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Thread: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarger?

  1. #1

    Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarger?

    Hi there
    apologies the ignorance i am bringing here ,
    i naver had the pleasure of owning a darkroom but now i might be able to build one,

    as for cameras i assume that exist a plethora of enlargers new/old , lenses etc... which i know nothing about .
    i was wondering if any of you could give few main coordinates about what make an enlarger a good or excellent enlarger (i am assuming : quality and type of the lamp , the the way it handle the variable contrast system , lens , size etc...
    over the years i have been in few different darkrooms ( someone else printing for me) and i have seen a wide variety of different enlargers (especially the way they handle variable contrast and timings ( controllers and such ) , so i assume the choice among used material could be very large (and i not even familiar with which are the most respectable brands)

    for now i am am looking to learn printing B&W up to 4x5 neg size and perhaps being able to make prints perhaps up to 16x20 . (but i am open to color as well )

    i am open to used or new , i don't not necessarily nee to be on a tight budget , for now i would love to understand what makes an enlarger a great enlarger and than start searching for it (if is no longer made) or buy it new .

    thanks so much !!!
    g

  2. #2

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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    Easy LPL 4500 VCCE series. Check out KHB Photografix in Canada.

  3. #3
    Hack Pawlowski6132's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    I don't think there's much variability in enlargers. There's not much to it. I would recommend getting one you an grow into that has accessories readily available and that is in excellent condition. I would like to get a Zone VI but, out of my league for now.

  4. #4

    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    Quote Originally Posted by Pawlowski6132 View Post
    I don't think there's much variability in enlargers. There's not much to it. I would recommend getting one you an grow into that has accessories readily available and that is in excellent condition. I would like to get a Zone VI but, out of my league for now.
    thanks,
    but as i said i have zero knowledge about enlargers , therefore i would not even know where start from the hundreds offers on eBay etc... if someone could easily and and quickly direct me to to a few web resources or mention brands or names (possibly quickly saying the reason ) would be really helpful
    thanks!
    g

  5. #5

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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    An enlarger where everything stays aligned, is free from dust, and has an excellent lens are the primary qualities most desire. Being in alignment is the only one of these qualities organic to the enlarging machine it's self. Everything else is kind of subjective.

    I've noticed that the opinions on what's best are usually colored by what model enlarger a photographer learned on, much like aviators who consider either a Piper or Cessna more desirable than the other.

    Respectable brands to look for?
    Omega
    Beseler
    LPL
    Durst
    (there are probably more which I'm not familiar with!)

    My own preference would be to have a basic enlarger with a very good lens as opposed to an enlarger with all the latest technology but with a cheap lens, but that's just my opinion.

    Happy hunting!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  6. #6

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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    Most 4X5 enlargers are not too bad for B/W printing, but some will allow for bigger prints, have better alignment (but not as critical an issue as when using smaller formats), ease of operation, some are more simple (or some are very overly complex), some have lamps that are harder/easier to find, lock and focus better, etc...

    The main thing is to find a complete set-up with all the accessories (like lens boards, neg carriers, condensers sets, lens cones, lamp head, etc) and all parts are present/working... Some older types might be hard/easy to find these parts, but some parts might not be located so try to find a complete working unit... Steer away from units that have separate electrical control/supply boxes as these might be missing, not work, or fussy (something with just a lamp bulb will be more reliable)... The bellows should be in good shape...

    See what you can find locally first (as enlargers are big, heavy, and hard/expensive to ship)... Sometimes a photographer or school in your area might have one for little or nothing you can get...

    Look around and do some research first...

    Good Luck!!!

    Steve K

  7. #7

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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    Quote Originally Posted by gabriele turchi View Post
    thanks,
    but as i said i have zero knowledge about enlargers , therefore i would not even know where start from the hundreds offers on eBay etc... if someone could easily and and quickly direct me to to a few web resources or mention brands or names (possibly quickly saying the reason ) would be really helpful
    thanks!
    g
    Already did that in the first reply. LPL is not going to be the cheapest but it will be the easiest to learn on. I own two LPL 4x5 and DeVere and Durst 8x10 enlargers (and I've owned most of the major brands). Did you look up KHB? They carry several good brands why not ask them? If you want a "project" buy an old enlarger on the auction site.

  8. #8

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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    The "best" one is going to be the enlarger that 1) does what you need it to do (since you mentioned 4X5, you will have to acquire one that accommodates negs up to that size), 2) is in good condition (not too beaten up) and 3) which you can afford.

    I can only speak about personal experience with an enlarger that met my needs and that was an Omega D2V, which was a superb enlarger. The lens(es) you equip it with is by far the most important single detail, of course. Poor glass will make the best enlarger seem like garbage.

  9. #9
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    I can only add that an enlarger that can be easily aligned is important - at least to me.
    Readily available parts - bulbs, timer, fans if necessary. Perhaps poor luck has led
    me to avoid Ilford's variable contrast timer.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    adelorenzo's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone please give few main coordinates about which are the bests B&W enlarg

    IME the best enlarger to start with is the free one. People are literally giving them away these days, I had to start saying no lest I become a hoarder.

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