Recommended easels

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by bwakel, Dec 16, 2006.

  1. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    As my printing improves I'm finding the cheap Meopta 16x12 easel that I bought to get me started to be more and more of a drag. The blades don't sit at right angles and I have to hold down one corner to keep the paper flat!

    What easels do people recommend? Is a four blade easel a useful investment or of limited use? Are Beard easels worth the extra cost or will an LPL serve me well?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Barry
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Beard and Saunders V-Track are first rate easels. The next step after that is a vacuum easel. If you can afford one, you'll only have to buy it once, and then you won't have to worry about it.

    I find it very useful to have a 4-blade easel, since I print from a variety of formats, and I'm not dogmatic about using the full frame.
     
  3. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I would definitely get a 4-bladed easel, probably one size larger than you expect to print. I would get a Saunders 4-blade (I have the 16 x 20 and the 20 x 24). I only use the 20 x 24 for 20 x 24 prints and use the 16 x 20 for everything else. I have never used a V-track but I like the geared knobs on the regular Saunders. Very precise.

    I also have an 11 x 14 Saunders but that feels flimsy to me and is easily nudged on the baseboard.
     
  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Saunders 14X17 works well, four blades for up to 11 X 14 and the masking assembly is removable for 14 X 17's.
    Solid foam base so it can hang over the edge of the base board if need be.
     
  5. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    LPL makes one and supplies to Saunders also, I believe. I don't know the price of it in other parts of the world, but mine was about 150 USD when I bought it new. It's not fancy or anything, but it's just what it is and does what it does.
     
  6. rjas

    rjas Member

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    I have used a Saunders Universal and a Saunders V-track. Both are great, but the V-track is the best hands down. It's big and sturdy and the blades stay straight once they are set. When I got it one of the blades must have been banged out in shipping but 1 minute with an allen key and it was gravy. Look for one on ebay- I got an 11X14 for something like $100 shipped.
     
  7. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    The Dunco 4-bladed easels could be a solution or when you have only two formats (or so) you could decided for the Versamask (TM) system from Zöpfl. The guy died last year (cancer) but Heiland and Phototec have overtaken the production of the idea. We have it also in our program.

    http://www.versamask.de/
    All masks are laser cut and very precise.

    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  8. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    You are right when you say that using a cheap easel is a drag, I guess most of us have several that we have accumulated, and now avoid using, generally for the reasons you describe. Here in England the Dunco, and Kaiser 4 blade units are available from Silverprint (and possibly others) and are of good build quality. The R&B units are available second-hand from time to time, and whilst of good quality, are primitive to set-up, and therefore generally overpriced, which is why I use a old Dunco model.
    I guess the best reason for going to a 4 blade unit is that the easel remains in the centre of the baseboard for all paper sizes, whereas with the 2 blade unit it has to be moved, and, if it’s one of the larger sizes, can end up over hanging the baseboard; which those of us with expanded waistlines can find a nuisance. There are various fixed aperture units, such as those mentioned by Fotohuis that may be useful if you regularly print to a fixed size, I also have a Quadro 14/11 easel that was designed on this basis that works very well indeed, but are now rarer than a concrete cows scrotum.
     
  9. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    cheap easels are often not square once well used either!

    I have a photon beard 2 blade and love it. The next stage would be a Dunco 20x28 4 blade. My enlargers have huge baseboards so moving a 2 blade about it not an issue. My only criticism of my 2 blade is that the scale is off by about 3mm. Does not sounds like much but if you want to make a print a certain size to fit an existing mount it can result in a bit of swearing. I have to remind myself of the +/- error every now and again to get prints of exact dimensions when I need a border around the image itself.
     
  10. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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  11. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    I'll second that. It's worth noting that if you get a Beard 2-blade 16x12 model, you'll still be able to use 16x20 paper, albeit with a rather fetching 2 inch border.
     
  12. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    Quadro

    Dave, yes, I noticed that Secondhand Darkroom have a number of nice easels. As this is where I got my De Vere 504, I keep an eye on their stock.

    You mentioned the Quadro before and I notice that Secondhand Darkroom and Nova have secondhand items in stock. How does this masking easel work? What's the Q Bar all about and is the whole thing quick and easy to use or a bit of a faff?

    Cheers

    Barry
     
  13. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Barry, you hit the nail on the head when you asked if the Quadro is a bit of a faff; well yes it is, but the results can be worth the trouble in my opinion. It is a precision instrument that uses precut metal aperture plates in one guise to provide the required masking. This is ok if you have the correct sized mask! When turned over it can be used with a series of precut masks that are positioned using the “Q-bar” as a guide, again a range of (different) pre-cut masks are used, sometimes with the addition of inserts that are used to produce accurate pen lines. So, no it is not quick to use, unless you are doing a run of identically sized prints that is, but it does work well, and I use mine a lot; in fact I regard it as my main easel. You will either love it, or loath it, there being no middle ground.
    Incidentally the chap that made them also made the worlds best paper safe called the Quadro pro-safe, well worth keeping an eye open for, a three draw unit that takes up to 20” x 20” paper and can support an enlarger on top. Unfortunately they were so expensive at over £350 in about 1990 that he didn’t sell many and stopped making them, which was sad. Be prepared to kill for one of those.
     
  14. Parsifal

    Parsifal Member

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    A four blade easel can make it easy to make nice presentation pictures, like say a horizontal 5x7 on a vertical sheet of 8x10.

    If you have two easels with blades that go anywhere (and two enlargers) you can do simple spread layouts which are great for storytelling.
     
  15. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I have a large Saunders 4-bladed something-or-other. It is useful for odd or wide borders, odd sized sheets of paper and things like greeting cards [I guess that comes under the heading of odd & wide borders].

