Page 2 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 32

Thread: Best enlarger you have used

  1. #11

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    1,900

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    One that holds consistent fine alignment, and is user friendly in use...

    Steve K

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    135

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    The usefulness of the answers will depend on the continent where the OP is looking for an enlarger.

    Working professionally in the UK, I used a De Vere 504 for years, last century. Nowadays I use a De Vere 203 as my main enlarger - it's a similar design to the 504, but for up to 6x9cm negs. I have since started shooting large-format again and am using a Meopta Magnitarus which is several generations behind the De Veres! It works well enough but is certainly 'old-fashioned'. [Edit: the lab where I worked also had several Durst machines, but I preferred the De Vere in practical use].

    So, for me, De Vere all the way.

  3. #13
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    14,128

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    All my own enlargers are somewhat customized. But if you don't need 8x10 capacity, the Durst L138 series is unquestionably the top end of the food chain in my opinion. But that of course depends on what shape the unit you buy is in, and what your comfort level is with restoration is if it does need some work. The L138 designation only applies to the chassis, or rather a whole series of them, with their own internal evolution over several decades. All kinds of colorheads can be adapted to these, including their own obviously. Since they're technically a 5x7 system, you can get especially even illumination over 4x5 film with the correct mirror box. Various types of negative carriers were also made, precise registration versions. These came from the commercial division of Durst which is no longer in operation, so this is a much higher quality enlarger than their current 4x5 offering. You'll need a true halogen colorhead if you want anything serious for color printing.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    now in Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,915

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    Much of my darkroom experience in the last 42 years has been with the Omega D-series enlargers. That would be in two custom labs as well as decades inside Eastman Kodak. My home enlarger for 30 years has been an Omega D-II form the Korean War era (with a stabilized cold-light head). So they are what I am used to... despite their flaws they are rugged machines capable of top-quality work; I'd enjoy printing with a Dichroic II color head again but I'm not going looking for one. They are like a Ford (or Chevy)pickup truck... a working tool to get the job done.
    I've admired Dursts (from a distance) and known fine darkroom workers who preferred the Beseler machines. The one De Vere I've used worked well too; but if I was starting over I think I'd find a Saunders/LPL with a diffusion or color head. The one I used a few times at a rental darkroom in DC impressed me with its quality and ease of use.
    As far as light leaks go, "they all do that" to some extent. Masking off that stray light isn't that difficult with any of them- but it pays off.

  5. #15

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Suwanee, GA
    Posts
    550

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    The cheapest and most reliable I ever used was an old Federal 4x5. If it had a filter drawer above the negative it would have been perfect. It was basically a simple tall lamp housing with 1 incandescent bulb and an adjustable negative to lens stage riding on an aluminum pole. But it came with a really sharp 135 lens.

    Then someone gave me a Beseler MX and I went through 2 faulty heads before buying the Ilford 500 system + RHDesigns Analyzer in place of a broken 500C. The MX leaks light horizontally at the negative carrier which is the one thing I hate about it. I will likely design an insert or new negative carrier drawer one day to replace the foam I am using now.
    Adventure is worthwhile in itself. ... Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done. -- Amelia Earhart
    http://www.searing.photography

  6. #16
    bob carnie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario,
    Posts
    4,560

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    for documentary work I like a Condensor enlarger, for all other work I kept my Devere... glass carrier, good alignment and excellent optics trump all.

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,705

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    Durst 138 or Durst 184 or Devere 50x floor standing version with an equally matching high quality head, condenser, color or similar. Using and living with a 'GOOD' floor standing enlarger can completely alter your perspective and expectations of any enlarger. Personally, I'll never want to own-use any table top enlarger. The stability, configurability and durability of a high quality industrial-commercial enlarger when properly set up and properly serviced-maintenance simply meets the demands of quality print making well.

    Light leaks are often a problem as a result of wear and lack of proper service-maintenance care by the enlarger's owner-user. All bellows, and moving parts wear out in time and usage and will need replacement eventually. It is not always the enlarger or similar mechanical-technological devices fault it has died from being used... up.


    Bernice

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,705

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    And remains in alignment and stable for the entire duration of making a print. It printing a sheet of film placed in an enlarger "pops" moves, shifts, goes out of focus, or .... after being set up.. trying to achieve a good print is simply not really possible.

    Working to make a good print from a sheet of film can take hours, that enlarger must stay put once set during all that time. This also applies to the light source, if the light source is not stable or consistent with each exposure, it compounds the difficulties of good print making.


    Bernice

    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    One that holds consistent fine alignment, and is user friendly in use...

    Steve K

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Purcellville, VA
    Posts
    568

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    I have always used Omegas. When I got my own enlarger, I bought what I knew and got a used, old-model D2 condenser. That was 1972. I later, by chance, was able to upgrade to a used, later model for free, and eventually replaced the condenser head with an Aristo coldlight, followed by Zone VI's compensating-connected one and their timer, which I love. I had to replace the light head about three years ago, and happened to find a Beseler 4x5 with a Zone VI head in it a few hours away, for $100. I returned home, substituted the head, cleaned up the enlarger a bit, and sold it, sans light, for $100. The Beseler is a Brooklyn Bridge of stability, but I have never suffered any problems with my Omega, besides which, the Beseler would simply not have fit my space.
    An LED head will be next, whenever my Zone VI dies or I get rich, whichever comes first. Ha -- the problem will be the gap in-between, and it's likely I'll be scouting for a gently used Zone VI, unless some wonderful person starts making a good LED head I can afford. There was an American-made one years ago for about $400, but the maker stopped.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  10. #20

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Location
    Buford, GA
    Posts
    13,042

    Re: Best enlarger you have used

    Log E 10x10

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 6-Feb-2015, 07:47

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •