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Thread: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

  1. #1

    Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    I am looking for an enlarger to print my extensive library of 5x7 B&W negatives. Does the Zone VI enlarger work well for 5x7? I have always wondered if they built it for 5x7 just so that the illumination would be very even for 4x5 negatives. I then wonder if the illumination would be even enough for 5x7. Does anyone have experience printing 5x7 with this enlarger?

    Does anyone recommend any other 5x7 enlarger that I might actually be able to find?


    I previously used a Durst 8x10 with an Arista head and a Metrolux stabilized timer. That was a perfect rig, but the majority in the partnership that owned the enlarger decided to sell it to another member.

  2. #2
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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    My recollection is that the Zone VI version I light source is undersized for 5x7, but that was fixed in version II. Hopefully someone with more direct knowledge can weigh in.

  3. #3

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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Beseler made a 5x7 enlarger. Uses the 45 motorized chassis and has a different head than the 45 models. A Cold light head.
    Works well.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  4. #4

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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Needs to be a series 2 (with the dual focusing rails) in order to work well with 5x7. The dimensions of the series one negative stage are just a wee bit small to be truly effective with 5x7.

    I love my Zone VI series 2 enlarger...which I use with formats ranging from 6x7 (cm), 4x5, and 5x7 - printing in sizes ranging from 11x14 to 30x40 inches, with that very large size made possible with a 120mm W.A. Rodagon (for 4x5) and a 150mm G-Claron (for 5x7). When using those two wide angle lenses, I truly appreciate that both negative stage and light source are significantly "oversized" to accommodate the broader light path behind the negative.

    My current light source is a 5x7 Heiland VC LED - with which I'd replaced the Zone VI VC florescent some time ago. The Heiland offers me absolute control and consistency...and is very intuitive to use, for both "split grade" and blue/green mixing (in very precise ratios) modes. I really cannot find fault with this light source, but do know that, even when powered down to its minimum output, it can still seem a bit bright for a very sensitive paper such as Ilford Multigrade "Classic," at least when printing in smaller sizes with this paper with negatives that may be on the "thin" (less exposed) side. But again, other's mileage may vary on this.

    At any rate...I really cannot fault this setup as it continues to serve me exceptionally well - but other's mileage may vary. I must say that I got very lucky in finding this particular enlarger - as it was (and still is) in basically "showroom" condition. In other words, while these enlargers are very precise instruments quite capable of great consistency for many years when properly adjusted...they are not quite as rugged and "abuse-proof" as are the equivalent offerings from Durst, for example. I would not likely use a Zone VI enlarger in a large-volume, multiple user environment - where a Durst would be more appropriate.

    In other words, if you want a Zone VI enlarger...then do your best to find one in tip-top condition! Good luck!

    Edit: Keep in mind that a Zone VI enlarger features a few foam light-seals...which tend to get a bit crumbly as they age, regardless of the apparent condition of the enlarger itself. In my case, I found it very simple to replace these aged seals with some thin, black, closed-cell weatherstripping (self-adhesive) from our local hardware outlet.

  5. #5
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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Others to look for are Elwood (make sure it has the proper diffuser glass!) and Omega E.

  6. #6

    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    I used a Zone VI version 1 years ago in a college darkroom and could not get the full 5x7 frame. I currently use a Durst 138 which I love for medium format through 5x7.

  7. #7

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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Layton View Post
    Needs to be a series 2 (with the dual focusing rails) in order to work well with 5x7. The dimensions of the series one negative stage are just a wee bit small to be truly effective with 5x7.

    I love my Zone VI series 2 enlarger...which I use with formats ranging from 6x7 (cm), 4x5, and 5x7 - printing in sizes ranging from 11x14 to 30x40 inches, with that very large size made possible with a 120mm W.A. Rodagon (for 4x5) and a 150mm G-Claron (for 5x7). When using those two wide angle lenses, I truly appreciate that both negative stage and light source are significantly "oversized" to accommodate the broader light path behind the negative.

