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Thread: Enlarger height?

  1. #1

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    Enlarger height?

    One of the things that really appealed to me about the house I bought last fall is that there is a room in the basement that I will be able to use as a small-ish dark room.

    And today, since it is miserable out side and there is no pressing yard work to be done I have started to really look at and asses that space to see what I will need to do to make the room usable. Mostly, it looks to be pretty straight forward. Except for one big consideration.

    I thought a simple web search would sort this out but I am starting to wonder if the room is tall enough for LF enlarging.

    My specific situation is: The space is 7' x 11' and the room has a ceiling height of 86 inches. 218 centimeters. I can set the countertop/bench top height where ever--there is nothing pre-existing in the space--and I can certainly consider wall mounting, the space has three block walls and one partition wall.

    Do I actually have enough height for a 4x5 enlarger? I would rather not have the base board on the floor but necessity is a mother...

    At this point I don't have any brand preferences, I think condition of any specific enlarger is more important. Then part/accessory availability becomes the next important consideration.

    If I had stuck with the miniature formats, this would be a bit simpler. But no, I wanted the bigger negatives.

    Any advice is much appreciated!

    Thank you,
    Rob

  2. #2
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Hi Rob,

    My darkroom is in the basement, with a 7-foot ceiling.

    My Beseler 45MX is wall-mounted with the a new movable baseboard below it.
    The enlarger is at the height it would be if sitting on the counter top.

    The baseboard is in a gap in the counter.
    It can be lowered to various support points all the way down to the floor.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  3. #3

    Join Date
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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Leigh's suggestion is, IMO, the best way to handle it. I've also heard of some people building a box within the ceiling joists that the top of the enlarger column can fit inside.

  4. #4

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    Re: Enlarger height?

    How large a print do you want to make?
    Lowering the baseboard is a very common solution as it assures that the head is still at a comfortable height to insert film, make adjustments, reach the focus knob, etc.. If the head is 10 high you can break your neck on a ladder to do adjustments!
    Also a wide angle enlarging lens like the 120 Rodagon WA will let you make prints 30% larger then a standard 45 enlarging lens at the same head height. And that is a really outstanding lens optically!

  5. #5

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    Re: Enlarger height?

    It can be done. I recently installed an LPL 4x5 in a loft with a 7'6" ceiling. I had to sacrifice about 3" of carriage movement at the top limit. I find it important to be comfortable at the enlarger and I have the baseboard at 3' from the floor, I used a couple of inexpensive floor-standing kitchen units from Lowes to make a base. LPL made several versions of their 4x5 units, the earlier ones are slightly shorter and produce a slightly smaller maximum print size. A good source for technical information about LPL units is online at the website www.khbphotographix.com LPL is a Japanese brand and the quality seems good, KHB can supply some parts, a used model could be suitable.

  6. #6
    sepiareverb's Avatar
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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Im in the basement as well, and have 90 to the ceiling, with exposed joists, so only 83 where they are. I use an LPL of the older type with the slightly shorter column, and it sits with its baseboard on my counter which is 36 high. I have a little over 4 above the column to the ceiling, but joists prevent me from raising the head to the very top. I can print 16x20 from 4x5 negs, have not tried to go to 20x24 with it. I have made some 20x24 prints from 120 films using the W.A. Componon 60 with headroom to spare.

    I somehow lucked out and have a stairway above the one end of the darkroom, and now the 810 enlarger is installed, I cut out the ceiling of the darkroom and expanded into the space below the landing of the stairs. Any chance there is a closet above your space?

  7. #7

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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    Hi Rob,

    My darkroom is in the basement, with a 7-foot ceiling.

    My Beseler 45MX is wall-mounted with the a new movable baseboard below it.
    The enlarger is at the height it would be if sitting on the counter top.

    The baseboard is in a gap in the counter.
    It can be lowered to various support points all the way down to the floor.

    - Leigh
    Leigh,
    Wall mounting has some other advantages as well so your experience is encouraging, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by HMG View Post
    Leigh's suggestion is, IMO, the best way to handle it. I've also heard of some people building a box within the ceiling joists that the top of the enlarger column can fit inside.
    HMG,
    Another good thought that will absolutely depend on the specific enlarger. So, something to keep in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    How large a print do you want to make?
    Lowering the baseboard is a very common solution as it assures that the head is still at a comfortable height to insert film, make adjustments, reach the focus knob, etc.. If the head is 10 high you can break your neck on a ladder to do adjustments!
    Also a wide angle enlarging lens like the 120 Rodagon WA will let you make prints 30% larger then a standard 45 enlarging lens at the same head height. And that is a really outstanding lens optically!
    Bob,
    Well the glib answer would be "as big as possible." But the reality, for me at least, is that print size is dependent on the image and where it's going to be. looking at what art I have hanging on my walls, anything much bigger than 16x20 is probably too big. Your other points are well taken, especially since I am all of 5'8" and don't want to work on a ladder!


