Questions about color enlargers and processing : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am planning to do my own 4x5 color negative printing in the near future and need some help about selecting a color enlarger. I have narrowed my selection to the following:

1. Top of the line Saunders 4x5 - because of its simple design, smooth adjustments, and modularity. Saunder claims it regulates the voltages to +/- 2% to insure repeatablity of color temperature.

2. The Omega 5500 - because it uses a photo cell to tweak the color pack should the color temperature of the lamp change to ensure repeatability of color balance.

I have two questions.

1. Which would you select? What experiences have you had with either one of the same or smaller format?

2. How much does color balance and exposure times shift from print to print of the same batch and negative? I use a JOBO CPP-2 processor and discard my chemistry after each use. This should eliminate any variations from exhausted chemicals.

-- Stephen Willard (, May 24, 1999


Stephen, I try to answer because it seems no one else does. If you live in an area with a rather constant voltage in the el-line, you don`t have to worry so much about lamp color changes. The color balance in a halogen lamp will change over time, but very slowly and the filtration in your printing routines will follow this change. Pay more attention on stability and allover good design in choice of enlarger. Remember that it is more a mechanic tool that will, hopefully, last for lifetime.With regards, Jan.

-- Jan Eerala (, May 28, 1999.

I used the less expensive LPL 4500 Dichroic for a number of years and was very happy with it. It is not really adjustable for alignment so if you buy used, make sure it's close to perfectly aligned (you can actually make some minor adjustments with shims under the column).

It was all the enlarger I needed and spent my money on lenses. With 4x5 or larger negatives, make sure you get one that has a glass negative carrier available - you'll want one for the best results.

If you use only one film, you probably won't have to change the settings much except when changing boxes of film, although radically differing light sources will result in different filter packs. Mixing film will increase your headaches so, at first, try to stay with one or two. Keep a darkroom log so you can go back and print neg's again in the future.

I used a CPE and it was fine up to 12x17. I'm sure the other CPx's would be equally fine. As color processing is quick, you might even want to look at one of the slot processors with a temp. control. Process times were short, so it was more effort to rinse, put paper in, close the drum, and set on the processor than to simply dunk in the slot processor.

You might want the 4 slot processor as a weak stop bath helped me prevent color shift. This is going back 2 years (a lab does all my printing now) but as I recall I had a fairly radical shift to yellow using a water rinse after the developer vs using stop bath. It wasn't the actual color shift that was a problem as I could filter that out. It was that the color shift wasn't consistent. Also, there were some streaking problems. Using the stop bath, this all went away.


-- Mike Long (, May 28, 1999.

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