Choosing an easel

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by FrankB, Jun 22, 2003.

  1. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I'm trying to decide on a new easel.

    I'm currently using the following which I obtained secondhand along with the rest of my darkroom clobber (the first two get the lion's share of the usage):

    Durst fixed 10x8 1/4" border
    LPL 12x10 2-blade 1/4" border
    LPL 18x14 2-blade 1/4" to 1/2" border


    I generally print on 10x8 RC, dropping to 5x7 for some giveaway mantelpiece shots. My intention is to move more to FB paper, keeping the image size the same or larger and giving more generous borders. My enlarger is an LPL 7700C and I print from 35mm via a 50mm EL Nikkor.

    My shortlist consists of the following (in no particular order):

    Dunco 90/5 16x20 4 blade
    Dunco 90/4 12x16 4 blade
    Beard 16x20 4 blade
    Beard 12x16 4 blade
    Saunders V-Track 4 blade 16x20
    Saunders V-Track 4 blade 12x16
    Saunders Pro 16x20 4 blade

    My questions are:

    1) Does anyone have personal experience / recommendations of any of these?

    2) The only place I can find online quoting prices on these in the UK is Silverprint, and the prices are painfully high (between £287 and <gulp> £528. However, a conversation I had in Calumet this week leads me to think that I can get a Beard easel from them for RRP £70 less than Silverprint and actual price £140 less than Silverprint. Where would you recommend in the UK for a good price on an easel?

    3) Am I going in the right direction here, or is there something I've overlooked?

    This purchase will blow my darkroom budget for the year and probably some of next year too, so all help is very much appreciated!

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    If you're not adverse to importing, check out Fotoimpex (www.fotoimpex.de) for more alternatives and nicer prices...

    Four blade:

    Beseler 11x14" EUR 210.-
    Beseler 16x20" EUR 450.-
    LPL 30x40cm EUR 199.-
    Kaiser 30x40cm EUR 365.-
    Kaiser 40x50cm EUR 430.-
    Kaiser 50x60cm EUR 535.-

    three blade:

    AHEL 30x40cm EUR 169.-
    Max. fourth margin 41mm, can take paper up to 40x50cm.

    MWT must be added within the EU...

    <edited to insert some information>
     
  3. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    looking forward to seeing some replies to this question... I've been wanting a decent easel too! I use a Durst Commask (8x10 on one side, various smaller sizes the other size) and a LPL something that hold a 12x16 piece of paper but can't actuall set the 3rd and 4th side big enough. It also doesn't do a big enough boarder (max about 20mm)
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I use the Saunders Pro 16X20. It is an excellent easel in my opinion. I have used others in the past in the interest of economy but found the economy was false.
     
  5. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I agree with the Saunders pro 16x20. An easel is one of those items that it seems you can get by with a cheaper version but in the long run a quality easel makes your printing easier and darkroom more efficient. I have had a number of cheaper easels in the past and wish I would have invested in a top line one earlier.
     
  6. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser

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    I use a Saunders Pro 16x20 4 blade as well as their 20 x 24 4 blade model. Both are excellent IMO. Everything is easily replaceable in case of damage and the blades adjust easily should you knock them out of square. Although somewhat expensive in comparrison to other manufacturers, you get what you pay for.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Like Jim, I have spent good money on cheaper easels and finally bit the bullet and purchased the Beard 4 blade easel and it's superb. I have no personal experience of most of the easels mentioned in other posts, the choice is limited in the UK, so I don't know how the blades are adjusted. Bill's comment about knocking blades out of square highlights why the Beard is the best IMO for it is impossible to do that. Each blade is adjusted at both ends and and cannot move once the screws are tightened. I have had mine for 5 or 6 years and carried it around the country in the car to use when I lead workshops and the blades are as true today as they were when I purchased it. They are not cheap but they are a very good investment.
     
  8. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    I too have been mucking about with cheap easels but finally decided to get a Kaiser 4 bladed 30x40 cms. However prices are forbidding so I had a look at an auction site here in Holland and got one for € 125.- (new price € 425.-)

    The good thing about a four bladed easel is that you can make any borderwidth you like.

