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Thread: Enlarger choice

  1. #11

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    hi all, sorry for my late response while i didn't expect the forum is so helpful comparing with local forum. so many thanks to you all giving me many informative advices. special thanks to Ian C for a long message which gave me idea to rethink the necessary of dichro enlarger head. i still haven't decided which to go yet. but before i make any conclusion, i would better tell you all about my background and customized advice would be definitely helpful for my decision.
    i take both 35 and 120 with 6x6 and 6x7. though larger format like 4x5 and 8x10 gears become more affordable for amateur like me in this digital century, i don't see i would get into it in near future while i still have a lot to learn from 35 and 120 and they are relatively easy to manage in taking street photos, that is my major interest. i take 99% in b/w and the 1% color that would go to photo shop for printing. for b/w, i do washing at home. that requires minimum setup although temp. control is a bit difficult in hong kong. however, having a printing process at home is my dream. i occasionally had chance in experiencing b/w photo printing so i have little knowledge in printing process which is learnt by myself. previously, i usually used graded paper with white light enlarger head. knowing that graded paper becomes difficult to find in hong kong, so color head may solve this constraint.
    about my space, it's a small room as you all can think of how small hong kong is. that room was my bed room which is not longer used now and most importantly, that room has air-conditioner installed. i plan to keep the things there and use the free space ( ~ 5 x 6 sq.ft free space) for holding enlarger and processing tanks. what my concerns are:

    1) build a light tight curtain to stop the sunlight coming from the two large windows.
    2) no water source can go into the room unless another 3000USD is spent, so i am thinking the possibility of having two containers (2-bath) and each of them has adequate volume of clear water for the rinsing step.
    3) minimum modification as the room may be changed back to bed room one day.

    when most of you tell me about how cheap and how easy darkroom equipment can be found in the America/Europe, it doesn't happen in hong kong. although the market no longer grows, the price including second hand market is still high. recently, i came across a used Durst M805 which is color head with light density control. That's expensive one which costs me ~900USD (out of my budget in fact). what do you all think about that enlarger? is this price reasonable?

    again, thanks to you all!
    Eric

  2. #12

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    There's a thread here on APUG entitled "darkroom portraits," IIRC, that may give you some ideas about layout, blacking out windows, etc. It's a long thread and I don't claim to have read the whole thing, though.

    Blacking out windows is certainly possible. You'll probably use a combination of a solid block of something (styrofoam, wood, whatever) and a black cloth or plastic sheet.

    Water is more of an issue. You can develop film in a kitchen or bathroom, and just load the tank in the darkroom, so that's not a big deal. For making prints, though, running water is very helpful. As an interim setup, I used a sinkless darkroom, and I was constantly running prints from the developing trays in the darkroom out into my laundry room so I could put them in a print washer. Depending on the layout of the rest of your home, you might be able to get by with a similar arrangement, but my experience was that it was a hassle. You could also hold prints temporarily in a dishpan of water, but resin-coated (RC) papers delaminate after a while in water, so you'd probably want to hold prints there for just a few minutes to an hour or so. Using tanks of water might be an acceptable workaround.

    Temperature control may not be as important as you think, especially for paper. There are developers that are formulated to work at high temperatures, so you may be able to use one of them, if necessary. You might be able to use a more conventional developer even at significantly above the usual optimal 20C temperature -- say, 30C or 35C. Temperature control is more important for film, since film development must be terminated before the process is chemically complete, and this time depends on the temperature. Cold or hot water baths do a good job of this.

    An eBay search on "Durst M805" didn't turn up anything for me, and I'm unfamiliar with that specific model, so I can't comment on it specifically. Certainly very few used 35mm or MF enlargers would command that sort of price in the US, although some exotic LF enlargers might (I'm less familiar with that market). If US$900 is typical of enlarger prices in Hong Kong, it might be worth disregarding the advice that most people have given about buying locally. I don't know what it would cost to ship an enlarger from the US or Europe to Hong Kong, but I suspect it'd be well under that value, at least if you select slow ground/sea shipment. At the very least, it might be worth asking a few eBay sellers about shipping options.

  3. #13

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    I don't know how the used market is in Hong Kong, but I got an Omega C760 enlarger for $25 at a local thrift shop.

    At any given time, there's at least one available at the many thrift shops I frequent. Sometimes they sit for a long time, and are marked down.

