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  1. #1

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    Minolta Color Enlarger II(?)

    http://page11.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/n38990626

    I've found this in the Japanese Yahoo auction. It's a Minolta enlarger with a couple of lenses (Fuji and Minolta), neg carriers, among other items. The seller wants 35,000 yen (about 310 USD) for all the items in the picture, and he says the condition of the enlarger is like new. He hardly used it.

    Since I live not far from where he lives, if I really want, I can go pick up the stuff. Paying for the shipping in this close distance is nothing, too. His price might be a bit too high, but in the Japanese standard, that's about the average. But I'm still searching. I might bid later to see how the bidding goes.

    But before getting into that with uncertainty, here's my question to the fellow APUGers here who have used this model (Minolta Color Enlarger II, I believe). Is this enlarger good, pretty good, excellent, or simply not good for a serious use? How reliable is it today?

    I'm usually fond of a condenser-head type, but for some negs I have I feel like investing on a color/difusion head for printing. The column and the baseboard of my Fuji FD690 condenser-head enlarger can take the LPL 7454 color head because they share the same design and the quality, but it's too uneconomical to look for any 7454 head for swapping.

    In the past when I used Beseler 23C III XL(?) difusion-head enlarger (the one with the yellow nobs), and I like the result. I currently own a LPL 6700 VC enlarger, which is a budget enlarger for this matter, but I don't like it or even use it at all (and it's on sale) because of its too small head and a too thin alminium column. But that's the closest experience I have for this type of enlarger.

    The other concern I have on this Minolta is the bulb, which takes a GE 100V-150w, Type ESE since it's an old model. Japan's voltage is 100V, and that seems to limit my search for getting a spare bulb in the future, although it's originally a GE lamp!

    Anyway, any sort of advice and/or feedback here would be nice.

    firecracker

  2. #2

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    Firecraker

    I had this enlarger. Bought it used in 1990 and sold it 10 years ago when I moved up to medium format. I could not find a 6x6 negative holder for it anywhere at the time. Maybe they are more common in Japan because the picture shows a complete kit. I replaced it with an Omega DII, used for 6x6 and 4x5 B&W.

    I loved this enlarger. I did do color on it some but really like the B&W I got off it. In fact, I'm still comparing my printing to it and wishing my DII condenser could produce the same quality. Maybe I need to get a diffusion enlarger too. If everything is working this should be a good enlarger. The downside is the fact that they are older (not as old as my early 1950 DII) and parts and supplies might be hard to get if needed.

    Brian

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by r-brian
    Firecraker

    I had this enlarger. Bought it used in 1990 and sold it 10 years ago when I moved up to medium format. I could not find a 6x6 negative holder for it anywhere at the time. Maybe they are more common in Japan because the picture shows a complete kit. I replaced it with an Omega DII, used for 6x6 and 4x5 B&W.

    I loved this enlarger. I did do color on it some but really like the B&W I got off it. In fact, I'm still comparing my printing to it and wishing my DII condenser could produce the same quality. Maybe I need to get a diffusion enlarger too. If everything is working this should be a good enlarger. The downside is the fact that they are older (not as old as my early 1950 DII) and parts and supplies might be hard to get if needed.

    Brian
    Brian, thanks for the feedback. Now, since you're an Omega D2 user and perhaps so used to using it pretty much, I would like to ask you and/or any other Minolta users a few more questions:

    What was/is your experience on your old Minolta enlarger? How was/is the durability/stability of the enlarger's column design (compared to the Omega and other robust machines)? Did/does the head shake easily when you raised/raise it high? Also how was/is the alignment? Is it flexible?

  4. #4

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    Find out what kind of lamps it uses. If it requires the Xeon bulbs, (as in the Beseler/Minolta 45 color-head) you might want to pass as replacements are no longer made and are very difficult to find. Come to think of it,
    the Xeon bulbs were made in Japan so you might be able to track some down a little easier than most.
    "A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea." Man Ray

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Changeling1
    Find out what kind of lamps it uses. If it requires the Xeon bulbs, (as in the Beseler/Minolta 45 color-head) you might want to pass as replacements are no longer made and are very difficult to find. Come to think of it,
    the Xeon bulbs were made in Japan so you might be able to track some down a little easier than most.
    What company makes the "Xeon" bulbs? Do you know?

    Meanwhile I did a little research for the replacement of the light bulb, and Toshiba seems to make one. I'm not 100 percent sure about the size and the shape of the bulb, but it's also 100v-150W halogen lamp made for (old) enlargers and projectors, comfirmed by Toshiba's sales rep on the phone. It's priced about 9 bucks per lamp, which doesn't sound right though.

    Philips Japan doesn't seem to have this model in its catalogue according to someone at a shop.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by firecracker
    What company makes the "Xeon" bulbs? Do you know?

