poppers, I don't know if you have something like Craigslist where you live but what you might want to do is check Craigslist on a regular basis for "enlarger" or "darkroom" and see what comes up. I did this with local resources in the US and ended up buying a couple of enlargers at various price points under $40. One is a Beseler 4x5 enlarger and one is a Beseler 23C III enlarger. I am currently eyeing another Beseler 23C with dichro head for less than $30. I passed on a nice Omega because it was too far away. Gas prices killed the deal.
Depending on where you live you can pick up an enlarger for less than the cost of a night out at a pub. I personally wouldn't pass on a solid $30 enlarger from Beseler, Omega, Durst, etc. You can search the forum whenever you come across an enlarger in good condition and see what people have had to say about it.
One thing I will caution you about is make sure whatever enlarger you get is as complete as possible. A good condition 6x6 negative carrier for a Beseler 45 enlarger can run you $50. That's more than I paid for the enlarger. I am really cheap about buying enlargers because invariably you will have to shell out $$30-$80 for a top of the line mint non-APO lens. So you really don't want to start chasing down negative carriers at $50 a pop. All enlargers I have looked at come with lenses that their owners are proud of. But without fail they are usually older lenses that are not as sharp as modern lenses. Some of the lenses I've seen have fungus on them. It's pointless to go cheap on the lens. Just budget to get a nice modern Nikkor, Rodenstock, or Schneider.
Another thing to consider is the availability and price of accessories. Omega's and Beselers are all over the place here in the US. I hear Dursts are more common in Europe. I don't know how true that is but it is something to look into. If you buy some really elite rare enlarger you may be setting yourself up to pay through the nose for years for basic things like negative carriers and other parts and accessories. The same is true if you get some obscure enlarger for free. I've gone and checked out multiple enlargers and walked away from the deal because I knew I would be burdening myself with something that was going to be pricey in the long run. I've had people almost pleading with me to take their enlarger. Just say no to obscure and incomplete enlargers.
I am no darkroom expert by any stretch of the imagination, but people seem to be able to make enlargements just fine without using really fancy enlargers. I think everything just boils down to individual preferences and what lens you use. If your enlarger is properly aligned and you use a high quality lens I would think the results from most enlargers would be indistinguishable. The work flow may differ and some stuff may be a bit more of a PIA but all my research has pretty much left me open to most common big name enlargers that come my way.
Last edited by Noble; 02-18-2013 at 02:11 PM. Click to view previous post history.