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maine207

Buying first enlarger- question

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Hello,

 

I am looking to buy an enlarger so that I can start to make my own B/W prints. I am looking at getting a Leitz Focomat 1C color auto focusing enlarger that I found for $500 (comes with lens)..does that sound like a reasonable price? I just had a question about what the difference is between this one, and an enlarger that is set up for B/W? What is the difference? People seem to say that you can use a color enlarger for B/W but are there any disadvantages to doing that? This will be my first go at it, so I don't need it to be any more complicated than it needs to be, but I also want something nice so I don't have to "buy it twice" down the road..how do you guys find this enlarger?

 

Any advice would be great!

 

Thanks everyone.

 

Best,

 

Peter

 

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By "set up for B&W", what do you mean?  If you use variable contrast paper such as Ilford's multigrade, then a colour head is extremely useful.  By altering the colour settings, you change the grade of the paper.  Personally, I don't see any disadvantages of using a colour enlarger.  I'm afraid I can't comment on the enlarger itself.

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The focomat 1c colour has a filter drawer between the lamp and the negative carrier. This can be useful for both colour correction filters when printing colour, or for contrast filters when printing on variable contrast B&W. The focomat 1c colour also has (may have) an indicator device on left back of the baseboard that shows the magnification. Could be useful. Neither the drawer nor the magnification indicator are necessary for either B&W or colour. I have a 1c without either. I only do B&W now, but I have done colour and the absence of these two items makes no difference whatever - and having them would also make no practical difference. And having these items makes no difference in printing B&W.

 

You can see the difference in the instruction booklet on the last page - it is available at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17677737/INST_Focomat%201c_1.pdf

 

If by "colour" you mean that the unit has a third party colour head, that is OK (apparently it may be hard to achieve max contrast) - but personally I would much prefer a genuine head for B&W variable contrast (these were not so common), but using filters (either in a filter drawer or under the lens) is not a hardship at all. That is how I operate and I have no intention to change anything.

 

$500 (assuming it is pristine condition), seems reasonable to me. Opinions can vary, but my view is the focomat 1c is the best enlarger EVER for 35mm. Others will tell you that the successor Focomat V35 is best (there are problems obtaining replacement bulbs - not so with the 1c). But you certainly will not go wrong with a good condition 1c. I would buy it. Nothing better.

Edited by Michael Hiles

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I am looking to buy an enlarger so that I can start to make my own B/W prints. I am looking at getting a Leitz Focomat 1C color auto focusing enlarger that I found for $500 (comes with lens)..does that sound like a reasonable price? I just had a question about what the difference is between this one, and an enlarger that is set up for B/W? What is the difference? People seem to say that you can use a color enlarger for B/W but are there any disadvantages to doing that? This will be my first go at it, so I don't need it to be any more complicated than it needs to be, but I also want something nice so I don't have to "buy it twice" down the road..how do you guys find this enlarger?

 

The following link is authoritative. Trust it. The man really knows his stuff. Glen Evans on the Leitz enlarger.

 

It is an excellent enlarger. I have two of them. Choice of lens is a second consideration. Price? I would have to defer to others because I got mine decades ago.

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I agree - should be good for you, and fair price. I picked up a V35 and was given an old Focomat 1b and fixed it up, and both due equivalent work.

My old mainstay is an Omega B22XL that I've had for 50 years. Although lighter aluminum construction, it is a pure condenser model that gives higher contrast prints for the same settings, and I'm still more comfortable with it. Back around 1970 newspapers used a bunch of these. I used to do a lot of 16x20 prints with it.

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Michael's post is very correct, so is Pico's referring to Glenview (except that his prices are way too high in relationship to what is happening today).

 

- Non colour 1c has a round head, the filter drawer version has an oval head.

- First they were black, the last ones were grey (now more expensive). There are no differences between the two versions

- When one only printed b/w it was bought without the filter drawer, instead it came with a small plate to cover the open slot

- You need it to have an anti newton glass attached to the condensor (that presses onto the negative and makes it lay beautifully flat)

- Two sizes for the column are possible: about 80cm and about 120cm

- Non colour models go much cheaper and it is easy to modify other brand's under-the-lens filter holders to fit this 1c. People say it is better to have the filters, I print with both and never see any difference

- All Focotar versions (the lens) are good, except for the very old ones that say 5cm. 50/4.5 is what you want. First version has the information on the front ring. This one needs to be stopped twice and then it is great. Second version has the Focotar 50/4.5 on the side and was made by Schneider, very good lens and third version is the Focotar-2 with the info on the side: Focotar-2 50/4.5 . . . the later versions are also good when used wide open and the Focotar-2 has more contrast than the others