    Meanwhile I did a little research for the replacement of the light bulb, and Toshiba seems to make one. I'm not 100 percent sure about the size and the shape of the bulb, but it's also 100v-150W halogen lamp made for (old) enlargers and projectors, comfirmed by Toshiba's sales rep on the phone. It's priced about 9 bucks per lamp, which doesn't sound right though.

    Philips Japan doesn't seem to have this model in its catalogue according to someone at a shop.
    Also, there's been this problem that's spreading out all over the place:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthrea...illegalization

    It's affecting the market for light bulbs, too. Can you belive it? And within two more years, more items will vanish or simply not have any replacements with the same quality.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by firecracker
    Brian, thanks for the feedback. Now, since you're an Omega D2 user and perhaps so used to using it pretty much, I would like to ask you and/or any other Minolta users a few more questions:

    What was/is your experience on your old Minolta enlarger? How was/is the durability/stability of the enlarger's column design (compared to the Omega and other robust machines)? Did/does the head shake easily when you raised/raise it high? Also how was/is the alignment? Is it flexible?

    Firecraker

    As best as I can remember, I never had a problem with stability. The Minolta is not as big and heavy as my DII but it was rigid. I used it sitting on a bathroom counter (something I can't do with the DII) and never had a problem. I feel the Minolta is a well built unit and should work just fine.

    Brian

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by r-brian
    Firecraker

    As best as I can remember, I never had a problem with stability. The Minolta is not as big and heavy as my DII but it was rigid. I used it sitting on a bathroom counter (something I can't do with the DII) and never had a problem. I feel the Minolta is a well built unit and should work just fine.

    Brian
    I see. Thanks for the reply, Brian. You've been very helpful.

  9. #9

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    Just got some issues of old Darkroom magazine circa early 80's and there is a review for the Minolta color enlarger II. The list price for it was $380. It was only available as a dichroic enlarger. No B&W version available. It's a pretty much conventional, using regular quartz bulb with 3 dichroic filters. No Xenon strobe or anything.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chan Tran
    Just got some issues of old Darkroom magazine circa early 80's and there is a review for the Minolta color enlarger II. The list price for it was $380. It was only available as a dichroic enlarger. No B&W version available. It's a pretty much conventional, using regular quartz bulb with 3 dichroic filters. No Xenon strobe or anything.
    Thanks for the info. What's the "quartz" bulb by the way? You mean any other halogen bulb with two pins?

    Anyway since the last time I posted here, I've found out a couple of things.

    I called Konica-Minolta and asked about the bulb. The person at the technical support told me that this enlarger was basically manufactured and sold as a U.S. model even in the Japanese market (unlike LPL's new enlargers that come with different electrical settings for different markets), so that's why a GE bulb was suggested on its instruction book.

    I have to correct that the voltage for the bulb is 120V, instead of 100V which I wrote in the beginning of the thread.

    He said today Fuji Denkyu makes the same bulb. Old Monolta had odered it there basically, and it's manufactured in Japan.

    So, I called the number of Fuji Denkyu that he gave me and asked for the bulb. But I was told that it's only sold by units for the distributors, not the consumers like myself directly.

    So, if I wanted, I have to order 100 bulbs at the minimum.

    Each bulb is priced about 28 USD (or 3,000 yen), and that's a lot of money for a lot of bulbs! That's too much. And there's no single store that carries it domestically according to the person on the phone at Fuji Denkyu.

    Now I have a feeling Xenon is a name of the product by Xerox(?), which affiliates with a Fuji-named company. Correct me if I'm totally wrong because I'm not sure and don't know which "Fuji" it goes with. There are just so many Fuji-something companies, and I don't know their connections.

    So I thought maybe I could still get a GE bulb (or in case they accidentally have the Xenon bulb) somewhere locally, and I called the well-known import photo supply store in Tokyo. But their answer was that they no longer deal with (some of )GE or Philips bulbs due to the new regulation on product safety issues called PSE law (, which I set up a thread a couple of months ago to warn other photographers in Japan).

    So what I'm getting is that the guys at the stores don't even bother to look into this particular bulb any longer, meaning there's no support, other than the man at the Konica-Minolta tech support, who sounded old enough to be the only person (or one of a very few people) available to be able to answer the question(s) on the old Minolta products.

    Regarless, the only alternative for I can think of is to try other halogen bulbs, but they could be either brighter or darker depending on its voltage and wattage if they are not the same as the original.

    Since it's a halogen bulb, I don't want to risk too much on using a different wattage which could go out pretty quick if something isn't right in the setting.

    I found out Toshiba makes one with 100V-150W for unspecified old enlargers and projectors, and it's only 900 yen (about 7.50 USD) per bulb. This may be a good deal if it works.

    Or I can always order from B&H or some place in the U.S. if they sell it, but that's going to be just too much to add to my shopping list in the near future.

    I still haven't got the enlarger yet, and I'm just not so sure about getting one any more.

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