While visiting Birmingham for a family shopping trip, I thought call in at A G Photographic – a fine purveyor of tradition photographic products based just off the M6 motorway in Birmingham – to pick up a few essential supplies. AG Photographic is mainly an internet company but they are not adverse to the odd customer walking in off the street. You do have to look hard for their premises because they are tucked away on a trading estate, not the high street.

I met the owner; a very nice fellow called Matthew Wells, and we quickly got chatting about film and film photography – I’d bought a couple of rolls of Ilford Delta 3200 to try out in 135 and 120. However, the discussion and my attention quickly turned to the biggest enlarger I’d ever seen, standing in pride of place in the centre of the room was a De Vere 108 Dichromat. Matthew explained that he had purchased it as part of a job lot and while it was impressive he was uncertain as yet on what to do with it. I was fascinated by its sheer size and presence… it looked like something out of Lost in Space (a classic TV series from the 60’s – for those of you who are not of a certain age!) I asked Matthew if I could take a few photos, to which he kindly agreed. Here are the photos, taken with my iPhone.

108 De Vere-2 DeVere 108 Timer/control box 108 De Vere-1 When I got home and looked at the images I was intrigued to find out more about this wonderful machine. A quick Google search didn’t really offer that much except I did manage to find the DE VERE website. Now, this is an old enlarger and I didn’t expect it to be on the current product list but some manufacturers do show their back catalogue e.g. Olympus have some nice info and photos of their OM series and so on.

The current website was a bit limiting so I decided to contact the company and ask them if they could help. They were very helpful indeed and I was contacted by a nice chap called John, who actually built these machines himself – back in the day!

The 108 was built from the early to late 1980’s and had a maximum 8in x 10in negative size, hence the name 108. There was a motorised drive for focusing and with the huge baseboard the largest print size was 40in x 30in. Many different versions were built for specific purposes e.g. graphic arts, aerial film etc.

I’m not sure if the 108 is working or if Matthew has tried it yet but there is no denying this is a splendid piece of analogue kit.

[update] Matthew informed me that it was working when it was last in use at Indusfoto (they bought it new in 1984 for £10,500 - to put that into context, I bought my first house in 1983 for £14,500) and they've have had it on and the motors all work – head and focus.

Thanks for reading!