8x10 Enlargers HELP!!!!!

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by david_hughes|15, Apr 15, 2006.

  1. I need help finding the right enlarger for my needs.
    I know absolutely nothing about 8x10 enlargers.
    I have been a professional photographer for 30 years and am a very good B & W printer
    but have been digital for 7 years. I now need to make silver prints for fine art that I'm
    shooting in 4x5 - 8x10.
    My stuff is impressionistic, I don't need the perfection that say a architect photographer
    may need but I want the best quality blk & white prints that I can possibly make from my
    film & plates. 15 years ago I use to use diffusion and cold light heads leaning more
    towards diffusion for my needs. I'm not sure what the equipment today is about or if it is
    desired compared to the past.
    Please any suggestions on which enlargers I should look into & where to look for them
    other than ebay would be most appreciated.
    I don't want anything high maintenance, hard to find used, crazy expensive or hugh in size
    as my ceiling space is limited to 85.5 inches and 95 inches between floor joists.
    I would like to be able to make prints up to 20 x 24.
  2. David, check out


    Even if you don't like their used prices, their comments on the various models are worthwhile
  3. If I may ride on this thread - My partner and I are looking for a good 8x10 (or 10"x10") enlarger.
  4. I know little about specific 8x10 enlargers. However, as to places to look - Ebay is the obvious place. In addition, I think MidWest Photo Exchange still has a darkroom department, you might call and see if they have anything or can give you leads to someone who does. The guy who used to run their darkroom department (Juan?) was a nice guy and helpful. You could also post a "wanted" notice in APUG and in photo.net. And if you don't mind spending a few dollars you could post a "wanted" ad in the classified ad section of View Camera magazine. Finally, if you're in a metropolitan area you might check with some of the local labs. Most went digital and got rid of their 8x10s a few years ago but you might get lucky and find one for sale.
  5. "...high maintenance, hard to find used, crazy expensive or hugh in size" Wait a minute, isn't that the very definition of 8x10 enlargers, and the 8x10 format in general? I've never seen a small one, but you might consider finding or building a horizontal enlarger the way Adams did. Solves much of the height problem.
  6. I used to write for Darkroom magazine and in that era test drove a number of different enlargers. The one that was so good that I persuaded the man who designed it to let me buy it from him was a conversion of a regular Bessler 4x5 enlarger to 8x10 with a cold-light adapter head. The designer was Allan Ross, one of Ansel's former assistants and an excellent photographer himself. He subsquently sold or leased the design to either Bessler or Calumet - not sure which - but in any case I believe that Calumet still sells them. They are very clever engineering and do not require a huge amount of head room as they work with a pretty short lens. They are vastly cheaper than most other modern alternatives. You might find something like an old Saltzman going cheap from someone who wants the vast amount of space they take up back but they are finicky and cumbersome and I recommend against. The other modern alternative that works well enough is the Durst but they cost a fortune and are also large and heavy.
    I would also recommend that you buy the glassless negative carrier for your 8x10 film - the glass/difuser(white plastic) negative carrier sandwhich that is standard in this system is prone to newton rings AND dust (but it IS very good for making enlarged "contacts" of roll film). You can use a regular glassless 4x5 carrier for the smaller format because the enlarger converts back to a regular enlarger by simply lifting off the cold light and flipping the adpater and refitting the cold light -- very quick and easy. This gives you a good enlarger that will do all formats.

    You can use regular beneath-the-lens polycontrast filters if you like but you will get cleaner results if you invest in a set of 10x10 large poly filters that will go in the head above the film holder and difuser. Kodak USED to make these -- who knows what they still make any more...

    One last important caveat. The enlarger I bought from Allan had the power supply for the flourescent cold light head in a separate box that sits on the back of my base board -- understandable because it is quite heavy. But Bessler (or whoever) decided to save manufacturing expense and build this into the head itself. This makes the head heavier than this enlarger chassis was engineered to withstand. Unless they have beefed up the chassis somehow I recommed strongly that you fabricate and install a brace from the center back of the enlarger chassis to the wall behind. Absent this you will find yourself with difficulty keeping the head square to the paper plane with an attendant loss of focus precision -- not some - a LOT! I have this with my head and I don't have the power supply in it!

    j sturges
  7. hmmm, I have a beseler 45mxt, Always loved the design, esp. with the ZVI cold-light.
    From what I see on the calumet page, http://www.calumetphoto.com/item/BS3192/
    810 Conversion Kit is $3,349.00,.......OUCH. Conversion kit designed to fit all 45V and
    45M series enlargers. Consists of cold light source, film stage/illumination housing, glass
    and glass-less film carrier plus adapter for 45M condenser light source or 45A.
    none in stock so It might not be available. Also no picture to see what the heck it looks

    On Beselers site http://www.beselerphoto.com/lightsources.php, it shows it and it is a
    special order.

