Your Favorite Enlarger & Why
Old 02-10-2015   #1
MaxElmar
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Your Favorite Enlarger & Why

Wow, it's a buyer's market out there! If you were looking to buy a complete enlarger set up on the current market - what are you looking for?

Me - I don't know much of anything about printing color - so let's not worry about that - for now. I did some Cibachrome work way back in the day. (Wasted lot's of $.)

I shoot 35mm to 6x9 - 4x5 is optional.

I have lots of experience with the Beseler 23 - but what else should I consider?

I will probably use the Componon (150mm & 80mm) and Nikkor (50mm) enlarging lenses I have stashed away.

Thanks in advance for any insights.
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Old 02-10-2015   #2
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Dunco 67-II

the VC Module is superb, but the combined VC + Color module is fine, too. No need for drop in filters.
I use mine with the long 120cm stand, a Dunco 90 easel (superb, with gas pressurized locking, laser cut guides, angle adjustment etc.). The head has the fine focussing gear and a stablized power supply.

the film holders are very easy to use with magnetic closures, 6x7 with or without glass, etc.

it being a German product most likely means that it is not easily available for you, but it is surely one of the nicest enlargers ever, and it can be had for € 200,-- or less on the used market (and is still available new for € 1500,-- or more, depending on the features you opt for). Recently Dunco repaired two damaged film holders for a very reasonable sum.
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Old 02-10-2015   #3
Bill Clark
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I own an Omega B22 that I bought in the 1960s. Later, I bought a colorhead that I use today for VC black and white paper. Years ago, I used to develop (Ektachrome X) slide film and print. I used a drum to make 8/10 prints.

The Omega has served me well for a relatively long time. It will enlarge 6 x 6 negatives and smaller.
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Old 02-10-2015   #4
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I use a V35 for 35mm and a DeVere Varicon 203 condenser enlarger for everything else up to 6x9. I love the DeVere. I read you get problems with dust with a condenser enlarger but that's not an issue with my 203. I use componon lenses with the DeVere.
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Old 02-10-2015   #5
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The Dunco is beautiful, and there is one right near me - but 6x9 is essential for me and I don't think a holder is available.

The Omega B22 - another beauty - but I'll be looking at a D2 - again, because 6x9.

6x9 is a weird size for processing and printing but my Medalist and Century Graphic w/2x3 roll film backs insist. Fuji 6x9 RF is on the way too.
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Old 02-10-2015   #6
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If you have the room for it, I recommend a 4x5 enlarger. They're usually more sturdy, more even light.

I have a LPL / Saunders 4x5. Very nice. Harder to find on the used market, but they occasionally come up. My kids will probably be selling mine in about 30 years.

If I were shopping now, I would probably try to find a nice Omega D series. Preferably one that doesn't require the lens cones, but has the longer bellows. They come up pretty regularly on the Denver craigslist. Probably a bunch in NJ now. Keep looking for one that's not abused.
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Old 02-10-2015   #7
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Thanks, Mike. It seems for 6x9 you almost have to jump to a 4x5 enlarger (except for our old friend the Beseler 23).
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Old 02-10-2015   #8
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I'm happy with my Durst Laborator 1000 and Ilford Multigrade head.
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Old 02-10-2015   #9
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Beseler 23C. The biggest selling point for me is the negatrans, available in 35mm and, I think 6x7 sizes. For full 6x9 I have to use a 6x9 single negative holder, but I will live with that.
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Old 02-10-2015   #10
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Durst L1200. A beauty, built like a rock. Easily adjustable controls.
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Old 02-10-2015   #11
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Love the punchy contrast of the good-ol' Omega D2. Also been using Leitz Focomat V35 and spoiled by how simple and fast it is to operate.
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Old 02-10-2015   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roma View Post
Love the punchy contrast of the good-ol' Omega D2. Also been using Leitz Focomat V35 and spoiled by how simple and fast it is to operate.
I had a D2 and loved it - but what a beast, if you every need to move it to a new location.

