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  1. #1
    micwag2's Avatar
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    I'm shopping for an enlarger......

    So I'm looking for a used enlarger as I'm trying to setup my own darkroom. I want to be able to print 120 and 35mm, both color and B&W. What should I be looking for in an enlarger to meet my needs? Are there any I should stay away from?

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Stability, durability and accessability (of parts and accessories).

    A Beseler 23C series would be good.

    I've been very happy with my Beseler 67 series enlarger since I bought it new in the 1970s.

    Omega enlargers are good too.

    If you have the room, a model designed for 4x5 can be an excellent choice - an Omega D6 has become my main enlarger in the last two years, even though I essentially don't need anything larger than 6x7.

    Other brands are also excellent (e.g. Durst) but access to accessories is more limited.

    Saunders/LPL are still current, and are of excellent quality as well.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  3. #3

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    You'll find most brand name enlargers will suit you very well. What I found from my own buying spree is to not only price the enlarger, but price and check availability of ancillary equipment as well, such as negative carriers, lamps, filters, power supplies (if necessary), and so on. Many of the "bargains" on eBay are missing what later turns out to be a vital part. If that part is hard to find or expensive, it will be frustrating for you.

    I chose the 23cII, because there was a lot of used equipment available for it - everything from negative carriers to lens boards to lamps to filters to diffusion heads to condensers, etc etc etc. You could do very well with a 67 as MattKing says. Get one with a dichro head (and power supply), and you'll be good to go with color and b&w at a relatively modest cost.

  4. #4
    nsurit's Avatar
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    Keep an eye out on Craigs list or perhaps post a WTB ad. My bet is you may find something for cheap or perhaps even free. Many schools have equipment given to them and also many are closing their darkrooms, so you might check there. Bill Barber

  5. #5
    micwag2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arkasha View Post
    You'll find most brand name enlargers will suit you very well. What I found from my own buying spree is to not only price the enlarger, but price and check availability of ancillary equipment as well, such as negative carriers, lamps, filters, power supplies (if necessary), and so on. Many of the "bargains" on eBay are missing what later turns out to be a vital part. If that part is hard to find or expensive, it will be frustrating for you.
    This is what was making me think twice. I didn't want to end up with something unusable or was a lousy piece of equipment. I've been looking on ebay but I will check Craigslist too. Is there something specific I should be looking for in the head of the Beseler 23c or the Beseler 67 to do color? I've read where some of the heads were meant for B&W and to do color something had to be added or changed.

  6. #6
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Stalk eBay.

    I set my darkroom up about 6 months ago now. You can often find very good deals on entire setups.

    I won a Printmaker 35, along with some old paper, trays, thermometers, negative clips, contrast filters, and basically whatever was left in the sellers disassembled darkroom, for only TEN CENTS. I big TEN CENTS which was the starting bid and won. After $25 in shipping, it ended up being a grand total of $25.10 I think for all of that.

    I also used my network of artists friends and told them what I was looking for. I ended up finding a local guy who sold me his entire darkroom setup for $150, which included an Omega B600. I got 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14 trays, thermometers, graduates, contrast filters, a print washer, tanks, reels, safelights, tongs, multiple enlarger lenses, negative carriers, and a host of other items.

    In both of my cases I got fairly nice enlargers in working condition with all accessories. I'm certain that they are 'amateur' level equipment, but they serve their purpose at this point in my creative venture. When I find something that I am interested in, I do as quick but as thorough of a google search as I can before buying. And its been my experience, that if you are buying enlargers or darkroom setups from other film photographers who are going digital or shutting their darkroom down, most times the equipment is still in operable order.

  7. #7

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    The 23C has two ways to do color: you can use the supplied condenser head and buy filters (5.5" or 6" square) to put in the filter drawer, or you can try and find a 23C with a dual dichro head. I bought the 23C with the condenser head and then found someone selling a dual dichro head, so now I have both. You may also need heat absorbing glass, a UV filter, a red safety filter . . .

    I took a quick look on eBay, and these are things you will need if you go with a 67:

    Power Supply for the dichro head - may be included in package, may not. But you do need it: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Beseler-Dich...item56484802ce

    Enlarger itself: http://www.ebay.com/itm/BESELER-DICH...item19cea2e609

    You may also need negative carriers:

    35mm: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Beseler-Nega...item3371dfdd90


    Plus you may need a red safety filter.

    If you get a 67 with the dichro head, you will be using a diffusion head enlarger. This is just fine. You will get slightly softer results, but it will be easier to hide small imperfections in your negatives. Plus, you can use the same dichro to print color AND b&w, since the color wheels will not only correct for color prints, but will also help you with variable contrast b&w paper.

    If you get the 67 with a condenser head and buy the dichro head separately, you can in theory have both worlds, condenser and diffusion.

    I would suggest that when you get ready to shop, come here and ask people. Say you found an eBay listing that might suit you. Link to it and ask people if all you need is included, or if there are problems, etc. It's much the best way, since you get the benefit of their experience.

    Good luck.


    PS None of the eBay listings are mine, and I have no relation to the sellers.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by micwag2 View Post
    So I'm looking for a used enlarger as I'm trying to setup my own darkroom. I want to be able to print 120 and 35mm, both color and B&W. What should I be looking for in an enlarger to meet my needs? Are there any I should stay away from?
    Let me add a data point micwag2. I have been printing in my just-finished darkroom with my old (80s) 23CII XL and was really frustrated with trying to get prints that were sharp across the frame. So I gave up and bought, new, a negative carrier with anti-newton ring glass. It is expensive, for what you get. After seeing the results it is also something I will not do without.

    It is also a good lesson about my GAS; how something like a third 105 appears cheap but something else, like this carrier (with almost no technology in it) seemed awfully pricey, although it has made a vast improvement in the quality of all my prints. Something about which that 105 could do nothing.

    s-a
    I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
    - Garry Winogrand

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    If you are looking at a Beseler 67 dichro head it would be important to understand the differences between the dichro heads.

    The earlier versions (there are at least two) required separate power supplies.

    The current version (yes - you can buy them new!) have the power supply in the head itself. .

    Here is a listing for the current colour head: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...lid_State.html
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  10. #10

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    Yep, I'd forgotten about the "new and improved" Dichro head. Beseler wants $568.50 for theirs - whew! If it were up to me, I'd opt for sourcing the head and supply separately. I've seen the PS go for $80 new in box, same for the head.

    That's quite a savings.

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