which 6x7 colour enlarger for me?
Hello APUG users
I'm planning to buy a colour enlarger for the purpose of printing up 6x7 colour negs, to a size of 20x24 inches.
The quality of the prints has to be high (target = gallery), although I expect this will take me some time to master. No rush however...
I like the durst range, and wonder if I can obtain these results from the M670 range, or if the the M707 is more suitable. Or do I need a L1200? Or other?
Will the results of an L1200 be better than the M670 at the size described, or is this determined by the lens?
If you have experience of printing 6x7 colour negs to 20x24, and believe your setup has what it takes, would you mind sharing your thoughts, as I this will help to reach a decision. An ebay decision...
Julian, firstly do you intend to process your own RA4 paper?
Assuming that you do, I would also assume you will be rotary processing the paper, unless you happen to have a 20" wide colour paper processor hanging around.
If you want ultimate quality, then practice and more practice will get you there. It is achievable.
Now to the question you posed.
20x24" prints on a 6x7 enlarger is a hard ask, especially if you do not modify the enlarger table situation. Quite a few 6x7 enlargers can do 20x24" enlargements, just.
I myself, have done years of colour enlarging using the LPL 7700 pro enlarger. I managed to do large enlargements after I wall mounted the enlarger and built a drop table.
This enabled me to crop effectively, 20x24" paper (B&W) and also crop 20x16" colour paper. If a 6x7 enlarger doesn't have the room to crop, then positioning your easel is usually impossible, therefore you need a drop table to enable you to position correctly, even if it's only a bit of movement required.
If you go down this route as I did then you really have to be very careful about the alignment issues between the wall mounted enlarger and the table/easel, which are now two independent items, instead of a factory fixed alignment. For ultimate quality, I have reservations about this set-up. Whilst I don't crave ultimate quality, I like quite reasonably quality from the effort undertaken. My own experience is that a 6x7 enlarger pushed to the limit is not that great.
I have used in a commercial darkroom situation, 4x5 enlargers and found that they are designed to (usually) enlarge onto paper that is 20x24" or up to 24x30" as normal.
One of the main considerations is how far do you wish to push your equipment, because the more you push the equipment, the harder it becomes to hold a high standard.
Put it this way; if your motor car is capable of 200 Km/h (125 mph) you wouldn't expect it to be able to cruise at 200 Km/h. But 160 Km/h (100 mph) is a realistic proposition.
I think whatever enlarger you purchase, should be able to comfortably enlarge a 6x7 neg to 20x24" with room to spare.
I myself have used Durst 4x5 and 8x10 as well as DeVere 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and 10x10 mural enlargers in a work environment.
In my own darkroom I have used Lucky 6x7, Fujimoto (?) 6x7 with an inbuilt analyser in the baseboard and the aforementioned LPL 7700 with wall mount, LPL 4x5 with wall mount and am currently using a DeVere 4x5 freestanding enlarger with the drop table.
Almost any 4x5 enlarger will do what you are asking with room to spare, I really do think that for critical, repeatable, ultimate printing, the larger format units offer a far better situation.
Now for the enlarging lens, I personally have always liked the Schneider range, I own and use them myself.
In the world of printing colour prints for commercial purposes to customers who knew and cared, nothing and I mean nothing, came close to any of the APO Rodenstock range of lenses I had the great pleasure of using!
20 years ago I at times printed 35mm colour negs mounted between glass, on a very well aligned DeVere 4x5 enlarger onto 24x30" sheet paper (Kodak) using Rodenstock Apo lens.
The prints were breath taking!
However this practice, required extreme care. Firstly the printing was done in the evening when only a skeleton staff was around, and machinery running was at a minimum. One had a chair in the darkroom so that you didn't hop from foot to foot during the 10-15' exposure and cause air currents/vibrations to move/sway the enlarger.
Things like that all come into play when you are pushing the equipment and optics to their limits.
Food for thought.
Welcome to the dark side!
I can't speak about the Durst system, but will share what I use for 6x7 slides.
Beseler 23CII XL, with Rodagon 80mm, and APO 80mm lens.
I print everything between 5x7 and 20x24 without any special set up, just crank up the head and away I go.
