Upgrade Omega D2XL? Suggestions?
Is there a real advantage to upgrading to something more modern from an old Omega D2? I have upgraded my lens over time. Would I pick up stability or ease of focuing if I went to something like an LPL 4550XL? Any suggestions for a new englarger?
I used an Omega D3 for many years and I had the same thoughts as you. I wanted something newer, more rigid and a VC diffusion head. I bought a used ZoneVI II with the VC head. Its much more robust than the D3 and the VC head works great. The problem with this enlarger is no support. Calumet dropped the line and support.
In retrospect I wish I had gone with one of the major manfacturers that produced lots of products.
I used a D2 with conversion to Aristo cold light head for some years. I upgraded to the Saunders 4550 VCCE XLG and immediately saw an improvement in my prints. Of course I upgraded my lens to and El Nikkor 150 mm at the same time so I don't know that I can attribute the improvement solely to the enlarger. I know that the Saunders is more stable then the Omega.
Originally Posted by BOSS565
Later I also added a Durst 138S condenser that I converted to a self designed point light source and while I still own the Saunders I rarely use it today.
How best to upgrade a D2? Take it apart and have the steel parts powder coated a nice red?
Going to a Durst might be a real upgrade, but the other brands would be questionable in terms of being worth the incremental cost, I think. Unfortunately, a Durst would bring its own set of support and parts issues.
I'd continue to upgrade the lenses, and relish the fact that you don't have more money tied up in the enlarger itself. For example, I found the Schneider APO Componon HM lenses a big improvement over the (still excellent) Componon-S I used before.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
The enlarger makes absolutely no difference at all as long as it is good condition and stable. Fix the column top to a wall and make sure the condensers are clean and scratch free and the machine is lined up base-lens -neg.
If you like a diffusion head, install one. Having printed with condensers and diffusion and cold lights, I concluded none are inherintly better than another if you develope the film appropiately.
There is no work around for a poor lens, so this is where the money should go.
I have a D2 condenser and Aristo V54, old D3, and D6 Chromega head, Focomat V35, two Focomat 1C`s. Phillips PCS 130 (condensers with color system) and a Phillips 2 1/4 square diffusion. I can make matching prints on all of them, either color or black and white. This is what happens if you build a darkroom too big and work in multiple formats.
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If you have a dedicated spot for the enlarger, the best upgrade would be to strengthen or stabilize the bench or counter top it sits on and stabilize it against the wall. Then get good lenses.
I love the way a dichroic head makes working with VC paper so convenient.
I upgraded (last year) from Omega "B" enlargers to a D5. Same lenses. The D5 is sturdier, and easier to use in some ways. Are my prints better? Not because of the enlarger. I could still make the same prints on the B if I needed to.
There may be machines that are better made or more sturdy than an Omega D; but really, once the D's are aligned and secured, the lens is the thing.
Condenser vs. dicroic vs. coldlight, vs. VC heads - all subjective.
If you want something other than a condenser head, maybe. But For everything else, Omega D2 is quite good as a standard.
Originally Posted by BOSS565
I use a fuji condenser-head enlarger (much like the LPL 7700 condenser-head model but capable for 6x9 and equipped with a 7454 series column and baseboard), but I miss the use of a D2 sometimes.
The print quality I get with my Fuji is almost identical to what I used to with a D2 condenser-head type. Now I've been led to think that condenser heads are just condenser-heads: Switching from one model to another one doesn't really make any difference.
The only benefit I have on my Fuji is that it's relatively new (1 year old) and is still under a 5 year-warrenty provided by the manufacturer. I bought it brand new because of that, and I had a feeling I was going to use something like this as a reliable main or back-up enlarger. Besides, it's still in production, and I can buy and/or order parts in any photo supply stores in Japan.
Now it's time for me to shop around for a classic model since I have time to sit back and search on the internet.
I think you've already gotten the two best pieces of advice: Make sure your enlarger is bolted down solidly, and get good lenses. Those two simple things will outweight any quality advantage of switching to another enlarger. (As to lenses: Test them. Every manufacturer makes a dog occasionally, and if you're buying used you have no idea what the previous owner might have done to the lens. But if you're buying used then you can afford to buy a few before you find the one that you want...and you can sell the rest off for a few bucks.)
If you don't already have it, a D2V head for your enlarger would be a convenience. It allows you to move one of the condensor lenses around when you change film formats, rather than having to replace the condensor assembly.
I've got a D2V and the truth is that I can get any part I need for it, either new (negative carriers, lens boards), by scouring eBay for parts, or for sale online. If you haven't already, check out www.classic-enlargers.com - Harry has every part you could possibly need plus he can answer just about any questions you have.
If you really don't like throwing in different filters for VC paper, then a color head would be a nice convenience. I haven't found the filters to be onerous enough to justify the expense of a color head, but that's just me.
All in all, it's going to be hard to beat the enlarger you already own at a reasonable cost. If you go out and pick up a new, autofocusing, computer controlled, do-everything enlarger, all you'll be buying is convenience. The enlarger you already own is capable of world class work. The lenses and the stability of the enlarger are the only things that could hold you back. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.