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  1. #1
    digiconvert's Avatar
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    What do you get in a 'better' enlarger.

    I have 'rescued' a colour head for my Opemus enlarger from the college skip and for the price of a bulb have a functionong colour / VC enlarger. It does me fine and Meopta are bombproof (just in case many other parts of the defunct enlarger are stored around the house as spares ) . I was just wondering what I would get (Other than formats bigger than 66) in a more expensive enlarger .

    Cheers CJB
    Hmm- Wonder if she'd notice if I bought that :)

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Nothing really.

    Except with many De Vere's and Fujimoto's and probably some US enlargers you get ease of focussing and height adjustment, with front controls or motors.

    Ian

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    You usually get more accessory options--different types of neg carriers (glass, open, with masking blades, etc.), different heads, condensers for specific focal lengths of enlarging lens and formats, long columns, and maybe attachments for non-enlarging functions like copy work or slide duplicating.

    A feature I like on some better enlargers is a tilting negative stage, so you can tilt the easel to correct converging verticals and then tilt the neg to bring it back into focus using the Scheimpflug principle.

    A very fancy feature is a closed loop enlarging system that measures actual light output and filtration (for color) and adjusts exposure time and filtration for greater consistency from one print to the next. I use a Metrolux timer for B&W, and with a cold light head this produces much more consistency.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  4. #4
    noseoil's Avatar
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    Depends what you want to print. With a larger format enlarger, you can have a choice of different lenses which can affect print quality to some extent. I use a medium format lens for 35mm enlargements, because I like the look of a larger lens's "sweet spot" with the 35mm film format. Not a right or wrong, just what I like to print with for 35mm. A bigger negative needs a bigger enlarger, lens, paper and of course, more money. As long as you have a solid platform, a decent lens and a parallel lens / easel relationship, you can print most things well. As Ian has mentioned, there are some features on a more spendy enlarger which can make it easier to focus, faster to set enlargements, more fun or more confusing to work. Since I'm an amateur, it doesn't really matter to me.

    I do enjoy the color head on my old Omega D5XL for VC papers, but don't use it too much as I'm happy with what I have in film development 90% of the time. The solid column is a plus for rigidity, but then again, the stereo can affect print quality somewhat, as the speakers are below the platform. Perhaps I should pour a concrete table for a work surface to get better prints? Best, tim

  5. #5

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    As David says, you mainly get more accessories and fancy features -- fine-focus knobs, tilting heads, built-in color analyzers, negative carrier options, etc.

    More expensive enlargers also tend to be more sturdily built, which can improve image quality by reducing vibrations. I'm not sure I'd call this a feature of more expensive enlargers, though; it might be fairer to say that lack of this feature is a deficiency of cheap enlargers.

    I'm not sure where your Meopta falls on any of these scales. If you've still got a well-stocked photo store near you, or if there's a photo equipment show that comes to your area, you could try dropping by and checking out the more expensive enlargers just to see what they offer that yours doesn't.

  6. #6

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    You get precission.

    Try to move negative carrier in Meopta enlarger and see how much it "wobble". Also look at negative inserts in carrier and how they fit into carrier. Then, look at vertical/horizontal movement scales. On my Magnifax scales are painted with so thick lines that you can easilly make error of few degrees. There are stops for vertical/horizontal zero position. Set enlarger to zero position (until head can't move anymore) and look if enlarger is aligned...

    Things like that...
    Bosnia... You don't have to be crazy to live here, but it helps...
    No things in life should be left unfinis

  7. #7

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    IMHO, the only thing that you get with "better" enlargers is more things that can break.

    A selection of accessories are not neccesarily only in the realm of "better" enlargers as even pre-Cambrian Elwoods and retro Omegas have a lot of optional stuff available.

    A "better" enlarger, IMHO is one thats aligned, dosen't wobble or fry your negatives, and has the best enlarging lens you can afford.

    It can be any make or model. The rest is up to you!

  8. #8
    digiconvert's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments - agreed the Meopta is not precision engineered but it does hold the negs steady and produces a good steady light and I have Nikkor lenses . Seems good for me so I'll keep on saving for something else :-)
    Hmm- Wonder if she'd notice if I bought that :)

  9. #9
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    It's all a question of degree. Of all the "better" features mentioned here, the only one I would really rate is the closed-loop metering system, which only comes into play with color. I have used countless enlargers both professionally and as an enthusiast, I am perfectly happy with my Magnifax 4. The only way to totally eliminate movement when inserting a carrier is to have vast mass - if vibration dies away within a second or so of touching an enlarger, where's the problem? Yes, you have to be a little careful to make sure the masks sit securely, again not a problem.

    To put this in context, try using a really lousy enlarger - one that has uneven light which cannot be corrected by adjustment, one that judders like hell during focusing, one where the focusing creeps between adjustment and exposure, one where the lamphouse cooling is inadequate and the negs pop in glassless carriers and fry in glass-type carriers, one where there is no pressure on the carrier glasses, making it impossible to get rid of Newton's rings, or one which is bent and has no facility for alignment. You will find the supposed shortcomings of something like a Magnifax fade to nothing!

  10. #10
    MattKing's Avatar
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    I once worked with a set of Durst autofocus enlargers in a busy darkroom for a large daily newspaper. As long as those enlargers were kept maintained, they were great for getting prints out fast!

    Matt

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