Saunders, Dunco, Beard, which easel should I take?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by hadeer, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. hadeer

    hadeer Member

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    As I am in the market for a good quality easel, I have searched the forum about easels, but it seems the latest discussions are somewhat dated now.
    Currently I use a 4-bladed Leitz 10x12 for smaller prints and a 2-bladed LPL 12x16 for bigger prints. I seldom make bigger prints than 12x16 (30x40cm). It's the LPL I want to replace as it prevents me from making prints with large borders, and also, mechanically it isn't the most sophisticated part of my darkroom.
    After some internet searching, I narrowed my choice down to a Saunders 12x16 V-track, a Beard or a Dunco 90/4 Pro 30x40. It seems however that from this trio only the Dunco is still in production, the Beard or Saunders I would have to buy used, and from what I have seen they are not readily available and go for salted prices. But still, about half of what you pay for a new Dunco which costs EUR 489,- in Germany (Phototec).
    Another point I am not sure of is whether I shoud by a 16x20 instead of a 12x16, as I am a medium format worker on 4.5x6 film. These negatives are projected in portrait format on the ground board and a bigger easel maybe would give greater flexibility in placing the paper. OTOH it might become unwieldy and heavy. More expensive too.
    I suppose I would have to limit my choice of used or new easels to the European countries, as the transport from the US to Holland where I am based, would be expensive and risky.
    Any thoughts on my dilemmas would be greatly appreciated.
    Hans
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Isn't the Suanders a LPL? I forget.

    I have a beard two blade and it's heavier then me and better built. But no longer in production. So the condition of any used one you find will be an issue.

    BTW these things are HEAVY. I paid more to ship the thing then the item cost used.
     
  3. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I've got an older version of the Saunders range; it's built like a tank.
    I picked it up used off E*** - way too expensive when they were available new, so that was my only alternative.

    I had mine shipped to Australia from the US - ended up costing me about $195 from memory which was very acceptable compared to buying it new in Australia or elsewhere.

    Guess it comes down to how much you are prepared to spend and the condition of a used one should that be the way you decide to go. But the USD is weakening against many currencies, so you could get yourself a very good deal.
     
  4. mexico531

    mexico531 Member

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    I use a Beard two blade as that's what we used in all the pro labs I've worked at. I find it suberb, it's very heavy - especially the 20"x16" that I have. Can't comment on the others as I've never tried them. Not sure where you'd find a decent one now though as, has been already said, they're no longer in production.
     
  5. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I'd get a Kaiser. I want one but there no used ones in the US. I had to hunt for a reasonably long time for a 11x14 Saunders V-track. It's certainly nice, but I can only imagine what a 12x16" one would cost used (which I've never seen).
     
  6. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    Have you considered a 4 Blade Kaiser ? - http://www.silverprint.co.uk/ProductByGroup.asp?PrGrp=1023

    I have a 20x16 4 Blade Kasier - its very user friendly with a nice lifting mechanism and paper clamp but it is heavy

    Every time this sort of discussion comes up, people always say that the Beard Easels are the best - but people always advocate the equipment they own

    I am not sure there is a "best" easel – just like there is no “best” camera - most 4 blades are very good - if you find one that you like and it feels right then buy it and use it to produce great work.

    Buying an Easel for paper sizes that you might very occasionally use - they just a great deal more expensive, heavier and less manoeuvrable for 99% of the time :confused:

    I have done 20x24 prints straight onto my Enlargers Baseboard (which is easily large enough) using loops of masking tape to keep the paper flat and pencil lines for paper alignment - not as easy as an Easel but OK for occasional use plus not havening to spend an extra 200+Euros

    Have you checked out this thread - http://www.apug.org/forums/forum43/67552-best-4-blade-money-can-buy.html

    Martin
     
  7. hadeer

    hadeer Member

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    Anothe candidate?

    Thanks sofar. In the meantime, doing some more internet searching, I have come across the Versamask system, which consists of a stable baseplate and fixed size laser-cut metal masks. I think it is quite interesting as it seems to guarantee right angles, is simple to use and has no movable bands that can go out of whack. Moreover it is still in production, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg as long as you dont order non-standard masks and are prepared to limit yourself to a few standard image sizes. Does anybody know this system or has experience with it?
    Hans
     
  8. hadeer

    hadeer Member

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    Martin,
    I agree with the points you made. I also checked out the thread you mentioned and the Kaiser on Silverprint and it seems very nice (exept for the price, that is..:sad:). I think I'll stick to 14x17 and improvise for bigger prints. But also see my point about the Versamask system.
    Hans
     
  9. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Yeah the Versamask looks cool too. I'd be all over it but I don't think anyone carries it in the US.
     
  10. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    Interesting :smile:

    Good if you only need a few specific frame sizes

    Martin