Help Choose a Color Enlarger

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by bvy, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    I currently have a black and white enlarger that I use regularly -- the Omega B600. It works well enough, but I want to get into color printing this fall.

    I've never used a color enlarger, and I have no experience with color heads, beyond what I've read about how they work. Is there anything in particular that I should ask or check (if in person) while shopping for a used one?

    I'm looking at two at the moment:

    Omega C760 on eBay (includes lens, carriers, timer, drums, etc., all which I'll need)
    $200 with free shipping
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/180924739535

    Beseler 32 CII with color head on craigslist (includes one lens, easel and stand)
    $100, local to me
    http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/pho/3110134315.html

    Any thoughts on these? Both "appear" to be in good condition, though neither one looks perfect. I might go take a look at the Beseler this weekend. The auction has a return option if things go really sour, though I'd hate to have exercise it.
     
  2. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I have used both and can't find any real fault in either one, but since you already have an Omega, you may want to stay in the family for any parts that may be interchangeable. If you do go for the Beseler, make sure it is the latest model that allows you to align the negative stage with the eccentric nut on the backside of the bracket. Download a copy of the user manual and look over it before you look at it so you know what it should look like.
     
  3. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Some good thoughts. Thanks Greg. I'm leaning toward the Omega, although I don't think lenses and carriers are interchangeable between the C760 and B600. Also, I'm a little bit nervous about buying sight unseen. I'm putting together some questions for the seller...
     
  4. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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  5. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    The Beseler sounds like a good choice, especially for the price. Make sure you get the power supply with it though, if it isn't there don't buy it. Also, make sure you get the negative carrier(s) and lens boards.
     
  6. Zathras

    Zathras Subscriber

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    +1

    A very good enlarger and very common. Lots of parts and accessories are available, and with a bit of shopping around, you should be able to get one at a very good price. As a matter of fact, I got mine when somebody told me about a D5 that needed to be picked up right away or it would be put out on the curb next garbage day. It now sits in my darkroom next to my old WWII vintage Omega DII.
     
  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    They're newer enlargers so the lens mounts on the Omegas should be the same, most likely 39mm.
    You could also look for a dichro head for your B600. I don't recall if they made one or not though.

    The 23 C is a nice enlarger, 1/2 the price & you get to look at it. It has the dichro head on it and looks to be in good shape, I believe you would be way ahead of the game with it.
    I believe that one has the power supply built into the head. If one of the cables has a funky multiple contact on it it WILL need an additional PS. If both cables have a grounded three prong plug it doesn't.
    The pic seems to show a negative carrier too.
    The only caution would be to check that it's working before you haul it home.
     
  8. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Thanks for looking, John, and thanks everyone for your input. I ordered the C760 this morning. I contacted the seller and he's quite sure I'll be happy and seems willing to stop at nothing if I'm not. For $200 (shipping included) I got:
    - C760 enlarger with color head
    - Rodenstock lens (hopefully my B600 lenses will work)
    - two negative carriers
    - enlarger timer (I have no timer at the moment, metronome printing is getting old)
    - combination easel (I have no easel either, and taping is also getting old)
    - Uniroller with two drums (which I'd like to try out)
    - Kodak color print viewing filter kit
    - what looks like a safelight
    - manuals for just about everything

    So we'll see what happens... !
     
  9. Arkasha

    Arkasha Member

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    You chose well. I was about to warn you about the 23CII. I have one with a dual dichro head, and while it's nice, it's also quite dim.
     
  10. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Everything arrived yesterday and appears in good working order (!). Better still, the carriers and lenses I bought for my B600 all seem to work on the C760. And the C760 does 6x7 (though I don't have a need at the moment).

    I do have some more questions.

    - This kit came with a set of Kodak color print viewing filters. Holding them up to the light, I can detect subtle changes in tint between the frames (as I would expect). But the kit is close to thirty years old (it came with all receipts too). Are they still usable, or do these things have a shelf life and fade over time?

    - Also, I want to process at room temperature, in trays or drums. I think I want to use the Kodak chemicals. Can someone recommend a good paper to start with? I see that Adorama brands its own paper, and it's cheap. I wonder if it wouldn't be good to learn with.

    My only other choices (?) would be Fuji Crystal Archive or Kodak Supra Endura. It looks like I can only get the Kodak in sheets from eBay -- as my understanding is that it's only produced in rolls now. So I wonder if I should bother.

    Thanks again...