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

Overview

Years ago I was reading a book about camera collecting, and I wished there were something similar for enlargers. I thought about writing one myself but never got around to it.

These days there would be too little demand for it, but I still think the information would be useful. So instead of writing a book, I made a website.

Enlargers are like typewriters; they're still around and a few people use them, but they're fading fast as people get out of their darkrooms in favor of digital editing and printing. But I still enjoy darkroom work and working with enlargers is the best part of it.

For a long time I figured the internet would take care of it—there's so much information out there already; but as I tried looking up information on enlargers, I found precious little had made it onto the net.

So this is my attempt to catalog photographic enlargers. I started with the relatively easy ones, Beseler and Omega, the Ford and Chevy of American enlargers, and I am expanding from there. I apologize in advance for all the n/a's in the tables. I began by simply listing the enlargers I had information on. Then I was lucky enough to find some resources that listed many model makes and names, and I decided to add them to the tables as placeholders.

Please note that I am not an expert, simply an enthusiast. I have only owned a few of the enlargers I've listed here, and I make it clear in the notes where that's the case. I am heavily indebted to outside sources for much of the information gathered here. Please see my Resources page for more information.

About Lenses

I have purposely avoided discussing enlarging lenses because it's a can of worms I don't want to open. There are too many of them, for one thing, and for another most enlargers, even the cheapos, can take differnet lenses. My Federal came with a lens (as did most enlargers), but I made another lens board out of scrap sheetmetal and would swap out different lenses depending on what I needed. My Vivitar and Omegas were designed with interchangable lensboards in mind—the idea being you could have several lenses already mounted in lens boards and swap them out easily as needed.

So even though you can find old catalos with Solar enlargers with four different lens options, it's a very reasonable assumption that you (or a previous owner) could have stuck anything he wanted on it. It's possible to find a modest Federal with an excellent Schneider lens on it (though don't wait for it), just as you could find a Leitz Focomat with an El-Omegar.

Contact Information

It should be painfully obvious that this is a work in progress. If you have information you would like to share, please Contact Me by clicking this link. As you can see I have a lot of holes in my database, and I've love to fill them in.

Because I am not a dealer nor an expert, please do not ask me (because I won't be able to help you) :

  • What your enlarger is worth (I have no idea)
  • Where to sell it (try a local camera club, camera store, or Craig's List)
  • Where to get specific parts, accessories or documentation (a Google or eBay search is your best bet)

Thank you all!