist.. Might be worth your while biding on that DeVere 507.. :D
     
  20. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I don't think that I could ever reccomend a more well built easy to use enlarger than the Besler 23C. All of the ones that have been made are in my opinion the best possible way to enlarge 110 up to 120 film yourself. They are made so well and are very easy to use.
     
  21. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I've used:
    Various cheap 35mm-only enlargers
    Beseler 23c (upto 120)
    Beseler cb7 (4x5)
    Chromega-B (basically omega b22 xl with color head)

    Amongst those, the Omega is the easiest to use. It's very simple for a color head enlarger. All it's motions are manualy operated and very smooth.

    The 4x5 enlargers might be motorized and have blowers running the cooling system, etc... Nice, but not quiet and relaxing.

    I have not tried the other brands.

    I would recommend you get the componon-s 80/4 lens for your 35mm and 120 (upto 6x6) needs.
    Barring that, an El Nikkor or Rodenstock would both be very nice.

    If you can manage to get an enlarger with a color head, you'll be all set for variable contrast paper without needing to work with filters.