Photo Enlarger

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by tony_dowling, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. Hello my name is Tony and I would like some assistance with developing my interest in developing and processing my own film. I have a 35mm film camera and will soon have a medium format (6x6) film camera. I would like to be able manage the whole process in my own dark room, which is yet to be constructed.
    I am at the research stage of acquiring equipment for this purpose, and am pretty much uniformed about what to buy, what's good gear and what's not.
    I have an opportunity to buy a Kaiser System - V Photographic Enlarger. Comes with Base Board, Transformer, Enlarger Unit, 2 New Lamps, Keisar 4.5 x 6 Format Mask, Keisar 24 x 36 Format mask, Keisar 6x6 Format Mask, Schneider Componar S 2.8 50mm lens, Rodenstock Rodagon 80mm F1.4 Lens.
    My level of requirement is that of a hobbyist/ enthusiast. My questions are:
    Does the gear described above fit in the lower, mid or upper range in terms of quality.
    Will this kit described above satisfy my requirements, and is it relatively complete.
    If someone were able to put a loose estimate of cost of such a kit, this would also be very helpful.
    Thank you.
  2. After a very quick google search it looks okay but I can't personally tell you about the quality since I have never used them before. I can say that the Beseler 23C enlarger has worked awesome for me. You will also need developing trays and some other supplies. Are you planning to do color or black and white? I can tell you that the setup has really good lenses.
  3. At current new prices you are looking at about 1200-1300 GBP but as to secondhand price it is what you are willing to pay/what the seller is willing to accept.
    Regarding the quality the kit appears to fit at the top end of amateur beginning pro point in the manufacturers ranges, but whether this means anything outside a marketing meeting is anyones guess. What you can be sure of is that it is all good quality kit from recognised manuafacturers.
  4. Enlargers are so cheap right now you can often get them free. The implication is, you might wait around for a more professional model, a Beseler 23, say, or an Omega D.
  5. Kaiser equipment is top of the line,readily available in the UK and Europe, not so common in North America. A google search will get you some info, and that unit appears to be current. If the price is right, go for it.
  6. I'm feelin' sorta like Bob Keefer on this one. The best are going for very little these days. I'm not acquainted with the Kaiser line, so will defer to Sunley on that, but do at least check out Beseler and Omega enlargers.
  7. Rodenstock Rodagon 80mm F1.4 Lens.​
    I have a strange feeling that this is actually an "f1:4" lens, more commonly known as an f4, not an f1.4.
  8. AJG


    I would look for a better lens for 35 mm than the Componar--this is Schneider's low end lens, and a Schneider Componon S, El Nikkor 50 f/2.8 or Rodenstock Rodagon 50 would be a noticeable improvement in sharpness, particularly at the edges of 8x10 and larger prints.
  9. Thank you all very much indeed, your comments have been most helpful.
  10. Tony, are you sure that the 50 mm lens isn't a Componon S rather than a Componar S. The Componon S is aamong the very best of the Schneider enlarging lenses. Only the "APO" designated lenses are better, and then only for extreme enlargements. Schneider makes a lower quality lens designated Componar, and I have never seen that designation suffixed with an "S". The Rodenstock Rodagon 80 mm lens is likewise near the top of the Rodenstock line of enlarging lenses. You can't do much better than these lenses at any price. Any advantage offered by higher end lenses will be very slight to non-existent at common enlargement ratios and will come at an astronomical increase in price. Both are keepers if they are in good condition. Good condition means the glass is scratch free and reasonably clean, and that the aperture operates as it should. Never having seen one, I can offer no comment on the Kaiser enlarger.
    Looks like what you have there will cover your enlarging needs for what you intend. Of course you will need an easel, trays, tongs, safelight, and a host of other little accessories to really get started. Have you thought about what you'll need to develop the film?
  11. I copy Franks comments on the lenses. I use the Rodagon 80mm f4, both on the enlarger and with adapters as a pretty stunning macro lens on cameras.
    The Kaiser you mention is of excellent build. Again, I use this equipment, as well as a Durst M605 along side the Kaiser.
    Americans will always promote their home grown gear for two reasons:
    1. Yes the Beseler is a sturdy machine and worthy of note
    2 . Relatively few over there have even heard of Kaiser, much less had experience with one.
    You will not regret buying that outfit, especially with those lenses. You also have the possibility of image geometry and plane of focus controls, similar to movements on a large format camera. I quickly made this image, illustrating adjustments on the Kaiser. (The Durst actually has lens board shift in addition) However, they are high-end enlargers.
  12. Where are you located, Tony? I ask because you should keep in mind how hard it may be to find additional parts in the future for your enlarger, and that will depend on how popular the enlarger was in your part of the world..
    If you are in the US, it will be much easier to find additional or replacement parts, such as negative carriers, for a Beseler or Omega enlarger. (So, contrary to Kevin Parratt, this isn't all about American chauvinism and ignorance.) If you are in the UK or Europe, parts for a Durst, Meopta, or Kaiser shouldn't be hard to find.
    Having said that, enlargers can be had for a bargain nowadays. If the Kaiser proves inadequate, you can probably pick up a replacement enlarger for a minimal investment.
  13. Well yes, you will find more replacement parts for the Beseler and Omega for the very reason Kevin stated. Beseler is home grown and is probably the most popular in the US. The USA is Beseler country . As Kevin also acknowledges, they are "sturdy machines and worthy of note." I worked on one for six months day and night.
    Because of the proliferation of Beseler and Omega in the US, the familiarity with Kaiser darkroom gear is therefor minimal. Fact. Nothing to do with any "American chauvinism".
    Just like for most of the life (before it's collapse) of the US motor industry, you wouldn't dare drive to work in Detroit in anything other than .... ? Neither would this be anything to do "American Chauvinism", nor in fact the superiority of the product, but American patriotism. And there is nothing wrong with supporting your own industries.
    The Kaiser is one of the best MF enlarger systems ever made. The controls are smooth and beautiful to operate. I've worked with several, and it's on a par with Durst and Dunco, and has a better feel than LPL Saunders. I doubt if you will find it "inadequate". I prefer the Kaiser / Durst configuration because adjustment of enlargement scale does not require moving the printing easel. The lens axis stays in line. Small thing maybe, but is one less thing to do.
    With the facility of the Internet, a missing part, or additional accessories can easily be found online, whether it be Beseler, LPL, Kaiser or whatever. So don't let that scare you.
    Added bonus if you're interested, the enlarger head is simply and quickly replaced with a choice of camera holders and thus fits straight into the extensive Kaiser studio copy system .
  14. Well, I didn't mean to set you off, Jenny. Please calm down and read what I actually wrote. I never said anything derogatory about Kaiser enlargers. They are quality machines. I merely made the trivial observation that market penetration of their products in the US was limited, which in turn makes it harder to find necessary parts in the US. Fact (as you so snidely put it). That has nothing to do with "patriotism," Detroit, or Buy American cheerleading. The "facility of the Internet" notwithstanding, it will be easier and cheaper for the OP to get parts for his enlarger if that model of enlarger was widely sold where he lives. It's not particularly helpful to know that a crucial part exists somewhere out there in the world if the costs of searching for it and shipping it are prohibitive.
    I'll repeat my advice to Tony. You'll be well served by the Kaiser, but keep in mind additional considerations. If you are in the UK or Europe, it will be relatively easy to find additional or replacement parts. But that will be more difficult if you are in North America.

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