Inside Heiland Electronics.
by Christopher Osborne.
I am at the Wetzlar Headquarters of Heiland Electronics. Juergen talks about the future and shows the company’s new 8×10 enlarger.
Juergen Heiland shows the CAD drawings of the new 8×10 enlarger.
Heiland Electronic has been quietly manufacturing specialist, niche products for photographers and darkroom printers for nearly forty years. This small company is based in a pleasant residential area on the outskirts of Wetzlar, Germany. Wetzlar is a photographic town, and home to Leica.
We started on a tour of the building. Juergen showed me the plans for the 8×10 inch enlarger which they are developing. This unit has been based on the experience that the company gained in building the massive “Mamont” horizontal enlarger for Art of Foto in St. Petersburg. This is the only enlarger in the world capable of taking up to 20×24 inch negatives.
The Heiland 8×10 enlarger nears completion in the workshop.
And then we entered the workshop, and there it was! Or, to be correct, there they are. A second wall-mounted version is also under construction. The floor-standing version is particularly impressive. The column is 2.4 meters tall, although Juergen points out that a shorter column version will be offered as an option. The wall-mounted version cleverly pivots, so that it can be folded against a wall when not in use.
The enlarger head, focus board and baseboard are moved through electronic motors. The Heiland name is synonymous with precision and this enlarger is no exception. Parts move to less than 1/10mm of where they are required. So, for example, the user will be able to press a “Load paper” function, the head will move to an easily accessible height, and when commanded the enlarger will return the head to the previously in-focus position.
Juergen explains the electric drive system which can position the head, lens and baseboard to 1/10th of a mm.
A laser focusing system is under development, and this will be capable of being calibrated for each lens used on the enlarger.
The head on these enlargers looks tiny. They are equipped with the Heiland LED cold light source, and as a result, the cooling fans that would normally be required on an enlarger this size are absent.
The baseboard is waiting to be installed and column covers still need to return from the paint shop. There is still some development work to do on making sure that the baseboard doesn’t move when it takes the weight of a person!
The new Heiland enlarger features a cold head. Juergen shows one of the LED panels which will illuminate the head.
This product looks excitingly close to completion. I ask when the first print will be made. Juergen looks uncomfortable, and it takes me a moment to realise why. He and his colleague Wolfgang are true engineers in the classic sense. They work in a business that has built a reputation for quality and do not want to put their products into the market before they are 100% happy with them.
The price has not been decided yet and is likely to be less than €20,000 per enlarger. So, this won’t be a device for the average home.
Manufacturing electronic components at Heiland’s facility.
After the excitement of seeing the enlarger, Juergen, Wolfgang and I had coffee in the garden. We talked about changes in the analogue market. Heiland Electronic is seeing a steady increase in sales.
The LED strip safelights are doing well, particularly the version which can be used for colour printing. Juergen admits to being surprised at the increase in demand for colour in the analogue community.
Sales of the Splitgrade controller are steadily increasing too. This device helps B&W printers determine the exposure and the grade when making prints with amazing accuracy.
Wolfgang Walbereris the mastermind behind the mechanical design. He shows the wall mounted version of Heiland’s new enlarger. This cleverly folds away to save space.
Images © Christopher Osborne 2021.
Visit Heiland Electronics at https://heilandelectronic.de
You can read about the Heiland Splitgrade controller for B&W printing here https://silvergrainclassics.com/en/2020/08/heiland-splitgrade-controller/ and the accompaning book published by SIlvergrainClassics here https://silvergrainclassics.com/en/2021/06/the-heiland-splitgrade-controller-made-simple/
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