4x5 or 6x9 enlarger?
I've been finding my feet with a hand-me-down 6x6 enlarger and I'm really enjoying lith printing in particular. I am becoming a bit frustrated with the quality of the ancient machine that I'm using and more so by the fact that the 6x9 and 6x7 negs whose composition I so carefully composed are having to be cropped!
I've been looking for a secondhand 6x9 enlarger on the web but had a couple of questions:
There seem to be a number of people on the web who recommend a 4x5 enlarger over a 6x9 as it's likely to offer more even lighting of the neg. Is this folklore or reality?
I can see the benefits of a 4x5 enlarger as neg-size fever may well strike and I'll buy a large format camera at some point in the future but just how big are these enlargers compared with my 6x6? I've seen a De Vere 504 for sale which looks like a great enlarger but will it fill my rather cramped dark room?
Thanks for your assistance
You should get a 4x5. You will get even light for your 6x6, 6x9 and the day you will jump to 4x5, you will be set.
Devere enlargers are among the best, sturdy and a joy to use. Nowadays they are not expensive anymore. Go for it, you will not regret it.
Forgot the size issue...
It will change from your 6x6 for sure ! Make space for it !
My best advice may not be so good...
I have two enlargers: One 6x6, and one 5x7". The 6x6 was all I needed for may years, until the LF bug bit me... The Durst 138S cost me shipping plus NOK 1000 (about $130). Three lenses (150 and 180mm Rodagon, and a 4 1/4" Wray "Supar") cost another $80, and shipping a complete set of condensers from Australia cost $200. Total cost for that beast is less than the 6x6 Opemus 6 cost me new.
Having the ability to make enlargements from any size film from half-frame to 13x18cm? Priceless. And the Durst 139S is the largest enlarger that will fit under the ceiling in a normal room...
In a pinch I could even set up the Opemus on the table of the Durst!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I started with a Beseler 23C. It has good even illumination all the way out to 6X9. I then got a Beseler 4X5 with all the neg holders I need. The lens boards are interchangeable between the two. I find now I use the 4X5 enlarger for pretty much everything from 35 to 4X5. FWIW -the 4X5 enlarger is a LOT bigger than the 23C (bigger footprint and height). Make sure you have room in your darkroom.
"I'm still developing"
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Is the Devere you are looking at bench or wall mounting or freestanding? The important thing is how much headroom do you have to the ceiling - i.e. will it fit? Also, is your bench strong enough to take an enlarger that weighs as much as you do?
If it fits, then get the 4x5. It just gives you more options, all else being equal. It was made for Pro labs so is built like a tank. Make sure it comes with all accessories: negative holders, light boxes/condensers, power supply, etc. as these can sometimes be expensive and often difficult to find individually.
Good luck, Bob.
I also recommend going for a 4x5" enlarger, if you have the space. They are sturdier than smaller enlargers, which will be a benefit for all the formats you enlarge with it.
I'm not familiar with the Devere, but it seems that as soon as you are looking at enlargers that go beyond 6x7, there isn't all that much increase in size compared to some 4x5 enlargers. In other words, I've seen a lot of very compact 6x6 and even 6x7 enlargers, but no compact 6x9 enlargers (I don't consider the 23C compact)
In fact, I think an Omega D2 without the XL girder is not much larger than the 23C. I don't have actual dimensions, so verify if necessary. And of course, when trying to fit in a fixed location, 1 inch could make the difference.
My personal experience:
I used a 23c for years. When I started shoot some B&W 4x5 I searched Ebay until I found a D2V with all the boards and lenses that I needed for the 35mm 6x7 and 4x5 formats that I shoot. I packed the 23c away in the garage and used the D2 exclusively until I started missing the swinging lens and the smaller, more gainly size of the Beseler. Now I have them both set up and use the 23c for 35mm and rollfilm and the D2 exclusively for 4x5. Being primarily a 35mm and rollfilm photographer, I use the 23c the vast majority of the time and, if there were a nearby public darkroom with 4x5 capability, I would save myself the space of the D2 and all of it's accessories.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
I think you should go for the 4x5 Enlarger, I some years back bought a Durst L1200 for next to nothing at a Govenment Auction, it was a wonderfull Deal. I remember removing my old 6x6 LPL 5700, and installing it in its place, the nice thing about the L1200 is that it can be torn down and put back to-gether in bits which is how I got it in my first Darkroom as it was quite small.
A 4x5 enlarger gives you better lighting and are built stronger removing the vibrations from causing problems, the lighting is more even and you can usally print bigger as well due to the increase in working height.