Durst Laborator 1000

The Durst Laborator 1000 is a decidedly complete and expandable darkroom enlarger with a whole series of accessories (admitted to finding them even today) that make it one of the best choices to equip a darkroom capable of covering with a single machine, also quite compact in size for the category, the printing of small, medium and large format negatives up to 4×5″. Together with the more advanced Laborator L1200 it represented one of the main options for advanced amateurs who dedicated themselves to the large format and has therefore had a good diffusion allowing, nowadays, a decent availability on the second-hand market.

The enlarger is made of a fairly massive metal body but of small dimensions that facilitate its transport and positioning: the support base has dimensions about 60×60 cm and the height is between 1 and 1.25m, for a total weight of less than 50 kg; being completely removable in some main parts, it is easily transportable.

Front view of the Durst Laborator 1000

Once mounted and positioned it is very easy to operate with all the controls easily reachable even at the maximum extension of the column.

The main element, the head, is characterized by the large frontal housing of the condensers, which we will talk about shortly, behind which, in the same block, the opaline lamp is placed.

Below the condensers box there is the slot for the negative carrier, which is inserted through guides and has special latch hooks to ensure the correct positioning even without looking; the standard negative carrier has dimensions suitable for 4×5″ film and is not equipped with cover fins: these are however present in the magnifying body and are positioned by acting on the four red levers placed under the carrier, on the front side and on the right side.

The head is then completed by the focus bellows and the lens docking plate.

The Otoneg 2negative carrier
Optical attachment plate

The Durst Laborator 1000 can work both with condensed light and, by means of a special accessory to be housed instead of the condensers themselves, with diffused light. The condensers are mounted in the appropriate drawers in pairs (see photo on the side showing tose for large format) according to a legend shown on the back of the lid.

In addition to the correct positioning of each condenser, it is also necessary to act on the wheels positioned on the sides of the head, which provide the right distancing to the two units depending on the type of lens mounted (and therefore the negative format to be reproduced) and the maximum magnification factor achievable.

Condensers housing with two mounted units
Condenser positioning legend
The adjustment knob

The condensers that can be used in the Durst Laborator 1000 to obtain the various combinations of optics/magnification factor are:

  • Otocon 180-1
  • Otocon 180-2
  • Otocon 180-3
  • Otocon 160
  • Otocon 130
  • Otocon 90
Otocon 160

Making the correct combination is quite quick and intuitive once you understand the legend, which does not actually bring unit modella 160 and 180-3 back into the expected combinations; the space below the condensers is free for the insertion of the optional filter drawer. Unfortunately, it should be remembered that all optional parts, as well as the complete set of Otocons, are objects that are now very difficult to find if not at decidedly high prices.

Focus and magnification adjustment knobs

Once the correct configuration of condensers and the relative optics have been mounted, the use of the enlarger is decidedly quick and intuitive; for the adjustment of the magnification factor, you act on the knob placed on the column, equipped with a retractable handle, until you reach the desired height of the head. The focus is then finished by acting on the second knob placed at the base of the head, which acts on the extension of the bellows.

The head can also be rotated to correct perspective errors or to make enlargements pushed to the floor/wall. It is necessary to act on the knob located at the bottom of the head block, place the head with the desired inclination and again lock the knob.

During operations, the Durst Laborator 1000 is solid and inclined to undergo vibrations even during the carrier-negative insertion operation, which requires a small effort to get the locking points into the site; the column is solid and rigid even at the maximum extension of the head and even in the case of rotation of the same while, in the latter condition, the base may need a lock to the support plane to ensure maximum stability. In any case, this enlarger is definitely built to last and represents one of the best possible investments for your darkroom; unfortunately, there is a constant growth in the prices of darkroom equipment, especially those of medium high quality and this Laborator 1000 is a glaring example: if only four years ago it could be found on average around 600-700 Euros in excellent condition, today the price has skyrocketed to peaks of 1,500 Euros bringing it closer to the cost of higher category products.


  • Solidity
  • Construction quality
  • Compactness
  • Fluidity and ease of use


  • Average cost
  • Difficulty finding accessories
  • Poor availability