Saturday, October 15, 2011

Omega D-2

Last month, I picked up a Omega D-2 enlarger off of Craigslist for twenty-five dollars. I already have a Bessler23c enlarger in my darkroom. The bessler is a great enlarger and works beautifully for 35mm and medium format prints. So getting this enlarger would allow me to make prints from 4x5 negatives. Several years ago I picked up a 4x5 camera and used the Polaroid back to make some exposures. Outside of making a contact print where the negative is laid directly on the paper with a piece of glass over the top of it,  So I was excited to get an enlarger capable of making enlargements from 4x5 negatives.
    Once I got the enlarger home I noticed that the condenser lens was missing. Overall, it would still be worth the investment to purchase the condenser lens set. I got a great deal on one from E-Bay for twenty dollars. There are plenty of enlargers still out there but getting parts for it can be pretty tough for some reason.  The D-2 has been around for a long time and widely used by press, military, and universities long before World War II. After doing some research, I was going to need an enlarging lens and board. The main use for this enlarger would be 4x5 and perhaps medium format(120 mm). The lens would need to be 150mm and their prices range from about fifty bucks on up to several hundred dollars depending on the quality of the lens. Also, I found out, I would need a lens cone to hold the lens. The reason for the cone is the bellows on the D-2 are pretty short so in order to be able to get all of the coverage of a 4x5 negative and bring the negative into focus so prints can be made an extension is needed.
    I will be the first to admit I am frugal and the websites that were offering these pieces I needed could charge whatever they wanted for them because they are the only game in town. Unless, I wanted to wait for what could be a long time to see if the pieces came up  for the right price on E-Bay or Craigslist, I knew there had to be another way. The lens cone I needed was priced from 50-100 dollars. Ouch! I am on a budget here! So after being discouraged for a week or two while waiting, a thought came to me one morning. This style enlarger has been around long before WWII.  How does one make enlargers with missing parts work without having a machine shop or immediate access to the parts I needed? Tin cans! The lens cone I needed was 4 1/2 inches tall. A twenty-eight  ounce can hit the mark. The diameter of plate that attaches to the bottom of the enlarger is 6 3/8 inches. A paint can or large coffee can is close enough to that diameter.  So off to the grocery store I went and for less than fifteen dollars including paint I had my lens cone.

This is the condenser lens set. It has two large glass elements in it separated by a corrugated piece of metal to keep them from touching. 

My 4x5 camera had the equivalent to a 150 mm lens that I needed. I just removed it from the lens board and mounted it on  the cone below.

This is the 28oz. can mounted to a paint can lid with JB -Weld epoxy.

Another view with the lens attached.

This lens came with my Graflex 4x5 camera. It was made by Kodak in the 20s or 30s. Quite sharp and the lenses were easy to detach from the shutter to clean.

My last post I named this piece of equipment Lucifer. I have decided to name it Vader instead just for its imposing size.
So, what happens now? Well, I have made a 4x5 negative carrier for it out of matte board. I had one tucked away in a box of supplies from  my college days. I need to get out and find a subject to take pictures of.


Anonymous said...


Nice. I'm here because sometimes life is serendipitous. Hmm. Anyway. Since you mention it. I'm pretty crazy about water too. I once spent 7 months burning through about 50 rolls of Super 8 on water because I didn't know what else to do.

Maybe you could advise. I'm researching stuff re the Omega D. One of the more basic models for B+W work. And I want to know: How big are the max when it comes to printing? Printing 4x5 etc. I found a panoramic camera that's hand made in China. It shoots 35mm and 120. Wild eh. Film aspect ratio is either 55mm X 110mm or 24mm X 110mm. So like how big of a print could I expect to go on an Omega D.

Thank you.

And cheers.

Dean Baker said...

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I have had it on the back burner for a while. As far as Negatives go 4x5 is it. Any thing smaller than that you will be able to print. Making a negative carrier that holds the negative in place to your format should be pretty easy. I use matte board and make a template for the negative size needed. I am cheap like that.
As far as making the print, the beauty of the D-2 swings to the left or right making it easy to shoot onto the floor from your normal work table height. 11x14 is easily achieved.You would only would be limited by the height of the ceiling in your darkroom. For that matter shooting sideways onto a wall works but I am pretty sure the D-2 does not turn on its side,unlike some of the smaller enlargers. From there use of large developing trays for wet chemicals is a must.


Anonymous said...

Hi. I did find a used Epson v700 scanner... Otherwise. I have been following D models on eBay along with other sources. Prices are all over the place. Generally pretty good but s/h gets costly. Am getting curious about borderless easels. Cheap is good... If a mod works then why not. I noticed somewhere on the web that some of the old timers have a math formula for determining lens / enlarger height and size of print re min and max print size. So 150 or 162mm will give you 4 1/2 and 5 1/4 X's max on maybe the D2 and 1 1/2 X's min? That's easily 20"? That's the width I'd like. As for film I'm looking at Ilford's XP2 and Tetenal's C-41 processing. Larger ss dev tanks seem to go for around $15-29 on eBay. Whatever. I will just take my time until the right things appear at the right price. And continue doing research. There also seems to be some interesting books on neg and print retouching on eBay... Old ones. I did contact somebody yesterday re a D5500 and he wanted $150. But after some research I decided that it was not the model for me. It has a computer and a color head. It's not lo fi enough:-) Cheers.

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