    My current light source is a 5x7 Heiland VC LED - with which I'd replaced the Zone VI VC florescent some time ago. The Heiland offers me absolute control and consistency...and is very intuitive to use, for both "split grade" and blue/green mixing (in very precise ratios) modes. I really cannot find fault with this light source, but do know that, even when powered down to its minimum output, it can still seem a bit bright for a very sensitive paper such as Ilford Multigrade "Classic," at least when printing in smaller sizes with this paper with negatives that may be on the "thin" (less exposed) side. But again, other's mileage may vary on this.

    At any rate...I really cannot fault this setup as it continues to serve me exceptionally well - but other's mileage may vary. I must say that I got very lucky in finding this particular enlarger - as it was (and still is) in basically "showroom" condition. In other words, while these enlargers are very precise instruments quite capable of great consistency for many years when properly adjusted...they are not quite as rugged and "abuse-proof" as are the equivalent offerings from Durst, for example. I would not likely use a Zone VI enlarger in a large-volume, multiple user environment - where a Durst would be more appropriate.

    In other words, if you want a Zone VI enlarger...then do your best to find one in tip-top condition! Good luck!

    Edit: Keep in mind that a Zone VI enlarger features a few foam light-seals...which tend to get a bit crumbly as they age, regardless of the apparent condition of the enlarger itself. In my case, I found it very simple to replace these aged seals with some thin, black, closed-cell weatherstripping (self-adhesive) from our local hardware outlet.
    I will echo what John is saying here. The v2 Zone VI enlarger is a lovely machine. I too was very fortunate to find both a 5x7 and 8x10 model that was purchased and never really used. Mine came with a Metrolux II timer that takes care of the dual tube cold light. I agree that, even though I've never had a problem, I've never figured out how the timer knows which tube to adjust. The LED source is very nice, out of my price range.
    The real weak point on these is the nylon tracks that are part of the elevation system. Mine are still perfect but I can see how these could be stripped.
    The workmanship is outstanding, carriers work nice. I had to have lens boards made, original ones are very rare.

  8. #8

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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Others to look for are Elwood (make sure it has the proper diffuser glass!) and Omega E.
    I've used both 5x7 and 8x10 Elwood enlargers over the years. These are fabulous enlargers.

  9. #9
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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duolab123 View Post
    I've used both 5x7 and 8x10 Elwood enlargers over the years. These are fabulous enlargers.
    I tried a 5x7 Elwood twice, at different points over the course of my darkroom experience... bought one at a local dealer, the other was quite the adventure, the seller sent it via Greyhound interstate bus. I remember waiting for it at the local depot and dragging it from the cargo bay during the brief pause before the bus headed onward.

    Anyway, turned out to be not really my cup of tea, alas. I'd describe the ones I had as pretty crude and klunky, possibly other samples are better. But if budget is tight an Elwood may be the most practical option, and one can learn to live with it. Again, the diffuser glass needed to even out the light source is critical - very difficult to find separately, and a real nuisance if you don't have it.

  10. #10

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    Re: Using a Zone VI enlarger for 5x7, or other alternatives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    I tried a 5x7 Elwood twice, at different points over the course of my darkroom experience... bought one at a local dealer, the other was quite the adventure, the seller sent it via Greyhound interstate bus. I remember waiting for it at the local depot and dragging it from the cargo bay during the brief pause before the bus headed onward.

    Anyway, turned out to be not really my cup of tea, alas. I'd describe the ones I had as pretty crude and klunky, possibly other samples are better. But if budget is tight an Elwood may be the most practical option, and one can learn to live with it. Again, the diffuser glass needed to even out the light source is critical - very difficult to find separately, and a real nuisance if you don't have it.
    Yes, the sandblasted "center filter like" defusion glass and the heat absorbing glass are critical to have. The ones I had were clunky but $25 a piece for the 5x7.
    Various versions, some had metal masks that would slide in from 4 sides. I hate glass carriers, but the Elwood carriers (glass) allow proof strip enlargements of 35mm film. I had a Beseler 5x7, fancy motorized thing, all the wiring had degraded, lucky I didn't get electrocuted.
    Somewhere I have a original cast aluminum adapter that allows 4x4 Beseler lens boards to be fitted to an Elwood.

    I abandoned my last Elwood when I last moved, kinda miss it. But not that much

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