Thinking of setting up a basic darkroom - enlarger queries

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' started by glynnder, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. glynnder


    Dec 16, 2013
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    Hi there,
    I'm in the process of setting up a basic darkroom and am thrown by the vast number of enlarger/lens combinations etc. I'm a student and looking to do it on the cheap, but as well as possible. I do like old equipment if it works still (better than it getting chucked…..) but am just looking for advice about what a good value basic one would be, if there are any to avoid and any pitfalls with old ones?

    there are basically so many that I don't know where to start. googling also seems to suggest that the same models can be good or bad, depending on luck basically…

    any advice?

    glynnder, Dec 16, 2013
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  2. glynnder


    Mar 18, 2012
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    Anaheim, CA USA
    The enlarger lens of choice is one with the closest focal length in millimeters that equals or slightly exceeds the diagonal measure of the film frame you will be printing. As an example, printing 35mm film, lens should be 50mm. Printing 120/620 square film, lens should be 75mm. Printing 120/620 rectangular. 100mm. We are taking rule-of-thumb. When we want to make a big enlargement, we will not be printing the whole frame, only a portion (crop). Should the enlarger reach max elevation, we mount the next shorter lens. Thus its OK to use a 50mm to squeeze bigger magnification from a 120/620. What happens if the lens is too short? Every lens projects a circle of good definition. Thus we normally mount an enlarger lens about equal to the diagonal measure of the frame. If you mount a lens that is too short, the edges (corners) likely will reproduce too dark (vignette).

    Two basic types of enlargers: Condenser type with two plano-convex condensing lenses between lamp and film. These produce an image that has more apparent contrast and more apparent acuity. The drawback is, difficulty keeping the film dust and scratch free. The condensers design accentuates such film defect. Next is the diffuser type with milk glass or ground glass between lamp and film. This design is favored for portraiture and for most all color film printing. Portraiture because the diffusion reduces the harshness of portraits For color film, the diffuser mitigates dust and scratch. These are plagues for color film because of the difficulty to retouch and spot the print.

    Between these types are various designs, removable condensers or condensers with ground glass on the flat side or total diffusion with a lamp mounted in a white cavity or sphere. Color enlargers are built with total diffusion and they sport built-in color filters. If you are going to print color, go for a true color enlarge.

    OK to email [email protected] I once taught color print and process for the Professional Photographers of America school for continuing education.
    Marcus, Sep 25, 2015
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