    Is this what you worked with Jock?

    Thanks for all the help.
  8. You might try some of the goverment agencies in your area as most are going digital and doing away with their darkroom equipment. I recently bought a 10x10 omega enlarger with color head, three lenses, and two 20x24 easels from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). I got everything for 50 bucks.
  9. wow, tha't even better than my $1 DeVere horizontal, even after he threw in a light source-less Elwood 8x10, as well as a 16 1/2" Apo Artar.
  10. Some info 10" x 10" poly filters are no longer available, but 12" x 14" are. None of the
    "stores" BH, Calimet etc will tell you they are available but according to Tiffen who packages
    the kodak polymax contrast filters you can get them # ek3657798 $ 156.00
  11. David, 8x10 enlargers can be quite involved mechanically and they are usually quite large, perhaps more than what you want for your space. If I may make a suggestion, you can enlarge 4x5 to the size you state (20x24) with no problems. All of the accessories and lenses for 4x5's are cheaper than for 8x10's and they are generally a little easier to use. I am shooting 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10. I enlarge the 4x5 and 5x7, but I also make contact prints from 5x7 and 8x10. A lot of people these days are using 8x10 purely for contact printing, which offers some things you cannot do with an enlarger.

    On the other hand, do your research and keep your eyes peeled. Enlargers are going for a song these days as colleges as labs go digital. These are really halcyon days for those of us who love the darkroom.
  12. The old Elwood enlargers are built like tanks and have great negative carriers. I never had any problem with the double-glass carriers (both clear glass) -- neither with newton rings or dust.

    Aristo makes a cold light head to fit it, which will probably cost you more than the enlarger and a good lens.

    An alternative is to make a box with several light bulb sockets in it, wire them up parallel with lamp cord from the hardware store, and then put some low-watt bulbs in them. Use flashed opal glass for the diffusing glass at the bottom of the box. You can saw a hole in the side for a hose fitting and run some vacuum cleaner hose out the side to a fan located elsewhere to keep it cool (make sure the hose is opaque to light). I did this years ago with the Elwood and it worked great.

    The Elwood originally came with a bulb of a certain circumference/diameter in a highly reflective lid, with several layers of glass underneath it. The glass had a dual purpose: diffusion and heat absorption. (This is per a manual for the enlarger.) So, if you can find one in intact condition, I'd go for it and learn to work with it.

    Anyway, I like the results I've gotten from my "poor man's cold light head" -- identical quality to that I get from my Aristo 5x7 (on a smaller Elwood!) and you can build it in an afternoon.

    Hope this helps.
  13. michael,
    I own a sign shop, and nkow a good neon bender, the plan is to build a cold light head for it, though it may be a little while, as I have too many projects right now. (including a completely modular monorail with several backs from 6x7 to 8x10)

  14. The listing you cite is indeed what i am using -- though they were only about 1K when I bought mine years ago. If you have lots of space then some of the older gear others are mentioning might indeed be findable for a song. But if you are very limited for space the adapted Bessler is the best bet.

    Someone mentioned using 4x5 and/or 5x7 instead of 8x10. Actually I consider 8x10 much the easier format with which to shoot. The size and clarity of the image on the ground glass make working quickly and precisely vastly easier than smaller view camera formats where you are essentially obliged to use a loop. It's expensive but for me - use the best, be the best...

  15. I have a 8x10 light source for the Beseler converted 45MXT enlarger if anyone is still looking. This was the production right after Allan Ross sold the design first to Aristo, then to Beseler. This is a Beseler version and is in excellent shape. It is NOT the 2nd generation they produced, with the transformer/power supply in the head...it is the one where the transformer/power supply is a seperate unit.. I have an original Alan Ross as well, but not letting that one go.

    What Jock said about the 45MXT conversion kit. I had 2 (still use 1) and the Beseler 810 VXL chassis. That unit is excellent, but takes up more space. If space is an issue, get the 45MXT.

    I sold the 45MXT and chassis, with the conversion, seperately, but all are still available either thru Beseler or Calumet...maybe even B&H and Adorama.

    If interested, go to my website and find my email and send me a note directly. Put re:8x10 head or you might get filtered.



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