4x5 enlarger recommendation?
I'm starting a search for a second-hand 4x5 or maybe 5x7 enlarger since I recently got hold of a Super Graphic, my first LF flutter.
I've got no idea about the relative merits of the various makes, and also have a couple of additional things I'd want out of a LF enlarger, so I thought I'd ask around. Note that I am in the UK, so that probably constrains the responses somewhat.
Firstly, my current enlarger goes to 6x6, so I'd like a second enlarger to be able to handle other MF formats as well as the LF. So I need something which either has the right masks/carriers, or for which these are easy to find.
Secondly, I use RH Designs f-stop timers, so I would have to be able to use that with any new enlarger.
And thirdly I'm in the UK, so even if shipping from US were possible, I'd likely have voltage problems.
Price constraints - I have a psychological limit of around £500, but recognise that I might have to vary that to get a good one, but I'm definitely not in the £1000 or more market.
I probably just about have space for a floor-standing model, but given price constrainst above, will probably be better off with a benchtop version.
Anyone got any suggestions?
Last edited by ITD; 10-05-2008 at 05:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.
My personal recommendation would be a De Vere. I haven't used any other manufacturers models, but the De Veres' are very well built. Very solid, very precise, and having the head positioning and focus controlled by wheels attached to the baseboard makes focussing a breeze, especially if you are doing big enlargements - no reaching above your head to try and find the focussing knob.
Many come up on the auction site, both 504s and 507s, with a variety of heads; parts and negative masks are easily available, both second-hand and new. Prices vary quite a lot, but in the range £200 - £500. A lot will depend on location, as they are usually pickup only (but most enlargers of this size would be, given the likely cost of transport). I picked up my 507 for under £200.
Though they are big, robust, and pretty heavy, I have managed to move a floor-standing 507 by myself, and it all fitted in the back of a Laguna, so you don't necessarily need a van to move one. Another thing to consider on size, is the height of these beasts. A floor-standing De Vere is nearly 8ft tall (total design height 94"), with the wall-mounted and bench models, you have more flexibility on the height, if I remember correctly, the column is around 4.5ft in height (I will check this later for you, if you need an accurate height).
RH Designs do a cable to use their timers with the De Vere transtabs.
Last edited by snallan; 10-05-2008 at 06:35 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: More details
"You don't need eyes to see, you need vision" - Maxi Jazz
My recommendation is for the Durst models; the reasons are the same as Steve's for the DeVere. Durst comes up for sale a little more often. You won't go wrong with either. Both are expensive but will last a lifetime of heavy use.
Another vote for DeVere.
My 504 cost me £500 with 4 lenses in lens panels and 3 neg carriers, it was a private sale.
The 24volt 250watt halogen lamp, I get replacements from my local electrical wholesaler, cost about £9 so I keep a spare on the shelf.
I purchased a 6x6 neg carrier second hand £20 and a 6x9 neg carrier new £60 from Odesey and all bits are available from them.
Mine is a 1975 machine and is still as solid as the day it was made even after having spent 30 years in a pro lab.
I may be wrong but belive the Durst is now obsolite and have no idea where you may get spares.
I chose the DeVere as I find the front of base board ajustments a real benifit, I suffer from arthritus in the neck and shoulders and wonder how I managed for so long without it.
I don't know where you are in the UK, but I do know that there are some seriously cheap 5x4 enlargers on the auction site regularly. One thing you may or may not know is that you can choose to view items for sale in distance order with the nearest first. It's an option in the dropdown menu at the top of the listing and is invaluable when looking for something that is collection only.
Originally Posted by ITD
I bought a wallmount 5x4 once, but I've never been able to use it as it is just too big and heavy for my plasterboard walls. Even luckier was the fact that it had the special extra long column! :rolleyes:
Edit: Just remembered that Secondhand Darkroom Supplies have a couple of 5x4s (inc deVere and an LPL) in your price range and are prepared to post at cost.
Last edited by Peter Black; 10-05-2008 at 03:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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I don't think any of the 4x5 enlargers were poor quality. I would check ebay.uk and other suppliers in your area and see what brands are popular. I have 2 Omega 4x5s, but they are popular in the US. If I were in the UK I'd look for a Durst or DeVere. But really if the price is right, any of the popular brands will make a fine enlarger.
Another nod for the DeVere. I use a bench 504 with multigrade head and its an absolute joy to use, the base board controls are a great asset and these machines are built to last. They are rock solid.
Check auction sites such as Ebay and/or private sales for there are some real bargains to be had especially in the current climate.
Take a look at Second Hand Darkroom Supplies, they usually have a good selection of used 5x4 enlargers.
As other people have said, ebay is your best bet for picking up a bargain if you are willing to travel to collect.
I bought a LPL 7452 off there for £200, I was gobsmacked when I saw it here for £2999!!
Thanks for all the suggestions. I looked at SDS but there was quite an array of stuff for sale - what's the difference between a 'varicon' and a 'dichromat' for example?
I felt burned by a previous purchase from them (which was too small to make a great deal about at the time) so I'm instinctively wary of them. I'd prefer to try an ebay sale or somewhere else before paying an overhead to them...I'd at least like to know more about the real value of what I'm buying before paying anything to SDS.
The Dichromat enlarger(s) on that website, have a colour diffused head, The varicon enlarger has a condensor head. I would suggest you will be better off in the long run with a diffused head instead of a condesnsor head, but that is your call.
I have used both of the bench Dichromat models shown in the site. The Cheaper one is the oldest one and is obviously priced accordingly, the later one is the same model as my own, but mine is the free standing one with the drop table.
If you can, ensure that you get negative mask inserts for the sizes of film you use. These enlargers, or at least the Mark IV, have a negative stage which has slip in aluminium inserts for 35mm, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 4x5". There is also a set of glass inserts as well, but I hardly ever use them myself unless doing humongous enlargements.
I don't think there was one readily available for the 645 format. I couldn't find one available in Australia so I had some steel plates laser cut expressly for that format, as well as another set for my Horizon panoramic 35mm camera.
Using 35mm on these enlargers requires you to have a reversed bell shaped insert, which enables the film to be close to the lens for focusing. With 4x5" you need a flat plate lens holder and you will slide the lens through and hold it in place with a threaded retaining ring (generally).
Possibly the best combination of lenses for the DeVere 504 is a 50mm, 100/105mm and a 150mm lens. With these three lenses you are covered for any format between 35mm and 4x5".
Whilst the 100/105 length is a bit long for the shorter medium formats, it will allow you to enlarge any format from 645 up to 6x9. The extremely long bellows on these enlargers, means you can safely enlarge smaller formats with a longer than normal lens with ease.
You can find quite a few shorter enlarging lenses to cover 4x5", but I do believe the best coverage and also in helping to reduce corner fall-off, is obtained with a 150 lens.
The extremely long bellows on the DeVere enlargers is one of their best points. With this feature you can use the 150 or a smaller lens, to get quite small enlargements from 35mm. It is possible to do same size prints that are not contact prints if you so desire.
Unbelievable enlarging situations are handled with absolute ease, when using a DeVere.
Last edited by Mick Fagan; 10-05-2008 at 07:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.