Durst Laborator G 139

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A friend has offered to lend me a Dusrt G 139 Laborator. I am wondering what this enlarger is capable of? It says that it will accept up to 5x7, and recomends a 150mm. lens. I plan on doing 4x5 b&w. (Tmax 100, developed with rodinal, printed on kodak/illford.) Has anyone out there owned, or used this enlarger? What are your oppinions of it. How large can I print?, 16x20... Thanks in advance for what is always very helpful info. Thomas

-- Thomas Douglass (rtdtomas@swbell.net), February 04, 2002


That is a very capable (and huge) machine. It indeed accepts 5X7 (but you'll need a 180 mm lens or longer for that). I'm not at all sure about the price of this beast, as it is not longer produced, but a guess is that it would sell for $5000 or more if produced today.

I own a 40 year old Durst 138S, which is the predecessor of the G139. I'd put my machine second to none except for the Leitz Focomat IIc, which is the best enlarger I've used. It isn't the fastest machine to use, but probably as fast or faster than the Omegas/Beselers/ZoneVIs etc., and it is very smooth to operate considering its size.

If you are doing 4X5 a 150mm (or 135mm) lens will do nicely. You doesn't say if it's a b/w or color machine, but in case of a b/w machine, there are huge exchangable condenser lenses used to focus the light. You change these condenser lenses according to the focal length you are using. (A. Adams and other poo-pooed condenser enlargers of their era, but that was the Beseler/Omega condenser enlargers, which had quite poorly built condenser systems. Durst make high quality condenser systems, which really brings out the best of the enlarger.)

You can probably print 16X20 on the baseboard, but I guess that you can take that baseboard away, or lower it. In that case the printing size would rather be 30X40. (The G139 is a professional machine, which is often built to the customers needs. There are variations on how the baseboard was constructed, but I think that the standard model has a very sturdy table where you put the baseboard in slots. My 138S has the baseboard on a column, which can be locked at any height from the floor up to normal working height. But again, the G139 is different in this matter.)

If you havn't seen the enlarger, also consider the fact that it is around 7 feet tall and it does need some space. (But it deserves it. :-)

There's also some info on http://www.photomall.com/gedurst.htm

-- Björn Nilsson (b.w.nilsson@telia.com), February 04, 2002.

Thomas, the Durst is a very capable machine, if you have the space for it. I just put another version of that enlarger in service in my darkroom a few weeks back. a 150mm works nicely for 4x5 and a 210mm works well for 5x7. As far as print size goes, it will print as big as a building, if you have the room... Have fun, Steve

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), February 04, 2002.


I own an G139. It is old but absolutely rigid machine. Production of the G139 has ended in 1978. But there are some machines around that have a newer L138S mounted (produced until 1994). The G139 is built from a base part of the L184 (the 8x10-Maschine) and an L138 as upper part. So it merely is a more solid standing L138.

The easel features geared vertical movement (good for grain-focusing when printing murals, since the focus-knob is then farer away from the easel than your arms can reach). The easel measures 100cm x 70cm (~40" x 27"). You may swing the L138-head for wall projection, if you need larger print sizes or partial enlargements.

If your G138 is equipped with a condensor head, you will be working with the NEGA138 negative carrier which should feature anti-newton glass on both sides. You will need condensors 240 and 200 for 4x5 and a 150mm lens. If your machine is configured for 5x7 and has only got two 240 condensors, than you should use the 5x7-lens (either 210mm or 240mm in this case) for printing 4x5, too.

If your enlarger has been adjusted well, it will still be adjusted when you reassemble it after transportation. But you should check this out (e.g. with a good grain focusser on all sides/edges). Unfortunately, it is not easy to adjust the zero-positions of swing and tilt on a L138-head. If lensboard and head do already align (which is most likely), adjusting the easel is often more pragmatic than finetuning the head. This can easily be done by putting something (e.g. paper) between the easel and it's mounting arms.


-- Thilo Schmid (tschmid@2pix.de), February 05, 2002.

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