Ollinger's Guide to Photographic Enlargers: Fujimoto Enlargers
Ollinger's Guide to Enlargers

Fujimoto Enlargers

Introduction

I know nothing about Fujimoto enlargers; I had never heard of them until I began looking through "recent" buyer's guides to compile these tables.


Quick Comparison

Model Format

Baseboard (inches)

Head Column Ref Price Notes
450M-D 4x5" 23 x 29" condenser or diffusion   1 $1,295 (condenser) - $2,295 (Dicrho) Dichro model is the 450M-C (?)
60M 6 x 6cm 14 x 18 " condenser   1 $139.50 60M-AXL variant with color filters: $179.50
60M-C 6 x 6cm 14 x 18 " diffusion   1 $295 XL variant $325. 60M-CCP variant has built-in color analyzer and timer, $495.
G70 6 x 7cm 19 x 23" condenser or diffusion Single column lift & lock 1 $495

G70-CP variant includes 6 photodiode sensors in bellows, exposure probe and analyzer built into the baseboard, electronic timer: $895

Base G70 Reviewed Darkroom Photography, Feb 1982 (Vol 4 #2)


Quick Comparison Key

Era: It's nearly impossible to get actual production year spans; I've provided this simply to give an idea of when an enlarger was in production.

Focusing:

  • Bellows means that the lens stage is connected to bellows that expand and collapse, and the bellows are typically moved via a wheel using friction (as opposed to using rack & pinion gears).
  • Helical focusing means a collar around the lens is turned, and the lens housing is threaded so that the lens moves up and down.
  • Rack & Pinion means that the lens stage moves up and down via a knob that turns gears.
  • Tube means that the lens is set into a tube that moves up and down (as opposed to bellows).

Column: all columns are assumed to be vertical unless oblique is noted. Oblique columns (i.e. angled forward) are nice at higher head elevations because the image won't expand back across the column post when the head is at the top of the post. On smaller enlargers this wouldn't be a problem, but at larger magnifications (and with lenses with shorter focal lengths), this can become a concern.

Quick Comparison References

  1. Darkroom Photography magazine, Vol 5 #5, July 1983

Model Notes

G70

The following review appeared in the now-defunct Darkroom Photography magazine, Vol 4 #2 (February 1982). It was written by Norman J. Tennefoss.

Fujimoto adA very simple and long awaited concept has finally materialized in a dichroic color enlarger. Color workers can now change from a diffusion to a condenser-type light source almost instantaneously. No major disassembly is required, no pieces must be laid aside or conjured from their hiding place, and no tools are required. As a result, the Fujimoto G70 Dichro Enlarger helps to solve one of the most frustrating problems of color printing.

If you've done some color printing, experimented with the various color processes, and are familiar with the pros and cons of diffusion versus condenser enlargers, then you know, or at least suspect, the problem. You know/suspect that most of the time color slides appreciate a diffuse (low contrast) light source when using the direct positive printing technique, but not always; while prints from color negatives can often stand the snap (contrast) they receive from a condenser lamphouse, but not always. The problem is that you need an enlarger capable of providing both diffusion and condenser illumination at your whim, and very few exist. The enlargers with color heads capable of this option have required a tedious, if not difficult, conversion when changing light types. The time-consuming nature of the conversion step has been enough to keep some of us from giving our slides or negatives the optimum lighting ... until now.

The Fujimoto G70 is a Japanese, 6x7, dichroic color head enlarger imported by Colourtronic. But such a conventional description belies some very unconventional features in both the color head and chassis designs.

The Fujimoto G70 uses a special light box to get light from the halogen lamp (12V/100W) to the negative stage. While similar in principle to the light-mixing chamber found in most dichro diffusion enlargers, the G70's light box has two apertures through which the light can enter, and the light can leave at either end of the box depending on which one you use. You see, the light box measures 4 x 3½ x 11 inches, and it slips into the enlarger head with the long dimension oriented vertically. The two entrance apertures are located on opposite sides of the box, while the 4 x 3½" exit openings are the ends of the box. One end has a diffusion panel installed and the other end comprises the bottom face of a condenser. You can change between illumination systems merely by lifting out the box, flipping it end for end, rotating it 180° on its long axis, and reinserting it in the enlarger. Glow-in-the-dark symbols engraved on the box make the procedure easy.

Internally the diffusion end of the box contains a plastic foam diffusion chamber, while the other end contains a double condenser set. Both entrance apertures incorporate UV filters, and a cap is provided to cover the end (upper) of the box which is not in use. An exposure compensation must be made when changing illumination since the condensers give 1.5 times the light that the diffusion chamber does; however, no filtration adjustment is necessary.

Behind the light box is a rather standard dichroic filter mechanism and lamp socket. What is not standard is that by releasing two thumbscrews the entire assembly may be withdrawn from the right side of the head for cleaning or changing the lamp. The dichro unit incorporates three color filtration controls (0-200 units), a white light lever, and an illumination dimmer knob. This last item is mechanical, reducing light output at the negative stage approximately 33 percent by means of a small metal plate that can be flipped in front of the lamp. This is a useful feature when longer exposures are needed at low magnifications.

For all of this excellence in head design, the chassis isn't bad either. The G70's carriage rides on a vertical, rectangular-section column and is spring counter-balanced. Rather than mounting directly to the baseboard, the extra-long column sits on an offset pedestal that allows your easel to slide under the column. This feature nicely avoids most of the interference that occurs when a vertical, noncantilevered column meets your easel when making big prints or tight crops on the column side of the negative.

The pedestal, by the way, doesn't just mount directly to the baseboard. Instead, a metal "V-frame" under the board stiffens the design with the pedestal bolting through the point of the "V." The combined effect of this frame and the thick, oversized baseboard results in the most stable medium format enlarger I've seen.

The carriage of the G70 is held firmly in place by a friction lock, but elevation changes can be made easily when the device, which resembles the handle end of a clothespin, is squeezed together.

Other amenities of the G70 include a bayonet, Leica-thread lensboard, really smooth, concentric coarse and fine focus knobs, and a distortion control lens stage. If 16x20 prints on the baseboard aren't enough for you, the head can be rotated for wall projection. The head can also be removed and the chassis used as a copy stand.

In the complaint department, the negative carriers are likely to dump your negatives on the floor the first time you pull them out of the enlarger because their design allows the hinged lower plate to drop open if you simply pull on the carrier's handle; the handle is mounted on the top plate. Also, the color head power supply is not stabilized, so the purchaser must acquire an accessory stabilizer.

But, all in all, the Fujimoto G70 Dichro Enlarger is a super machine. Except for the negative carriers (and you get used to them), I really enjoyed working with it. Being able to shift rapidly from condenser to diffusion enlarging was wonderful, and the overall strength, finish, and operability of the G70 are impressive. Colourtronic has a winner in this machine, which lists for $495.