Need Help With Choosing Enlarger

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by wagsthedog, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. wagsthedog
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    wagsthedog New Member

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    Some background on my experience: I am 18 years old, have taken a few classes involving darkroom photography (so am pretty comfortable with B&W darkroom) and want to setup a darkroom in my home.

    After some research, I've decided that the Beseler 23C seems like a good fit to use as an enlarger (if someone thinks a different enlarger would be better, please suggest it!)

    I do have some questions, however. I found one Beseler 23C enlarger with a Dichroic Color Head. The seller is asking for $400 (which to me seems fairly overpriced, I was thinking of offering them 150 dollars, 200 dollars at most). Would this be a good choice in enlarger, if I were able to get the price down?

    I found another Beseler 23C enlarger on craigslist for only 100 dollars (also, included are all the seller's other darkroom materials). However, this is only B&W, and I was wondering if I would be able to add a color head to the enlarger later on, if I so wanted.

    Finally, just wanted to make sure, the 23C can print both medium format and 35mm, correct? (as long as I use the correct negative slide holder).
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  2. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    where are you located?

    The 400 sounds very high. Equipment is being put on the curb these days. The 23c is a nice unit. and yes you can add a color head later.

    A color head is nice for dialing in filteration for printing black and white negatives, but isn't a deal breaker as you would just need a set of filters for the less expensive offer. In fact if the seller is throwing in other darkroom equipment they may already have those filters.

    yes that enlarger will do 35mm and medium format sizes, you will need the proper focal length lens along with the negative holder.

    Are you going to be printing color? If so, that might influence the decision, but 400 is still pricey in my opinon.

    Another option might be a beseler 45, which is bigger and more stable than the 23 and will allow you to move up to 4x5 negatives. These can also be found for a lot less money.
  3. Dwig
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    Dwig New Member

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    It seems high, but then you don't mention what lenses, lens boards, and negative charriers are included, if any.

    When it comes to the value of an enlarger package, the lenses can be more important than the enlarger itself. When it comes to print quality, lenses are vastely more important than the enlarger.

    Get a compete list of all of the components before you try to place a value on it. For a 23C with a diachronic head the following should be considered.

    1. are the condensers present or just the diffusion can
    2. is the conventional enlarging lamp fitting still present
    3. what negative carriers are present
    4. how many lens boards are present
    5. exactly what lenses, if any, are included (brand, model, focal length, and f/stop).

    The 23C can print all of the standard medium formats up to 6x9 provided you have an appropriate enlarging lens and the proper carrier.
  4. wagsthedog
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    wagsthedog New Member

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    What is the difference between condensers and a diffusion can? Is a condenser better?

    By conventional enlarging lamp, you mean the non-color lamp, correct?

    Also, this 23C is blue, meaning it is one of the early models. Should that affect its price?
  5. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    shouldn't effect the price.

    there has been an ongoing "debate" about the value of condensers vs cold light or diffusion head for ever. The condenser is suppose to be sharper shows more deflectives. Diffusion is smooth and hides more deflects, diffuser will need more contrast in the negative or a jump in paper grade,

    some people can't tell the difference, it will depend on your eye.

    the enlarging lamp for condenser looks like a regular bulb for the color head it is a halogen type lamp.
  6. compur
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    compur Well-Known Member

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    If you are in the USA I would check craigslist daily for the enlarger you want.

    These days people are practically giving them away. I see them at yard
    sales, etc for very little $. I saw a 23C at a yard sale last weekend and the
    sellers didn't even know what it was. I could have bought it for peanuts
    if I needed it. I've seen others for sale for around $20-$30 including lots of
    other darkroom stuff.

    You could even run a "wanted" ad for one for free. "Will pick up" etc.

    I use a Beseler 23C myself (with color head). It's a good choice. Lots of
    accessories available for it -- negative holders, lens boards, heads, etc.
    And, it will print up to 6x9cm format.

    Omega enlargers (in the USA) are also good for the same reason. The "D"
    series will print up to 4x5".
  7. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    i thought i had sent along some info about the blue version.

    that is an anniversity run ,

    basically these enlargers haven't changed much and will out live all of us if not abused. as will the omega :)
  8. wagsthedog
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    wagsthedog New Member

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    Thanks for the information, everyone. I found one of the series 2 (from the 60's) enlargers on craigslist for $25, so I am fairly certain this will be the one I will buy. I would be interested in buying a color head for it at some point. Can you use the newer 23C color heads on it, or will it only be able to use the older ones?

    Also, I read somewhere that the 23CIII heads are the best to use. Is there a particular reason why? Will there be much of a discernable difference from the 23C series 2 head?
  9. wagsthedog
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    wagsthedog New Member

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    One last question:

    The brand lenses that come with the enlarger are Beseler brand lenses. Are these any good? I read somewhere that the Beseler brand lenses are actually made by Rodenstock, wondering if this is true. Thanks
  10. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    there are better lenses and frankly can be hard cheaply these days on ebay.look for nikon 6 element lens or a apo rodgran,

    the newer heads have more uptodate technical advantages
    again the enlarger hasn't changed so parts are interchaneable.

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