If you're near Costa Mesa check out "Used Camera Store" near the end of the 55 freeway. Last time I was in there he had a nice collection of decent enlargers along with other darkroom stuff.
I'm in a similar position; that of putting together my first darkroom. I'd strongly recommend taking some time to do some homework on enlargers. Consider the film format(s) as well as the print format you'll want to work with (btw, 11x14" is a pretty modest print requirement). Also start building a roster of non-enlarger equipment. The New Darkroom Handbook by DeMario, Worth, and Curtin is a great resource for planning everything from a temporary bathroom darkroom to a full professional setup.
Then keep your eyes peeled for a deal; sites such as Craigslist regularly have screaming deals on darkroom equipment. It's worth being picky and a bit patient. For example, I recently picked up a pristine LPL 7700 enlarger for <gloat>$30</gloat> recently. (Adorama lists it new for over 1200 USD, for example.)
I've used an Omega B22, Besslar 23c, and Omega D2v (still use). If you are sticking to 35mm and have a $1000 budget, get the best Leitz V35 (color or variable contrast head) you can find. I bought one to suplement my D2 and it is much nicer to use. Make sure you get the Leitz lens comes with it and it has the negative carriers with it (usually does). You won't be disappointed.
Buy a decent second hand enlarger - they are very good value for money.
Enlargers are simple devices that have very few things to go wrong with them.
The most common things that go wrong are:-
Get dropped and bent slightly
Cracked/split focusing bellows
Worn (sloppy or sticky) head and focus movements
Like most things they are best seen before you buy if possible.
Think about the likelihood of you ever moving up in format sizes - most of us started at 35mm moved on up to 6x6 and possibly then on to who knows where
Most decent 35mm enlargers will also cover 6x6 or possibly 6x7 or 6x9
Colour or Black & White only - only you know?
B&W enlargers are generally cheaper than colour.
I only do B&W printing and use a under the lens Multigrade Filter set for both my B&W AND Colour enlarger.
Then think about whether the money you have saved on a second-hand enlarger should be put into buying a brand new Enlarging Lens.
May be I have been unlucky but I have bought a couple of second hand enlarging lenses and they have not been up to scratch.
Having been caught out twice, I finally bit the bullet and bought the new Enlarging Lens I should have bought the first time round.
Enlarging Lenses are the prime lens in your system - all your prints go through this one lens - don’t have a high quality camera system and a sub-standard enlarging lens
What happened to everyone saying we need to support the traditional photo industry all the time aroud here!?
You should buy a new enlarger, and take pride that you are supporting analog photography.
By the way, I have both a Saunders 4500 and a Beselar 67C, both bought new to show my support. I got my lenses new too.
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I agree with all the others regarding buying used, but will toss in a few other thoughts:
Look for someone who is closing down an entire darkroom so that you can get not just the enlarger but all the other goodies that you are going to need/want: trays, print washers, timers, grain focusers etc ad nauseum. All these little things can bankrupt you if you want to buy them new or separately, but will often be tossed in for little or nothing when you are picking up a larger item. I have bought out a couple of local darkrooms this way, in each case because there was one signature item that I was after (in one case a Beseler 45MX enlarger, in another a Jobo CPP processor), and some of the additional stuff I used in my darkroom, other times I have sold the surplus stuff, sometimes for as much as I paid for the entire load.
Lots of great info...thanks everyone!
Coming back home to my film roots. Canon EOS-3 SLR, Canon EOS 1V SLR, 580ex flash, and 5D DSLR shooter. Prime lens only shooter.
You make an important point about supporting analog photography equipment makers. I purchased one of my two enlargers new, and have also purchased other new darkroom items.
In Japan, you can buy new enlargers and other stuff from the manufacturers like LPL and Fujimoto, but they have raised their prices quite high in the last year or two. Especially Fujimoto/Lucky, when it was merged by Kenko, has doubled the prices for their enlargers (for one popular model, from around 1,000USD to 2,000USD!).
I mean, it's pretty ridiculous now...
A new LPL/Saunders/Whatever it's called enlarger will last you a lifetime. You know it's been taken care of, and you can also have satisfation that you've done your part to support analog photography.
If we don't keep the market for enlargers going, where are the schools going to get enlarger 2, or 5, or 10 years from now when they decide they want to put their analog darkrooms back to use?