Beseler 45V-XL anyone?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by brian steinberger, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I think it's time to upgrade the enlarger that first got me through the entry in the darkroom years ago, a very old Beleser 45. It's a great piece of equipment, but has a drawbacks that seem to get more annoying the more experienced I get. There's supporting rods on the chassis that run down to the baseboard which get in the way when dodging and burning. Its a pain to align, I've only tried it once. When I have the head up high it's bot super sturdy. And I'd like to have more height available as I'd like to eventually get into printing 16x20.

    I've checked out all the Besler enlargers and the 45V-XL seems to be the big daddy of enlargers. This is ideal as I have the 45s dichro head which I would plan on using with it and also Beseler lens boards for my lenses. I also like that you can mount it directly to the wall... excellent!

    My main question is, would I be nuts to buy this new? For the chassis only I don't think it's outrageously priced, especially for the most important piece of equipment in the darkroom. I've been looking on ebay for months and they never come up.

    What are your suggestions and opinions?
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I could be wrong, but I seem to recall that jeroldharter uses a 45V - you may want to pm him
     
  3. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Good memory. I have a 45VXL and a 45MXT. the VXL is more of a beast and you need a high ceiling or a low cabinet to accommodate the column. 16 x 20 or 20x24 is no problem. Alignment is only slightly better than the 45MXT and it has the usual light leaks that can be patched with black masking tape.

    I think it is great that anyone buy new gear. If you can afford it, go for it. Used enlargers are a crapshoot and I have bought one off eBay that arrived mangled (45MXT with bent frame in shipping). The 45VXL is much more of a beast - I consider moving it a 2 man job. Be sure to get the extension rods for the focusing mechanism for big enlargements unless you have very long arms. They do make a wall mount for it or the heavy baseboard. Negative carriers are the same as the 45MXT.
     
  4. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    In your opinion, is it worth the extra money to get the VXL over the MXT?
     
  5. Gary Grenell

    Gary Grenell Member

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    I used to have a VXL. I did not find it to be a precision machine. Check out the Fujimoto 450M. I think they are having a fire sale on them at JOBO. I paid close to 2000 for mine a few years ago and now they are closing out, it appears for 1/4 of that price. A truly precision machine and a total joy to work with.
     
  6. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I don't think the price difference is huge, but yes, I prefer the VXL. It is less fiddly and much more of a tank. No standard motor for focusing though. I have my 4x5 MXT adapted to 8x10 now and the VXL for 4x5 and I kind of like the motor on the MXT to raise the carriage but no big deal. The VXL has an accessory motor which is expensive an unnecessary for personal work.

    The other poster was correct - none of the Beseler's are not "precision" incarnate but very American if you know what I mean. And used parts are easily available. Someone mentioned Fujimoto - good luck finding negative carriers or alternative light sources for that. No doubt a good machine but you might spend more than a new enlarger for accessories or die waiting for them to materialize. I bought my VXL new years ago for full price and don't regret it.
     
  7. fotch

    fotch Member

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  8. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    All the Beselers are good enough. But the CB-7 is really old precursor to the 45MXT so getting one in good shape might be hard.

    The VXL is all mechanical and a new one is unlike to wear out in a lifetime of personal use. It is built like a tank and meant to be put someplace and never moved. My only complaint is that alignment is not more elegant. The 4x5 Negaflat carrier is a great piece of equipment also.
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Thanks for the replies all. It sounds like the VXL is what I'm looking for and really my only option considering I have a Beseler head, neg carriers, lens boards etc. ready to adapt to a new enlarger. And I really really like the idea of mounting to the wall.

    Jerold, what do you mean by alignment not being elegant?
     
  10. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I believe there are 4 set screws which use a little allen wrench. 3 screws with a flexible gasket would be better. Delta and long ago Zone VI made a "Bes-Align" lensboard which included the gasket and 3 screws for easy alignment but it accommodates only lenses with 39 mm, not 50 mm. I emailed Delta to see if they could make a 50 mm and the guy was reassuring that he would give me a quote and then never responded to follow-up emails.

    So with the 45VXL you have 4 screws in a rectangle so it is a little fiddly.

    I think my lens stage might have been slightly bent when movers tried to lift the beast and grabbed what was available (the lens stage). Not sure, just a theory, so mine might be worse than others.
     
  11. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    About wall mounting, my darkroom is in the basement. Is this ok to mount to simple studs in the wall? Or do I need more bracing?
     
