Is the Leitz enlarger still No. 1 for 35 mm B & W. : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

My guess is that I'd still be best off with an older Valloy II or 1c enlarger than anything currently available. Any suggestions for a future acquisition?

-- Anonymous, March 31, 1997


I have the Leitz Focomat and love it. The automatic focus is a real time-saver. Tina

-- Anonymous, April 01, 1997

The only enlarger that matches the quality of a Leitz enlarger is another Leitz enlarger. Add to this the ability to accomplish precision focus with a helical focusing mount rather than the rack and pinion focusing mechanism found on every other manufacurer's enlargers, and you have no contest. The coup de grace, however, is autofocus. This is important especially for those of us who have bad eyes, bad necks, bad backs and a short fuze. If you are doing volume work, this is a time saver. I any event, it is a joy, and for me a necessity. As far as I am aware, no other manufacturer provides a precision autofocus 35 mm enlarger. Be advised though that in order to use the autofocus ability of the C and V35 models, you must use a Leitz enlarging lense and a Leitz, or another brand, 25mm thick easel. There are several Leitz Focotar lenses, and they are all excellent: however the best 50 mm Focotar is the last formulation, the f4.5 Focotar-2. It outperforms the earlier formulas at f5.6 and at smaller apertures, and at greater magnification than 10x. It also features, according to Leitz, better color correction. In my tests, it also outperforms the best current lenses from major manufacturers when examined on the Focomat 1C, which features a condensor illumination system, especially in terms of contrast. The Focotars at f5.6 and smaller apertures show no flare and color fringes like the new faster enlarging lenses from other manufacturers - this means better blacks and brilliance in your prints. I have not used or examined the f2.8 40mm Focotar for the Leitz V35 enlarger, but expect that it is superb. If you are planning on working with multcontrast B&W and color papers, you should get one of the 1C Color models which have a filter drawer above the negative stage, or, preferably, the Leitz V35 which features interchangeable multicontrast and color heads. The V35 is the equal to the C models in terms of quality, and according to Leitz, is sturdier. Be advised that replacement parts, especially the negative carriers, are hard to get, and if available from Leica, are very expensive. So buy an fully equipped enlarger that includes the negative carrier and a Leitz easel (these are available on the used market at reasonable prices, except for the ones larger than 8x10). Another piece of advice is that the Focotars are prone to hazing. This can be removed, but it will cost you $50 to $100. One other advantage of the IC modes is that the Leitz easels can be locked in position. This means no lost prints because the easel was inadvertantly moved during the paper insertion process. My conclusion: Leitz enlargers are still the best.

-- Anonymous, June 24, 1997

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