Should I buy an enlager...?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Helinophoto, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Hi

    Been shooting 35mm mostly for the past 3-4 years, moved on to medium format this autumn with a Hasselblad 503CW and a Mamiya RZ67 pro II, and I am very exited about the new and larger format.

    Now, I do have a Nikon coolscan V for 35mm scanning.

    I also bought an Epson V750 for medium format scanning and everything is working fine.

    I have an Epson 3800, which can print b&w and print them up to A2.

    Though, I saw this ad for an enlarger, a Durst M670 BW enlarger, capable for 35mm, 6*6 and 6*7 for around $440,-, trays, safe lights and a 110mm lens included (Unsure if the lens is extra, or if that is the only lens with the enlager). I also get some papers with the enlarger.

    But should I?

    I feel I am missing out, not putting my negatives on paper and only scanning them, I'm thinking that judging the negatives is easier/better from a proof than from a scan (which basically saves it). I am new at this, so looking at the negative per-se and deciding if it is underexposed or underdeveloped is hard etc.

    Is it 50% more "photography" trough wet-printing your own photos, or should I just don't bother and be happy with what I got?:pouty:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2011
  2. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    You can print all your film sizes with the 110mm lens; it's just that you won't be able to enlarge 35mm too big without a 50-ish mm lens.

    Seems like a bit high price, but I don't know that gear or that enlarger. Once you get it and set things up, if you have no darkroom experience, it would be good to have someone local help you with a few first prints and verify things are properly setup. It's not necessary, but it could be valuable.

    Once you get the hang of darkroom work, a properly exposed and processed negative will print looking most normal/realistic/good with paper in the grade 2-3 range. That's what you mean by verifying your evaluation of the negative. In terms of scanning, a good negative needs a minimum of "curve work" other than setting white and dark levels, but every scene is different and evaluation is not the same as a darkroom print.

    I appreciate both wet-printing and inkjet and they are different to me; I consider it an apples and oranges comparison. You now see people, who have mastered inkjet output, getting into making digital negative so they can make wet-printing output. Sorta shows that the final results are indeed different and computer isn't always the answer.
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you can try wet printing, you should.

    For me, it is magical, and certainly as fun as taking the photographs.

    I truly believe as well that there is nothing that contributes more to the quality of what you take as being the person who prints from the resulting negative.

    Personally, I find the scan and then print from the post-processed file route to be way less satisfying and way more frustrating, but I've been darkroom printing for more than 4 decades, so clearly my perspective on the issue isn't the same as yours.

    The price you quote for the enlarger seems high for our second-hand market, but may be reasonable in Norway. The reference to the lens is confusing though - I'm not aware of any 110mm lens, and if there were such a lens, it would be a bit long for 6x7, and way too long for 35mm negatives.
     
  4. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    not for that price....



    edit: If you can justify the price with the VAT and the lens is coming in the deal, then the deal is looking a bit better.

    Be sure to remember you will need a bench or table to hold the enlarger and trays.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2011
  5. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I am sorry, there is a Rodenstock RODAGON 105mm f5.6 lens that "comes with it", so I'll have to check if that is "extra" or the only lens =)

    Yes, I do have some experience, a tiny tiny bit of introductory classing in 1988 :D So I kind of know how to go about making a print and setting up stuff, the rest I was planning to find out trough the internet and trough books etc.

    The price may be a bit high, compared to other countries, just about everything is expensive here. (I think deducting around 25% VAT, makes it more comparable to other countries like the US etc).
    I really DO want to try it out, but I am unsure about space requirements and practical stuff mostly, but I feel in my gut that I would want to try, I am not sure what I am expecting as answers either to be honest. Gut says "Gogogo", brain says "why?" :smile:
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I'll go for it. You can get another enlarger lens later on.

    Jeff
     
  7. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I'm a diehard wet printer. I think 75% of the fun of photography is in the dark room. Nothing beats the feeling of watching a print developing in a tray and knowing that it's all yours, nobody else could have made this. After over 45 years working in a dark room, it's still magic for me. It's time to step up and take on the most important part of "making" a photograph. Once you start printing, you will understand better how to take photos, so that making them is easier.
     
