Durst M800 Condenser Enlarger Questions
I am a new member of this group and have a few questions for you. I have mostly up to now used 35mm and am quite experienced in darkroom work using a Durst M305 condenser with a Nikon 50mm lens.
I have recently bought an M800 enlarger and it is built like a tank! Is it an ok machine? Anyway, I have the standard Unicon 105 condenser and a Unicon 50. Unfortunately, my new medium format camera is 6x6 so really I would need the Unicon 85 and an 80mm lens, I suppose.
I have no medium format lenses at the moment to try. Should I hang on and get 85/ 80mm combination or would a 100mm or 105mm lens make reasonable sized square format enlargements on the baseboard using the 105 condenser I already have?
If I used an 80mm lens with the 105 condenser would I get some problem with vignetting?
Also, the size of multigrade filters I would need for this enlarger cost more than the enlarger cost, I have discovered! Maybe I should just get another enlarger entirely?
I am a little confused about the vignetting because LPL make an enlarger (c6600) which only has 6x6 condensers fitted with no 35mm one available but claim it can be used for 35mm too. Do they mean to use an 80mm lens to do 35mm too?
Thanks in advance
Last edited by David Jones; 09-29-2009 at 07:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I'm not familiar with the Durst machines but you should have no problem using the 105 condenser with an 80mm lens.
Vignetting will occur only if you use a smaller format condenser with a larger negative.
Using a 105mm lens with a 6X6 neg will give you a slightly smaller print for a given height, IE:if the head's at 18" for a 105 the print would be 8X10 and with an 80 just slightly larger.
Many people use a 105 for 6X6 because you're using the sharpest part of the lens, the center.
Thanks for that, John. Are you a motorcyclist yourself? I have a '67 Triumph Trophy 650.
As a long time user, I would say that the M800 is an exellent enlarger. Using an 80mm lens for 6x6 format with the Unicon 105 condenser will make your image a bit less bright, but should not cause noticably uneven illumination. As you noted, the Unicon 85 would be a better match.
The main problem presented by starting off with an M800 now is the lack of easily available accessories, of which there are a wide variety. Ebay used to be a source, but seems to have dried up the last few years. Note that accessories for the M700 will also fit the M800. Lensboards are easy to find; Unicon condenser sets less so, and Setibox diffusion mixing boxes [my preferred] are getting hard to find.
VC filters should not be that expensive if you shop used. You can use the 4.75 inch square size in the filter tray or under-the-lens. The preferred dichro color head is the Cls 80, although the Cls 70 for the M700 and at least one earlier unit will fit as well.
When Durst pulled out of the USA consumer market some years ago, a NY company bought all of the US warehoused parts and accessories. I don't remember the name of the company off hand, but I can probably find it for you if you want it and get back to me. They run a website with an extensive inventory of new Durst parts and accessories still available for older enlargers including the M800, but they are a bit pricy.
Reference to supplier of Durst parts and accessories in the USA:
To say they are "pricy" would be my understatement. However, Durst in Europe has not supported for the M800 for 25+ years, so you buy where you can.
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I can also add that M800 is gorgeous enlarger.
You can find all your necessary parts for it if you have bit of patience.
It took me a few years to find Unicon 105 with right price (of course I wasn't looking every day for it!)
Do your search for both: Durst M800 and Unicon 85. Few other Durst enlargers from that vintage used same condensers (like DA900)
There is another Durst accessories dealer:
Thanks for the answers. It is certainly a sturdy beast. As an extreme test I matched my 50mm lens plus 35mm neg with the 105 condenser and there was no visible uneven lumination although I haven't tried printing yet. I have the 50 condenser to use with this lens as mentioned earler. I missed an 85 on eBay recently but I found one in a shop here in England but he is asking £49 so may hang on. The whole enlarger with 50 and 105 condensers ended up costing me only £28. On ebay UK 105s and 50s go for less than £10.