Advice for starting a darkroom.greenspun.com : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread
In the past year I have become extremely interested in photography. I was developing and printing my own pictures at my school, but the darkroom there recently became unavailable to me. I'm thinking about seting up my own darkroom, but being a beginer I don't know much about different kinds of enlargers. Could someone advise to me what I would need to look for in a good black and white enlarger for 35mm negatives, or where I could find information about enlargers.
-- Rachel Dobhran (email@example.com), July 18, 1999
In general, a diffusion enlarger will give you prints with a better tonal scale than a condenser enlarger. You might look for a used Omega B22 (about $100), or some other modest Omega (6x6 or 6x7) with a color head (under $300). A small Durst might be another good choice. Personally, I would stay away from the Beseler 23C. I have one and find that the illumination is very uneven. Also, the tiltable lens board makes alignment problematical.
A good lens is a lifetime investment, so buy the best lens you can afford. The old series of Componons (pre "S"), with the chrome barrels, are very good buys. (Rodagons and Nikkors are also very good.) A 50mm lens is usually the choice for printing 35mm, though, if you plan on making only small prints, an 80mm would be better and would double for 6x6, should you ever decide to get into medium format. A used 50mm Componon should cost no more than $100.
Many people, though they are only printing 35mm to start, take the plunge and buy a 4x5 enlarger. Used Omega D-2s are available very cheap; I've seen them for as little as $300 with a cold light (florescent) head. An enlarger such as this will never become obsolete: heads, boards, carriers and various other accessories are inexpensive and plentiful on the used market.
When buying a used enlarger, look for deals that include extra boards and carriers. These items can add extra cost if purchased separately. In general, don't be seduced into buying the latest and most expensive machine. An enlarger is a very simple device and many of the finest photographers use extremely modest darkroom equipment. Remember that Edward Weston's darkroom consisted of a few trays, a printing frame and a bare light bulb.
-- Peter Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 18, 1999.
Check the archives on this site. I wrote a series of articles on setting up a commercial darkroom, including what to look for in enlargers. Look for the "Brilliant Mistakes" links.
-- Darron Spohn (email@example.com), July 19, 1999.
Check the Film And Processing section of this bboard for answers to Alaina Brianne Ashley, who also wants to set up a darkroom. A big library should have several books on the subject. If there is a camera club in your area, you might join for advice, companionship, and inspiration. Those of us who have been through this several times--I've set up six darkrooms of my own, and used several more-- have learned lots of shortcuts and money saving tips. Certainly I, and probably most others on the bulletin board, will be glad to answer questions from someone who is where we were many years ago.
-- jim jones (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 23, 1999.
There is a lot of information at http://darkroomsource.com/
Yes, I know this is a plug, but I don't see how I can write everything here that I've written there.
-- Andy Hughes (email@example.com), August 05, 1999.
If Andy didn't make the plug for his darkroom site, I would have. It was suggested to me on another board and I checked it out. It's a great site for someone just starting out.
The advice about the Omega B and D enlargers is good, too. I picked up an Omega B600 plus everything to setup a darkroom for $25 at a tag sale. The enlarger is in excellent condition. I picked up a D2 with 3 lenses and various other accessories for $200.
Another book is "Building a Home Darkroom" by the Kodak Workshop series.
-- Mary Frazier (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 04, 1999.