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  1. #1

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    coastar 35cx enlarger

    Anyone ever hear of a Coastar 35cx enlarger? There's a guy selling one on craigslist, he says make an offer. I can't find any info about one of these anywhere. Any ideas on what a fair offer would be?
    I'm interested in beginning to make prints from my 35mm and 120 black and white negatives that I process myself. Would pretty much any enlarger satisfy my needs? I'm not entirely concerned right now about printing the 120 negs at this point.
    Thanks,
    Jono

  2. #2

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    I'm not familiar with Coastar enlargers, but not too surpised that the made one. If you want something that you can grow with technically, a Beseler, Omega, or perhaps Durst would probably be a better choice. Enlargers are quite cheap to obtain now.

  3. #3

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    Coastar made (or at least sold) a bunch of photographic items in the 1980s (and probably before and after, too). My hunch is that the Coastar enlarger you mention was made by somebody else. My impression is that they weren't exactly catering to the high-end market, so it's probably a pretty basic enlarger, but I can't be positive of that. The model name suggests it's a 35mm-only enlarger. Even though you're not currently interested in enlarging your 120 negatives, you might do better to get something that's capable of handling them. OTOH, given the price of used enlargers right now, you could always get one that's likely to be junky and use it to learn with the intention of buying something better once you know enough to have some idea of what features you'll actually want.

    I notice you're in California, but the Craigslist ad specifies it's in New York. (Assuming the ad is the one that turns up on a Google search, along with this very thread!) This means you'll pay a lot for shipping -- probably $25 to $100, depending on the enlarger, how it's packed, and what carrier the seller uses. This could be more than the enlarger is worth. I wouldn't recommend spending more than about $25 for the enlarger and a similar amount for shipping, at least not given what I know and assume about the enlarger (that it's a low-end 35mm-only model). For comparison, I bought a Philips PCS130 with PCS150 color light source and controller for $50 with $24 shipping a couple of years ago. The Philips PCS150 can handle up to 6x7 MF film, supports color or VC paper using its color light source, and has handy features like a tilt head and fine-focus adjustment. I'm not trying to get you to buy a Philips necessarily; I'm just pointing out that an enlarger that's far from bottom-of-the-line can be had for under $100, so you shouldn't pay a lot for an obscure enlarger with unknown features or for a low-end enlarger.

    Finally, if you decide to buy this (or any other) enlarger, you should find out what comes with it. Does it have filters for VC paper (or a color head)? What brand, model, and focal length lens(es) does it have? Does it come with any other darkroom equipment (trays, tongs, developing tanks, safelights, etc.)? You can sometimes pick up good deals on complete darkroom "systems" with all of these things for $100-$200 on eBay. If you buy them separately, the little stuff adds up in price rather quickly. You should also find out what sort of bulbs it uses. Many enlargers use common and inexpensive bulbs, but some use obscure or expensive bulbs. (My Philips is among the latter class, unfortunately; this is its major failing, IMHO.)

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the responses.
    I guess I would prefer something nicer if I found it available cheap enough. I already have everything I need for developing negatives. I'm assuming all I need in addition to make prints is the enlarger with a lens, an easel, paper, trays and tongs.
    I am currently in California, but my parents live back in New York. Right now I'm working out here for a few months living in a house my company is providing and then I'll be driving back to New York before taking a several month long trip to South America. I could buy an enlarger out here, but then I'd have to bring it back with me and all the rest of my stuff. So I was thinking I'd pick one up back in New York while I'm home for the holidays and it will already be where it's going to end up being for a while.
    I think for the time being I'll wait until I see something with a more recognizable name like a Beseler or Omega to turn up cheap.
    Thanks for the advice and info!

  5. #5

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    A problem with "off-brand" equipment like this is finding parts. Even Durst which is a good enlarger had a miserable support network here in the states.
    Omega, Beseler are the two major brands of enlargers here. Both companies made everything from starter kits = to the Coastar to pro units. A large variety of parts is still around new or used.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  6. #6

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    In addition to the items you mention, you'll need a way to wash your prints (holding them under running water gets old fast) and paper developer (you can use the same stop bath and fixer you use for film, but once you use it, use it for just one type of product -- don't use the same batch of chemicals for both film and paper). A safelight isn't strictly required but is extremely useful.

    If you travel or move a lot, you might be interested in a compact enlarger. Some even fold up into suitcases. Most of these are 35mm-only models, though, and they're relatively rare. I've seen them pop up on eBay from time to time.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694 View Post
    you'll need a way to wash your prints (holding them under running water gets old fast)
    Can't you just put the wash try in a sink with running water on it?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jono1515 View Post
    Can't you just put the wash try in a sink with running water on it?
    If the tray actually holds water, you're likely to get very little water turnover on the print itself when you do this. As I understand it, you want the water to move over the print as it's being washed. You could drill some small holes in a tray so that it can't hold water for long, then let tap water run on it. That'll get you some water movement over the print. Of course, you then won't be able to use that particular tray for anything else; it'll be a dedicated print washer.



 

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