    Beard and Dunco (waiting list of some months I have heard) are very well made, too.


    All the best

    Hans
     
  9. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I am using an albert 4 blade that weighs a ton. I got it used at a photo shop for $25 US.
     
  10. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Dont waste money on a cheap easel, eventually you will have to get the good one. I use the Saunders V track 16x20 easel and I have found it to be a great easel. Have had it for many years, moved it from TX to CA, back to TX and now to Mx and the easel still great. If UPS did not manage to mess it up from TX to MX, I doubt you will.
     
  11. lee

    lee Member

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    I have two. Both are Saunders one is really old and dirty but still works. (14x17) The other is is a 16x20 Saunders that is new to me and is immaculate.

    lee\c
     
  12. chrisl

    chrisl Member

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    I got a steal on ebay recently, a near mint condition Saunders 4blade, 20x24 for $250. Gotta be quick, but sometimes they come up for a decent price.
     
  13. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I second the ebay notion, I just picked up a 14x17 Saunders easel for $60 shipped.
     
  14. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Many thanks for all the replies and advice. I'll be going for a new easel sometime this summer but, very regretfully, it's been put on hold for a little while as I apparently need a new fence more than I need a new easel! :-(

    I'll probably be going the new route and probably for either a Beard or a Dunco, as Saunders are like rocking-horse droppings on this side of the pond. Of the two a Beard is most likely, provided I can talk Calumet down on price by a good old chunk.

    Again, thanks for all your help!
     
  15. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Les, is your Beard 4-blade a 20x16? If so, what's the smallest paper size you can comfortably use?

    I can only buy one pro easel so I'd like to make sure it'll cope with the largest paper size I'm likely to use (especially when there's not much of a price difference between the 20x16 and the 16x12). However, I do most of my printing currently on 10x8 (which is considerably cheaper in both paper and chems!) so if there's a problem working with smaller paper sizes on the big easel I think I'd be better off knowing before I spend the money!

    Thanks in advance,

    Frank

    ...A budget is just a method of worrying before you spend money
     
  16. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    My order for a Beard 20x16 4-blade easel went into those nice people at Calumet today. Many thanks to one and all for your advice and wise counsel!

    Regards,

    Frank

    ...A budget is just a method of worrying before you spend money
     
  17. p645n

    p645n Member

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    I have my own set of photographic 10 commandments. One is; "you live by the crop & you die by the crop". What that means (to me at least) is a well cropped shot will catch a persons eye...the crop stops them and makes them really study your photo.<p>And so how do I crop? On the baseboard, always...never in the camera (as often the possibilities of the shot aren't visible during the moments leading up to the exposure). So with my theory’s in mind you’d be right in thinking I print some odd ball sizes…5x8’s, 3x6’s and lots of squares. And what do I crop with? A 4 bladed masking easel.<p>I really like the LPL 4 bladed easels. Cheaper then the Saunders V tracks but harder to find. The V tracks are also good but of coarse the royalty is the Dunco’s & the Beards with their pinline masking kits. Problem with them is you’ll have to mortgage your soul to afford them.<p>What I did want to add to this topic though is the following thought. If you’re going to buy a hulking 16x20 masking easel and use it with 8x10 or 11x14 paper most of the time, remember to think about if you’ll be able to position that huge easel on your enlargers baseboard when your making those 8x10 prints. Quite often you’ll find you can’t use that big easel because the enlarger’s column is in the way. So a good idea is spend your hard earned money on what you’re going to use the most…and only you’ll know what that is.
     
  18. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    My soul is now mortaged(!) but you're right that the Beard isn't going to fit on my baseboard. My plan (such as it is) is either to overlay the baseboard with a sheet of hardboard or (more likely in the long term) to dismount the column and fit it either straight onto the table or onto a DIY platform.

    I do take your point about choosing an easel to fit your most popular paper size. However, after the advice I've had here and a long chat with the gents at Photon Beard, I think (and hope!) that the big beast'll fit the bill.

    Regards,

    Frank

    ...A mind like a steel trap; things wander in, get mangled