Advise needed for an 8x10 Enlarger : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am looking for an 8x10 color enlarger. I have never used one nor even seen one, so I am flying blind here. Hence, my solicitation for advise. This is for my own personal use. I have vertical space (9.5 foot ceilings), but not horizontal space. I am looking for something used to keep the price plausible. I have to be able to get parts for it, and I would like to keep its footprint as small as possible. I will be using masks so there needs to be space in the negative carrier to accommodate additional layers of film (up to 7 layers). I will be enlarging 4x5, 4x10, and 5x7 negatives.

Any advice, suggestions, or gotchas would be appreciated. And last does anyone know of one for sale?

Thanks for any considerations.

-- Stephen Willard (, February 06, 2002


Great question - hard answer. The facts are that quality 8x10 enlargers are large and heavy to handle the longer focal length lenses and have the adjustments necessary to do the job right. It is hard to find one at a reasonable price.

Any illumination source for an enlarger this size needs to have a light source powerful enought to do the job. Myself I got lucky last month and acquired a real beauty, a 184 Durst with a color head. It is currently in our bedroom awaiting the completion of my darkroom. My wife does not refer to it as the Iron Beast for nothing. Parts are expensive and hard to come by as Durst stopped making many of their enlargers for large formats in the mid 1980's. I went for a Durst because several respected people in large format photography said that they were the best.

I do not want to discourage you from accomplishing your objective. But start saving as a good Durst will set you back $2-3,000 if you can find a good deal. Refurbished ones will run 3-5 times that cost which is out of the reach for personal users.

I will sit back and look for the other opinions that this question will inevitably illicit.

-- Michael Kadillak (, February 07, 2002.

Stephen... I was in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend and both Midwest Photo and Columbus Camera Group had used 8x10 enlargers on the showroom floor. Friendly folks at both stores if you want to contact them. Also, I think you would need ALL of that 9.5 ceiling. -Dave

-- Dave Richhart (, February 07, 2002.

This is kind of a long shot, but most pro labs have or are in the processing of converting to digital. When they do, they sell their wet darkroom stuff and most of them had 8x10 enlargers. I know two labs in my area that sold 8x10 enlargers at good prices. If you live in an area where there are a number of pro labs, you might contact them and see if they're selling or if they know of someone who is.

-- Brian Ellis (, February 07, 2002.

Stephen: Take a look at Clyde Butchers web site. He has a picture of his darkroom with several 8x10 enlargers. I think several are wall mounted. Most of the 8x10 enlargers are akin to standing a Buick on its grill...kinda big. They work well wall mounted with an adjustable enlarging table underneath. Good luck with it. You can access Butcher's web site through the home page on this forum through the web site directory for photographers.


-- Doug Paramore (, February 07, 2002.

Not sure how "reasonable" the price needs to be, but if you want to get really cheap you can look for a condenser enlarger and use optical grade CC filters under the lens for color.

-- David Goldfarb (, February 07, 2002.

Fishkins in Perth Amboy NJ has an 8X10 enlarger for sale. I think it is an Omega but it may also be a Beseler. It is a beast though but I think it's less than 9.5'(It's close). You could probably get it for $2000 or less because they know the demand for these things is drying up.

-- wdnagel (, February 07, 2002.

There are MP4's that have been modified to enlarge up to 8x10 - they are relatively small, much smaller than any other 8x10 enlarger (except the modified Beseler) that I am aware of. Problem is that due to the vertical girder you probably can't get past 20x24 at the most as far as print size goes. Ckeck the Glenview site.

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 07, 2002.


I don't know if this will fit your needs, but it's worked out great for me.

About four years ago I was given a Screen vertical stat camera, you know, the kind that was used in the old days to shoot halftone screens for pre-press applications.

Anyway, this thing has a florescent tube light box at the bottom in addition to the halogen/quartz bulbs for its intended use.

I'm using it to enlarge both 5x7 and 8x10 negatives.

It works like an upside down enlarger. The negative is placed between two hinged pieces of heavy plate glass on the bottom standard (I have an amberlith mask made just larger than the image area to create a "contact print" look).

The built-in timer allows for exposure control down to the tenth of a second and also has a "focus" button.

At the top is a vacuum easel that's hinged to one side and a hinged ground glass on the other.

Any contrast filtration is done by simply laying a filter on top of the lens inside the huge bellows.

To make a print, you put the paper on the easel (I have the usual sizes marked 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, with tape at the corners) and turn on the vacuum pump. Then flip over into the exposure position, set the timer and print.

Burning and/or dodging is done looking down at the negative, which I've actually come to prefer as it's easier to see details.

The main limitation is a 22x18 maximum size on the easel. It has two very sharp process lenses allowing for enlargement/reduction of 25-400 percent.

As an added bonus, I use the "bump" light, which is on an arm centered over the vacuum easel in the open position, as a light source for contact printing. To do this, I simply make the contact sandwich (azo and neg), place a sheet of glass over it, and hit the vacuum pump switch, which sucks everything tightly together. The bump light, which was intended to provide a pre-exposure to the lith film before the main exposure, is also wired into the timer panel with a separate control button, so that 's simple as well.

This camera also has an on-board reflection/transmission densitometer that is useful for film testing and checking negative and print densities.

Best of all, it was free! It's completely self-contained (on casters) and it only takes up about the same floor space as a washer or dryer with the copy lights removed.

These were in use at small printers and newspapers all over thru the early 90s. This small town paper gave it to me just to get it out of their way. In the paperwork that came with it I saw a receipt for the purchase price of $5,700 in 1985.

If you check around, you may be able to find a similar one for free or very cheap sitting in the corner at a print shop or paper.

Just make sure you get the vertical type. The more common and larger horizontal type isn't practical unless you have mega space.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

-- David Haynes (, February 15, 2002.

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