My current pair of enlargers are a tiny, but robust Durst M301 and a state of the art, circa 1956, Durst 609. Both are easy-peasy for me to move out of the way when not in use.

With a whopping $20.00 invested in both of them, I'd say yep it's a buyer's market.
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Old 02-10-2015   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pschauss View Post
Beseler 23C. The biggest selling point for me is the negatrans, available in 35mm and, I think 6x7 sizes. For full 6x9 I have to use a 6x9 single negative holder, but I will live with that.
I'm not a negatrans fan as I've never owned one but I've been using Beseler enlargers for over 44 years and I like the easy availability of different parts and optional heads.
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Old 02-10-2015   #14
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The Durst Laborator 138. I owned one for years and sold it due to a move and used a couple at different places I worked. They're relatively inexpensive now but still a lot more than omega of beseler but they're in the top two or three ever made. These will go up to 5x7.

I don't know much about the other Durst but I'm sure the pro level machines are excellent. In a less expensive but still excellent machines the Omega B22 of Beseler 23c II.
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Old 02-10-2015   #15
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Leitz Valoy or Focomat..just luv em..
And for larger negs to 5x7..Durst S45 EM..
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Old 02-10-2015   #16
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My first was the Vivitar VI enlarger with the Dioptic Light Source...it also has the kit to do up to 6x7 negs...I bought it when they were first out so I've had it over 30 years...
About five years ago I found a Beseler 23c with the Colorhead at a garage sale, it came with three boxes of extras...
I still use them both depending on what I'm printing...
I like that they are both pretty sturdy enlargers and since I don't have a permanent darkroom I have to move them every time I print...they both have stayed aligned, I haven't had any problems with either outside of a blown bulb every so often...electronically and mechanically they've been solid...
If I were to buy another enlarger it would be the Beseler 4x5...I already have a Rodenstock Rodagon 135mm lens for it so I'm half way there...
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Old 02-10-2015   #17
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I love my Beseler 23, mostly becuase it was free, and its my only enlarger
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Old 02-10-2015   #18
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A late gray Focomat 1c with the Focotar-2 50, just because it is so good. The autofocus feature will stay aligned and functioning for decades once you set it. Limited to 35 though. I also have the "big Brother" - a Focomat 2c for 6x6/6x7 and 6x9. Same reason as the 1c - you set up the auto-focus once and thats it. Even light, heavy enough to be pretty vibration proof too.
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Old 02-11-2015   #19
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My old Durst F60 was a great learning tool for me. It was sturdy and yet could be taken apart and put back into it's box in just a couple of minutes. It was my apartment/laundry room enlarger. I used it as a copy stand as well. Eventually I built a darkroom and bought a large Besseler for 4x5 and 6x9. I sold the Durst for around $100. Somehow, like almost all the gear that I have ever sold, I still miss it.
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Old 02-11-2015   #20
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I have only used 2 enlargers, a Vivitar 365 and a Fujimoto.

The Fujimoto is by far the more reliable one for the size of darkroom that I can furnish, I use it for 35mm up to 6x7, printing size max-ed at 11x14 inches.

My dream enlarger would be a Leitz Focomat autofocus for 35mm. One day I'll get my Durst (model VI something) going just for medium format.
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Old 02-11-2015   #21
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You want a sturdy enlarger. You want one that lens axis, negative stage, base , all can be aligned to get sharp grain in all four corners.

You want one that hold negs flat, preferably from top only.

Some are better than others in these respects. Sometimes you need to improvise with shims to get some adjustments. Sometime you need to make top glass neg carriers for anti newton slide projection glass.

Satisfy all the requirements & they all work the same with very minor differences.

I have two 4x5 Omegas, Leica V35, two Focomat I c, two with three dichroic bulbs for RGB perfect color control. Name escapes me for now. One bends the neg and lens stage for tilt and shift to straighten converging lines.

