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Thread: name of a diffusion enlarger/head?

  1. #1
    Andrew L
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    name of a diffusion enlarger/head?

    I've heard people talking about diffusion enlargers or enlarger heads and I'm not quite sure what model I would be looking for. My google searches haven't yielded any obvious answers and I would say I'm looking for education above something specific to shop for.

    I currently have a Beseler 45MCRX I think it's called. I've used it for printing a little bit in a temporary bathroom darkroom and I think if I can find some quality lenses for it, I could get some great prints. I picked it up for $50 a few years back, but I've read that enlargers with a diffusion head aren't plagued as much by dust present during the drying time or during printing. Would it make any discernible difference if I placed a piece of frosted glass somewhere between the light source and the negative?

    I've seen the inside of my enlarger and notice that it had a light bulb, and two pieces of glass that are a lens of sorts placed with the curved sides facing each other. How does the diffusion enlarger work? Are these just what are standard on color (dichroic?) heads? I don't think I'll be doing any color printing myself.

    If I was going to look for a diffusion head, what might I look for to fit my Beseler? Would I need a whole new (to me) enlarger? What is in the model name that will signify that it's a diffusion style?

    Thanks a lot!


  2. #2
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Maryland, USA

    Re: name of a diffusion enlarger/head?

    The two thick glass lenses are the condensers, normally used in pairs. They concentrate the light.
    A diffusion head does not have condensers. It normally has a milky glass plate that's quite close to the film.

    You can get diffusion heads to fit your Beseler. I have the same enlarger (slightly different model #).
    I use the Ilford Multigrade 500H variable-contrast head, which is of the diffusion type.

    I think any color printing head will be diffusion, but don't quote me since I don't print color.

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

  3. #3
    ic-racer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Re: name of a diffusion enlarger/head?

    Most condenser enlargers like yours are semi-collimated anyway and diffusing the light source further can help with minimizing the appearance of dust in the prints. The trade-off is slightly longer print times.

  4. #4
    SpeedGraphicMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Los Angeles

    Smile Re: name of a diffusion enlarger/head?

    There are several options available for you.

    You can by the diffusion head for your enlarger (If I recall it is a Beseler Universal 45).
    They are fairly common and pop-up on E-bay every now and again.

    You can buy a Dichro head for your enlarger, though intended for printing color, you can also use the built in filters for controlling contrast when printing onto multigrade black and white papers.

    You can try to remove the condensers from your existing head and install a peice of frosted glass to act as the diffuser.

    That was how I use to print with my Omega D2 enlarger, took out the condersers and put a peice of opal glass in.

    About two years ago I found a Omega super dichro II head for this enlarger for $32.00 US at a thrift store!

    They did'nt know what it was for... I talked them down from $50

    I print all my large and medium format black and white, and color, with this enlarger head combo.

    If I do any 35mm printing (rare these days) I usually use a little vivitar enlarger with a condenser head, because I like the sharper look for the smaller format.

    Hope my above ramblings help.
    "I would like to see Paris before I die... Philadelphia will do..."

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