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  1. #1
    Kvistgaard's Avatar
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    Focomat 1c - pros/cons

    Hi all,

    I've been offered to buy a Focomat 1c. Although no spring chicken, it seems to be in good shape with mechanical parts moving smoothly. It has not been used for a few years.

    Assume that quite a few of you have hands-on experience with this enlarger. What in your opinions is good about it, and what is bad?

    Anything in particular to look out for - known production weaknesses, that sort of thing?

    There's no filter tray. What is the usual workaround for this, provided I don't want to stick the filter between the lens and the paper.

    I appreciate your insights on this - Thanks!
    S°ren

    "We are much more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than think our way into a new way of acting." - R. Pascale

  2. #2

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    If these are the Leitz enlargers I'm thinking of, I used these at the newspaper where I once worked. Great enlargers. They are 35mm only, right?

    Without a filter tray, you can either go the in-front-of-the-lens route, use graded paper or simply remove the top portion of the head that has the light bulb and lay the filters on top of the condenser. A bit fiddly in the dark but it works and you get used to it.

    Make sure it has the negative carrier and the anti-Newton ring glass disc that fits over the bottom condensor (the portion that presses against the negative). You may be able to get by without either the carrier or the ANR glass disc but both make life easier than making do. A lot easier.

    The chief photographer at the paper used to say he had to adjust the autofocus on these enlargers but I worked there over 15 years and I don't think he ever adjusted any of the four in the lab the whole time. I've used one for location shooting and transmitting photos back to the paper. It held up fine for all the dismantling and reassembly required--better than my back held up with all the printing I had to do by using the enlarger in motel bathrooms.

  3. #3
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    It's nearly 40 years since I used one, but my recollection is completely in line with Lee's statements, the Focomat is very solid and easy to use. Personally I wouldn't worry about using the Multigrade below-lens filter kit, I have not noticed any image degradation and it allows split-grade printing etc., which is really difficult if you're having to open up the lamphouse to change filters. Don't pay too much for the enlarger, though, they're not too popular these days because of the lack of filter drawer/head.

    Regards,

    David

  4. #4
    Saganich's Avatar
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    The first essential component you want is the anti-newton ring add-on glass and spacer. To purchase one will run you the better side of 100 beans so hopefully yours has one already. Many 1C enlargers which were in professional use have them. You can check by lifting the head back locking it in place and looking to see if there is a frosted looking slip-on glass ring over the condenser. If so you should be able to slip it off it should have two parts, the glass and a spacer.

    The second essential item is the neg carrier. Make sure it comes with one! There is a version with glass and one without glass.

    The third issue is the wiring, often it starts to corrode on the top of the post. Check it out.

    The fourth issue is enlargement size. My black IC will make full 11x14 prints. I do not know if the reproduction ratios are all the same for the different versions. My IIA is 13x which is good for 16x20 paper with normal borders. My black 1C has a max ratio of 10x which is 11x14 with normal borders. The head can be moved up and clamped down for larger print sizes.

    The only work around for not having a filter draw is to use an under the lens rig. I use one on my IIA. As mentioned you can put the filter in the light housing by lifting the lid. I supposed an industrious person could install a hinge to make it easier. It is a tedious way to use filters no matter what anyone says. You'll probably burn your hand on the bulb alot.

    Chris
    Chris Saganich
    http://www.imagebrooklyn.com

  5. #5

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    I use a Focomat Ic without the AN glass. If you lower the condenser (w/o AN glass) directly unto the negative you will indeed get newton rings. However, there's a solution: I sandwich a perforated piece of 120 film between the negative and condenser. This completely eliminates newtons rings and also doesn't cause any loss in sharpness. Admittedly, negatives that are on either end of the strip are a bit more hassle to work with.
    Also, AN glass + spacer occasionally pop up at the auction site.
    Cheers, omar

  6. #6

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    The 1C is my favorite enlarger. I don't experience newton rings and don't have the special glass. I rewired my 1C and refinshed the wood base. A weakness is no filter holders however you can fashion a fixture to hold 2 inch by 2 inch VC filters. The pluses are the light quality falls between a condensor (Omega B-22) and a diffused light source. The negative stays flat and auto focus is nice. The IC elevation control is butter smooth and the compact enlarger is easy to move. It may look odd but only the V35 is a better enlarger for small format.
    RJ



 

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