- It needs a negative holder

- Best to use a 150 watt opal bulb (Fischer makes them)

- Until there came the grey model, the baseboards were wood and they had a clamping system for the Leitz easels. The later grey ones have a white formica baseboard without clamping system

- Parts tend to get expensive, but when you give it time you will find everything

Edited by M.Hilo

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Thanks for all the reply's everyone... here is a link to the one I am looking at - http://www.ebay.com/itm/LEITZ-LEICA-FOCOMAT-1C-COLOR-AUTO-FOCUSING-ENLARGER-FOCOTAR-4-5-50MM-LENS-/361478008482?hash=item5429c4aea2:g:~-gAAOSwiwVWSmwW

 

I checked out the Glen Evans website and he has one listed for $1300..is his that much over priced or do you think there could be something wrong with the one I linked to?

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There is not much that can go wrong with the Focomat. It will last you a lifetime. That's the good lens, too. And it has the proper filter drawer for B&W filters.

Edited by pico

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Awesome- I just emailed him to see if the magnification scale was working on it... I will probably make a move on it if he says everything checks out on it...

 

I would prefer to buy from that glenn guy since he seems to really know his stuff, but his prices are just so much higher..I don't understand it

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I guess you must be in the US, right? The prices of the Focomats vary quite a bit. But Glennview's prices are way too high.

 

That Ic you show, I think it is the smaller baseboard/column version, it does not have the anti newton glass and the outside lever of the filter holder is bent down. Not that it matters very much, but it would be good to know if there's no further damage.

 

The IIa goes up to 6X9. I think you better do some reading, you can find everything !

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That IIa is a steal. That's what I use for 6x9. To the best of my knowledge none of Leitz's enlargers were made by Leica and some are still being made in Germany.

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I used a IIa at a camera shop darkroom in college, and it is superb. It is also large and heavy, and must be set up carefully. I'd like one, but no place to put it.

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Yeah I'm going to have to look into this more...I have been emailing with the guy and he never mentioned that anything was bent or broken so my trust in him is fading...

 

Anyone on here have a nice Leitz enlarger that they are looking to offload?

 

If all else fails I suppose I could just buy a Beseler, those things are everywhere!

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If all else fails I suppose I could just buy a Beseler, those things are everywhere!

 

Beseler makes good units. But they don't hold a candle to the Leitz machines. Not even close. Unless you need to deal with negatives up to 6x9, get a focomat 1c. 

Edited by Michael Hiles

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Keep an eye on craigslist! I have seen several good ones in recent times, for less than you are willing to spend. Do a WTB here with the classifieds, but tell people where you are. Many people do not want to go through the packing & shipping of these enlargers. Knowing you are nearby may change their mind about letting one go.

 

You probably need to take a little time. In the mean time you answer some questions to yourself:

 

- small or large version? The small version goes up to 16X20 plus minus. The large version will do 20X24, and not much more unless you swing it around and project on the floor (which is doable, but complicates everything)

 

- yes/no filter tray version. There's a lot to say for the later version with the filter tray. But also for the earlier version (cheaper most of all)

 

The round head earlier version with the long column is just as good an enlarger as the later versions, and an under-the-lens filter holder is easy to do (instead of the red filter which many of us never use). The Leitz-made filter holder that's included in that Ebay listing is difficult to find. I have never seen one here in Europe and now and then they show up with the enlargers. I got lucky some years ago to find someone on craigslist selling two of them. This round head version will save you a lot of money and will be a great introduction to one of the finest 35mm enlargers ever made. Here I see them all the time, always $ 150 - 300 . . . the key is for them to be complete (with AN glass, negative holder)

 

Another suggestion: the Leitz Valoy II. Around $100 or less. It won't go much higher than 12X16. But it is a brilliant enlarger. Same lenses, same negative holder as the 1c and almost the same condenser system. Non automatic focus, which in many ways is a blessing. The earlier versions were black, the later dark blue-ish grey and the last light grey. The two last versions came with a frosted condenser that is anti newton. Important to get one with the red filter as that is needed to modify to a filter holder. This enlarger will give you the same corner sharpness as the Ic. Again: a money safer and a perfect way to start.

Edited by M.Hilo

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Thanks M.Hilo- I have started to poke around on Craigslist and found a Valoy I, are there any main differences between the I and the II? Will it still be able to make at 12x16 print? I'm really only looking to be able to print an 8x12 for now.. is there anything specific that I should be looking for for the Valoy I to include or is it a pretty base setup? Is the lack of AN glass that big of a deal?

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That IIa is a steal. That's what I use for 6x9. To the best of my knowledge none of Leitz's enlargers were made by Leica and some are still being made in Germany.

 

That is very interesting. Any further particulars about who and where etc re: currently made versions? 

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