    The easels I use the most are the Ganz "Speed-Easels" and the Saunders single-size. I normally print on standard sized sheets and trim the image when mounting. The 4-bladed Saunders is most often used to hold a Speed-Easel so it doesn't slide around.

    They all hold the paper flat. The single size easels are more reliable in that the paper is always inserted square for even borders and there is no opportunity for setting the blades incorrectly.

    As investements -- they have never payed cash dividends and they have all depreciated -- not recomended.
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Robert I had thought of contacting you directly at your company but then I thought that others might be interested in the information. I had a look at the Versamask site and struggled with the translation. I also looked at your site but could not see any reference to the Versamask.

    Let me tell you what I think the Versamask site says and you can correct anything which I have misunderstood.

    1. There are two baseplate sizes of 30x40 cms and 40x50cms
    2. There are 8 pins( 2 per corner) to hold the laser cut masks to give a border.
    3. There are various shapes of mask such as Normal Format which give the same narrow border. There are also masks for square format and small picture format and there appear to be masks for Fibrebase paper which give larger borders. Presumably because FB paper needs larger borders. So this means that you can have borders that are equal in size and borders that are different on different sides

    Now we come to my assumptions.
    1. Included in the price of each mask is an accompanying metal plate which is just a little smaller than the mask opening size and which gives a black line of 1mm when placed inside the mask.
    2. The pins go through holes in the mask and the baseplate which then holds the paper flat so the borders are not damaged. The pins do not go through the paper but presumably the paper corners touch the pins so the paper is thus centred to give equal borders.
    3. On the Versamask site the smaller baseplate is 69.90 euros and normal format masks for 13x18(5x7 in inches) and 20x25(8x10 in inches) are 42.90 euros each
    4. If I am right in my assumptions I could buy a 30x40 baseplate plus 2 masks and the plates for making black keylines on the edges of the print for about 156 euros.

    Of course this doesn't tell me what it would cost to buy from Fotohuis.

    The Versamask does look like a good idea and ideal for making black keylines on a print as well as guaranteed right angle borders. Before I go any further I would be grateful if you could help me with answers. Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  17. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Sticky - glass + foam - single size drop & speed & ?

    My favorite gripes, won't hold flat and with slotted board
    easels a curve in the paper is induced when the paper
    is inserted. Search this NG for, sticky easel . A few
    alternatives are mentioned. Dan
     
  18. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Like Nicholas, I've used several Ganz Speed-ez-els for decades. Masks can be improvised to use them for odd size prints. Their light weight can result in movement, but adding a heavier base with non-slip feet can cure that. A vacuum easel for use with a vacuum cleaner isn't hard to make.
     
  19. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    We have exactly the German Phototec and Heiland prices. However due to the fact UK is not joining the Euro you have bank conversion costs and the transport to the UK is rather expensive compared with other non-island EU countries.

    We have a direct information under our NL website and *LINKS*. Due to the fact this product is made by two different German companies this is a real "niche" product and commercially less interesting in ordering......

    The idea is not completely new however the practical value is simple and great and exactly as you discribed in your message. Normally interesting only when working with fixed limited dimensions only, otherwise also too expensive.
     
  20. ooze

    ooze Member

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    I can wholeheartedly recommend a 4 blade Dunco. A few years ago I bought one from Silverprint in London and consider it one of my better investments. It's got a couple of tricks up its sleeve: you can adjust the blades either in pairs (very easy) or individually (requires unscrewing a couple of nuts). Four scaled magnetic strips also come in the package, which, with a bit of imagination, can be used to create uncommon black borders.

    Cheers, omar
     
  21. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    Yes, the 4-blade Dunco easels are very nice but also higher in price than a Versamask. But you have unlimited variations then in paper size.

    Best regards,

    Robert

    (Dunco BeNeLux distributor)
     
  22. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I use a Saunders 4-blade easel and I love it when it works. Mine was fairly new when it started coming apart over a year ago. I contacted Tiffen, since they are the distributors and it was still under warranty. I was told they would send the replacement parts for the section of the easel that had stripped-out threads but then got no parts. I contacted them several more times and only got excuses and apologies but never got the replacement parts I needed. On advice of a couple of APUGGERS, I've managed to jury-rig it and it's usable but it still occasionally comes apart. I know my easel is probably a fluke since most people have no problem with it but, considering how much it cost, it has been a real disappointment. My biggest gripe with the Sauders easel has been the poor customer service response from the distributor.

    I also have a Ganz speed easel in 11x14 size. It's simple and easy to use but it's pretty light-duty metal. I've noticed mine will take a bend and begin to sag in the middle after using it a lot. I have to bend it back into being flat.

    I still have an old Bogen two-blade easel in 11x14 size and a multi-easel with 8x10 on one side and smaller frames on the other. I bought these when I first set up a darkroom. The multi-easel is solid but lacking in any cropping ability. The Bogen blades will get out of square so I've taped them together.

    Overall, I really can't recommend any of the easels I use. All of them work to a certain degree but none are entirely satisfactory.
     
  23. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    I only say this once: Crappy support means, going out of business sooner or later :surprised:
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks Robert for the reply. The links on your site doesn't seem to work.

    pentaxuser
     
  25. apeiron

    apeiron Member

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    And finally I bought my Dunco 90/5 easel! Very expensive, so much that I have waited for years. It can wait, I thought..., too much money. It's better to spend for something else.
    What a mistake! Absolutely a very good instrument
    And then my last philosophy is to forget immediately, to remove any remors. Lately I've became a master...:rolleyes:
    Apeiron