Recommend me an enlarger.

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by poppers, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. poppers

    poppers Member

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    Can someone recommend me an enlarger that fits the following criteria.

    Small and compact - I'm low on space.
    Ease of use - something not complicated to get the hang of
    Cheap - not too expensive reliable with available spares or robust/reliable

    Format 35 mm with option to print larger.

    I like the look of the leica focomat with autofocus but it only does 35 mm

    Thanks in advance.

    Oh and I'm in the UK.



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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2013
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Durst Graduate.
     
  3. jernejk

    jernejk Member

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    I'm very happy with meopta 5, it comes in case (if the owner kept it) so it's easy to store.
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    The words cheap and Leica Focomat 35 tend to be mutually exclusive. It is probably one of the most expensive 35mm enlargers. Some would say its the Rolls Royce of 35mm enlargers

    The Durst range might meet your specifications. In my experience the M605 might meet your requirements. It is a fairly robust enlarger, covers up to 6x6 negs and comes with a dichroic head for colour work which might be useful.

    It might help us of you specify your price range and to our N American contributors can I say that Beselers are fairly rare here in the U.K. and the OP is U.K. based.

    pentaxuser
     
  5. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

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    Leica focomat v35 is actually quite a big enlarger. The base is huge and the head rises quite a height at max enlargement. The Durst M601 is quite compact with capacity to 6x6. M605 and M670 can do 6x7, but column may be higher than 601. Parts for all these should be quite easy to locate (2nd hand). Leitz Valoy II can be found quite cheaply and is compact and high quality. It only does 35mm or smaller. If you have room for the Leitz v35, and only want to do 35mm, it is a superb enlarger. I hope you find something suitable. Alex
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    LPL 6700 still a current model and spares (if they are ever needed) are readily available The bulb is a standard type used in most enlargers. Available to take 35mm up to 6x6 with the appropriate carrier. With 35mm film a 5mm lens will give you over a 16x12 print. I use one and I am more than happy with it.
     
  7. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    +1 for the LPL 6700. I have the 7700 model and love it!
     
  8. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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  9. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Wouldn't recommend a Focomat to a new user - The early models used a lamp that is now obsolete and as rare as the proverbial rocking horse dung. It is not easy to identify the early models unless you know what questions to ask (particularly if you buy from ebay).

    I'd suggest either a small Durst (600 or 800 series) or the LPL C7700.
     
  10. edibot42

    edibot42 Member

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    I like my Omega C700.
     
  11. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    In the US, I would recommend either Omega C (6x7) or B (6x6) series, or similar 6x7 Bessler enlarger.

    In the UK, I don't know the availability of those enlargers. I would recommend a Durst M60x or even the F60. My M600 stores away in a nice size box, about half the size of the box for the Omega C67. BUT, Durst is out of the enlarger business, so spares have to come off the secondary (eBay) market. Having said that, my M600 has been totally reliable since 1971, only having to replace the lamp. It probably helps reliability that I have the simple B&W condenser head, not the more complicated color head. If you get a Durst, you want to have ALL the parts when you start out. Hunting for missing parts is difficult, time consuming and expensive.

    If you want reliability, I would go with a condenser enlarger. That eliminates the complication and potential problem with the color head or power supply, especially if you are not going to print color anyway. You would just use multi-contrast filters for Multi-Contrast paper, which is not difficult to use. The color head would give you the ability to "dial in" the filter for Multi-Contrast paper, more convenient than the MC filters, but at the cost of the color head.

    gud luk
     
  12. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    The LPL 67 model (under various names) is a supremely elegant enlarger. I'd still have mine if I hadn't upgraded to the 4x5 XLG.
     
  13. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I started out with an SL66 LPL which suited me for a little while until I wanted to move into 6x7. During that time I also landed 2 Meopta II with all lenses and carriers, which were really nice units, but they too only went to 6x6.

    Ended up trading the lot in on an LPL 7700 colour head, which allowed me to modify the 6x7 universal carrier to do up to 6x9.

    I liked all of these enlargers and if I hadn't needed to go to 6x7, that SL66 would have suited me just fine. With the filter drawer as standard, it allows for both B&W and colour printing (I did some Cibachromes for a while.)

    Best idea would be to determine the largest neg size you want and have a look at those that have been suggested, to see if they are easily available, a size that works for you and within your budget.
     
  14. poppers

    poppers Member

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    Thanks for the advice so far. Budget wise I guess as cheap as possible however if there is something worth paying more for then I'm prepared. Compactness is the main issue as it would be set up in the corner of a bathroom. I currently have access to a college darkroom but that ends this year.

    Part of me is wondering if its worth the hassle and I could just order enlargements from home developed negs though I have enjoyed my limited experience so far.

    I plan to use a compact enlarger and nova slot processor to reduce size etc.
     
  15. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    As far as budget goes I'd suggest looking on your local Gumtree and Freecycle sites.

    (I got my Kaiser VCP6002 for nothing from Freecycle, and a nice S-K 80mm f/4 lens for £25 from Gumtree.)
     
  16. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction to hang a print on the wall and being able to say "I did that". Having someone else print your negs isolates you from an important part of the process. Being able to dodge and burn a print to get the desired result is something that only you can do.