You need a good tool to align it. I use the long mirror Omega/Peak because it looks into the very corners. The short mirror model will not work. Other tools were made.
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Old 02-11-2015   #22
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I've a Beseler 45M and an Omega D2, and both are built to survive in war zones. I would hang to the Omega if I had to choose between them, but that is mainly because Harry Taylor at classic-enlargers.com is such a great source of parts and advice, and he only does Omega enlargers.
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Old 02-11-2015   #23
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For 35mm, IMHO nothing beats the Focomat V35. Up to 4x5, I use an Omega with Super Chromega Dichroic II that looks it will last forever.
As lenses, I have some Componon-S (50mm, 80mm) and Rodagon/APO-Rodagons N (50mm, 135mm). Someone stole long ago my 40mm WA-Focotar, so I am coping with the lack of AF function on the V35, but as I always enlarge to the same paper size (18x24cm or 20x30cm) it's ok for me.
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Old 02-24-2015   #24
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Quote:
Dunco 67-II

the VC Module is superb, but the combined VC + Color module is fine, too. No need for drop in filters.
I use mine with the long 120cm stand,
Indeed, I have the Dunco II 67 120 pro CVC and as extra the Heiland Split Grade module:

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Old 02-24-2015   #25
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For those who are reading German language too:

http://www.fotohuisrovo.nl/documenta...ers_manual.pdf

I am using Rodenstock Rodagon lenses with it: 50mm, 60mm-WA and 80mm.
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Old 02-24-2015   #26
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Basically, I agree with what's been said.

I think the Beseler 23C is about the best enlarger ever made for up to 6x9, and almost every commercial and school lab used to have a couple. They're simple and rugged, and deal with vibration extremely well. The other best buy is an Omega D2V, which is what I eventually bought for my darkroom. Both had a wide range of options and accessories to do whatever you needed them to do. When you find them they're just about free.

The nice thing about both is that they never wear out, and parts are very easy to find. I've used both in production settings, and the Beseler is a bit faster, if you care about that.

Whatever you buy, make sure you can get the parts you might need easily. I bought a little Durst on a whim and still haven't been able to find the right lens board that I need for it. You see a lot of old Leitz enlargers out there for sale, often missing some piece you'll never be able to find. It seems that many enlargers get sold by heirs who didn't know what pieces went together, and there's some little thing missing, but with a Beseler or Omega, at least you can find that piece. There are lots of nice enlargers out there. . . . until you need a part.
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Old 02-24-2015   #27
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Besley 23c for me. It's just so nicely built and, easy to clean (although some may dispute that).
I also have a school version Besler 67 that is set up to pre-flash.
Sometimes a girlfriend joins in and uses the little Besler.
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Old 02-24-2015   #28
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Twenty five years ago I bought a NICE Omega D2 and has a good friend restore and align it for me. They are plentiful, cheap, and well made. Does everything I need to do up to 4x5. Recently I have been buying D2 neg boards to cut out myself, in several sizes that were not available in the catalog. Very little not to like. Has always made very sharp prints for me. I have most of the original accessories. For B&W printing I like the Omegalite head. When I was doing a lot of color printing, it was the Chromega dichroic head. A relative made the beautiful wooden drop-bed enlarging table, as a Christmas present. The plans for it were in Peterson's Photographic magazine. It is a joy to work with as is the D2.

At the last camera show I went to, a friendly guy there had one he didn't wanted to take home. Offered it to me for free, but really I already have everything I need. He said he didn't want to drop it in a landfill.
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Old 02-24-2015   #29
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Focomat 1c. I am lucky to have come across one that was expertly modified to take the Dunco VC module. As TomA said, the Autofocus is a gem, such a timesaver. Unbelievable.
Now if only I had more time, and a dedicated darkroom...

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Old 02-24-2015   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
Basically, I agree with what's been said.

I think the Beseler 23C is about the best enlarger ever made for up to 6x9, and almost every commercial and school lab used to have a couple. They're simple and rugged, and deal with vibration extremely well. The other best buy is an Omega D2V, which is what I eventually bought for my darkroom. Both had a wide range of options and accessories to do whatever you needed them to do. When you find them they're just about free.

The nice thing about both is that they never wear out, and parts are very easy to find. I've used both in production settings, and the Beseler is a bit faster, if you care about that.

