Feasability of a single-size enlarger
Alright, so it's hypothetical situation time. Let's say I shoot 8x10 and want to make enlarged prints from my negatives. And let's say I'm really only interested in making 16x20 prints from my 8x10 negatives. Wouldn't it then make sense to build what amounts to a single-size enlarger to satisfy that need? Once could build a full-featured enlarger. Or buy one of those enormous Durst bohemouths. But if you're really only interested in making one size print, why bother? A single-size enlarger, be it vertical or horizontal, strikes me as having the freedom to be quite a lot simpler in design and construction than an enlarger that must be capable of adapting to myriad negative sizes and magnifications.
I'm wondering if there's really any reason to not build an enlarger in this configuration. True, people change and with them their preferences for print size, but let's just assume for now that for a period of five years or so, I really only want to make 16x20 prints from my 8x10 negatives.
Thoughts? Ideas for construction of something like this?
Hmm, ever intend to crop?
Practically, you could use your camera and a cold light back with the proper neg carrier set up on a copy stand or a sturdy tripod to make such a thing.
Alternatively a simple box of the right dimensions with a lens and light source in the right places hung on a wall bracket over the work surface. Projectors can be very simple.
Of course you have to consider how the cost of a good enlarger has dropped lately. Buy one now, use it and take care of it and later when they are hard to find and in demand by latecomers to the art of analog you can sell it for more than you got it for.
My questions would be the same as Gary's. I find that even though I try to compose on the ground glass there are times that I see the image in a different way once I am printing. So cropping although limited does occur at times.
Along the lines of an enlarger, you might check with Michael Mutmansky. He converted a Durst 138 (5X7 enlarger) to an 8X10 enlarger. This can be easily accomplished by opening the upper bellows plate opening and building a neg carrier (the AN glass can be obtained from Focal Point). Michael's enlarger incorporates an Aristo 10X10 cold light head. However, I believe that it is possible to build a cold light head from F15T8 tubes (I checked the peliminary measurements to determine this). My cost to build such a head was slightly above $400. The enlarger can be located for less then 1,000. The enlarger will fit under 8 ft ceilings. Just a thought...
Building the enlarger from a current 8x10 camera is not to complicated. A film holder can be as simple as two pieces of AN glass sandwiching the film and taking the place of the ground glass. The real bug-a-boo is the light source. Aristo lists an 8x10 cold light head for 8x10 elwood enlargers for $546 and a 10x10 for a Durst for $1200. One could manufacture a collar to secure the light source to the camera and you are ready to go.
Easiest thing to do is to make an easel to put on the wall and hold the paper in place with magnets or thumbtacks. Mount the camera/enlarger to a table. If you are going to use only one size of enlargement the bellows extension will provide critical focus. Just determine the distance from the paper you need for the lens you will use. Make sure everything is square and level. Film plane must be parallel with the paper and a line going from center of the film to center of the paper must be perpendicular to the film plane, lens and paper. Even if you have to buy the 8x10 head (I think both heads are for graded paper) you would have an enlarger for little more then that plus the cost of lens.
I don't know what your budget is, but if it is limited, use the camera for printing sessions and buy the best enlarging glass you can afford.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
Subsequent thoughts from me. If I can find one for cheap enough when the time comes, I'll definitely just pick up a used 8x10 enlarger. It just makes more sense. This just assumes that, when the time arrives that I build a new darkroom and want to enlarge 8x10 stuff, I'm not going to have too much cash to throw around, which isn't too far fetched. Just sort of a contingency plan of sorts. I've thought about making an enlarging back, as it were, for my Deardorff, but I have to wonder - would it really be rigid enough? If I wanted to go that route I could probably also pick up some beater 8x10 somewhere for pretty cheap and permanently convert it to an enlarger.
As for cropping, while I suppose i would want to do it once in a long while, I think the likelihood of me needing to crop much is pretty greatly reduced in 8x10. I'm more likely, I think, to be cropping 35mm negs shot in a less contemplative manner.
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I did consider making my own large format emlarger some time ago. After some research and much innovation I decided that my efforts in making such a device was not viable in time and efficiency. The main problem was to make the contraption rigid enough, beit horizontal or upright. With the drastic reduction in prices of large format
enlargers I consider the time would be better spent searching for that bargain second hand. Nevertheless, I do have a sympathetic understanding of your reasons for being so innovative. You will, of course use a suitable close calibrated lens for enlarging work
to be of a high standard, not all large format camera lenses are. Good luck.
In Ansel Adams' "THE PRINT" there is a description and pictures of large format horizontal enlarger with a multi-bulb light source you might want to check out. It appeared fairly ingenious but would require a significant amount of space.
I sent you a private message. I have an 8x10 enlarger for sale.