September 8, 2011

Durst M605

Read this post in Italian

Durst enlargers are beautiful pieces of Italian technology at its best. They have been sold and appreciated worldwide, at the point that today it's often easier to find used ones abroad rather than in Italy.

In fact, I bough mine on ebay from an English seller.

Before coming to the Durst, I've tried other enlargers (Meopta, Kaiser, etc.), however the building quality of Durst is a step above most of its competitors. As soon as I tried it I realized it was what I was looking for.

Although targeted to the amateur market, the Durst M605 is a strong, precise, all metal equipment, which was designed and built with the highest quality standards.

It accepts negatives up to 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches (6 x 6 cm). The columns is not tall, but sufficient for making 12x16" (30 x 40 cm) prints. A dedicated extension arm (not difficult to find on the used market) allows to make 16x20" (40 x 50 cm) prints.

The enlarger head can be replaced by a diffuser head (also known as "color head"). Having both heads, I made some tests to check light falloff, contrast, tonal range, grain and effects on dust and scratches. After evaluating the results ([4], [5]), I decided to use only the diffuser head. Another advantage of the diffuser head is the possibility to quickly switch from 35mm to 6x6, just moving a small lever (and changing the lens, of course).

The 50mm lens requires a recessed lens board (SIRIOTUB), without which focusing on small print sizes would be impossible. The flat lens board (SIRIOPLA) shall be used instead with the 80mm. However, I have seen that the SIRIOTUB is ok with both lenses, so it is the only one I am using.

The film carrier (SIRIONEG) opens like a book. Its basic version includes two glasses, which can be removed and replaced with metal masks.

Masks have quite strange names, which is advisable to learn so that you won't get lost in the second hand market.  The upper mask is named SIVOMA, the lower one SIXMA. The pair of masks is named SIVOPAR. Names are followed by a number identifying the film format the mask shall be used with (35 for 35mm, 45 for 4x5cm, 66 for 6x6cm).

The following configurations are possible:
    1. GLASS (upper) + GLASS (lower) - This is the default configuration of the negative carrier and is suitable to any film format up to 6x6 cm. Four adjustable masks allow to exactly resize the film frame.
    2. GLASS (upper) + SIXMA (lower). This configuration has the advantage of reducing problems related to dust, for the simple reason that there is one glass less to clean. The negative, which naturally tends to bend upwards, is kept flat by the upper glass.
    3. SIVOMA (upper) + SIXMA (lower). This configuration greatly reduces the dust issues, however it does not ensure at all the film flatness for the simple fact that the negative bends when it is heated by the enlarger light. Lambrecht e Woodhouse [2] demonstrated that the depth of focus of the enlarger cannot compensate the film bending in a glassless negative carrier. Ctein [3] suggests to warm up the film for a while before focusing, but this is a solution I do not particularly like.
      I chose configuration 2, but replacing the standard glass with an anti-newton one (SIVOGLA AN).


      [1] Durst M605 Operating Manual - Durst Photechnik

      [2] R.Lambrecht, C.Woodhouse - Way Beyond Monochrome - Focal Press

      [3] Ctein - Post Exposure - Focal Press

      [4] the post with the results of test "condenser vs diffuser" (in Italian, I will translate it in English soon)

      [5] the post with the results of test "measuring enlarger's light falloff"


      1. Thank You for post! That is helpful for me, just bought a Durst M670 Color which I think uses the same equipments of negative carrier. I would like to use for 24x35 and 6x6 as well. Unfortunately I have only the Unineg holder with the Sixma 35 mask and the Durst Vegabox 667 but without the format insert Sixma 6x6 and the anti-Newton glass plate.
        Do you think I can use without these or replace sg else?
        That would be a honor to get an answer from You.
        Sincerelly: Gyozo Lang

      2. Hi Gyozo, thank you for your comment.
        The Unineg looks quite similar to my Sirioneg

        (just the adjustable masks seem missing).

        I think the Vegabox should be perfectly usable with 35mm, 6x6 and 6x7.

        If you want to print 6x6 you definitely need a 6x6 lower mask.
        If you have a Sixma 35, the Sixma 66 will fit your needs.
        It's up to you to use an upper mask (Sivoma 66) or a glass instead.
        Try looking on ebay. Good luck!

      3. I have one of these which has sat dormant for a few years. I must get around to using it again. Must look on ebay for an Bronica.

      4. Ciao,
        possiedo lo stesso ingranditore, ma ho un grande problema nel suo utilizzo. Visto che tu sei molto esperto, ti posso contattare in privato per chiederti un piccolo aiuto per risolverlo?

      5. Hi Diego, this is blog is in English, so comments should be in English too. You can email me (in Italian) if you have any specific questions.

      6. Hi Maurizio,

        Great post. Excellent description in details for this solid machine,basically the same as the Modular M70 I just installed.Can you please explain to me how you use the Siriotub lens board with 80mm lens? Initially designed for 50mm, I would like to use the Siriotub (I don't have the Siriopla lens board) with 80mm lens (I did not buy yet) for 6x4.5 cmxcm negatives. How have you done that?focusing and negative coverage were normal with Siriotub + 80mm lens?

        Thank you in advance,

        A Mans


      7. Hello,

        I recently bought a M605. Problem... I can put the box higher with the knob on the back, but not sharp image... when I want to adjust sharpness... I have to turn on the other knob... no grip... Help wanted...