    Invest in a good quality enlarger now, and you will have a tool that could last a lifetime.
     
  17. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I used to have an Omega B66xl crammed into the hall closet in my college apartment (I took out all the shelves). Next door was the bathroom where I had my developer trays. I'd hang heavy drapes over the hall entrance and I had an instant darkroom. It was less than comfortable but it worked! A B66 should be cheap; I sold mine for $75 including the lenses. I don't know how easy that enlarger is to find these days, but I see parts for them regularly. It was solid enough, not like the Omega D2 I use now but it was fine.
     
  18. poppers

    poppers Member

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    No dodging and burning as yet. Just getting used to basic printing. I'm fairly new to B&W. I shot mostly colour for years and my fave camera was a Nikon f4s. Then i decided in 06 to go digital with a NIkon D80 as I thought that was better etc etc. Then realised i was falling out with photography and got tired of sitting in front if the pc. I'd come back from holiday with 200 pictures and then not even bother looking through them for months.

    So I decided to try film again and make it simple. One film one lens. So i have an M6 and 35mm Biogon. Portra and HP5+ have been main use so far. Still have the Digi gear but hardly use it. F4s and Nikon lenses and various pinholes/large format etc .
     
  19. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The earlier suggestion for the c700 is good. That's what I started out with in my darkroom. It's very compact and you can lift the whole setup by one hand. Which is nice if you plan on schlepping it to the bathroom every time. I gave mine away on apug while ago, but they are not too expensive and quite common. Bulbs are super cheap too.

    If you take a class or go rent a darkroom, your most likely to find the lpl 6700 or 7700 models or the like. They are very good and keep decent alignment and take a bit of abuse by kids starting out on them. But they are heavier and take up more space.
     
  20. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Small
    Simple
    Cheap
    Small and medium format
    Live in Euro zone
    Durst M600. Meets all criteria.
     
  21. poppers

    poppers Member

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    Thanks for the recommendations so far. I had a look at a focomat 1c today that looked interesting.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
     
  22. Noble

    Noble Member

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    poppers, I don't know if you have something like Craigslist where you live but what you might want to do is check Craigslist on a regular basis for "enlarger" or "darkroom" and see what comes up. I did this with local resources in the US and ended up buying a couple of enlargers at various price points under $40. One is a Beseler 4x5 enlarger and one is a Beseler 23C III enlarger. I am currently eyeing another Beseler 23C with dichro head for less than $30. I passed on a nice Omega because it was too far away. Gas prices killed the deal.

    Depending on where you live you can pick up an enlarger for less than the cost of a night out at a pub. I personally wouldn't pass on a solid $30 enlarger from Beseler, Omega, Durst, etc. You can search the forum whenever you come across an enlarger in good condition and see what people have had to say about it.

    One thing I will caution you about is make sure whatever enlarger you get is as complete as possible. A good condition 6x6 negative carrier for a Beseler 45 enlarger can run you $50. That's more than I paid for the enlarger. I am really cheap about buying enlargers because invariably you will have to shell out $$30-$80 for a top of the line mint non-APO lens. So you really don't want to start chasing down negative carriers at $50 a pop. All enlargers I have looked at come with lenses that their owners are proud of. But without fail they are usually older lenses that are not as sharp as modern lenses. Some of the lenses I've seen have fungus on them. It's pointless to go cheap on the lens. Just budget to get a nice modern Nikkor, Rodenstock, or Schneider.

    Another thing to consider is the availability and price of accessories. Omega's and Beselers are all over the place here in the US. I hear Dursts are more common in Europe. I don't know how true that is but it is something to look into. If you buy some really elite rare enlarger you may be setting yourself up to pay through the nose for years for basic things like negative carriers and other parts and accessories. The same is true if you get some obscure enlarger for free. I've gone and checked out multiple enlargers and walked away from the deal because I knew I would be burdening myself with something that was going to be pricey in the long run. I've had people almost pleading with me to take their enlarger. Just say no to obscure and incomplete enlargers.

    I am no darkroom expert by any stretch of the imagination, but people seem to be able to make enlargements just fine without using really fancy enlargers. I think everything just boils down to individual preferences and what lens you use. If your enlarger is properly aligned and you use a high quality lens I would think the results from most enlargers would be indistinguishable. The work flow may differ and some stuff may be a bit more of a PIA but all my research has pretty much left me open to most common big name enlargers that come my way.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 18, 2013
  23. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    I agree with Noble.
    Study the enlarger first, and know the parts you will need, so when you look at it, you will know what parts are missing. If you are lucky the seller can find the missing parts in another box he may have forgotten about.

    I have 2 enlargers that I am spending time and $$$ to gather the missing parts.
    One was a good deal even with the missing parts.
    The 2nd was bad, I should have offered the seller half of what I paid. Broken parts (expensive to replace) and missing parts drove up the final cost.
     
  24. poppers

    poppers Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
     
  25. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    Only a month late... the beseler 67 is a nice one... i have that one along with a 23c... I have them on a desk... with the column flipped on the beseler 67 so that it sits on the edge of the desk and i just project on the floor for 16x20 prints with a 105mm lens. I've seen other people mount the column to a wall for really huge prints. Anyway... those are extremely inexpensive. and i like them.