3 enlargers, which should go?
Last week I picked up a d2 so I can finally start doing some 4X5. I already have 3 enlargers in my darkroom, so something has to give. I have a beselar 23c bought new in 1967 equipped with a cold light head. Its pretty beat up, tough to get aligned properly.No easy way to use multicontrast filters because of the light. I also have a little omega c700 left over from bathroom darkrooms, where I needed something small and light.I also have a focomat ic that I found at a flea market cheap and couldn't resist.
My thought is to dump the beselar (despite sentimental attachment) , and the little omega, and use the d2 for mf and larger, use the focomat for 35.
On the other hand pairing everything down to just the d2 is attractive space wise.
What would you do and why?
If you have the space to use it, keep the Leitz enlarger. I just replaced a C700 and a Leitz Valoy with an LPL medium format enlarger. My darkroom is more convenient to use now but I miss the look of the prints I got from that old Valoy. If I had the space, I would set it up again in a heartbeat and use it for all my 35mm. The Focomat enlargers are superb--I used them at the newspaper where I used to work.
Of course, if space is at a premium....
I'd keep the Leitz and dump the Omega C700. If you have room for the 23C it might be worth keeping, since you might decide you prefer cold light for some things or smaller, grainier, dustier formats, and there are a lot of options and parts available for the 23C on the used market.
While I like the cold light on the besler, not being able to use filters is a pain.After going back and forth between cold lights and condensers, I am not convinced that cold lights are that much better. I really can't see the difference in the prints, as long as the negatives are developed properly.
what about getting under-the-lens filters for the beseler?
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The problem is the color of the light is wrong for multicontrast papers.
Keep the Focomat and the D2, sell off the rest and use the proceeds to buy more Rodinal!
Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
Four enlargers? That's nothing!
Keep the Focomat and the D2. That's a great setup. You can always get a cold light head for the D2 if you want.
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Anyone can appreciate a fine print. But it takes a real photographer to appreciate a fine negative.
Actually the focomat (if used with a focotar) will produce better prints corner to corner w/35mm, even wide open at f4.5, than any other enlarger made. Keep it as well as the d2 and you will not regret it. You can even use a small color head and fit it to both enlargers if the need arises. Emile. www.deleon-ulf.com.
In answer to your question..
1. The condensor/light combination is unparalled. The condensors alone if produced today would make the enlarger unsellable because of the extreme manufacturing cost. The Leica condensors blows my Durst condensors away.
2. The Valloy/Focomat enlargers are perfectly aligned from the factory. When used with a Focotar lens (esp the Focotar 2) the corners are all in perfect illumination and focus, even wide open. If you stop down a half stop to f5.6 it even gets better! The condensor holds the film in perfect flatness.
3.Focus is a dream whether in auto or not as in the Valloy. Helical focus reduces mistakes and stays put. This enlarger inspires complete confidence where others do not. No negative pop, no focus slip.
4. As a complete unit this was the best enlarger for 35mm ever made. You have to use one to see this. It is the sum of the parts.
5. Better to have a perfectly aligned enlarger and use at an optimum f stop than to stop way down to cover for other problems inherent in the designs of other brands. Diffraction enters at lower f stops.
6 It is aligned for life!
7. It is fun to use!
I really like the Valloy 2 for it's light weight and compactness.