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Thread: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any good?

  1. #1

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    What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any good?

    I am thinking about getting Omega Super Chromega D Dichroic enlarger. I will really only use it with black and white film. What might be its shortcomings and limitations? What if anything breaks on it? Is it easy to fix? I assume I can find the rights bulbs for it. Also, these larger enlargers come with power regulators. Are they needed and what occurs when they break?

  2. #2

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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    A nice enlarger when clean and working. The power supply is required. I've read that there is nothing in the power supply that is not repairable by someone with moderate electronics knowledge, though no firsthand knowledge with that. The Chromegatrol (which I commonly see with the D5) functions as both power supply and timer.

    Bulbs are available. Obviously make sure all the controls operate and are smooth. Get a copy of the manual (should be online but, if not, message me) to make sure all the necessary bits and pieces are there. Beyond that, some things to watch for:

    • Filters are on arms (in the head) that rotate in/out of the light path. Make sure all the filters are there and the arms move properly.
    • The fan in the head is necessary to dissipate the heat from the bulb. Make sure it's working.
    • A "mixing box" is required (also in the head). To my knowledge, there were 2 - one for 4x5 and one for 6x7. The 6x7 is also used for smaller formats. Make sure you have at least the one you need. The 4x5 can be used for 4x5 or anything smaller, though it will require longer printing times for smaller formats (compared to the 6x7).


    Any enlarger that relies on electronics presents an additional failure point. There is always the possibility of acquiring a condenser head for the d5. But smarter people than me are designing and building LED heads for the D5, so that's an option now or in the future.

  3. #3

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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    What I've found to be disconcerting in both Omega and Beseler enlargers, is that negative carriers cover too much of the image area. Where they exist, look for Omega carriers that are full-frame. I know that they exist for 35mm film, and they may exist for medium format.

    I'm not sure if they exist for 4x5, but at this size, it's not as much of an issue.

    For my enlarger, designers deliberately sized the negative carriers to reveal all the image area.

  4. #4

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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    Hi,
    Thanks for the info. The photo of the head says "Omega Super Chromega D Dichroic". The chassis says it is a D2. The power supply concerns me because I have no knowledge of electronics. I am curious does theSuper Chromega replace the lenses in the head with the "mixing box" and will that cause to print to be softer in contrast. I really only intend to use it for black and white printing.

  5. #5

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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    The Chromega head is a diffusion light source; no condenser lenses but rather a mixing box and a diffusion plate. Diffusion light sources do give slightly less contrast when printing but that's easily compensated for by changing paper contrast a bit and/or increasing your negative developing time slightly (Kodak used to give different development times for their films for condenser and diffusion light sources). Many printers (me included) prefer diffusion sources over condensers.

    Chromega color heads are among the most trouble-free and easy to repair out there. I have two mounted on Beseler 4x5 enlargers just because they work so much better and problem-free than the Beseler choices (the 5x7 E-size Chromega head and the Beseler 45MX are a great match - lots of coverage and evenness).

    Chromega power sources for a particular size group are interchangeable, so any "D" series power source will work with any "D" size head. The Chromegatrol contains a built in timer. My sources are both the simpler type, without timer, but with the plug-in voltage regulator (a smaller unit that plugs into the back of the larger unit). They have functioned flawlessly for years.

    I have had to re-wire and replace the bulb sockets twice on my heads. After a lot of use, the socket just burns out. It's a standard and easy-to-find part and the wiring is just cutting and splicing with wire nuts (thereby making the next repair even easier). I keep a couple of spare sockets in a drawer in the darkroom.

    The bulbs are 24V ELC reflector-type bulbs, also easy to find.

    I've never had to deal with a defective fan, but I understand that they are relatively easy to replace as well.

    As far as negative carriers go. It's easy to file the Omega carriers out to show full-frame on 4x5. I did that on several carriers when I was printing on Omega enlargers. I now file my Beseler carriers for the same reason. Still, it's not a bad idea to leave a bit of "breathing room" around your images just so you don't have to fight with the borders so much when printing (like I do all the time...).

    A color head is great for VC black-and-white printing since you have easy and continuously-adjustable filtration. I find, however, that I need a #47 blue filter to get the most contrast out of my papers (I use it very rarely, but every now and then the 170M on the Chromega head just won't give me as much contrast as I need).

    Do make sure you get the right mixing box with your head. You can use the 4x5 mixing box for smaller formats (just a bit more flare, but you can mask if you need to), but you can't print larger with the 6x7 mixing box. My heads came with several mixing boxes and you can often find them for sale separately, although the 4x5 size seems to be rather harder to find.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    Not many shortcomings; the above post is excellent. If you don't live in USA, the SAE hardware and wrenches could be difficult to find. If it does not come with a power supply, a new one could cost more than the whole enlarger. As many in the USA can attest, these used to be thrown away...very sad.

  7. #7

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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    Comments above are all very accurate. I used these enlargers on the job from 1981-2009 (or so). They are real workhorses and should give excellent service for decades more if maintained. I don't know if Omega ever made 'full-frame' negative carriers, though; I had the maintenance shop at work mill out all our (many) carriers to show the full frame for 4x5 and 35mm. So it can be done, if you need to print right to the edge of your neg.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    My first LF enlarger was one of these. It had already been used for about 20 yrs when I bought it, then lasted me another 30 yrs before the fan and power supply started having issues, and by then I had fancier other enlargers. I did make a few minor personal improvements, including how the negative stage could be fine-tuned for parallelism, filing out the edges of the carrier a tiny bit to allow 4X5 full frame projection, and building a nice stand which allowed me convenient bigger size printing. When buying these, just be conscious of condition. They were once abundant and considered dependable workhorses.

  9. #9

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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    A couple of minor weak points to notice when buying one these fine enlargers is as follows;

    The head/neg stage lift should be complete and about working... Iffy to correctly align so head evenly lands on carrier and is centered correctly even when complete, and now difficult to find correct parts if mismatched...

    There is a plastic guide inside focusing rail that allows lens stage to adjust for different FL lenses that can be cracked... All parts are a little difficult to source, and this part is harder to find...

    Make sure head lock to column assy is in good shape, and check column for major scratching along where head carriage moves along it (indicates something was long wrong with it)...

    Make sure it has at least the 4X5 mixing box in the head, and diffuser is not scratched...

    Check if bellows are intact...

    Make sure there is a complete filter in each of the filter holders in the head (not chipped, cracked, or missing)... The filter density usually does not change, even after hard use... The filter holders will sometimes bind in a hard use unit, but can be fixed without much trouble...

    On control unit/timer (Chromegatrol), get a can of De-oxit D5 contact cleaner, remove covers, and shoot a little into all switches and connectors while moving or operating them... This should get rid of the electrical bugs... Replace lamp socket, and try to buy NOS bulbs for long life...

    Try not to buy one sight unseen, but apply above notes... Buy a complete, working rig if possible... There are plenty of nicer ones out there...

    Good luck!!!

    Steve K

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: What should I look for with the Omega Chromega D 4x5 Color Enlarger? Is it any g

    Darkroom projection printing requires some basic knowledge of electronics, in addition to basic chemistry. However, the D2 can also be used with an incandescent lamp run directly off the mains, should you find yourself without a power supply in the future. In that case you would need the condenser head and these are very common.

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