Devere 504 Vs. Omega Advice
I need some advice about a printing project I'm going to start next week.
I'm going to print a portfolio of around 30 11x14 & 16x20 Black and White prints on FB paper from 6x4.5 negatives.
I work at a University and spent the last week using a Omega Enlarger trying different paper and developer combinations in order to get back into printing and expand my options down the road. The problem is that I don't think that the enlarger has ever been aligned and the amount of dust on the condenser side of the lens tells me it probally hasn't been used in a really long time. I had to use a 135 mm lens because I couldn't find the correct setup to mount the 80mm lens.
I was recently recieved a Devere 504 Wall mount enlarger with a Ilford Head.
Assuming this thing is operational would I be better off trying to set this thing up. I don't have a manual either so I'm not really sure how to set it up.
In other words will my printing experience be better, and will it be easier to acheave consistiant results with the Devere 504. (Better Prints). I know my technical ablities will reflect my prints, but I'd rather not have to wrestle with an enlarger when I have the Devere sittinig in my livingroom. But on the other hand I'll have to build some sort of movable cart or wall in the darkroom to mount the thing to.
The guy who gave it to me said the Dever is one of the best enlargers you can get, but I really have no idea how it compairs to the Omega.
I believe its a Omega 4x5 enlarger with an adjustable condenser.
I have been using a rental darkroom with and number of different enlargers and the one I like the best is has a Ilford head. So assuming the Devere 504/Ilford combo works and you can set up a darkroom space at home I'd go that route.
I've used a lot of enlarger over the years and nothing beats a De Vere, they might be equalled but never bettered.
It seems to me that you are to a certain extent comparing apples to oranges.
An Omega 4x5 enlarger in reasonable (i.e. undamaged) condition is capable of very high quality results. They are also robust, easily maintained, and convenient to use.
By all reports, the Devere equipment is top of the line, so I would expect similar if not better results.
If you were asking about which enlarger to buy and set up yourself, my sense is that most in your part of the world would say as long as they are in reasonable shape, the Devere is preferable.
The difference, however, is that you are comparing an enlarger that is not set up, which you intend to use in a room not configured for darkroom use, vs. an enlarger that is set up in an operating darkroom.
I would base my decision on whether I could get the Omega cleaned, aligned, functioning properly and equipped with the proper lens, negative carrier and (possibly) condensor set. I would then ask the same questions about the Devere. If there is a real difference in time lines, you probably want to go for the quickest option.
Even if you decide to work with the Omega for this project, it sounds like it would be an excellent idea to retain the Devere for the future, if it is in good shape.
PS Ilford has manuals on their website for some of their multigrade heads. Harry Taylor's classic enlargers site and KHB photografix's site both have oodles of info about Omega enlargers, and KHB also has a Devere Enlarger resource too.
Tim, it really depends upon your time scale
If you want to print a body of work within the next few weeks - then use the darkroom kit already set up - put your effort into the prints
If you are not anybodies time line then set up your own darkroom with the DeVere and use it instead - but it might take longer than you expect
It can be quite an unbelievably frustrating experience to print on one Enlarger only to find you need a completely different set of settings when you transfer to another machine.
In addition, there is something amazingly satisfying about having a Darkroom of your own and having spent years using University/communal/other peoples darkrooms, I would find it very hard to go back
ps – the wall you plan on mounting the DeVere to needs to be rock solid – so as the Enlarger exposes a print you can move around the darkroom and not have to worry about blurry prints
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I've been setting up my own darkroom for a little while now. I used De Vere enlargers at college and I now have a 504 of my own. They really are fantastic, and quite easy to set up. However, if you are a little unsure as to setting up, I'm sure you could just as easliy give the Omega a good clean and sort out it's levels and be ready to go. A final thought. I'm London based but spend quite a bit of time in NYC, and from looking round the De Vere seems more popular in the UK than over there. Spares and enlargers seem to come up less on ebay US than they do here. Perhaps it would be best to use the Omega just in terms of support.
Not that I've ever heard of De Vere's breaking! They really are the business!
I spent years printing on Omegas in newspaper darkrooms and had one at home as well. Since getting a 504, the Omega sits under a cover as an emergency spare. I find the 504 controls for raising the head and focussing superior in ease of use compared to the Omega which required some gymnastics on big enlargements. The Devere is used for 6x6 to 4x5 with 35 being printed on a V35 Focomat.
Both are workhorses and will need minimal maintenance 'cept for bulbs.
Thanks Everybody for the reply's.
I'm at a wierd point in my life. I may be moving at the end of the summer, but I really don't know yet. I rent two rooms in an Apt. and one of them could be turned into a darkroom. I think at this point I'm going to focus on printing with the omega and improving my technical skills and hold off on trying to set up a Darkroom of my own. I've given myself until the end of August to print this thing.