There are a few enlargers that are made specifically for subminiature formats. In other words, they will NOT make prints from images larger than subminiature size. The larger negatives just won't fit! The main advantage of these enlargers -- just like subminiature cameras -- is their size. They are a LOT smaller than normal enlargers. Here are a couple:
There are also a number of small, 35mm enlargers, as well. These enlargers will not take negatives larger than 35mm, but are perhaps the best bet for submini work if you are only going to have one enlarger. They are still very compact when compared to "typical" enlargers and will handle all submini and 35mm images. In some ways they are superior to submini enlargers because they have a longer column so that the enlarger head can be moved higher up -- for larger prints. They have the added advantage of being usable for 35mm photography. A few examples of these are:
Then there are the "normal"-sized enlargers, which usually handle negatives up to the medium format sizes, such as 6x6cm or 6x7cm or larger. A good example of this is the Beseler 23C. A fine enlarger, but rather large for subminiature work! The reasons to use one of these enlarger with submini formats are:
To use a normal enlarger for subminiature work, you need an enlarger lens that is appropriate for the submini format that you are using, and a negative carrier for the format, as well. Unfortunately, these are not as easy to accomplish as they sound, since few submini lenses are still made and even fewer negative carriers.
There were a number of submini enlarger lenses made over the years. Check out the DARKROOM COUNTER for a complete listing. If you keep your eye open, you just might find the one with the right focal length and features that you want. Keep in mind that many of them are older lenses and not completely corrected for color photography. Some of them will not work with all of the bigger enlargers.
Finding the negative carrier may be the biggest obstacle. Depending on what format you use, the enlarger company may not have made the negative carrier that you need. If all else fails, check out the CREATIVE CORNER. Here's a list of some popular enlargers and the carriers that were made. Several companies made variable-mask glass carries, with special blades that can be moved to allow for a variety of film format sizes.
It's best, if you buy an enlarger with the negative carriers that you need. Second best is to buy an enlarger knowing that the carriers that you need were made -- although they may be hard to find. Third best is to buy an enlarger even if the company didn't make a carrier for your format. You can take the next larger carrier and mask the carrier with opaque tape or cardboard.
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