  8. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Sorry to see you are in Norway, and not a bit closer.

    I usually acquire lonely bits of darkroom gear for a small amout to its original vaule at garage sales, estates sales and auctions I float around at and gift it away as a whole darkroom setup to get someone started.

    I have moved 5 darkroom rigs out this way over the last 4 years.
     
  9. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    You can get nice darkroom equipment for reasonable prices here in Norway too. I got at great Dunco enlarger for free a couple of years ago, and I just saw a Laborator 1200 go for a very good price too (on finn.no). Pay attention to finn.no and foto.no and pick up the phone immediately when you see something interesting. Also, ignore your brain for a while and go with your heart on this ;-).

    Trond
     
  10. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Depending on the condition of the enlarger and stuff, at least for Europe the price is within the reasonable margins.
    You might look around for Durst 609 in case You move up to 6x9 or even check into something that suits larger formats.
    The bigger Durst's sometimes show up for reasonable prices than their smaller brothers.
    Also, there is a certain magic to just contact print the larger formats, even 6x6.. so in those cases You really don't need enlarger for the medium format and up.
    You can find a contact printer with the safe light built in and all.., Photax or Paterson for ~ 10 €

    IMHO, Without the wet print part, photography is more like walking with just 1 leg.
    You have the negative but You miss the wet print, scanning and printing is pretty much like walking with crutches..
    If You really need a scan, then You might be able to scan Your silver prints with the crappiest scanner and get results that the Nikon or Epson will never get out of a negative.
     
  11. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    I recently bought a complete bathroom/darkroom setup. Like you, I have only limited experience back in the 1970s. I watched craigslist for several months before making my decision. Trond's advice sounds good. Watch those sites for a few months and do a lot of reading (APUG and wherever) to understand what will be the right setup for your own situation. Then one day the right deal will come along and jump on it!
     
  12. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Hehe, indeed =)

    Thank you all for the input, maybe smart to not just bite on the first bate :smile:

    There are some other things in the package beside the enlarger itself, like one table with wheels, 2 safe lights (one red, one yellow/green??), one focus lens, 3 trays, a couple of Patterson type developer tanks, 100 sheets of Afga paper (17*24cm) and some other paper, contrast filters and other bits and nicks.

    I'll sleep on it and call the guy tomorrow and see if I can bargain a little, I have time anyways and I can see several enlagers on the places fore-mentioned in this thread, so I guess there will definitely be another alternative coming up pretty quick. :smile:
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Do it! If not this one, then the next good one.

    To me, in the darkroom is where the magic happens. And you will see your negatives in a different way, for better or worse.

    There is nothing like watching the print come up in the tray.

    - Thomas
     
  14. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    You have the idea. Bargain. If the seller has the feeling that you will walk away from it you're in a much stronger position.

    FWIW, years ago I had a cousin that really tough. When he found something he wanted to buy in the newspaper, he decided
    how much he would pay and that's the money he would put in his front pocket. small denominations so the bankroll would look very tempting.
    Unless the seller is married to the equipment, the idea of cash in hand is a very powerful tool.

    Personally I'd aim for the three hundred mark. 340 likely to be tops.
     
  15. jerry lebens

    jerry lebens Member

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    Not at that price, it's far too expensive, even with the lens.
     
  16. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    asking a bit much, but durst enlargers are good quality.

    there are many enlargers out there that can handle medium format, but you have to be wary about if the enlarger needs an extra condenser or not (does not pertain to diffusion enlargers), and if the negative carriers are included or easy to buy. I know durst has a universal carrier that you can easily adjust sizes with to mask.

    the enlarger lens market is currently a buyer market, its really cheap to get really awesome stuff online, and at auction. I see el nikkors, rodagons, componons, and all the other older lenses (ektars, wollenstocks, etc) go for 10% of their original retail price. the only ones i see retaining a good deal of their value are the apo versions, not needed if you only plan doing b&w.

    I suggest do a bit more research, set a budget, and go for it. clicking the shutter is only 1/125 second, the real meat of it is in the darkroom, its where the magic happens.