The extra tall and rigid columns allow for this.
For 35mm I switch to a Componon 50mm.
Get the best lens you can afford.
I use the APO only for 20x24 and can really tell the difference.
Mick. Do you really mean 10 to 15 minutes for the 35mm print at this size or is this seconds.
Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
Yep, 10 to 15' was a reasonable time when you consider these things.
Firstly, the negative was often shot by a professional photographer, who normally shot tranny film and under exposed that film to get saturated colour. Sometimes their under exposure was in the realms if stupidity, but they and more importantly, their clients liked what they produced.
Secondly, colour negative shooting was often a last resort because of mixed lighting situations. That wasn't too much of a problem, but mixed lighting, coupled with the photographers idea of normal over exposure mostly led to very dense negatives. Their idea was that if it's on the neg, it can be printed. Basically that is correct, but there are limits.
That said, this is the darkroom scenario:-
The enlarger head is almost brushing the ceiling of the darkroom. You are down on your hands and knees focusing at the drop easel, which is just sitting off the floor. All the lights are off, to allow your eyes to see in real low light levels. You switch the enlarger on and somehow get correct focus (I had younger eyes then). Lock the enlarger.
Now you stop the lens down (Apo-Rodagon 2.8) about 2 1/2 stops which was found to be about best. Re-check focus, with this lens, focus never seemed to change, especially in the corners.
This means you are ready to go. The combination of extreme enlargement, stopped down lens, usually dense negative plus dodging and burning in, meant the exposure times are measured in minutes. When you add the sometimes required huge magenta filtration, because of funny original scene lighting, you can see that enlarging exposure times can start to be monumental.
This should give you an idea of why times were/are sometimes quite long, compared to your home environment where you are usually enlarging onto 8x10" or 12x16" paper.
Say you are doing an enlargement in your own darkroom. The degree of enlargement is moderate, the neg is nice and juicy, you've stopped the lens down 1 1/2 stops from wide, your filtration is about half way through the magenta and yellow possibilities. You are happy, but want a more enlarged section. Your time for the first print is 60.8 seconds.
You decide to double the enlargement for your sectional print, immediately you are up to 121.6 seconds and your times are now being measured in minutes. You require another doubling which is attained by turning the head sideways, for a wall projection. Now you are at 243.2 seconds or 4 minutes in round figures. This is before you do a full 1 stop burn of the background, which darkens things around the main subject.
As you can see, it really doesn't take much to get long exposure times.
To be fair though, these times I mention, were all done on the old EP2 colour paper process, RA4 I believe, is a quicker paper, although I don't think there really would be much time saved overall.
For what it's worth, the very best enlarging lens I have ever had the pleasure of using, is the 90mm Apo-Rodagon.
Words cannot describe, what that lens can do to your prints.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
I like Kaiser System V enlargers: very good build quality, a good versatile system with exchangeable parts, reasonably priced, available new.
Durst enlargers are very good, but I wouldn't say that comparable Durst enlarger models are inherently better than Kaiser.
If you're not taking your camera...there's no reason to travel. --APUG member bgilwee
A De Vere 504 range with a Rodenstock Apo Rodagon N 80mm lens...
The De Vere enlargers appear on ebay from time to time, but there do seem to be quite a few versions available. Which one is most suitable? If I want to print up to 20x24, the floor standing one looks quite capable of this, as well as being a hefty weight. But do they all do the same thing - mkIV, mkV, dichromatic heads....any thoughts on which one?
As for my process, I expect to do all this traditionally - so with trays only.
I haven't got the particulars worked out yet, but that is my aim...and there is stacks I don't know yet, as I've only ever done b&w.
Thanks for the detailed info, and Mick also for taking the time to write all of the above. A 5x4 enlarger sounds like a good option, but finding one with all the bits required may take a while. Still - no rush, as I said earlier.
I like the sound of an enlarger which has presence, and I'm not a fan of flimsy builds either.
Mick. Thanks for the very detailed explanation. Without this and taking it a step at a time I'd have never got my head around these times. My set up even for 10x8 prints from colour negs is usually under 10 secs. The wife complains at my throughput now so at 10 to 15 mins per print my photography would require almost reckless courage on my part!