Which kind of enlarger should I buy?(more details)

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by johan_ditzel, Aug 8, 1998.

  1. Which kind of enlarger should I buy?

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    I worked for 6 months with a Kaiser enlarger that is a combination of a Diffusion/Condenser enlarger.
    I know that diffusion enlargers produce a more soft print, which I like.

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    I need some advice, so all recommendations are welcome.

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    Thanks,

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    Johan Ditzel

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    grun@pacbell.net wrote:
    >
    > kenneth grunzweig (grun@pacbell.net) responded to a message you left
    > in the Medium Format Digest bboard:
    >
    > Subject: Response to Which kind of enlarger should I buy?
    >
    > Please give us more detail. What are your darkroom goals, film size, b&w or color - both?
    >
    > keng
    >

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    Six months ago I started with a course 'working in a (B/W)darkroom' and all basic theory of a 35mm camera. Now I will continue with the next course so I build my own darkroom that is almost finished. So, now I am so far to buy an enlarger.
    I use 35mm and 6x6 only B/W and I am familiar with a variable (multi)contrast head.
    I hope this information is sufficient, to advise me in buying an enlarger.
     
  2. There are a number of great enlargers that will work with upto 6X6 negatives, some of which have variable contrast heads. I use a Beseler 23 XL with a variable contrast head called VCC. I'm very pleased with this system, it has proven to be very solid and produces excellent quality b&w images. You will need accesories for your
    enlarger including: 2 lens (50mm for 35 and a 75 or 80mm for 6X6); negative carriers; an enlarging timer; perhaps, a voltage regulator;
    an easel to hold your paper; a grain magnifier for focusing. Some
    simple tools for burning and dodging is also helpful. You can buy
    this equipment used, especially if you are willing to use a condenser
    enlarging head, or even a color head for b&w.

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    Good luck,

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    keng
     
  3. I have been using an Omega d3 enlarger for a while now; there are a lot of used d3's and similar models availible used but it is no longer manufactured. Midwest Photo Exchange sells new custom made neg carriers for the d series that fit the d3.
    The d3 can handle film from 35mm to 4x5. To handle different film formats you need lens cones to mount the lens onto the enlarger head; one flat one for 35mm, one about 4 or 5 inches tall for the 80mm lens for MF and one really tall one (12 inches or so) for the 135mm lens for 4x5. There is also a glass lens in the enlarger housing that you move from position to position when switching film formats. The cones are nearly impossible to get; unless the Omega d-3 has the cones you want with it I would hesitate to buy because they are really hard to get and if you find one the dealer will usually try to ream you on the price (my sad experience).
    I have had good success with mine but many of the d3 and similar enlargers are OLD and nearly worn out. If you buy any used enlarger (or even a new one), learn how to align it. I was frustrated by the lack of sharpness in my enlargements until I learned how to use spirit levels to align the enlarger.
    The d3 has an autofocus function that never seems to work. I have used 2 or 3 of these enlargers in schools and other places and never found one with an autofucus thing that worked but it does not seem like a really useful function to me so who cares. You can easily focus manually.
    good luck
    stefan
     
  4. The Beseler23 is truly a great enlarger. I recommend a cold light head or a dichroic color head. You might also want to look into a used Omega ChromegaC. It has a dichroic color (diffusion)head. It will print negatives up to 6x9. With the dichroic head you have the advantage of diffusion lighting that can also be set to simulate variable contrast filters to good effect. The Omegas are out of production, but can be had used for very reasonable prices. IF you ever do decide to move into color printing, you will already have an enlarger that can handle it.
     
  5. You might want to look at the Omega C760XL system (handles up to 6x7 negatives). It is modular, so any type of head you want is available. I is well built as you would expect from Omega and has some nice features such as tilting head and tilting and sliding lens board for distortion correction and and other effects. The modular construction pretty well assures that everything will stay in alignment.

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    As always, don't skimp on the lens. El-nikkors at a minimum.
     
  6. I know that some of you have recommended this enlarger, but the Beseler 23C III Dichro Variable Contrast head is a piece of junk! My school's photo lab had used the Beseler 23C II Condenser enlargers for awhile with little to no problems, we got in the 23C Dichros last year and most of them broke within 3 months! One of the most common problems was the variable contrast filtration just stopped working...that is, the filtration doesn't change when you turn the knob. Another, is if you have a less than perfect negative it will be very difficult print well... most times the dichro head needs a high filtration number to produce an acceptable print, in the 3-4 range.
    Don't get me wrong, Beseler makes excellent enlargers that are built like tanks! But this one in particular is not one of Beseler's shining stars!

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    Ken
     

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