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.