Easel Opinions

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by graywolf, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    I am thinking that I want a masking easel. Max print size would be 11x14. Space is limited, funds are limited. I was hoping to find an off brand item that would do the job.

    But, then, I thought that I ought to ask opinions. Do I really need a 4 blade masking easel? Would a cheap 2 blade do? My enlarger only goes to 6x6, so 6x6 and 35mm would be what I was enlarging (unfortunately, while I have a Crown Graphic that I love, space and money mean I have to do hybrid prints with it).

    One of the thoughts, that say I need a 4 blade easel is that I do like square images. I do have one of those old Saunders Multi-Easels that make package prints on 8x10, left over from a previous life, I kind of doubt anyone would want it in this digital age. Anyway, my price limit is $100, but half that would be more comfortable. Any suggestions?
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I recently purchased Saunders 11x14 4 blade easel here on APUG for $50 + shipping. I gave away my 2 blade one to a local college student.

    One of the very annoying thing with my version of 11x14 2 blade easel was that it was very difficult to place the paper on baseboard (of the easel) at correct angle so that paper sits parallel to the edge. In other words, if I put the paper crooked, I won't know it until I expose and process the paper - then find out my borders are not even.

    It's very easy on (at least my version of) 4 blade easel. Stick it into a slot and that's it.

    I know above discussion has nothing to do with number of blades but paper stop in the blade - nevertheless it was very important for me to successfully and consistently use easel and make good borders.
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I've used an Omega four blade easel for about a hundred years and couldn't imagine using a two blade easel.
    If you want to make any size print with any size paper, you can center the image if you wish to.
    With a two blade easel,the paper is always placed in the same upper left hand corner so the initial border on two sides are set.
    You can make a set of masks but unless you mark the easel or tape the mask in place, it's just constant fiddling about.
    The Saunders can be had for less than $100 and if patient, near $50. I found one at a Goodwill store for $8.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You may be able to find a 2 bladed easel for something close to free - I see 8x10 versions regularly on Craigslist.

    Keep your eye out for a really cheap bargain, and in the meantime you can be patient while you wait for a 4 bladed easel.

    FWIW, I use my Saunders 11x14 4 bladed easel for 90+% of my prints - it came as a part of one of those entire darkroom purchases.

    I have three 2 bladed easels - the 8x10 version works great with postcards, the 11x14 version is new and unused in the box and the 20x24 version is available for larger prints.
     
  5. yeknom02

    yeknom02 Member

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    I got a Saunders 11x14 from a fellow APUG member, but I haven't used it yet. I got it because the 8x10 two-bladed easel was giving me the same problems as tkamiya - I wasn't getting consistently straight borders. In fact, they're straight maybe 20% of the time. Tey can be used to make square prints, though.
     
  6. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear graywolf,

    I second the suggestion of watching Craig's List. 11x14 easels are common and cheap if you don't have to pay shipping.

    Neal Wydra
     
  7. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Unfortunately, I live in a small town, not much of interest on the local Craigs List.
     
  8. DAP

    DAP Member

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    For $100 you should easily be able to pick up a really nice 4 blade if you go the ebay route. 11x14 saunders w/ the crank knobs or the sliders are very common (there are usually several on ebay at any given moment - I would go for the knob/crank model). The V-track would be the next step up but you will have to be lucky to get one for $100. If you are not in a hurry you could keep a look out for a Nikor 5 blade easel (The much ballyhooed 5 blade salthill easel is basically a rip-off of the nikor) - the nikors show up on the bay a couple of times a year and go for reasonable amounts. Kostiner easels also seem to be popular (never used one) and go for under $100.
     
  9. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    I see one for $50 on the Seattle Craigs List. About as far from here as you can get.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    They also show up on APUG classified fairly often....
     
  11. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Interesting, a disappearing post.

    I posted earlier today that I have not been able to find an easel in my price range yet. Also some inane comments about how that makes me feel. Wonder where it went?
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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  13. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Thanks, I pm'd him.
     
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  15. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    My favorite is a Saunders Borderless. Mine is 11X14, but they come in 16X20 also. As the title says, there are no borders, you print on the whole sheet. I can then trim or mat to what I want. The 11 X 14 is maximum - it will to down to 4X5.
    I mount, mat and frame all my work, so this gives me the flexibility I like.
     

