Saltzman enlargers

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by michael_r, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I'm curious about these massive, giant things. I'm not able to find much about them online. I remember seeing a picture of A. Aubrey Bodine in his darkroom with one of these. Clyde Butcher also has a few, and I once saw an interview with him in which (I think) he said a Saltzman enlarger could cost up to $30,000 in the 1930's (!?), and weigh well over a thousand pounds (!). What is the deal with these beasts? Who used them at the time? Were they primarily for military use or what? Even for large format or ULF negatives, they seem enourmous. Aside from the obvious size and ultra heavy duty construction, they appear to incorporate multiple-axis tilt capability at the negative stage, lens stage, and even the baseboard.

    Michael
     
  2. David Lindquist

    David Lindquist Subscriber

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    See: http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/saltzman_1.html for a 1961 catalogue with price list. (I was a bit surprised to see they were still being made in the early 1960's.) As you will see they made a lot of models; and from 4 X 5 to 8 X10. Prices for the 8 X 10's range all the way from a bit over $2k up to $17K plus. Some years ago in connection with a workshop I saw Morley Baer's dark room. He had an 8 X 10 Saltzman. I remember thinking the negative carrier alone looked like it would have been made by a tool and die maker using a Pratt & Whitney jig bore machine.

    Also I know an old guy who worked in photo-reconnaissance in the Army Air Force in WWII. He said they used a Saltzman enlarger.
    David
     
  3. rmolson

    rmolson Member

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    satlzmzn enlargers

    I am an old guy who was in the Navy and we used some saltman enlargers on some land bases Too big for ship board.
     
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  4. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Very impressive machine
     
  5. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    With the massive contruction, and all the precision tilt/shift adjustments, they were obviously made for serious work. I still find them baffling though, expecially from a cost perspective. At prices and sizes like that, it seems unlikely anyone other than government agencies and maybe a handful of serious photographers would have been able to afford, or accomodate them. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing even the most snobby amateur enthusiast would have been able to buy. Also given these things were being made in the 30s and 40s, when the notion of fine art photgraphic prints was still pretty new, it's hard to imagine how even a well respected printer could justify such an expense. Edward Weston surely wouldn't have been able to buy one of these. So I'm assuming they were mostly used for applications other than fine art enlargements. I might be totally wrong though.
     
  6. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    You have to understand that many large companies had their own in-house photography departments and had plenty of cash to buy what would be considered an investment.
     
  7. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    You are leaving out: portrait studios; publicity; advertising photography; hospitals, industrial firms; large institutions; aerial survey, etc. And, of course, commercial photography laboratories.

    Look at the list prices at Durst USA for a comparison.
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Yes, strictly commercial machine. Heavy duty, precision, not needed by local portrait, wedding, news photographer labs.
     
  9. happyjam64

    happyjam64 Member

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    and i thought my beseler 23c was heavy duty, haha! Now, i wonder how hard it would be to get one of these (i'm going to assume very hard).
     
  10. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Yeah I thought my new Saunders 4550 was strong, but these Saltzman things are ridiculous. In the event of an earthquake or tornado, you could probably just sit on the baseboard while the rest of the house falls down.
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2010
  12. happyjam64

    happyjam64 Member

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    Wow, I wish I lived back in the heyday of these magnificent machines! I bet their craftsmanship and their quality just doesn't exist anymore. It's these kinds of awesome machines that inspire me to become an engineer.
     
  13. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I was thinking the same thing. If I were a machinist, I could design and actually build my ideal enlarger. What a great project.