  12. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Beseler makes a wall mount kit which I have not used. I think it has a metal receptacle for the bottom of the column that bolts to the wall (so you might need cross bracing between the studs). The wall mount kit also serves as a spacer to position the column out from the wall so that the carriage crank has enough clearance.

    With a wall mount, you could make a drop table by screwing wood strips to the sides of two cabinets at various intervals so that your most common enlargement size is at a comfortable height and larger prints are done with the baseboard dropped closer to the floor. That is handy if you have low ceilings in your basement. You do want to make sure that you have ceiling clearance for the center post.
     
  13. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Jerold, do you know the height of the center post off hand?
     
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  15. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Also, I just checked out the Beseler 23CIII-XL. It's not a 4x5 enlarger, but it would certainly be a cheaper option. The dichro head looks kind of strange though. I could also sell my Beseler 45s head to help fund this enlarger. The VXL would be ideal though, not sure I have the space though.
     
  16. fotch

    fotch Member

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    After reading comments at Glenview, I compared the 45MXT to the CB-7 and there is a world of difference. The 45MXT negative stage is very similar to the original 45M whereas, the CB-7 is rock solid, made totally different. The lower half of the negative stage doesn't move when you open up to insert negative carrier. This result is less play and better alignment.

    I picked up a CB-7 and a 45MXT from a professional photographer, both in excellent condition. For me, this will be a nice upgrade from my really old 45M purchase used 25 years ago. Like most expensive enlargers, they are mainly owned by professionals or advanced armatures, have been carefully used, and don’t wear out easily.

    I am looking for an affordable Negaflat, everyone that owns one seem to like it.
     
  17. fotch

    fotch Member

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    If your 45 is the one with the struts out front, just get a newer version where the moved the struts to the rear. My first 45M has the struts out front although I did build a wood version of the Beseler table and in using it, never had a problem with up to 20x24 prints

    Or, just build a table or bench that is lower to allow the VXL height yet, has a movable table to bring the easel to a normal working height. Sort of like the really big commercial enlargers that stand on the floor.
     
  18. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    From the top surface of the baseboard to the highest projection of the chassis for mounting the light head is 62".

    My 45VXL currently has no light head mounted on it because it is in storage. But when I was actively using it, the 45VXL was mounted to the baseboard and the baseboard was set onto a 17.5" high platform and could easily be used with the Beseler Universal head mounted to the chassis at full height in a room with standard height ceiling.
     
  19. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I had a 45mcrx and the colorhead broke so I pick up a CB7. The CB7 is much better than the 45. I saw the 45VXL in store and it looks very good too.
     
  20. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    "The lower half of the negative stage doesn't move when you open up to insert negative carrier. This result is less play and better alignment."

    This is the same for the V-XL—the stage that holds the negative carrier is stationary. I really like mine (I used to have a 45M.)
     
  21. archer

    archer Member

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    Dear Brian;
    I believe you'll love the VXL. I bought mine when they first came out and I use it with both heads but recently I've settled on the 45S as my standard. It is a massive machine but I use it on top of a large, old, govt. issue, steel office desk and with 8ft ceilings, have no problem going to 24x30 on the baseboard. My enlarger came from Beseler in perfect alignment and when I checked it last week it still is and that's well over a decade of constant use. You will never wear it out.
    Denise Libby
     
  22. fotch

    fotch Member

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    What is a 45S? I am not familiar with that one.
     
  23. fotch

    fotch Member

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    That makes sense. I was beginning to wonder why Beseler did not continue to use the stationary design. They did, I just never came across a VXL. Thanks for the info.

    I have been satisfied with the basic 45M's, and its only in this new era of low priced used darkroom equipment that I decided to upgrade in some areas.
     
  24. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    It's the newer version of the Computerized Color Head... where they got rid of the computer, and with it all the gremlins that crept up as the things aged! It's the same basic head but the dials on the front simply gear-drive the indicators and the filters. There isn't the whole "feedback loop to keep colors consistent even as the bulb ages" thing, but then again you can be pretty sure that when you turn it on it will actually work! About the only thing to go wrong on it is the bulb.

    Duncan
     
  25. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Got it, was not thinking of the Beseler Color Heads.
     
  26. Dave Ludwig

    Dave Ludwig Member

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    Bought my 45S-VXL for 200 bucks on ebay with the MODULE that actually works. Best Enlarger I ever worked with, not to say there aren't better. If I had to replace it though would go with a Durst. Only to see if it is truly better. New to the Forum and look forward to discussions. Am currently on another forum that is for LF but seems many discussions deal with topics that are Taboo here, and for which I am not interested.