Thinking of buying a Leitz Focomat V35 enlarger. Does anyone on the forum use one, or can anyone tell me if they are a good enlarger.
I have read write ups about them and they are good, but I want an opinion off someone who has used one.
They are an excellent enlarger. One the very best for 35mm.
There are different versions (color, MG etc) and a few different holders.
You will not be disappointed.
While they are auto focus, always double check your focus manually with a Peak or similar grain focusing loop.
The V35 is a marvellous enlarger. I have used one for years.
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
Great machine. If you have no plans to do colour, get the Multigrade module version. Easier to use and exposures shorter. Even so, it's not that bright and I find I am using the f2.8 lens wide open most of the time to avoid tediously long exposures; which is OK, it's that good a lens. Getting another enlarger with an Ilford MG 500 head has opened my eyes to how bright enlarger illumination can be; but the heat is such that double glass carriers are necessary. The standard carrier for the V35 has upper anti-Newton glass, none below.
As for the Auto-focus, it is so good I only check it every couple of years. With the must-have Leitz 40mm Focomat lens, the grain is needle sharp with lens wide open throughout the range. It will do 16 x 12 but won't quite go up to 20 x 16, so for that you either need another enlarger, or turn the head round, hand focus and project on the floor, not very practical if your enlarger is on a bench backed up against a wall, as the baseboard needs clamping to the bench.
I've got one, with the 40mm Focotar & MG HEAD, in the garage. Superb enlarger, really needs using.
PM me, if you're interested.
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Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
Get it without any hesitation, they are indeed worthy of all this praise. The lens is wonderful but confirm which lamp socket the V35 has, if you have a line on one. There's an early version which takes bulbs that may be difficult, if not impossible to get, from what I've heard here and there.
I can only echo these words. I've recently started printing 35mm negs (usually did 120, before) on one of these enlargers and I've been really impressed with how sharp the print is, even on 2.8. It's noticeable.
"Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."
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Nope, I really won't. I'd be far happier to see someone else using it than have it gathering dust in my garage.
Originally Posted by clogz
I'm far more attached to my hand built Strobe, studio flash, equipment. Much rarer than mass produced Leitz/Leica gear and vastly more interesting to me.
I used a cheapo enlarger for several years coupled with a cheap nikon enlarging lens. When I got my V35 I printed some old negatives to compare the prints from the old enlarger. The difference is STUNNING! The only real difference is the lens and I've heard (but not tried) that there are far better lenses like the Schneider APO that are cheaper.
That said I think that any enlarger works well for the careful printer. What matters is the lens you use and your talent in the darkroom. The V35 is really built for speed, it is solid and provides a manner of working that can be very fast if that's what you need.
An important thing to note is how your enlarger is supported. Be sure to set it up on a surface that is vibration free. A second story bathroom in a old wood frame house is a poor choice. Set a glass of water where you plan to put it and walk through the room, have someone open and close doors next to the area and see how much vibration there is in the water. You'll be surprised at how much there is typically.
The autofocus really does work and work well. I took a blank negative and scratched an X in it to focus the enlarger easily. I checked the focus regularly and it is spot on each time. You must use a Focotar for the autofocus to work. Just about any easel will work with it I think up to 65mm thick.
I love this enlarger but note that you can only do 35mm negatives with it. If you use other formats or plan to, go ahead and invest (begin with the end in mind) in an enlarger that will grow with you. If you are just getting into photography why not buy a very cheap enlarger and a great lens. In photography your money is always best spent on quality glass first but if you have the means to go all out don't let my silly advice stop you.