enlarger

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by michael_r, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    My trusty old B66 doesn't produce even lighting. In fact it's quite bad how you can see the condensers, concentric circles etc on the baseboard. There is a very pronounced hot spot off center, which I measured to by approximately a full stop. I'm fed up with all the additional burning and dodging I need to do on any print just to counteract these problems.

    So I have decided to buy a new enlarger in 4x5 format, and get a VC head. It seems there are basically two relatively comparable choices here. The Beseler 45MXT and the Saunders 4500 II (or XL) VCCE. I know John Sexton uses the Saunders, so that's a pretty reliable vote. I don't know anyone who uses the Beseler. Are these both of the same quality?

    Are they equally solid in construction?

    Are they well aligned and adjusted right out of the box? or will I have to do all kinds of work on them?

    Is one or the other more or less prone to alignment issues, or is one easier or harder to align if necessary?

    Will they both produce even illumination with their respective VC heads right out of the box?

    Are the negative carriers better one way or the other?

    Thanks
     
  2. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    Can you find a color head?

    I have the B-22 & I bought a Dichro Color Head the early 1970's. Works great, however, I never experiened your challenges with the condenser head.
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Try a new bulb. Those 'white' bulbs can darken with age.

    In terms of 4x5, don't forget the Omega/Chromega enlargers/heads.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A friend of mine who wore out a Beseler 4x5 when he operated a pro lab has told me that if he were choosing today it would be the LPL.
    The LPLs are supposed to be in alignment out of the box, and are not adjustable. I've not checked mine, but haven't seen any reason to do so either.

    Even illumination should not be a problem with either one (nor should it be for your B-22 for that matter). I'm not sure about the availability of a VC head for the Beseler. They are available for the LPL, but are a bit rare, and are quite pricey. The LPL with a color module is much more common, and is almost as good.
    Since the filter module is interchangeable you could start off with the color one then switch to a VCC when you find it.
     
  5. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Well, this is sort of like the Ford vs. Chevy argument. That said, I think the Beseler is very good, very available, still making product, and has always served me well. The 45MXT is suppose to be improved over the previous models (isn't that always the case?) or, if you can find one in good condition, a CB-7.
     
  6. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    I own the Saunders 4500 II VCCE. It's very good. I agree that you're comparing a Ford with a Chevy. If, however, you could be tempted to move up to the Ferrari, then I would highly recommend a Durst L1200. I have that as well and greatly prefer it to the Saunders. In fact, I'll probably sell the Saunders at some point.
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I tried a new bulb. Same story. You can still buy new Omega enlargers?
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I thought you can't buy a new Durst anymore. I'm confused as to what enlargers are still being manufactured. Durst would be great.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The Dursts aren't made any more, but they are around, and probably available re-conditioned from Durst-USA, assuming you're in the US.
    4x5 enlargers in good working condition are fairly plentiful on the used market, for most purposes there is little advantage to getting a new one, and several hundred disadvantages (if you measure in $'s).
     
  10. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    What about a Beseler 45VXL? Anyone have any experience with that? It looks more comparable to the Saunders, with the single column etc.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    jeroldharter has and uses a Beseler 45VXL. You might want to PM him.
     
  12. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The light from this enlarger should be very even. There is something profoundly wrong with your B66.

    Possibilities: wrong condensers for the lens focal length; missing condenser lens; mis-mounted condensers; wrong enlarging bulb (PH/140 75W - sort of a tear-drop shape, not the standard household bulb shape); wrong focal length lens for negative size / wrong negative carrier...

    Of course, if you just want a new enlarger...
     
  13. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    You can't go wrong with any modern 4x5 enlarger. As far as I know, only the Omega and Beseler are adjustable, and they will need alignment after assembly. Durst, DeVere, and Saunders will need to be assembled, but cannot be aligned once put together. I have experience with all the brands I mention except Durst.
     
  14. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The dual post models have been made for 50+ years and are still being made. Maybe the single post is more to do with trying to look modern. Which is strange because in the beginning, the single post was the more common, wasn't it. I don't think it matters as much as the overall design and construction. Making a good print depends more on operator skills & knowledge than which brand enlarger, which lens, what easel, and so forth.
     
  15. archer

    archer Member

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    Dear Michael 1974;
    I have a Beseler 45VXL that I bought new when they first came out and I use the Dichro 45S head. It is a fabulous machine and very massive. I am able to make 22x28 inch prints on the baseboard and the light is very even. I have also used the Durst 1200 and it is a fine machine. I chose the Beseler because parts and accessories for it are much easier to find. The 45VXL will last you two lifetimes and will perform any task you ask of it. I believe the enlarger comes standard with the condenser head as mine did and the 45Dichro S head can be found used in excellent shape for less than $300 almost any time on Ebay. If you buy the enlarger new, I suggest you also buy the focusing and elevation extension rods if they don't come with the machine. If I recall, my enlarger did come with the rods and believe me, they are essential unless you have long gorilla arms. My enlarger sits on a very heavy metal office desk that is 29in high and with the enlarger extended almost to the top I have about 4in clearance with my 8ft ceiling. The 45VXL was designed for heavy commercial use and I promise, you will never wear it out. I hope this has been of some value to you and good luck with whatever you decide.
    Denise Libby
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2010
  16. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    LpL enlargers can be aligned. Mine was pretty good out of the box, but now it is perfect. You just need to be clever in figuring out where to put the shims