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Thread: Durst Laborator 138?

  1. #1

    Durst Laborator 138?

    Does anyone here have experience with a Durst Laborator 138? I am hoping to find an enlarger suitable for enlarging up to 5x7 negatives, and I have sourced one of these. I'd like something that's not a total nightmare to use and maintain. Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    I passed up a 137 (?) Years ago that was a frame stand some of the head, but missing the condensers, carriers, boards etc... This was early in the internet era, and I thought it would be near impossible to source everything needed...

    Fast forward to the future, I eventually saw the missing bits online from the public market, and could have put it together over a long time, but would not have an enlarger to print on while waiting...

    Point is, make sure it is complete as possible, as those missing parts came and went... ;-(

    Happy hunting!!!

    Steve K

  3. #3

    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    It depends on what you have and what you will need to buy. The regular condensers are not hard to find on ebay and the 138s with condenser heads are easy to maintain, easy to modify, and a pleasure to use. The original bulbs are long out of production, but the 100 to 150W G40 bulbs are a fine replacement. The negative carriers and some of the more obscure condensers (like the ones for point light sources and reduction) can be very hard to find and expensive when you do. My impression is that the color heads are more problematic (old electronics).

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    I didn't know that anything else was ever worthy of being called an enlarger; well, a Durst 184 too, besides the 138. For 5x7 or smaller negatives, this is THE enlarger to acquire. Just realize that there are many options in terms of light sources, carriers, and accessories, and that these can be found in all kinds of condition, from near mint to outright trashed. They were originally expensive and intended for high-production commercial usage, so it all depends on just how well they were or weren't treated over the decades. If you have decent shop skills, it can be fun to refurbish older ones, just like a classic car or motorcycle. This is a true piece of machined equipment of the type that would simply be too expensive to make and market today.

    They accepted a variety of colorheads as well as having a condenser head option. Some of those colorheads are still working superbly half a century later. But the power supplies might not be, and can be easily bypassed if you have basic rewiring skills. Or all kinds of other brand colorheads can easily be adapted to fit. Various people, including myself, have come up with other kinds of illumination options for these, including 8x10 cold light adapters.

  5. #5
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    I think the only way it would be a nightmare to use if it were broken. For example, if the lift spring for the head, or the lift spring for the table were broken...that might be a nightmare.

  6. #6
    David Lobato David Lobato's Avatar
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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    Last week one appeared with all components on local craigslist, at a crazy ridiculously low price. It was gone in 20 minutes.

  7. #7

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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    One of the very best 5x7 _ 13x18cm enlargers made. Chassis is configurable as needed. Light sources and types can be configured as needed. Can be used vertical or horizontal.

    Properly set up they are very stable, precise and accurate and repeatable. The alternative is a DeVere. Possible to convert the 138 into a copy camera with the needed add-ons.

    The Giant "Atlas" bulbs used in the B&W condenser head can be converted to halogen or similar light source. The lamp house has a forced air cooling system allowing LOTs of light power to be used to make big prints with APO process lenses for projection.

    Link to Durst user manual.
    https://www.trippingthroughthedark.c...structions.pdf

    Durst 138 has been discussed lots in the past on LFF, do a search.



    Bernice

  8. #8

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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    Does anyone here have experience with a Durst Laborator 138? I am hoping to find an enlarger suitable for enlarging up to 5x7 negatives, and I have sourced one of these. I'd like something that's not a total nightmare to use and maintain. Thanks.
    As noted above, one of the best enlargers you can get. If you get a complete one in good working order it's a piece of cake. The nightmare comes if you have to find parts to either complete it or get it in good working order. Though many parts can be found at auction.

  9. #9

    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    I've been quoted a price for it ($1200) and informed that it is in parts, needing to be assembled, so I'm not going to pursue it. Thanks for the feedback, folks. Much appreciated.

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Durst Laborator 138?

    Probably would need to disassemble it for cleaning, inspection and transport anyway.

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