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Martin B

Enlargers, Negative Holders, and Enlarger Lenses

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Just want to share my experience which I made with a nearly mint Beseler 23C enlarger which I got from a friend of mine for free (in fact it is now my 4th enlarger after getting a 45M, 45MXT, and a 67S II). After having set up my existing enlargers for large format (4x5") and small format negatives printing, I planned to use the 23C for medium format size negatives (6x7 cm) since I also had a Schneider-Kreuznach 80/5.6 enlarger lens. What I was missing is the fitting negative holder for 6x7 cm - I checked online and found a few horrendously expensive used negative holders (the new ones from Beseler were even more expensive). I checked in my clutter box where I kept other scavenged darkroom material, and I found an Omega-enlarger based 6x7 cm negative holder. Glad I didn't buy any of the overpriced Beseler ones - because actually the Omega one fits in portrait mode nicely into the 23C enlarger. Of course there is a little gap between closed upper bellow unit and the holder, but I found it is not an issue at all (no light leaks out to an extent that it would endanger the printing process during exposure). I didn't find it described online anywhere that Omega negative holders can be used in certain Beseler enlargers! The Schneider-Kreuznach 80/5.8 lens also handles the 6x7 cm negative size well with sharp corners when stopped down a bit (I normally use my enlarger lenses at f/11). Didn't find this information mentioned anywhere either - only posts online about the Nikkor 80/5.6 enlarger lens which is able to handle 6x7 cm negative size, too.  

 

Does anybody else made similar experiences and used parts of different enlarger types on another to make things work? Or using an enlarger lens less known or supposedly not to work well with a specific negative size but it still works okay? Please share some low cost - big gain experiences!

Edited by Martin B

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My low cost - big gain has been to use one enlarger, an Omega B22 that I bought in the late 1960’s. I did, around 1970 buy a Chromega head so I could print in color. Now I use the color head as it works for black and white variable contrast paper. Color is all digital now.

The enlarger is fine for my needs as 6x6 is the largest negative I make with my cameras.

Edited by Bill Clark

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Agree on the Omega - I bought a B22XL in college in the late '60s, and used to do a lot of 16x20s just using the kit 50mm lens, and still can't fault the results. Now also have a Focomat 1B and Focomat V35 (with both heads) both at giveaway prices a few years ago. But I still like the results with the B22 better.

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My low cost - big gain has been to use one enlarger, an Omega B22 that I bought in the late 1960’s. I did, around 1970 buy a Chromega head so I could print in color. Now I use the color head as it works for black and white variable contrast paper. Color is all digital now.

The enlarger is fine for my needs as 6x6 is the largest negative I make with my cameras.

 

Two of my four Beseler enlargers are equipped with color diffuser heads to allow prints in color. I did this a few times, but the RA-4 print process is tedious and the developer is very air-sensitive and decomposes too rapidly even if stored in glass bottles filled to top. I also do all color prints digitally now and only use my enlargers for B&W printing. The advantage of using a color diffuser lamp for B&W printing is to be able to change the contrast with the purple filter instead of using a contrast filter underneath the enlarger lens. But both ways work of course. 

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Here is an interesting article on contrast control of photographic paper by Ilford:

 

https://www.ilfordphoto.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Contrast-control-for-Ilford-Multigrade.pdf

 

Excellent link - was not aware of it! Especially on page 3! Even I rarely use additional contrast throughout my negative frame and rather dodge/burn specific parts of it in the print. 

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