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Thread: Durst vs Sentinel

  1. #1

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    Durst vs Sentinel

    I have a question regarding a Durst 1200 4x5 and a Sentinel 4x5 (autofocus I think). I will be picking both of these up but only keeping one for personal use. Can anyone provide pros and cons of each, or which they prefer? I've heard far more about the Durst, but not as much about the Sentinel. I appreciate any input!

  2. #2
    Youngin Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Which head does the Sentinel have?

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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Well, I don't know yet. It's packed away in a crate. From what I can tell looking in, it's brand new. Just can't see the head though. I know the individual referenced it and said it was the autofocus one and cost him more than the Durst. The Durst has the CLS 501 head on it. You'll see why I couldn't tell in the pic. The Sentinel is in that crate with a Durst 8x10 (which has also become mine). Click image for larger version. 

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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Durst enlargers are well-known and understood. 30 years in the industry and I've never even heard of Sentinel enlargers, much less seen or used one. I can't offer advice, except to say that overall condition is important, and that whether or not a company is still in business will have an effect on parts & service down the road. At Kodak we had a Fotar 10x10 that was simple and robust, built like a bridge... the company is long gone but whoever has that machine now would have no trouble keeping it going. Higher-tech machinery that becomes obsolete might become unusable due to parts being unavailable.

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    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Commercial Durst enlargers were designed for very long term maintenance. Since they were very common in pro labs for decades, parts can still be found, though it can sometimes take patience. Autofocus ain't always a good thing. It can be finicky and electronics dependent. I just turned down over twenty free large format enlargers, including six working 8x10 Omega units! I only realistically had space for one more big enlarger. Guess what I took? It was the basic Durst L184 color 8x10 rig. Just right for tuning up using basic shop skills. With all the trimmings, I guess it was about a twenty grand originally; and it took me only a fewweekends to get it looking and working like new, even though it had several decades of pro lab use previously. I turned down the FAR more expensive autofocus Durst unit because it uses unique rare carriers and if electronically fussy - beyond my personal skill level to repair if needed. But if the Sentinel also looks nice, try selling it. It's a shame that this kind of gear gets ever thrown away. Some of these machines were built to outlast a hundred inkjet printers.

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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    Durst enlargers are well-known and understood. 30 years in the industry and I've never even heard of Sentinel enlargers, much less seen or used one. I can't offer advice, except to say that overall condition is important, and that whether or not a company is still in business will have an effect on parts & service down the road. At Kodak we had a Fotar 10x10 that was simple and robust, built like a bridge... the company is long gone but whoever has that machine now would have no trouble keeping it going. Higher-tech machinery that becomes obsolete might become unusable due to parts being unavailable.
    I'm not sure on the one, as all I can see is Sentinel on the column. I don't know if once I open it all up I'll find something else or not. The owner told me that he actually paid more for it at the time than the Durst. They both look as new, but I was leaning toward keeping the Durst. Thanks!

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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Commercial Durst enlargers were designed for very long term maintenance. Since they were very common in pro labs for decades, parts can still be found, though it can sometimes take patience. Autofocus ain't always a good thing. It can be finicky and electronics dependent. I just turned down over twenty free large format enlargers, including six working 8x10 Omega units! I only realistically had space for one more big enlarger. Guess what I took? It was the basic Durst L184 color 8x10 rig. Just right for tuning up using basic shop skills. With all the trimmings, I guess it was about a twenty grand originally; and it took me only a fewweekends to get it looking and working like new, even though it had several decades of pro lab use previously. I turned down the FAR more expensive autofocus Durst unit because it uses unique rare carriers and if electronically fussy - beyond my personal skill level to repair if needed. But if the Sentinel also looks nice, try selling it. It's a shame that this kind of gear gets ever thrown away. Some of these machines were built to outlast a hundred inkjet printers.
    Well, turns out I have the L184 too. It's also in this lot of enlargers. Fantastic shape with little signs of use. Vacuum plate and all. Has the Pavelle head on it and a Rodnestock 300mm lens. It's not the autofocus either and most certainly built like a tank. No idea what to sell it for though...lol.

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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Mercedes vs Ford

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    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    A Pavelle head on a Durst is a bit like a flat tire on a Ferrari. Otherwise, the L184 chassis is an excellent thing to refurbish. It just needs at least a nine foot or ten
    foot ceiling above it with a colorhead mounted. If it's in good shape it's worth a lot more than either of the 4x5 units. But these too simply get hauled off to the
    dump from time to time. Just depends how bad someone wants one, and more important, what shape it is in, especially the carriers and glass, since these can be expensive to replace. Do you personally have any interest in 8x10 photography? Or do you want to limit yourself to 4X5? Autofocus is not necessarily a good thing, because it can be dicey to operate and repair. The more mechanical something is, the better in the long run.

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    Re: Durst vs Sentinel

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    A Pavelle head on a Durst is a bit like a flat tire on a Ferrari. Otherwise, the L184 chassis is an excellent thing to refurbish. It just needs at least a nine foot or ten
    foot ceiling above it with a colorhead mounted. If it's in good shape it's worth a lot more than either of the 4x5 units. But these too simply get hauled off to the
    dump from time to time. Just depends how bad someone wants one, and more important, what shape it is in, especially the carriers and glass, since these can be expensive to replace. Do you personally have any interest in 8x10 photography? Or do you want to limit yourself to 4X5? Autofocus is not necessarily a good thing, because it can be dicey to operate and repair. The more mechanical something is, the better in the long run.
    No real interest in 8x10 at the moment. My background was always in 4x5 and I now use the Speed Graphic / Aero Ektar Burnett combo. Not sure if I'll even return to darkroom work, but thinking I'll keep the Durst 4x5 in the event that I do. I'm actually picking all of this up today, so once I have it home I'll have more access to exactly what I have. I know the 8x10 has the vacuum plate and appears to have everything, but will know more later.

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