    Quote Originally Posted by Ted R View Post
    It can be done. I recently installed an LPL 4x5 in a loft with a 7'6" ceiling. I had to sacrifice about 3" of carriage movement at the top limit. I find it important to be comfortable at the enlarger and I have the baseboard at 3' from the floor, I used a couple of inexpensive floor-standing kitchen units from Lowes to make a base. LPL made several versions of their 4x5 units, the earlier ones are slightly shorter and produce a slightly smaller maximum print size. A good source for technical information about LPL units is online at the website www.khbphotographix.com LPL is a Japanese brand and the quality seems good, KHB can supply some parts, a used model could be suitable.
    Ted,
    I have looked at some of the info there book marked their pages. As of now the room is an empty box so I have lots of options about work surfaces, etc. I will be spending some time with a graph pad and some pencils sketching out some basic arrangements then start looking at plumbing choices--the room is next to where the washer/dryer are so there is water and drainage close. Once I settle on that, the work benches and shelving should be a bit easier to sort out. Electrical stuff depends a little on how I arrange that.

    Quote Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
    Im in the basement as well, and have 90 to the ceiling, with exposed joists, so only 83 where they are. I use an LPL of the older type with the slightly shorter column, and it sits with its baseboard on my counter which is 36 high. I have a little over 4 above the column to the ceiling, but joists prevent me from raising the head to the very top. I can print 16x20 from 4x5 negs, have not tried to go to 20x24 with it. I have made some 20x24 prints from 120 films using the W.A. Componon 60 with headroom to spare.

    I somehow lucked out and have a stairway above the one end of the darkroom, and now the 810 enlarger is installed, I cut out the ceiling of the darkroom and expanded into the space below the landing of the stairs. Any chance there is a closet above your space?
    Sepiareverb,
    86" to the bottom of the first floor joists, 93 and a bit to the bottom of the floorboards is what I have to work with. Unfortunately, no closet above this room. I suppose I could turn the couch in the living room into some kind of banquette/built in bench and gain anoother couple of feet...

    I did see, this morning, a 5x7 enlarger--a Durst 138S--on craigslist in a town across the state from me that was tempting for a minute. It appears to be fairly complete but is waay above my budget and is absolutely too big for the space I have.

    Gentlemen, Thanks for your suggestions, etc!

    Rob

  8. #8
    sepiareverb's Avatar
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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbiemer View Post
    Sepiareverb,
    86" to the bottom of the first floor joists, 93 and a bit to the bottom of the floorboards is what I have to work with. Unfortunately, no closet above this room. I suppose I could turn the couch in the living room into some kind of banquette/built in bench and gain anoother couple of feet...

    Rob
    You should be able to get a 20x24 print off 4x5 with an LPL and a 135mm lens with that height, assuming you can find the older column. If you don’t mind the counter going a little lower than “standard” no trouble at all, and you might get away with the current column. Depending on joist spacing you might be able to go higher than me, I’m in an 1890 house with erratic spacing of joists, and radiator pipes and furnace & plumbing vents all over my darkroom. The head with knobs is not quite 14” wide , so you may be able to place it to not need to worry about the joists.

    I will second KHB as the most knowledgeable folks on the LPL machines, they have helped me out a lot over the years, and recently with parts for some 67 machines I repaired at the local college. Also talked me through repairing the fine focus knob on my unit without suggesting I just buy their replacement part. Great folks. They will have a wall mount if it exists.

    My column is 120 cm tall, with the baseboard the top of the column is not quite 50” off the countertop. At maximimum extension, the top of the head would be at about 54” including baseboard.
    Last edited by sepiareverb; 17-Apr-2018 at 04:45.

  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Quote Originally Posted by rbiemer View Post
    [/B]
    My specific situation is: The space is 7' x 11' and the room has a ceiling height of 86 inches. 218 centimeters.
    My 'extended column' 4x5 enlargers are 152cm fully extended,
    My 8x10 enlarger is 281cm fully extended.

    You should be able to fit a 4x5 enlarger easily with 66cm to spare.

  10. #10

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    Re: Enlarger height?

    Without doing the arithmetic, I'll comment that I enjoy sitting down to use my enlarger. I use a stool, but with a regular chair, you could go lower than my easel table height. For example, if you design an easel table that extends out enough to allow room for your legs to fit underneath, you should have more than enough height for a 4x5 enlarger.

    My enlarger has an extension on the lens focusing mechanism, so that it's easy for me to adjust for sharpness, even when sitting down.

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