The Minolta mini-enlarger...

I don't know if this is quite the right description for the enlarger but it certainly is quite well adapted to use with smaller format negative sizes. I believe that it was originally intended for use with 16mm film, perhaps to complement the small Minolta cameras which used that format and turn up from time to time.

Complete enlarger

I purchased mine at a camera fair in 1982 for £50. Like most things that aren't quite mainstream, nobody seemed interested in it. At the time, I was looking out for something suited to my 35mm half-frame negatives and this turned out to be very suitable. It came without a lens and I quickly found that a standard 50mm enlarging lens was a bit long for half-frame though it was usable. I subsequently found an anonymous 35mm lens which, though a little bit soft focus, was adequate for modest enlargements. The enlarger came complete with a 16mm negative film carrier and I used this as a model for subsequent carriers of other formats. The condenser system proved quite adequate for half frame and would of course have been ideal for 16mm.

When I later took up subminiature work, this was the obvious enlarger to use. It required only another negative carrier to be made. A better lens was also desirable and I came across an f/4 28mm Schneider Componon which proved to have very good sharpness, certainly enough for my purposes. The pictures I get with my Minox EC are rarely exactly 'razor sharp' ( the Minox B and LX are certainly better in that department ) and the enlarger setup is more than adequate for my needs. The only serious drawback is that the condenser system is by no means optimised for this negative size (8x11mm) and combined with the fact that an extended, diffused source is used, illumination isn't particularly efficient. Exposures as a result can be rather long - 30 to 60 seconds for a big enlargement, but this is something I've learned to live with.

The fixture below the lens comprises a holder for filters - either for variable contrast papers or colour printing; there is also a ground glass diffuser rather than the usual red filter. This is used in conjunction with my enlarging exposure metering system and provides an integrated intensity from the whole negative - for the majority of 'average' negatives, this works very well when used with a CdSe device (e.g. Ilford have a simple spot metering unit - the EM10 - which works very well.)

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