Digital photography is more popular than film photography. As such, most photographers use digital cameras to record images on SD, SDHC and CompactFlash cards. These photographers usually print images on ink-jet printers. (Photographers can purchase such cameras and storage media at Central Camera in Chicago. Storage media is also available at Chicago-land stores such as Best Buy, CVS, Walgreens and Wal-Mart.) Some photographers/ darkroom enthusiasts still print images on paper using darkroom enlargers. Beseler, Bogen, Leitz and Omega were the usual, enlarger manufacturers, but it is unlikely that these manufacturers still produce such equipment. (Darkroom enthusiasts can sometimes find enlargers at garage sales and Chicago-land, thrift shops.)
There are two types of darkroom enlargers—condensers and diffusers. Condensers condense the lamp’s light, thereby, reducing exposure times. Diffusers diffuse the lamp’s light, thereby, increasing exposure times. Condenser enlargers are probably more common.
Darkroom enthusiasts (novice and experienced) should know the main, enlarger parts in case they need to make repairs, and are unable to find manuals. The following are the main parts for a diffuser enlarger:
o Color-White Light Selector (on Light/Filter Housing)
o Column Spring
o Column Support
o Enlarging Lens
o Focusing Knob
o Height Adjustment Lever & Lock
o Housing Elevation Lever (for inserting negative carrier)
o Lamp/Filter Housing
o Light Diffusing Chamber
o Negative Carrier
o Power Supply
The paper limit size for home darkroom enlargers is 16 (in.) x 20 (in.). Enlargers cannot elevate high enough to create larger sizes. Developing trays and developing drums cannot contain larger, paper sizes.
At some photo supply stores, black & white and color paper are available for darkroom enthusiasts. Black & white paper and the appropriate chemicals are easier to find than finding color paper and its chemicals. (After mixing, chemicals expire within two months. If you refrigerate paper, they can be usable for a much longer time.)
Someday, darkroom enlargers may be in photography museums. However, since they are still in circulation, it is wise to know how this photographic equipment operates. Darkroom enlargers can create unique prints for art exhibits.
Photographers place easels on enlarger baseboards. Baseboards are always white, and consist of painted wood. Using horizontal and vertical blades, easels hold photographic paper. Baseboards are usually large enough to support 16 (in.) x 20 (in.) paper and easels of the same size.
Enlargers' bellows expand and contract when photographers adjust focusing knobs. Most bellows are black plastic. These bellows have positions below the main housing. These bellows will not suck in or expel air.
Enlarger columns support all enlarger parts except the column support and baseboard. Aluminum is usually these columns', construction material. If darkroom enthusiasts frequently use these columns, they should frequently oil them with mineral oil.
Enlarger Column Spring
Enlarger column springs apply tension to the height adjustment levers so that darkroom enthusiasts can easily raise and lower the light assemblies. This spring sits at the columns' tops. For this enlarger, attachments are with 3, small screws.
Enlarger Column Supports
This diffusion enlarger has 2 parts as its column supports. Four bolts and 4 nuts firmly attach these supports to the baseboard. The enlarger column goes into the space between the attached supports.
Enlarger lenses are always smaller than digital camera lenses. Usually, the smallest f-stop is f16. These lenses screw into the housing near the focusing knob.
Focusing knobs provide fine focusing for the enlarger lenses. Darkroom enthusiasts should focus under white light. This knob rotates clockwise and counterclockwise.
Height Adjustment Lever and Lock
Rolling along the column, this part makes large, up and down adjustments according to the papers' sizes. For 16 (in.) x 20 (in.) paper, this lever will go to the columns top. Photographers apply the lock by folding the extended handle inward.
Housing Elevation Lever
This part lowers and raises the hinged, housing part so that darkroom enthusiasts can place negative carriers. Using a projecting peg, this lever can hold the hinged housing in the open position.
Enlarger lamps are essential to expose paper to light. Unless darkroom enthusiasts constantly keep these lights on unnecessarily, they will last several years.
In diffusion enlargers, this housing holds the adjustable, cyan, yellow and magenta filters; the lamp, and the light diffusion chamber. Exterior dials indicate the amount of selected, cyan, yellow and magenta.
Light Diffusion Chamber
Inside the lamp-filter housing, this chamber faces the lamp and filters, and has a position above the enlarger lens and bellows. Photographers can move the plastic bottom to clean out its interior.
This is where photographers place film strips. After placement, using the housing elevation lever, photographers raise the hinged housing to place the film in line with the lens. Then, they must lower the hinged housing so that light does not leak out the sides.
Enlarger Power Supply
For all diffusion enlargers to operate, power supplies must be connected to the lamp/filter housings using a slender cord. These units also have power cords that plug into wall electrical sockets.
White Light-Color Light Selector
This selector will project either white light or color light onto the baseboard. This lever is part of the lamp/filter housing. (Condensor enlargers may also have this lever)