Stability of using 4x5 Enlargers to Print 4x5 Negatives

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by aldevo, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I'm planning a darkroom and expect to be printing negatives from size 35mm to size 4x5 (but not larger).

    I can definitively state that I do not expect to be making prints larger than 16x20 in size and 99.9% of my prints will probably be 11x14 or smaller.

    Is it reasonable to expect that most 4x5 enlargers will have sufficient stability (if properly assembled, etc.) to print high-qualiity 4x5 negatives in these sizes?

    General guidance on particularly stable 4x5 enlargers would also be welcome.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    what other type of enlarger would you propose to use??

    DeVere's and Dursts are particularly stable. To my mind - all enlargers should be properly braced as well - involving drilling the column to run wires with turnbuckles on them - at a diagonal to the column geometry and going to the closes structural tie point (ceiling joist, stud, whatever).
     
  3. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Supposing of course that you can provide the high quality negatives as mentioned, I don't think you'll have a problem.
     
  4. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    4x5 enlargers are generally large and heavy so pretty stable by definition. I have my 4x5 LPL wall-mounted so it won't move unless there is an earthquake. The Omega and Besselers that have angled columns can either be mounted to the counter on the bottom or make a wall mount with steel angles. The top should be braced to the wall as mentioned above.

    Bob
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I had initially planned to anchor the column of my ancient DeJur 4x5 enlarger top and bottom to the wall. It has proven stable enough, just sitting on a table, to do O.K. for 20 years without anchoring. A Testrite 4x5 hidden away in the attic wouldn't be stable if the column was anchored. One might try out an enlarger before making permanent installations.

    Supporting the column entirely from the wall has the advantage of permitting raising and lowering the easel height as well as the enlarger head. This can be convenient when making larger prints, especially under a low ceiling.
     
  6. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Dear Aldevo,
    I think you judge 4x5 enlarger using the amateur model enlarger scheme.
    It is true that a lot of amateur aimed enlargers are unstable, with poorly designed columns and vibrate during printing if you breathe looking at them. They were designed with cost as the criteria, not sturdiness, nor quality.
    The 4x5 market was designed for professionals, and priced as such new. These people can pay a premium price IF and only IF the stuff they buy is worth the money. Add to this they knew how to judge...
    What I can tell is that my durst Laborator 1000 which is very old, has seen professional use for years is so stable that I do not need to re-focus even after a week without use. Just drop a negative in the film holder, turn the lamp on, et voila ! Of course I double check for focus, but I'm surprised that the head has not moved, even unlocked !
    If you plan to crop some of your negatives, you might consider hanging the enlarger to the wall in order to move the easel under the column. Otherwise, you'll had to buy a large 4 blade easel and move the printing paper in one corner of the easel, using the 4 blades to have the correct margins you want, without hitting the column.
    I do not know any 4x5 enlarger with a film carrier opening greater than 4x5.
    Hope this helps !
     
  7. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    It would also depend on where the darkroom was. If the enlarger was unstable you wouldn't own it but if you did and you anchored it to the floor or wall in a basement you might be OK. If you anchored it to a floor or wall in a second or third story room of an old building next to a railroad track you might have a problem. Or if kids were jumping up and down in the room next door there might be a problem. Sometimes the more secure to the structure the more it picks up vibrations. Enlargers are made with stability in mind although some have more mass than others. It depends on the mechanics of the enlarger and the environment it is in. How stable is the camera and tripod you take into the field and what precautions do you take there to ensure stability?
     
  8. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Restricted Access

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    g'day aldevo
    why all the limitations and stressing? relax and just it a try
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    My Beseler is heavier then me :tongue:
     
  10. photobum

    photobum Member

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    My darkroom is in the cellar with a cement floor. For more than 24 years my D-2 was bolted to the table and bolted with turnbuckels to the overhead floor joists. I now have a Durst 138 that's also bolted with turnbuckels.

    If your working in a kitchen or bathroom, that's one thing. If you have a permanent darkroom, why not bolt it up?
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I've got an Omega D4 that's planted on a sturdy table on a concrete floor in the basement. I've never had the need to brace it for any reason, even when the head is at the top of the column.
     
  12. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I should have clarified why I thought that 4x5 enlargers may not be adequately stable...

