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  #1  
Old 27th June 2015, 11:09 PM
LiamCH LiamCH is offline
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Default Gnome Beta II Enlarger - missing condenser

Evening all, first post on here so I'll just briefly introduce myself. I'm Liam, 24, and while I did grow up with film and SLRs, I've really learned most of my photographic techniques on digital - with no darkroom experience of course. However in the past six years I have been getting into film more and more... I've dabbled with my own printing on a couple of occasions, using a Zenit UPA5 briefcase enlarger to make my own prints for university back in 2012. Produced some lovely results, but in the last three years I've not really found an awful lot of time to use film sadly... That's all changed however and I'm very much back in the game, and this time very much interested in medium format (6x6 and 6x9) as well as 35mm.

So I took the plunge and bought an enlarger that fulfilled my one and only criteria - it could do up to 6x9. It's also quite compact compared to most of the things I found for sale which was a major consideration since I'm not going to require huge prints. So here it is... a pretty ancient somewhat crusty little thing but I fully hope to get it usable. Bought an Industar 100U 105mm lens for it which as I understand is suitable for up to 6x9cm (I do love my old Soviet photographic gear!)





Of course it was at that point I realised that I was missing a rather crucial part... the condenser. To be honest I was far more familiar with the concept of simple diffuser type enlargers so I didn't realise at the time that I should have obviously been checking to make sure there was a condenser lens present too... As someone with very little experience with enlargers in general (and precisely none with identifying appropriate parts or finding new ones for them), can anyone tell me how feasible it is to get this enlarger into a usable state? I did wonder about simply sticking a piece of ground glass into the bottom to turn it into a diffuser enlarger... I'm guessing of course it's not that simple. Does anyone know where I might source the proper condenser lens for it? There are two different Gnome condenser lenses for sale on eBay right now I've noticed... How would I know if they're suitable for mine? They're both described as 3 3/4" across but the base of my enlarger is nearly 4 1/2" wide in the base. Any advice would be enormously appreciated... especially today before the auctions end so I know whether or not they'd be suitable!

Thanks in advance,

Liam
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Old 28th June 2015, 11:08 AM
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Barry Barry is offline
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Welcome to fadu Liam, I'm sorry I can't help you but hopefully someone here can?
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Old 28th June 2015, 01:52 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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Welcome Liam. Hopefully some-one here with the knowledge will get back to you in time.

If they can't then I'd be surprised if other Gnome Betas don't turn up on e-bay. Just make sure they have the condenser. You haven't said what your purchase source was but in any sale the seller ought to said what is missing. Without a condenser it is not "fit for purpose". Certainly if it was an e-bay sale then unless it was stated that the condenser was missing you have a case for redress in my opinion

Mike
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Old 28th June 2015, 05:30 PM
alexmuir alexmuir is offline
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I have a Photax 6x9 enlarger which is very similar to the Gnome Beta design. It has a double condenser set which are definitely larger than 3.75", although I can't measure the exact size at the moment. You could try using it as a diffuser by inserting ground or opal glass. I bought one years ago that had been converted like that. You would need to adjust the lamp up and down to get even illumination of the negative area.
Alex
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Old 28th June 2015, 06:16 PM
Alan Clark Alan Clark is offline
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If you follow Alex's suggestion you might get more even illumination on the baseboard than you would if you were actually using the condensors. But you may also get more heat from the bulb, which could pop the negative out of focus.
I had a Gnome Beta 11 many years ago, with condensors. I had a love-hate relationship with it. It had very uneven baseboard illumination. Even with the bulb height adjusted there was a bright hot-spot in the middle of the baseboard, almost bright enough to fry an egg on. You had to burn-in all four sides of the print to compensate.
The wiring also looked pretty basic, and I had a palpable fear of being electrocuted every time I touched the thing when the light was on.....
In the end I scraped some cash together and bought something better.
Liam, do you get the impression that I'm trying to tell you something here, whilst trying hard not to pour cold water on your purchase?

Good luck,
Alan
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Old 28th June 2015, 07:23 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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Based on what Alan has said and taking another look at you picture, Liam, I notice that it still has that very old 1950s cloth-covered plaited wire. This might be fine but check it very carefully for defects or better still, change for modern wire even if it does look OK.


You need to get a set of under the lens filters with the fixing that attaches to the lens for V.C. paper. The alternative is to use fixed grade paper in several grades

In either case you might want to obtain a red safety filter to allow you to alter easel position and do other things with the paper underneath while keeping the enlarger light on.

Having said all this the Gnome Beta II has to be one of the cheapest ways to be able to do 6x9 negs

Mike
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Old 28th June 2015, 08:43 PM
JOReynolds JOReynolds is offline
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A ground-glass diffuser will definitely give you uneven baseboard illumination. The enlarger is useless without the condensers (usually mounted in pairs in a cylindrical spacer, convex sides facing). If you find a pair, change the flex (get an electrician to check your handiwork) and add an earth wire if the bulb holder is brass.
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Old 2nd July 2015, 09:58 PM
LiamCH LiamCH is offline
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Thanks for the advice everyone... Sadly it looks as though given that I'll need not only the condensers but also the spacer (which I imagine are as rare as hens teeth these days!) I think for now I'll have to find another! I've set up an eBay alert for them on the off chance they appear one day but for now I'll think I'll look elsewhere.

I was looking actually at another Gnome... an Alpha II which despite the name looks a little more sophisticated... though not much! It as you can see has the condensers for both 35mm and medium format and comes with a lens.



Just a couple of questions before making another mistake... Will my lens (39mm Leica Thread Mount) fit this too? As I understand 105mm is the minimum for enlarging 6x9. Secondly the condensers are described as for medium format... would that definitely cover 6x9 and not merely 6x6?
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Old 2nd July 2015, 11:06 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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I made an assumption that you have a lot of 6x9 negs from which you want to print and/or that you use 6x9 cameras, Liam.

If 6x9 cameras and negs are your present and future then you might want to think about saving a bit more and buying a better enlarger that does 6x9.

The Gnome range by comparison with more modern enlargers are very basic in engineering terms.

However I do realise that jam today in the form of a cheap Gnome 6x9 enlarger as opposed to jam tomorrow can be very tempting.

I hope it works out OK for you

Mike
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Old 3rd July 2015, 12:15 AM
alexmuir alexmuir is offline
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Many enlarger lenses have the 39mm thread, but there are also many with 25mm, or other sizes. I think, from memory, that the Gnome enlargers had interchangeable lens mounts for different thread sizes. You could check with the seller. The condensers in the picture look like two of the same size. The boxes appear to be with them. Perhaps the info about coverage is printed on the box? I wouldn't make the assumption that 'medium format' condensers would necessarily cover 6x9, although they may do if that's the largest negative size for this enlarger. One of my Dursts has condensers for everything up to 35mm and another set to do 6x6-6x9. Get as much info as you can from the seller to help you decide.
Alex.
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