Elwood Enlargergreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
I went to a used photo shop today to look at an Omega D2 they had advertised. Instead I became intrigued with an old 5x7 Elwood. I had never seen one of these beasts before but am interested. The dealer guessed the unit was built in the 50's. It has adjustable masks with platic adjustment knobs. There is a metal frame neg carrier with glass and another wood neg carrier. No lens boards are included. The light housing has some of the silver reflective surface worn off the edges. There is a light diffuser that looks like several sheets of frosted glass in a pack and then another single sheet of glass over the top. The single piece has some chips at the edge.
Can someone enlighten me on this old enlarger? Is it useable? What is the quality of light from these units? Are replacement glass and bulbs available?
What impressed me with this thing is that it looks like it would be impossible to get out of alignment and would allow for big enlargements. My interest is in B&W 4x5 and 6x9 negs mostly although I do some 35mm as well. Any comments would be helpful as well as web resources on the Elwoods.
-- Dave Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 04, 1999
5x7 Elwoods are okey, but they're not in the same class as the Omega. Since you're using 6x9 and 4x5, get the D2. If you ever need any parts or accessories they are always available. (If you were shooting 5x7 or 8x10 the Elwood might be the only affordable option.)
-- Bill Mitchell (email@example.com), December 04, 1999.
Over the past 20 years I have owned two Elwood 5X7 enlargers. I like you, were using it to enlarge 4X5 negatives. If I had the budget, I would have purchased an Omega D2. I did not have the budget so I gambled on the Elwood and purchased it for $100. The Elwood turned out to be a very good investment and made beautiful enlargements. I had to make a few changes/purchases before I was satisfied with the enlarger. 1) I added an Aristo cold light head ($100), 2) I purchased a very high quality 150mm Rodenstock lens, 3) I disassembled the whole enlarger, painted all metal and reassembled, making sure all fittings were tight, 4) I ran two guy wires from the top of the enlarger to the wall behind the enlarger to prevent vibration. Nobody can tell that the enlargments made on the Elwood were not made with a much more expensive Omega or Besesler enlarger.
About 3-4 years ago I found a second Elwood 5X7 for $25. I have since sold both Elwoods and have gotten out of the darkroom business.
If you are on a budget, buy an Elwood and start making prints. you can always get your money out of the enlarger at a later date.
-- Ron Lawrence (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 05, 1999.
Old Elwoods are real sleepers. The one you describe has a cast iron metal chassis. Many older models were wooden. It's a perfect candidate for an after market cold light head, and I believe VIEW CAMERA magazine is soon to print an article on this topic. The flaws you mention are probably insignificant. You can polish up the reflector surface gently with something like BonAMI. If you want to use the tungsten head that is original, make sure that the diffusion glass plate that sits between the bulb and negative carrier is present and undamaged. This piece is crucial to operation and is often broken or missing. It is a piece of what looks like frosted glass, but it's graduated from center to edges to smooth out the hot center spot from the bulb and reflector. If this glass is present, the prints resemble cold light diffusion and are very nice. The original bulbs came is several sizes and wattages and equivalents can still be obtained.
Since 5x7 was a popular portrait format (ideal for full-length bridal portraits), many small studios owned these and there are plenty of them around but probably a lot of them got trashed in the '70's when color roll film replaced sheet film in portrait studios. They take a little tinkering and fabrication to get them back in shape but it's a wonderful enlarger and you can't beat the price.
-- C. W. Dean (email@example.com), December 12, 1999.
I had an Elwood 8x10 which I was pleased with. The only reason I sold it was because I rescued a Saltzman on the way to the dump.( the Elwood seemed big until I had to wrestle the 800lb Saltzman into the darkroom )An enlarger is a simple device, as long as it is aligned, has a good lens and a suitable light source, it will produce excellent results. If you don't plan on printing negatives larger than 4x5 though, you may be better off with a 4x5 enlarger, which tend to be much smaller.
-- Harold Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 17, 1999.