Enlarger question

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by G.T., Jan 8, 2008.

  1. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    I've been poking around on Ebay and Craigslist and there are some reasonble
    enlargers available at the moment, several Beseler 23c series.

    What's the most basic enlarger that I can do 35mm, 6x4.5, and 6x6 negatives,
    and up to 11x14 prints?

    G.T., Jan 8, 2008
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  2. G.T.

    Nermal Guest

    Any of the Besler 23 series enlargers!
    Nermal, Jan 8, 2008
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  3. A couple of points on enlargers -

    1. Given you want to use negatives up to 6x6, just make sure that the
    enlarger in question handles 6x6 negatives. Then make certain that you get
    the negative carriers and the lens boards/cones for each film format you
    plan to use.

    2. Most - if not all - enlargers will handle up to 11x14 prints, even 16x20
    prints. There are ways to handle the larger prints if the enlarger column
    is not long/tall enough to accommodate such larger prints - some enlargers
    allow you to reverse mount the enlarger head so you can project onto the
    floor rather than the baseborad. Other enlargers allow you to swivel the
    enlarger head so you can project the negative image onto the nearby wall.
    And some enlargers have the enlarger column slanted forward so you can
    remove the baeboard and mount the enlarger column onto a three sided box
    affair with shelves to accommodate different groups of print sides....you
    project onto the highest shelf for the smallest set of prints, onto the
    lowest shelf (with the intervening shelves removed) for the largest set of

    3. If space is limited as it seems to be in your situation, look for
    enlargers designed for apartment use. The Durst folks have a (non
    discontinued) line just that. You easily put it up for a darkroom session
    and quickly/readily break it down to store away in a chest drawer, on a
    closet shelf afterwards.

    4. Just right now is a good time to acquire a good, solid enlarger. The
    rush to digital that still continues has put many an excellent enlarger
    (with timer, safelight, trays, etc.) on the market at very good prices. You
    say you are in the Los Angeles area....check the major photo stores there as
    well as craigslist.
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Jan 8, 2008
  4. I'ved used 23C variants for many years and they are excellent
    workhorses for the formats you mention. They are very common and
    accessories are easy to find (and bargain-priced, too!). They have a
    wide variety of illumination systems.

    The Omega choices are also good. In my experience, they have features
    that some might prefer to Beseler. They are a bit less stable and
    require a longer pause after touching the head and starting your
    exposure. I always liked the function of the carriers on the Omegas
    but either brand should serve you well and have easily found
    accessories, too.

    If you find something of another brand that seems decent, be certain
    that it is a complete kit with what you'll likely need and not
    something that will leave you searching in vain for a necessary part
    or repair.

    Craig Schroeder
    craig nospam craigschroeder com
    Craig Schroeder, Jan 8, 2008
  5. The canonical answer is the Beseler 23. The Beseler 67 is smaller, cheaper,
    and will also work well.

    If you're in or near New York you can have mine.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Jan 8, 2008
  6. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Bummer. I'm all the way across the country, LA.

    G.T., Jan 8, 2008
  7. Just another note endorsing the Beseler 23.

    Be sure to get ahold of a grain focuser, too. Much better than trying to
    focus with the nude eye. (Also available cheap on eBay, natch.)
    David Nebenzahl, Jan 9, 2008
  8. wups...miscue. That third point should have read

    "3. If space is limited as it seems to be in your situation, look for
    enlargers designed for apartment use. The Durst folks have a (now
    discontinued) line just that. You easily put it up for a darkroom session
    and quickly/readily break it down to store away in a chest drawer, on a
    closet shelf afterwards."

    "now" rather than "non". Big difference.
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Jan 9, 2008
  9. G.T.

    Guest Guest

    I used a Besler 23c (XL - the tall one) and produced marvelous prints. Get
    it, make sure it's put together right, aligned and BE HAPPY! Get a good
    Guest, Jan 9, 2008
  10. G.T.

    Andrew Price Guest

    Replaced it with something else, or just giving up printing?
    Andrew Price, Jan 9, 2008
  11. G.T.

