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  1. #1

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    Mar 2012
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    Ready to prepare a darkroom - enlarger search begins

    I've been shooting film for about 6 months now, and am loving the process of it and the use of older manual cameras. I've been processing my film in the kitchen, and have had good experiences with that. Now it's on to enlarging/printing in a darkroom to complete the cycle. I'm going to construct it in my laundry room, which has a water supply, existing shelves over the washer/dryer, vent, no windows - but two doors, and a tile floor. My working area will be about 4x8 feet. The main thing I need to figure out is the drain. The only drain, behind the washing machine, is about 3.5' high.

    In the meantime, I would like to start looking for an enlarger/lens as I continue to prepare the room. I'm only shooting 35mm at the moment, but may go medium format in the future. Everything I shoot now is B&W, and color is not in my plans. Someday possibly, but not any time soon - if ever. I'd like to be able to print up to 16x20 if I have the room for it.

    It has been recommended to me by an acquaintance to go with a diffuser enlarger over a condenser, which is what I have decided on based on that and some online research. I know that debate can open a can of worms, so lets not go that direction with this thread, and just stick with diffuser enlarger suggestions. I need to find something fairly affordable - as in a couple hundred dollars max for a fully working unit. If I can go less than that then great, because I could use that money for other darkroom equipment, paper, chemicals, etc... On the recommended list so far is a Saunders 670MXL. Are there any other suggestions? If I could come up with a short list of 3 "can't go wrong enlargers" for my needs then I could start keeping an eye out for a deal on one of them.

  2. #2
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Since a lot of enlargers weren't fitted originally with diffusion light sources - and that's what you want. Make that the focus of your search.

    For example, you might see Zone VI or Aristo heads available for sale. Get one of those and then start to find the enlarger it fits. Maybe an Omega D2 or Besler 4x5 enlarger. Those are easily located and parts are easy to find.

    Colorheads also are usually designed with diffuse light sources, so even though you aren't planning to do color, they are a good choice plus you can dial in Multigrade Filtration

  3. #3
    andrew.roos's Avatar
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    For B&W work I would suggest a color head so you can use variable contrast paper without having to buy filters. I believe that most or all color heads are diffusuion so this fits in with your preference. I'm personally very happy with my Opemus V with the Meochrom II color head and Rodagon lens - the setup will print up to 6x6 negs - but can't especially recommend it as I have not tried the alternatives!

  4. #4
    cliveh's Avatar
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    How about an LPL 7700 COLOUR ENLARGER.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #5

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    Ditto for Bill Burk's suggestion, getting a 4x5 enlarger is the best way to go since once you get hooked you will think about a larger format.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

  6. #6

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    I have no interest in 4x5, and if that time does come I'll look for a different enlarger specifically for large format. I appreciate the thought though, and do understand the thinking behind it.

    As long as I can get: a dichroic color head (diffuser), the ability to print 35mm-6x7or6x9, enlarge vertically to 16x20, priced used under $200, and have readily available parts/accessories in the US - I think I'd be a happy camper. Omega or Beseler enlargers are what I see on craigslist 9 times out of 10, so those are where I'm leaning. Preferably I'd find it together, but I suppose I could look separately.

  7. #7

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    I don't shoot 4x5 anymore, but love the big sturdy 4x5 enlargers and use 2 of them for my 35mm and 120 format work. The alignment is more consistent, enlargers are sturdier against any vibration or movement and I just find them more pleasant to work with in general. Since learning to use colour heads with black and white film and if you have no intension on using a cold light head, I'd go with a colour enlarger -you have more control over contrast as you can tweek it to fit your preference and don't have to deal with cumbersome filters (which I've often messed up and ruined a decent amount of expensive paper. However, if you want to go cold light, you need the filters. No way around that.

  8. #8

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    Omega D2 with a color head and a Saunders 670MXL are on my short list at the moment. I'm not sure about parts availability in the states with the Saunders though, as well as its max print size (vertical alignment) with a 50mm lens and 35mm film. I think the D2 may meet all my requirements so far.

  9. #9
    David Brown's Avatar
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    An Omega D with the dicro head, or the Beseler 45 M with their dicro head would be good choices and can do all formats up to 4x5. However, for your small space they can be beasts, too. Going down to your 6x7/6x9 criteria, the Beseler 23C with a dicro head would be the ticket, up to 6x9 and built as well as the 4x5 machines. Less sturdy (but good enough) and only to 6x6 or 6x7 depending on model would be the Omega B or C series.

    You may find other machines available, and there are many good ones, but the Omega and Beselers are the easiest to find negative carriers and lens boards for, in my experience.

    PS: checked your website. The photos make me "homesick" - I spent half of my life in SA, and still miss it after moving to Dallas 22 years ago. Great pix, btw.
    Last edited by David Brown; 06-14-2012 at 04:19 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  10. #10

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    I paid $75 for my Beseler 23CIII XL with variable contrast head a month ago. I would highly recommend it. I've been printing on and off since 1974 and it's the nicest small or mid-sized enlarger I've ever used. You can find the specs here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ast_Black.html



 

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