About a year ago I bought a Durst Laborator 138S enlarger to handle 5×7 negatives. The enlarger I bought showed signs of heavy use, and seems to have come from a university darkroom. I would have sent it back, but the freight shipping cost as much as the enlarger. So I set about replacing some parts that turned out to be missing, and a few that were very worn such as the stage for the negative carrier and bellows. It took about 4 months but eventually I had a nicely working 5×7 enlarger.
So why did I just buy another one? I don’t know. I found one on ebay within a day’s drive for a decent price. It’s a complete package in excellent condition. The condensers are pristine, the negative carrier is in nicer condition than the one I picked up for the other 138S, and it’s of the newer style that can take a lens turret or a large lens plate. It also has a couple of original Durst bulbs in various sizes.
I picked it up last weekend and now the my office is filled with Durst parts as I decide how I’m going to fit it into the darkroom. I haven’t decided if I’m keeping the old one too and retire the Omega D5 enlargers, or if I’ll replace the older Durst with the new one and keep the Omegas going for color and to use the Ilford 500 head. Maybe I need to build a larger darkroom 😉
The seller of the Durst was winding down his darkroom usage so I also picked up a few other items including a Micromega grain focuser, Harrison changing tent and forced air print drying unit that he was selling.
What is a “typical” or “reasonable” price for a Durst 138S with all of the condensers and 3 lenses?
Thanks for your help!
Scott, I paid about $300 plus shipping for the first one I bought, but it didn’t come with some parts for the baseboard or any condensers. Once I acquired those I definitely feel I overpaid, especially since I had to put a lot of work into refurbing the enlarger. However it now works very smoothly. I have converted this one to printing color (only up to 4×5 at this point). The next one I found required driving 6 hours to collect, but was pristine and included the coated condensers, and a few bulbs. It was $800. I don’t know how those two purchases fit into the broader market for Durst 138s. The second one included a 50mm lens with the option to buy a nikon 180mm for extra (I forget how much). I have a 210mm Nikon and a 180mm Componon S lenses for 5×7, along with shorter lenses all purchased separately. You can find good deals on 150mm and shorter enlarging lenses easily, but I had to wait for a while to get a decent price on the 180mm. I only bought the 210mm Nikon because I won an auction at a low opening bid. I spent as much getting a lensboard machined for the lens as I did on the mint lens. My feeling is with careful shopping and patience you can put together a very good enlarger with lenses for $1200.