Very beginner enlarger question... help wanted!
Hi, I am very new to it so I hope that some of you chaps and chapettes can help.
Hopefully soon I will set a darkroom and start for the first time to develop and eventually print. I am a bit confused about the enlarger and I'd be very grateful for help and suggestions in choosing one and things/aspects to pay attention to.
I will be mainly working in B&W
35mm and/or Medium format (120)
the darkroom is actually a bathroom (so it's going to be a "temporary" darkroom)
Probably there should be more questions I should ask but being a very beginner, I cannot think of more right now. Maybe they will come later.
Many thanks for any help
Hello there Zinzin!!
Well, since you really did not ask any questions, I'll just start by responding to some things you stated!
Ok, you say that you will mostly be doing B&W... does this mean that you will also be doing some color?? If this is true and you will be doing primarily B&W, but also color, you will need an enlarger with color head. It has a "box" on the top and allows you to 'dial in' color settings. You can also use those color settings like filters when you are enlarging B&W. So an enlarger with a color head can do both, while an enlarger that does not have that head can only do b&W.
Most enlargers will work for at least 35mm and 120mm. You may need different lenses for each size...I do for mine. I have an older Beseler 23C II which is a wonderful machine. I only do B&W. I have a 50mm lens for 35mm enlargements and a 75mm lens for my 120mm enlargements.
I don't know if any of this is helpful, but it gave me a chance to limber up my fingers this morning!
This question has been asked a few times over the months I've been here. Try a search.
Personally I got an Omega D2V at home in my "temporary darkroom" (read bathroom). It takes up to a 4x5 neg, but I am currently using it for 35 and 120 formats. Easy to use, not too bad for finding parts/service (in my area anyway).
When you do look for a lens for the enlarger (no matter the brand) get the best lens you can afford (don't cheap out!)
The things that I would consider are the rigidity of the design, the ability to be realligned should that be required, the size of the maximum print that you want to project on the baseboard. I would opt for either a color light head or a variable contrast light head considering that graded papers will probably continue to decline in availability. Both of these light heads will allow you to print on variable contrast paper. There are a number of excellent enlargers. I happen to favor the Durst for my large format condensor and Saunders for my large format diffusion enlargers. I have used the Omega C7670XL for medium format.
Originally Posted by zinzin
Also of great importance is the enlarger lens. Typically you would use 80 mm focal length for medium format and 50 mm focal length with 35 mm negatives.
Too quick for my slow typing B&WGirl!
I was about to mention the colour aspect (I also only do B&W). When looking at an enlarger, don't discount the larger ones that accept 4x5 negs. You just may want to go bigger someday.
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First you need to decide if your going to work with color negs or black and white, or both. If you entertain even the most remote notion of ever doing color, you'll need a color head for your machine. Those are good because they can also be used for black and white variable contrast paper. If you're only going to do black and white, however, a variable contrast B&W head will be fine. It's also possible to buy an enlarger head that utilizes white light and you can place filters above or below the lens if you choose to use variable contrast paper (which is the most popular kind at the moment.)
The size of the baseboard is also important because it needs to accomodate the largest easel you'll be using for enlargements. Many baseboards only allow enlargements up to 11x14. If you want to enlarge further, you can wall mount the enlarger and not bother with the baseboard at all, or you can find some enlargers that will allow you to turn the head for projection on to a lower surface (the floor for example).
There are lots of enlargers available now as people give up their darkrooms in favor of digi prints on their printers, so don't hesitate to look into the used market.
Enlargers by Omega, Beseler, Durst, Saunders LPL, and Meopta come to mind quickly as reliable machines to consider but there are certainly others as well. Good luck.
Many thanks all for the very prompt reply. That "mainly working in B&W" should be actually read "only B&W", but you never now what may happen (one step at the time though). Also wondering if worth considering colour one anyway.
Many thanks again for your advises. cheers
Jeanette and rogueish have good advice. When I got back into home processing after a l-o-n-g layoff, I bought a Beseler C76 used and It did everything I needed until I got the Speed Graphic. Truly the lens system is the most important thing to consider with the light source next. A 5x4 enlarger might be a little clumsy in a bathroom-darkroom so a 7x6 might be better.
Be advised: you may become addicted and suddenly desire to move up to medium or large format as soon as your work is displayed and sold(?) et c. If you stick with a 7x6 or larger enlarger, you can easily deal with this malady by adjusting your lens inventory.
I love the smell of fixer in the morning. It smells like...creativity!
Truly, dr bob.
I have an Omega B600. It does both 35 and 120 and I think it's pretty small, so it wouldn't be a big space user in a bathroom.
Originally Posted by zinzin
Yes, get a colour head even if you have no intention to print colour - it makes using VC paper easier as you can just dial in the filtering rather than inserting filters in a filter drawer.
Have a look on ebay.co.uk to see what is available. With luck you can get an enlarger capable of using up to 6x6cm and a reasonable lens for under a hundred quid - less if you are not in a hurry:
(http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...849209473&rd=1 / http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...850005213&rd=1 / http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...851187336&rd=1
Those are auctions that finished in the last week. 35mm only enlargers are even cheaper.
Alternately, try MXV and Mr Cad etc but you will likely have to pay a little more. The 4x5 enlargers others mentioned are big, very heavy (as in requiring two people to lift safely) and relatively expensive (say £300 - £500) and it can be awkward to use titchy little 35mm negs in them...
Take a low stool in to the bathroom with you if you put the trays on a board over the bath - all that bending over is a pain in the neck (and the back, and the legs and the....).
Try putting the enlarger on a computer table - the kind with castors. Then you can put most of the rest of the bits and bobs on its shelves and roll the whole thing in and out easily. Alternately, you can get large castors or wheels to fit yourself from B&Q/Homebase etc if you can't find a suitable desk with them.
Your local library should have a coupe of suitable books, but if you are buying, any of the books sold by Silverprint for darkroom printing will do you nicely.