Omega D3 4 x5 enlarger. Deal or not? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have the opportunity to buy a Omega D3 4 x5 enlarger including three lenses ( 50/2.8, 105 and 150 mm ). also the negative-carriers for these formats. He asks $500 for the complete set. I work with 35 mmm B&W variable contrast at the moment, but like to step into the LF zone soon. My questions are: Is it a good deal? Is it still possible to get D3 parts or other accessories? Can I use the D3 for both 35 mm and 4 x5. What other things do I have to know about this "outfit".


-- Peter Koning (, March 27, 2001


It seems like a very good deal, depending of course on what kind of head is on it and what quality the lenses are.

The D3 is the autofocus "D2" and adds some convenience to the darkroom. I'm assuming that this enlarger has the condenser head. Is it the variable condenser type? This would add to the value of the enlarger as well as making format changes much easier.

At some point you might want to get a colour head or a cold head. That will reduce your print spotting and should offer a more even light. If you do get the colour head it will also replace polycontrast filters, which never hurts.

As for printing 35 mm and larger negatives: I used a D2-V at university for 35 mm printing with a 50 mm lens and had no problems with it at all. My current enlarger is a D-6 with a colour head and a three lens turret. I've found it next to impossible to use a 50 mm lens wit this setup. The bellows has to be compressed as far as it will go and I can't think that that can be good for the bellows. Subsequently I use an 80 mm lens for printing 35 mm negs. The images are sharp, I have more reasonable exposure times (the colour head is VERY bright) and I have more room for my hands in order to burn and dodge. The seller can tell you if they have had any problems with this.

One of the great things about the Omega d series enlargers is that they are as common as dirt. For every other 4X5 enlarger you'll find 10 Omegas. So you'll find lots of used accessories out there. Things like negative carriers and cold heads for example. And if some third party is making an accessory for a 4X5 enlarger, making it compatibile with an Omega D is where they'll start.

-- David Grandy (, March 27, 2001.

Peter: It sounds like a good buy if the lenses are good. You can figure that the three lenses would be worth a couple of hundred at least, and the film carriers are worth about $30 each, so it is a pretty good package. I also would recommend a cold light or color head at a later date to make printing black and white easier. The Omegas are professional equipment and seem to last forever.


-- Doug Paramore (, March 27, 2001.

Do those lenses include the correct lens cones and focussing tracks? Those can be a bear to find for the D3. The D3 does NOT use the same cones and boards as the D2. The D3 boards are notched.

The lens cone/board has to be matched to the lens and the focussing rail. They don't have to be quite as accurate as the instructions say as there is a fine focus adjustment, and who is not going to adjust the fine focus anyway?

The negative carriers are the same as those for the D2, D5, D6, etc. There are usually a bunch on eBay. And I believe that the heads and condensor sets are all interchangable between these enlargers. As the other poster said, there is no problem finding parts.

If you can't find the correct lens cones and/or tracks, there is an adjustable bellows lens "cone" for the D3 that has a wide adjustment range that will substitute for a cone that you cannot find or will give you the movement range necessary to focus if you don't have the correct track. That was a fabulous thing to have while I was waiting for the parts I need to appear on eBay.

Which negative carriers, exactly, does it have? Does it have the variable condensor head (has a door on the front with little shelves inside that the condensor lenses can be moved up and down in)? If not, does it have the condensor sets for each format you want to use? The condensor set will be the silver cylinder beneath the head with the glass condensors in it - you need a different on for each format (although I'm using the MF set for my 35mm negs with a 50mm lens and it doesn't seem to cause any problem.)

If they're good lenses and you have all the condensor sets, or the variable condensor, and all the focussing tracks and all of the negative carriers you need, and it is in good condition, then $500 might be OK. Maybe still a bit on the high side. But if it has all those things, it'll save you a lot of aggravation in finding them.

I paid $105 for an ugly D3 with a 74mm lens, matched track and MF condensor set. I've probably dropped another $300 on it for lens cones/boards, focussing tracks, lenses, condensor set and carriers so I can do 35mm, 120/220 and 4x5.

For parts and information, Terry Seaman has been great. Classic Enlargers is also good, but pricier. I can't find the URL right now.

-- John H. Henderson (, March 27, 2001.

Just a follow-up.... Peter had asked me via e-mail for more details on the D3 and accessories. He looked at the enlarger armed with some knowledge, and bought it. It had the variable condensor head, three Componon-S lenses and all of the matching focussing tracks and lens cones. He said it looked about as close to new as a used item could. Also got $50 knocked off the price, so he got the whole thing for $450. I think he got a deal.

-- John H. Henderson (, April 03, 2001.

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