    Ken Hart Guest

    I really like my Omega B-22. It will handle 6x6cm and smaller. If you are
    going to use it for 35mm, be sure it includes the supplemental condenser
    lens-- a small lens that lays on top of the regular condenser lenses to
    concentrate the light over the smaller neg size.

    (Omega's model numbers tell the neg size: "A" series is 35mm only, "B"
    series is up to 6x6, "D" series is 4x5, "E" is 5x7, "F" is 8x10 and "G"
    series is for 11x14 negatives. I'd love to have one of those, just for the
    heck of it!)
    Ken Hart, Jan 9, 2008
  12. I replaced it with something else almost 10 years ago, but I haven't ever
    managed to get anyone to take it away from me.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Jan 10, 2008
  13. G.T.

    Rod Smith Guest

    The Beseler 23c you mention seems to be popular, although I can't comment
    on it from personal experience. Durst, LPL, and Omega are other popular
    brands that spring to mind. In Europe, Meoptas are also well-liked,
    although they're rarer in the US.

    Personally, I've got a Philips PCS130 with a PCS150 light source/control
    unit, so I'll say a bit about it. This enlarger will handle up to 6x7
    negatives, although the condensers needed for 6x7 are fairly rare (up to
    6x6 is common). The Philips is a nice unit, although it's long since
    discontinued and it was never all that common, so getting spare parts can
    be a problem. The PCS150 light source uses three somewhat exotic (and
    therefore expensive -- about $15-$30 apiece) 14V 35W MR11 bulbs, which is
    definitely a minus. The PCS130 was available without the PCS150 light
    source, but most I've seen on eBay pair the two of them. The PCS150 is
    unusual because it uses a single-exposure additive color system -- those
    three bulbs are associated with red, green, and blue filters, and
    "filtration" for VC B&W papers or color papers is done by varying the
    brightness of each bulb. This is logically equivalent to using the more
    common cyan, magenta, and yellow filters in front of a single bulb.
    Another unusual feature is that it's a color enlarger that uses condensers
    (most color enlargers use a diffusion design).

    In any event, the Philips is a well-built enlarger with a decent set of
    features, such as a rotating head for wall projection, a fine-focus knob
    (optional, but most units I've seen on eBay have it), and a perspective
    control head. A more popular unit, such as a Beseler 23c, would have the
    advantage of easier-to-find parts and less expensive bulbs; however, if
    you stumble across a Philips PCS130/PCS150 (or the PCS2000, which is a
    diffusion cousin to the PCS130/PCS150) at a good price and with all the
    parts you need (ideally including a couple of spare bulbs), it'd be a fine

    FWIW, I used to have a Durst C35. This was the bottom-of-the-line Durst
    model, and it could only handle up to 35mm, so it wouldn't be of much
    interest to you -- except that Durst once sold an optional diffusion box
    to let the enlarger handle up to 6x6. Although the C35 is a compact unit,
    I recommend you avoid it. It's just not very sturdily built. Also,
    although it's sold as a color unit, it includes only magenta and yellow
    filters. This is fine for B&W, and even for most color enlargements; but
    you may need slide-in cyan filters for some color enlargements. Higher-end
    Durst units are apparently much better than this one, although I've never
    used one.

    More generally speaking, I recommend you get a color enlarger. You can use
    the color filters to control the contrast of VC B&W papers. With a B&W
    enlarger, you'll need separate contrast control filters. My impression is
    that most people prefer using color heads (or the somewhat rarer VC heads,
    which have just magenta and yellow filters) to separate filters, although
    there are definitely exceptions to this rule. Also, if you get a color
    enlarger you'll be set to do color enlargements, even if you don't plan to
    do so now. In today's used market, color enlargers carry little or no
    price premium over B&W enlargers. Note that some enlargers (mostly fairly
    old models) were sold as color units just because they had filter drawers,
    so watch out for that. I'd call such units B&W enlargers, even if they've
    got the word "color" in their names. The main reason to avoid color
    enlargers is if you prefer condenser to diffusion enlargers, since color
    condenser enlargers are pretty rare.
    Rod Smith, Jan 10, 2008
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