Whatever you buy, make sure you can get the parts you might need easily. I bought a little Durst on a whim and still haven't been able to find the right lens board that I need for it. You see a lot of old Leitz enlargers out there for sale, often missing some piece you'll never be able to find. It seems that many enlargers get sold by heirs who didn't know what pieces went together, and there's some little thing missing, but with a Beseler or Omega, at least you can find that piece. There are lots of nice enlargers out there. . . . until you need a part.
I always wanted a 23C until I actually owned one. I quickly came to the conclusion that the 23C is a piece of garbage!!! Impossible to align, I could never get any prints that were sharp at the corners and center. I tried my best with that thing, but I finally gave up and got a properly set up D2. I started getting much better results immediately.
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Old 02-24-2015   #31
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Focomat – for film flatness, corner to center to corner.

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Old 02-24-2015   #32
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My favorite enlarger is a little LPL 3301D. It's not a particularly good one per say but it's my only enlarger and I am getting some great results from it.
It's also the only thing that fits into our tiny Tokyo apartment according to my wife. I could easily fit a Beseler 23C but that would leave me sleeping on the balcony I am afraid.

Sometimes it's not what we wish we had but what we can have and as long as it produces pleasing results, it's all good!

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Old 02-24-2015   #33
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Quote:
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Focomat – for film flatness, corner to center to corner.

Kirk
No argument here, but the Valoy II ain't no slouch either.
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Old 02-25-2015   #34
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Focomat V35 with Focotar 40mm and Heiland Splitgrade for most of the work. LPL 4x5, also with a Heiland Splitgrade for the bigger stuff. Fired up the LPL on Monday for the first time in more than six months and enjoyed using it for old Rollei negs and a couple of 35 shots from the weekend storm. Both enlargers are great; neither require or even allow alignment. BTW, does anyone know if Leitz still services the V35 - one of the masking blades won't work. Thanks.
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Old 02-25-2015   #35
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Use the LPL C 7700 for 35mm to MF and then the Omega for 4x5. Rodenstock lenses - 50, 80 WA, 105 and 150mm.

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Old 05-20-2015   #36
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Started enlarging with Omega B22. Now this one is just for 6x6 (the Omegar lenses are OK for this). After years looking for I got a Focomat Ic from mid-70s, with Focotar-2. This enlarger is just wonderful.
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Old 05-21-2015   #37
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Minolta MODIII with 24x36 and 6x7 diffuser boxes and built-in color analyzer. Very solidly built, use for black and white and color prints. And the C.E. Rokkor 50mm and 80mm lenses are the best.
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Old 05-21-2015   #38
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I've used just about everything going back to an Elwood and the one I own now is my favorite. It's a Beseler 45VXL which is not a common model. It's a sturdy, single rail, non-motorized 4X5. Very well counter-balanced so easy to raise and lower. I have three heads for it; the standard condensr head, an Aristo grid head and the weird Minolta/Beseler head with the triple flash tubes.
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Old 05-21-2015   #39
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One of my most memorable experiences in a lifetime of photography features a wonderful enlarger.
In the early 1980's while attending CUNY Queens College I took a cultural anthropology course
taught by Dr. Robert Glasse (R.I.P.), who had done extensive fieldwork in Papua New Guinea.

The course was entitled Ethnographic Photography. The class made weekly photographic field trips to various
locations in and around the New York City borough of Queens, the most ethnically diverse community on earth.
We would meet in the Anthroplogy departments off-campus house to develop film, make prints and discuss
our work. Their excellent darkroom featured a half-dozen Beseler 23C-XL enlargers with Negatrans.

Since moving out of my parents home I have never had room for a 23C or permanent darkroom.
I currently use a compact Omega C700 and a couple of real nice lenses. It serves its purpose.
Most importantly it stores easily in a closet between printing sessions in my bathroom/darkroom.

Dr. Robert Glasse NY Times obituary

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Old 05-21-2015   #40
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When I was 16 years old my dad bought an Omega B8 the big brother of the B 22 it took 6 by 9 negatives I'm pretty sure.
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