    They do sell enlargers for which the max. size is 35mm or 6x6/7/9 and neither, in my experience, is stable enough for their nominal format. Anecdotally, I've always been given advice to use an enlarger whose maximum format size is, minimally, one greater than the largest format I will be printing. This would suggest using an enlarger supporting 5x7 or 8x10 for 4x5 negs.
     
  13. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    The darkroom is a rented apartment's kitchen. I cannot drill any holes into walls or floors. The kitchen also has a refrigerator and that means mechanical vibrations will be transmitted to and through the floor. Linoleum does a very poor job of attenuating such vibrations.

    The best darkroom setup I ever used (now no longer accessible) had the enlargers mounted on nodular cast iron machine tool bases (these are designed to absorb mechanical vibrations from machine tools). Rock solid.

    Some sort of thick rubber matting might be a reasonable substitute. I wonder if anyone has tried that as an enlarger base?

    I take a couple precautions in the field to ensure camera stability. If, say, I'm using a 35mm camera I always have it on a solid pan/tilt head and heavy aluminum legs (aluminum isn't the best vibration absorber, but heavy ones are ok). If the camera doesn't have MLU, and the shutter speed is in the "mirror-shake" range - then I will use a neutral density filter to require a shutter speed out of that range. And I always place a bean bag with a couple lbs of BBs on top of the camera to prevent shake. I suspend another bag of BBs (3-4 lbs) within the tripod legs and, depending on the length of the extended legs, I adjust the position of that bag to try to match the center of mass of the legs/head/camera system.
     
  14. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Restricted Access

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    I print 4x5s full-frame on an unbraced Omega D-2 in a cramped closet in sizes up to 16x20. I've never found stability to be an issue. The head can wobble if you bang it, but so can a view camera on a tripod. You have to be smart about it but it works. Sanders
     
  15. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Restricted Access

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    hi aldevo
    don't you think you might be just a tad obsessive about this idea of shake

    lighten up

    for instance why use a camera system (35mm) that's greatest asset is light weight handholdability and then tie it down to a huge tripod and extra weights
     
  16. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Well, I certainly don't use the tripod all the time:D

    But when I do choose to use it (e.g. I'm shooting Efke 25) - why not make it as effective as possible? I've backpacked with 45-50 lbs of gear for extended time periods- so I don't really give a you-know-what about an additional 10 lbs...

    As for the enlarger - the darkroom will be in an apartment kitchen and vibration sources (little kids stomping in the hallway, refrigerstor switching on and off) will be present. So, IMO, it's rather silly not to try to anticipate problems arising from them and plan accordingly.
     
  17. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Restricted Access

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    For those kinds of environmental vibrations, it won't matter which enlarger you're using. If the floor is in motion, so is the enlarger, any enlarger.
    Sanders
     
  18. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    That's true - unless you dampen the vibrations. Machine shops employ various means to do that - which I can look into on my own if I feel the need. Of course, I'd have to make sure this doesn't compromise the alignment. Probably overkill and I won't do it unless the need is apparent.

    I can always turn off the fridge for a bit. And the "external child stomping" threat is actually pretty managable.

    Thanks to everybody for the responses! It seems a 4x5 enlarger is probably just fine...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2007
  19. konakoa

    konakoa Member

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    I built a 4x5 enlarger out of a old Beseler 23C. It will just about handle a 16x20 print, but like Aldevo I usually make 11x14's. The rig is very lightweight, yet the prints have been perfectly sharp. I keep it parked on top of a plastic (!) rolling cart. For what it's worth, I'm not in a apartment - single story home, concrete foundation, etc.
     
  20. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Well - with respect to vibration control - there are generally two philosophies in the engineering world. There's the 'absolute' school (mass damping - make everything have a common 'ground' - bolt everything down so it DOESN'T move) and the 'relative' (if it's gonna move anyway - make them move together - so there's no relative motion). So - I think it's an important thing to consider in darkroom design - especially if you're a precision freak and/or you need very sharp results. Consider what kind of structure you're mounting to. If the floor- mount both to the floor - if the wall - both to the same wall and reinforce it. But it's good to first consider what the most stable part of the building is - i.e. in a brick building with wood floors - best go into the brick, if possible. etc etc etc...