Buying a Leitz Focomat V35- What to look out for?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by chris_sullivan|1, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. I am going to go look at a Leitz Focomat V35 enlarger with a multi-contrast head for sale tomorrow and I
    would like to know if there is anything I should look out for? The lens is the 40/2.8 Focotar and I am told
    that the Auto-focus works perfectly. If there are any quirks or issues that I should be looking out for, I
    would really appreciate hearing about them. Thanks in advance.
  2. The V-35 is a bulletproof workhorse. It should be fairly obvious if the unit has led a rough life or a gentle one. Take a negative or slide with you (depending on which carrier comes with it), and check if the projected image is sharp across the entire field, and that the auto-focus is working properly. Take off the light unit -- the diffusion of the light is by styrofoam, make sure that it's intact.
    <P>If you get it, buy the Hove Leica Darkroom book, which covers the unit quite nicely.
  3. Its a great enlarger, I do not know of anything that is a general problem.
  4. If the baseboard has not been replaced, then the autofocus system would probably work at
    all ranges.

    I bought a V35 with its original Focotar several years ago. Although it is in very good
    condiditon, the baseboard was replaced by the dealer to make it look good. The autofocus
    does not seem to be adjustable to work at the lower magnification range.

    Comparatively, the autiofocus of my Focomat 1C feels lighter and works flawlessly for
    years with no readjustment needed.

    The V35 is a work of art and a beuatiful piece of machinery. Let us know how much you
    pay for it these days.
  5. I believe the internal part of the lamphouse was changed at some point in the V35's production, in order to provide more even illumination. While it might not affect your purchase decision, you might still want to know whether you are buying the new or old version.

    For what it's worth, I bought my new in about 1991 and it had the new version.
  6. The helical focussing unit has a click stop to set the autofocus position. It can pop out
    and the focussing unit will just turn without the detent at the stop. This is not the lens
    aperture adjustment. If it is not in place, then maintaining autofocus is near impossible
    because every time you adjust the aperture, you bump the the focus out. It can be fixed
    easily by a good technician.

    Check the lamphouse as stated before to make sure the styrofoam diffusers are not

    There are a number of adjustment set screws on the autofocus mechanism and they are
    factory set for each enlarger. They are coated with a blue paint seal. If this paint seal is
    broken, then someone has interfered with the autofocus mechanism and it might not work
    - ever again.

    Try to get the matching Focotimer if you can, it will make life easier. Forget the Focometer
    - too unreliable. Also check the lens for fungus or cleaning scratches. Cleaning scratches
    will destroy the performance.

    Great enlarger, Hope this helps.
  7. The later lightboxes have a pin prick mark in one corner of the diffuser plastic indicating double diffusers. This is what you want for even light.

    Take a grain focuser and watch the focus top to bottom.

    You will need the 13139 lamp and HOLDER, not the older version.

    Get the color module, not VC module if you will ever do color printing. VC can be done with the color module, not the other way. Both are a plus.

    Make sure the glass in the neg carrier is not scratched. Double glass with blue mask is also nice to have. It was an option.

    Great machine, but I use my IC more.
  8. If you have difficulty setting the sutofocus with the original or a replacement baseboard, try the calibration method described in my posting here of a month or so ago.

    The autofocus on my V35 couldn't be set using the procedure given in the V35 manual and in the Hove book. I did set it properly using the simple method in my posting and the autofocus has been working properly since. Also check that the colum actually rises when you turn the elevation knob at the top of the column. The knob can slip on the threaded shaft and the column may not move.

    Good luck, it is a fine enlarger.
  9. I neglected to mention an important item to check when inspecting the V35.

    Early models of the V35 used an obsolete projection lamp which is very difficult to find as a replacement. Later models use a far more common lamp.

    Go to:

    for a description and photographs of the lamp types.
  10. Great enlarger. As has been mentioned before, get the book "Leica Darkroom Practice - The Focomat Manual" by Rudolph Seck, and pay attention to what bulb is needed. MC head seems to be harder to find, so probably the best to start with. Color and B/W heads more easily found. Make sure you have the negative carriers you need as these can be expensive and hard to find. Various optional peripherals can be hard to find (and are expensive), but are useful, such as the Quartz Focometer, the Focotimer, and the voltage regulator. For 35mm, it can't be beat.
  11. Ask for extra lamps if the seller has them. I am not surprised if the 12V 75W Philips bulb
    would cost $50 these days.

    Make sure you get a copy of the manual. If it comes with a Focometer 1 or 2, a manual is

    Get the negative as well as the slide carriers if the seller has both.

    Also get the The Leitz enlarger easel if the seller has one.
  12. "Ask for extra lamps if the seller has them. I am not surprised if the 12V 75W Philips bulb would cost $50 these days. "

    It is worthwhile to shop around on the web for special bulbs. I paid about $7 apiece for my V35 bulbs at topbulb.
  13. It is worthwhile to shop around on the web for special bulbs. I paid about $7 apiece for my V35 bulbs at topbulb.

    Free is better than $7.

    I wouldn't waste money even $7 on possible trash.
  14. Thanks for everyone's info. Your advice helped me decide to buy the enlarger. V35, Variable
    contrast module, 40/2 Focotar in great condition, single glass negative carrier, later model
    philips lamp. Also included was three easels (saunders) and a stainless print washing bin.
    Picked up the package for $700. If anyone has a lead where to find a Focotimer, I'm going to
    need one.
  15. Congratulations! Sounds like a perfect setup. My only other suggestion is that you buy an extra light bulb and keep it handy, oh yeah and be sure to always put the lens cap on when you're done.
  16. I may sound like the obvious(and yes, I do own a V35) but the best auto focus is to never auto focus. By that I mean I would leave the focus and enlarger height fixed at a given print size. I always used the glass carrier and printed full frame on 8x10 paper. Never moved the height or focus.
  17. Hello all. I just picked up a Leitz Focomat V35 Autofocus enlarger from I got it for $60AUD and overall it looks in good condition.
    On the down side it is missing major parts, one being the negative carrier the other being the housing that encloses the enlarger head. Does anybody know what this part is actually called, does it contain a condensor and where I could pick one up?

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