In the US, I would recommend either Omega C (6x7) or B (6x6) series, or similar 6x7 Bessler enlarger.
In the UK, I don't know the availability of those enlargers. I would recommend a Durst M60x or even the F60. My M600 stores away in a nice size box, about half the size of the box for the Omega C67. BUT, Durst is out of the enlarger business, so spares have to come off the secondary (eBay) market. Having said that, my M600 has been totally reliable since 1971, only having to replace the lamp. It probably helps reliability that I have the simple B&W condenser head, not the more complicated color head. If you get a Durst, you want to have ALL the parts when you start out. Hunting for missing parts is difficult, time consuming and expensive.
If you want reliability, I would go with a condenser enlarger. That eliminates the complication and potential problem with the color head or power supply, especially if you are not going to print color anyway. You would just use multi-contrast filters for Multi-Contrast paper, which is not difficult to use. The color head would give you the ability to "dial in" the filter for Multi-Contrast paper, more convenient than the MC filters, but at the cost of the color head.
The LPL 67 model (under various names) is a supremely elegant enlarger. I'd still have mine if I hadn't upgraded to the 4x5 XLG.
Originally Posted by BMbikerider
I started out with an SL66 LPL which suited me for a little while until I wanted to move into 6x7. During that time I also landed 2 Meopta II with all lenses and carriers, which were really nice units, but they too only went to 6x6.
Ended up trading the lot in on an LPL 7700 colour head, which allowed me to modify the 6x7 universal carrier to do up to 6x9.
I liked all of these enlargers and if I hadn't needed to go to 6x7, that SL66 would have suited me just fine. With the filter drawer as standard, it allows for both B&W and colour printing (I did some Cibachromes for a while.)
Best idea would be to determine the largest neg size you want and have a look at those that have been suggested, to see if they are easily available, a size that works for you and within your budget.
Recommend me an enlarger.
Thanks for the advice so far. Budget wise I guess as cheap as possible however if there is something worth paying more for then I'm prepared. Compactness is the main issue as it would be set up in the corner of a bathroom. I currently have access to a college darkroom but that ends this year.
Part of me is wondering if its worth the hassle and I could just order enlargements from home developed negs though I have enjoyed my limited experience so far.
I plan to use a compact enlarger and nova slot processor to reduce size etc.
As far as budget goes I'd suggest looking on your local Gumtree and Freecycle sites.
(I got my Kaiser VCP6002 for nothing from Freecycle, and a nice S-K 80mm f/4 lens for £25 from Gumtree.)
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Nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction to hang a print on the wall and being able to say "I did that". Having someone else print your negs isolates you from an important part of the process. Being able to dodge and burn a print to get the desired result is something that only you can do.
Originally Posted by poppers
Invest in a good quality enlarger now, and you will have a tool that could last a lifetime.
I used to have an Omega B66xl crammed into the hall closet in my college apartment (I took out all the shelves). Next door was the bathroom where I had my developer trays. I'd hang heavy drapes over the hall entrance and I had an instant darkroom. It was less than comfortable but it worked! A B66 should be cheap; I sold mine for $75 including the lenses. I don't know how easy that enlarger is to find these days, but I see parts for them regularly. It was solid enough, not like the Omega D2 I use now but it was fine.
Originally Posted by paul_c5x4
No dodging and burning as yet. Just getting used to basic printing. I'm fairly new to B&W. I shot mostly colour for years and my fave camera was a Nikon f4s. Then i decided in 06 to go digital with a NIkon D80 as I thought that was better etc etc. Then realised i was falling out with photography and got tired of sitting in front if the pc. I'd come back from holiday with 200 pictures and then not even bother looking through them for months.
So I decided to try film again and make it simple. One film one lens. So i have an M6 and 35mm Biogon. Portra and HP5+ have been main use so far. Still have the Digi gear but hardly use it. F4s and Nikon lenses and various pinholes/large format etc .
Recommend me an enlarger.
The earlier suggestion for the c700 is good. That's what I started out with in my darkroom. It's very compact and you can lift the whole setup by one hand. Which is nice if you plan on schlepping it to the bathroom every time. I gave mine away on apug while ago, but they are not too expensive and quite common. Bulbs are super cheap too.
If you take a class or go rent a darkroom, your most likely to find the lpl 6700 or 7700 models or the like. They are very good and keep decent alignment and take a bit of abuse by kids starting out on them. But they are heavier and take up more space.
Small and medium format
Live in Euro zone
Durst M600. Meets all criteria.