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  16. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I have an 11x14 Saunders borderless like that, I also have a couple of 4-in-one easels. One of them s modified for printing 5x5 and 8x8 prints. I simply cut some stiff cardboard and mounted it under the mask with strong tape. Theres no fiddling about with locating the paper straight any time. For 11x11, I have an 11x14 two blade that I keep set-up for square. I have another 11x14 two blade for standard prints. I also have a couple more easels including a Saunders/Omega 8x10 print and repeat easel with different masks for printing multiples of a size on one sheet of 8x10 paper.
     
  17. boswald

    boswald Member

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    The trick with the two-bladers is first, having one with the little fingers that pull the paper into the corner, and second, tweaking them so that they grip thin slippery paper. Bogens had the fingers after
    the early 80s. I have a clean one you could have for $20 shipped(11x14- I'd make a whole 8 or 9 $).
    You might find one locally for dirt. The Bogens also adjust to a pretty fat top/left border, it's not fixed.
     
  18. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Well, I bought one off eBay. I believe it is this one UA1114.

    Paid more than I wanted, but I kept getting out bid, and got tired of it, so hit the BIN. Although most of those I was bidding on actually sold for more that I paid for that one.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Those are very good - and have the additional advantage that they more easily permit you to use unusual sizes of paper (like 4x10).
     
  20. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    A tip for 4-blade easels without positioning slots: I bought a large sheet of graph paper, drew over the 1" and 1/2" lines with pencil to make them more visible under safelight, and taped it to the easel base after carefully alignment with the blades.

    Ian
     
  21. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Well, as soon as I buy one, the prices drop like a rock. Apparently everyone was bidding against me. I see where one now went for $9.99, and a couple did not sell at $40. I guess I was had a right to feel paranoid.
     
  22. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    The easel arrived the other day. For $99 I am not happy, at $40 I would be. The problem is it was poorly packed. Stuck in a box with shredded paper from a shredder packed around it and a bit of foam sea shells. The stuff was in every nook and cranny, what a mess. One of the inch tapes is buggered up a bit, and one of the rubber bumpers is missing. I have no way of knowing if it was that way when packed, or it happen in jostling around during shipping the shredded paper had settled about 6 inches. Needless to say there was no way to find a 1/4 bumper in a couple of cubic feet of shredded paper, if it was there.

    Moral, do not get impatient like I did. I think, I was the one driving up the prices by bidding on everyone in my price range. When I gave up on that I paid too much without discussion with the seller. If I had waited a bit less anxiously, I probablly would have wound up with a nicer easel for less money. OTOH, I can now do some enlarging :smile:
     
  23. snay1345

    snay1345 Member

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    I usually write in sharpie the corners of a properly lined up piece of photo paper on my two bladed easels. This way I know as I lay the easel down if the paper shifts or not. I have no problems with crooked photos once I started doing this. I have a 2 bladed 8x10 and 11x14 easel. The 8x10 I have it marked for 8x10 and 5x7 and 5x5. The 11x14 I usually only use for 6x6 negs and that is marked at 11x11 on the corner.
     
  24. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear graywolf,

    You might have paid too much, but now you're ready to print. Even if the easel is pretty rough, it is a very good easel and with a little TLC it should be a workhorse.

    Neal Wydra
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I love my four blade Saunders. It gives me a 1" border around my prints so that I can keep the same aspect ratio for my rectangular prints.
    8x10 paper - 6x8 print (3:4 ratio)
    11x14 paper - 9x12 print (3:4 ratio)
    16x20 paper - 14x18 print (almost 3:4 ratio, 13.5x18 would be perfect)

    But be careful when you buy easels, especially when you make big enlargements - most of them are not very flat. If you go through the pain to calibrate and adjust your enlarger to be perfectly sharp corner to corner and then the easel isn't flat - what good did it do? :smile:

    But a nice easel is a beautiful thing.

    - Thomas
     
  26. E76

    E76 Member

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    I probably shouldn't tell you then that it also appears someone got away with a 16x20 V-Track for only $75! I wish I was that guy, having spent $65 on a regular 11x14 Saunders recently.