  4. #14

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    hi, i start searching on ebay for any possibility. here is a beseler 23C III XL which costs ~500USD incl shipping cost if i could get the bid. anyone can give me advice? my question is, can it be aligned easily? and is it easy to get used/new bulb and MF carrier? thanks!!

    http://cgi.ebay.com.hk/ws/eBayISAPI....d=p3286.c0.m14

  5. #15
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    It is an excellent choice. I used an older version of that enlarger in a darkroom about the same size as you have with no water. The price seems a bit high, but it is nearly new and they are willing to ship internationally. I'd suggest looking at the completed auctions on ebay to find out what an appropriate price is (next to search window, click advanced search, then one of the click boxes is for completed auctions). I sold mine locally for about $150 with several negative carriers. Carriers are pretty easy to get.

  6. #16

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    Price is high, compared to my location outside Chicago where they go for <$100-$200 usually with a bunch of other dkrm accessories. BUT that one is very clean & new looking.
    Alignment is not easy,because the only adjustment is at the lens stage, side tilt has a thumb screw & groove and fore & aft is beneath the lens stage with a screw & stop nut. These are clear in the first two pictures.
    The negative stage isn't adjustable.
    Millions have been used though, with no problems.
    My concern would be how they pack the condensers They need to be removed from the head(easy) and packed so they don't chip or crack. For lack of a base board you could mount it on a countertop as was done with this one or make a new baseboard from MDF or plywood.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  7. #17

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    Ebay or similar is a reasonable bet, and in honesty an enlarger would have to be pretty whacked up or fundamentally poor for re-alignment to be a huge deal if you spend a little while reading about it. A decent ruler, a scalpel, a focus finder and a bit of black film are the tools you need to fix this. Hi tech stuff. Watch out for shipping costs, and if moving anything yourself watch out for powerful springs if it's a larger device tht's had the head removed. I wouldn't want to catch a headless Devere 504 in the chin if the column locks slipped. If that happened, I'd consider myself very lucky to wake up at all!

    As mentioned, you need to decide on format and print size. You also need to decide on light source.

    Given the choice available now, I'd hold out for something like a Devere 504 (think 5x7 Besseler, Omega in US I think?)

    It's a chunky, bomb-proof professional enlarger that takes a variety of heads and will print up to 5x4 film format. (obv 5x7 for a 5x7 model!) Depending on exact model, print sizes will alter, but a UK spec bench top 504 will happily give you a 20x24" print from 5x4 sheet with a 150mm lens. I like to use a 5x4 glass carrier (some hate this idea as it can be a dust nightmare). I often use just the AN part of the glass on top with a filed out metal half below - best of both worlds!

    Light source is hugely emotive. In brief: Condensers will give you big contrast, and show you all the dust while they're at it. Very popular in the 60's. Diffusers give marginally less contrast, but are far more forgiving to work with. Cold Cathodes are revered as the 'light of God' by many who are happy to use graded (not VC paper). There are VC cold cathodes, but expensive and rare. Cold cathodes in general may not be a good place to start unless you are prepared to really work at your neg quality from the word go. Colour heads are automatically diffuser type. Colour heads can be used to control VC paper very efficiently. Some papers may not hit full grade 5 with a colour head. Big deal - you may never notice this.

    Personally I think getting the most powerful light source practical is the way forward, but I print a lot. I have an Ilford MG500 setup on top of one 504 and a cold cathode on the other (with spare colour head under the bench). The Ilford head has two 300W halogens inside it and socks the light out. I lose a stop or so by using a bigger diffuse box per format than required. The MG500 head is something I would recommend to anyone - it is just quite simply fantastic. It can be mounted on a range of other enlargers in the size category.

    If a decent timer is included it's a major plus; and for anything much other than the most basic condenser there'll be quite a heavy transformer box potentially too.

    Make your decisions about formats and available space, and then I'd buy the best enlarger you can get in there. Bigger heavier enlargers make better prints cuz they don't wobble! I'd go colour head or multigrade depending how much you have to spend/how much of a hurry you are in. Colour heads while flexible can be a pain if you ever get into split grading IMHO.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by eric.tung View Post
    hi, i start searching on ebay for any possibility. here is a beseler 23C III XL which costs ~500USD incl shipping cost if i could get the bid. anyone can give me advice? my question is, can it be aligned easily? and is it easy to get used/new bulb and MF carrier? thanks!!

    http://cgi.ebay.com.hk/ws/eBayISAPI....d=p3286.c0.m14
    Its is high. Its missing the baseboard. It sounds like the shipping cost, based on the figure above is $200? My guess is a 23C could be found for less than $100 with some patience in searching. Finding someone who will properly pack and ship to you location may be more of a problem.

    JMHO
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  9. #19
    Wade D's Avatar
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    If you can find a Lucky or Hansa enlarger locally it would be a great start. There should be a lot of them in your area and they will do up to 6x6 cm.

  10. #20
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    If you want a new enlarger the Bessler Printmaker 35 kit at Freestyle is your best deal. I love my Bessler 23C!
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

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