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Thread: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

  1. #1

    Join Date
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    Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Hello everyone:

    I have a general question for 8x10 printing.

    I have been thinking of getting an 8x10 enlarger but don't know where to start.
    My goal is to print 8x10 negative (mostly B&W) with 4x-6x enlargement (probably horizontal projection due to limited ceiling height).

    In the past, I have experience with medium format enlargers (6x9).
    However, 8x10 enlargers seem to be more complicated and most used 8x10 enlargers may need some repair before becoming fully functional.
    The other route may be home-made enlarger, but I don't know how much work that would involve.

    Does it make sense to start from an used Durst 10x10 enlarger and have broken parts replaced?
    Or, should I consider to assemble an 8x10 enlarger from scratch?

    I would like to find a solution that generates professional grade prints (meaning reliable and precise enlargement) without breaking my bank account.
    In the mean time, I feel comfortable to do general repair of appliances and computers. But I'm not sure whether DIY an enlarger is much more work than that.
    If possible, I would like to find a balance between budget and time spent to get an 8x10 enlarger.
    I would rather spend more time making prints instead of making an enlarger myself.

    Thanks for any input!

    Jerome

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    San Joaquin Valley, California
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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Elwood. Or if you have the $$ a Beseler 45 with the 8x10 conversion is what I'd look, for unless you have a dark room with cathedral ceilings and an echo.
    I have an Elwood. It is sort of like the Model A Ford of enlargers---I never cease learning something new about mechanics since I brought the thing home, but it is simple to work on and gets the job done. Come to think of it, Elwood is about as tall as a Model A Coupe----and that's with it sitting on the floor!
    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.

  3. #3

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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    As an initial exploration, perhaps making an enlarger-back for your 8x10" camera would be an idea? There are various threads in here concerning using lightpads in place of 'hot' light-sources, so that would possibly be one approach. A negholder for concept-checking purposes might be two pieces of picture-frame glass. The framework can be fabricated from strip-wood, sold in model or hobby shops. And no, I haven't tried this idea, but it is on the to-do list for 2018 if/when I tire of contact prints, so having someone else try it first might be helpful to many (ie. me)!
    Last edited by MartinP; 26-Dec-2017 at 23:17. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    Jon Shiu's Avatar
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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Anyone know if Zone VI is any good. B/W only, but might be easier to handle. I think there is one available in Cali.

    Jon
    my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    If you are near Los Angeles it might be worth checking out Contact Photo Lab www.contactla.com

    You can rent time on their 8x10 enlarger and not have to worry about maintenance or space issues.


    But if you are looking to own then I would suggest buying an enlarger and repairing it. It'll take some patience and work but you will have a solid enlarger for a long time ahead without worrying about having to tinker with stuff if you were to go DIY. Plus if you were to run into any problems later on you will have the forum resources to help guide you through...might be difficult to get quick solutions to problems if you go DIY.

  6. #6

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    California
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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Hi there:

    Thanks for all suggestions! They are all helpful!

    I see that back projection from an 8x10 camera may be the easiest way to get 1st print from 8x10 negatives.
    However, I am looking for a solution that allows me to print constantly in the following years at a reasonable cost.

    I am wondering if I go with the "start from an used enlarger" route, which brands/models would be a good point to start? (Or, where can I gather that info?)
    I guess I will need to consider availability of new/used parts for replacement.
    For the print size in mind (max of 4x-6x), I plan to project horizontally.

    In addition, what is the "minimum requirement" for the condition of used enlargers?
    I mean which parts should work well for an used enlarger to be considered?

    Thanks!

    Jerome

  7. #7

    Join Date
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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    I'm focused to use the 8x10 view camera, I found no used gear solution at the right cost, dimensions or weight for me in my area, but I also had tight amateur budget...


    With used equipment you may find gear that is electronics dependant, if it is the case it is good to ensure that all can be operated manually or you can solve it.

  8. #8

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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Many parts on Elwoods are wood, which is easy to repair or modify.
    Any good hardware store will have the components for a complete rewiring and the gearing is simple stock parts---that's how simple they are
    However if one of the castings breaks, it's toast!
    That said, they are simple and have a track record in the hands several successful 8x10 photographers.
    They can be used both vertically and horizontally.
    A flat steel panel with magnets for holding the paper works well for a horizontal easel.
    These were commercial grade machines which explains the hard lives many seem to have lived.
    That you can find them cheap, or even free for hauling off, makes them worth the adventure, IMHO.
    Mine is bolted to a small tabletop on castors instead of legs so that it can be rolled around.
    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.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Santa Barbara
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    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Shiu View Post
    Anyone know if Zone VI is any good. B/W only, but might be easier to handle. I think there is one available in Cali.

    Jon
    the Monterey Craigslist one?

    pretty pricey.. but I guess two cameras come along with

  10. #10
    Will Whitaker's Avatar
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    May 2002
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    North Carolina, for now...
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    1,018

    Re: Where to start for an 8x10 enlarger?

    Jerome,
    An old process camera is a good basis for an enlarger. Sending you a PM.

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