Enlarger choice

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Hi ; for the first time I'm in a position to set up my own darkroom. I do both 4x5 and 6x17, and I have been tempted by a floorstanding Durst Laborator 138S, with 2x240 condensors, which I saw this morning and which looks clean and sturdy despite being about 40 years old ; the price was about US$1,000 equivalent.

My questions ;

- is this a good choice for black and white printing in the formats I use (I do not intend to get into colour), ad is the price reasonable?

- the head is not kitted out with variable contrast filters, so changing variable would probably be a matter of replacing the red filter with the reqired colour as required, and swinging this under the light beam - is this realistic?

- the original bulb is obsolete ; the guy selling it told me I should keep the original bulb for 6x17, and use a separate newer bulb for 4x5 - again, is this realistic?

- the guy recommended to me a 180mm f/5.6 Rodagon for about $320 equivalent - is this a good choice for my formats?

Thanks for any input.

-- fw (finneganswake@altavista.net), June 23, 2001


That is an incredible price!

A1.) Yes.

A2.) Use the yellow (low contrast grades) and Magenta (higher contrast) filters for multi contrast control.

A3.) Don't know.

A4.) I'd want a 210 or 240 lens for 6x17cm but a 180 might do it. You'll have to try it to be sure.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), June 23, 2001.

The 138S is a 5x7 enlarger that can be used for all formats from 35mm to 5x7. The two 240 mm condensors are required for 5x7. For 4x5 you would need a 240 mm and a 200mm. For 6x17 you would probably use the pair of 240 mm condensors (which is what I use).

There should be a filter drawer on the side of the head that takes vc filters.

The "standard" bulb for 5x7 is a 200W to 300W opal of 110mm diameter. 90 mm bulbs were recommeded for 4x5 -- but it is generally not necessary to fine tune the light coverage so finely. The 110 mm buln will work fine for all formats -- you just have to adjust the bulb height and location for each set of condensors you use.

The 180 mm Rodagon is more than enough coverage for 4x5 and should cover 6x18 format which has a diagonal of about 189 mm -- but I would check this.

Make sure that the film carrier is in good condition -- they are very difficult to fond and expensive. Condensors are available but also expensive.

The Durst 138S is a great enlarger -- it it is all together and in good condition, $1,000 sounds like a good price -- I paid considerably more for mine.

-- (kliopiros@home.com), June 23, 2001.

Thanks for the replies ; will 2 x 240 condensors not work properly with 4x5, and would I need to find a 200 condensor for optimum work in that format?

Also, the Rodagon was slightly scratched on the rear element - would that make much difference in practice?

-- fw (finneganswake@altavista.net), June 23, 2001.

2 240 mm condensors will produce an illumination circle to more than cover a 5x7 negative -- so they will more than cover a 4x5 negative. Using a 240 mm and 200 mm condensor allows you to concentrate the light into a smaller circle.

I doubt that a small scratch on the rear element will be noticeable in any print -- but I would want to use the lens before purchase. Yopui also need to use it to check out the coverage of a 6x18 negative -- it may be close.

-- (kliopiros@home.com), June 23, 2001.

Just a couple of suggestions: 1- VC acetate filters sandwiched between glasses fit nicely on the side slot; 2- using 240 condensers only may print AN glass texture on borders, if lens is too short. To avoid trouble you may use a diffusion sheet above condenser house, what can also help with light distribution with small bulbs. By the way, it's a great machine!

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (cesarb@infolink.com.br), June 23, 2001.

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