Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Omega D-2

I  found this link to a very nice article written recently extolling the virtues of the great old Omega D-2.   I have always used Omega enlargers so my opinion is biased by my lack of experience.  Admitting that though I feel that amongst the enlargers available in the used market for people who still want to work with film and enjoy the darkroom process the D-2 is one of the best buys out there. They out number the similar Besler model 45 and the smaller Omega B and C series enlargers.  They were manufactured in America at at time when things were built to last so there are a lot of them still out there. Prices can vary extremely and are tied to a lot of factors.  The basic machine differed little from the ones made in the 1940's to the last models made probably in the late 70's to early 80's. The Omega D-2 V, v standing for "variable condenser" had a condenser housing on the enlarger with lenses that could be adjusted to expand light coverage for different size negatives.  The older models use different condenser sets that are easy to change, but are large and bulky and require storage space.  The V-models have all that is required built in to the enlarger itself which probably means easier maintainence (cleaning). The newer models also had a crank to turn to raise and lower the enlarger housing in addition to a locking nut to hold it in position which I think would be a big improvement over having to lift the housing manually even if they are counter balanced.  Prices vary and I believe the most important factor is the patience to find the right machine on the part of the buyer and the impatience to unload a big machine on the part of the seller.  You can spend a few hundred dollars for a very average machine and then find someone selling a pristine one for 50.00 or even giving one away.  I think the average price for one with a lens and negative carrier is probably in the vicinity of 100-150.  Because of the weight and size I also think it is a good idea to buy local.  Shipping could in some cases cost more then the item itself.
The D-2 was a work-horse machine built for commercial as well as advanced hobbyist which I believe compensates for the size and weight. I see more D-2's then just about any other enlarger and optional equipment like different light sources, negative carriers, lens holders, etc. make it much easier to expand it's capabilities.  This is why the professional enlarger built for commerical use in the 20th century is now a better option for the amateur who still wants to work the old fashioned way in the 21st century. The kind of equipment made for the amateur hobbyist in the past are poor choices today and should be ignored.

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