Smaller MF enlargers for limited space.
Unfortunately, B&H no longer displays the enlargers on the floor, so I cannot go and feel how they are built. I am most probably looking for a used enlarger anyway, but at least you could get an idea of the newer models there.
Requirements: an enlarger that can do 6x7, small enough to be stored in a closet (maybe on a utility cart) and taken to the bathroom for printing. I plan to print b&w only, no larger than 11x14. It should be a currently produced model, or should have been mass produced and sold in US in the past, so that parts would be available for some years.
I really do not shoot 6x7 right now, just 35mm, but I would like to do MF at some point, and would not want the enlarger limitations to dictate the choice of equipment (and rule out Pentax 67). However, an exceptional 6x6 enlarger deal can be considered.
So to help me choose, I ask for comments from users who print in makeshift home conditions on the following models.
1. Omega C-700 appeals to me because it is the smallest thing that can do 6x7. I have limited space, and will need to take it in and out of a closet to a makeshift darkroom (bathroom). They are also quite cheap; even when new they go for $300 with condenser, and they can be found used for close to nothing. It is still produced and parts can easily be found. But I am worried about the build quality: will it last, is the column too wobbly, etc. Can any current users (or former disgruntled users) share their experience? Is alignment easy?
2. The next currently or very recently produced enlargers of more or less "domestic" size are LPL C6600/D6700.
- Can anybody explain why the VC model can do 6x7 but the condenser can only house 6x6? LPL site seems to indicate that the only difference is in the light source, so the column and chassis are the same? Does it mean that if I buy the condenser model, I can then still use a dichro head to print 6x7?
- Does it clip on and off the baseboard (for storage), or is it screwed on more or less permanently? If it is, how does the column reversal work?
- Are there alignment screws? I cannot see it in online descriptions.
3. There are used Omega models of reasonable size, but I also want something that is still produced, or has recently been mass-produced, so that parts will be available for some years. I was looking at a nice used Omega B8, but its neg carriers and lens cones are unique, and are apparently not even the same as other Omega B series. It's somewhat bigger, (it can print 6x9's) and part availability is a concern.
4. Then there is the Beseler line. The flagship 23C seems too large and heavy for makeshift bathroom use, and the option to consider is the Beseler 67X line. Like this one. Of course, parts for these are also plentiful. Any current users to comment? What is the weight of the thing?
Omega C-700 will handle 35mm up to 6x7, and is fairly sturdy, yet on the light weight side. I have three of them set up for different formats, they all function the same so no surprises when operating any one of them. It is a current production machine,so parts and accessories are readily available.
The weight difference between a Beseler 23C and a 67S isn’t great. The 67S is a bit lighter, but not by a great deal.
The 23CIII XL dichro is 60.0 pounds while the 67XL dichro is 52.2 pounds.
See “Specifications” here:
The weights vary depending on column length, whether the condensers or diffuser units are installed, and what head you choose.
The 23C handles formats up to 6 x 9cm.
Of the two brands, I find the focusing smoother on the Omegas.
I have a Beseler 67C XL that I bought (used) in 1978. It's been used steadily since then and the only part it's required is one light bulb. Parts remain readily available. These enlargers can be acquired used at very low cost. Fairly easy to move and set up.
Diffusion heads are available also.
"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest"........Paul Simon
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Dunco II 67, Kaiser, Kienzle or Durst M670, M805. The Dunco II is very compact and bright and has the combination of condensor/diffuser system. recommended. Dunco, Kaiser and Kienzle are still in production so parts are available too.
I move a Beseler 23C on a wheeled cart to and from my temporary darkroom (in a bathroom). I used to carry it in and out. I'm a 5 foot 3 inch 45-year-old woman. If I can do it, anyone can.
The advantage of that enlarger is that it is readily available used, as are the negative carriers and other accessories.
This sounds like me - although I did acquire a colour head a couple of years ago and used it until I switched to an Omega D6.
Originally Posted by largely
The Beseler 67 is currently in storage, awaiting room for a two enlarger set-up.
You can see it in operation here - complete with cart:
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
The omega and beseler are both high quality and rugged. I have a beseler 4x5 enlarger and an omega 35/120 enlarger. I've had an omega chromega-B (for upto 6x6cm) for 20+ years and have only had to change the bulb a couple times.
The omega c700 or c760 will probably be among the more compact choices for medium format. They are very sturdy, well made, and have plenty of parts available online. Beseler also has good qualifications, but the omega is probably lighter and easier to manuever with it's single column.
You or a person handy with a sewing machine might want to fabricate some sort of cover to keep your enlarger head from getting all dusty when stored, as the dust will make its way into the negatives and be immortalized in print.
The Omega B22 has a very small head, a filter drawer above the neg stage for VC filters, and will work with 6x6, but I don't think 6x7. It is a great enlarger, small and light and well machined. You can adjust the level of the neg stage which you cannot on the smaller Beselers (at least not the 23c). I used one for years till I got the 4x5 and always liked it. You can get them used for $100 or less - there are some on ebay right now.
If you get one be sure it has the suplimental condenser (a single convex/flat piece mounted in a thin aluminum ring) which you slide in with the double condenser to convert to 35mm, or 6x6 - I can't remember which.
Also, there was an XL version made which goes to 16x20 from 35mm on the baseboard.