The Beseler 23CIII

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by dancqu, May 8, 2008.

  1. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Has anyone experience with the 23CIII. I see it
    is still marketed. Although it has been the current
    model for a decade or more all discussions this NG
    speak only of the older models.

    I'd like a new enlarger and the 23CIII is currently
    tops on my list. Dan
     
  2. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    I think the 23C or 23CII models are better much built than the 23CIII. In particular, I do not like the 23CIII method for opening the negative stage which requires cranking the heavy lamphouse up every time you change negatives. I had one that I could not keep in service (even after replacing the focus friction wheels and springs it slipped) and so eventually swapped heads with a salvaged 23CII condenser. Additionally, the VC heads are two stops dimmer than the older 23C/23CII condensor heads. That makes quite a difference in exposure and viewing the projected image for burning/dodging when stopped down a couple stops. Of the half dozen or so 23CIIIs in the school darkroom, I also have 2 23CIII dichros that currently have filters that slip and it is cheaper to replace the heads off ebay than it is to get them repaired. One of those heads has already been repaired twice in the past decade.

    In contrast, I have 1 Gray 23C which has to be from the 50s or 60s, a blue 23CII from the 70s and about 9 black 23CIIs from the 90s that are as good as ever.

    Thumbs down on the 23CIII IMO.
     
  3. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    Dan,

    I have two old 23c series II condensers and a 23CII XL with the dichroic color head and I can't see any external differences between my CII and the CIII. I'll bet a buck that a lot of the parts are the same and only the nameplate has changed with some minor differences, most likely more plastic parts/shortcuts.

    I would think you can find a late model CII, condenser or color head, pretty reasonable in today's market. I am embarrassed to say that I bought my CII with the color head for a measly $20 but had to buy a missing screw at Lowe's to make it complete.

    Edit: I also have to agree that the older units are really built well compared to the later models.

    Fred
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2008
  4. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I have had a 23CII since 1971 (about the time it came out). It has been an excellent enlarger. The frame is very sturdy and vibration resistant. The enlarger stays in alighment over years. The filter drawer is roomy and easy to use, a real plus. The adjustable condenser (a standard Beseler feature) means you will have consistent, short exposures for any negative size. There are a lot of accessories available, including a very full line of negative holders, lens boards, and lighthouses. One problem with it was that the cams that open the negative stage tended to wear out too easily (after, maybe, 5 or 6 years of use). That was fixed by changing the way the stage opened on the 23CIII.
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Interesting to read the negative view of the CIII from Smieglitz. I've only ever had that model with the VC head, and have been satisfied with it for over a decade although I recognize what he is identifying as shortcomings. As I also have an LPL 5540 enlarger with a 250 watt bulb, I do notice the comparative dullness of the 80 watt Beseler. But, once I accustom myself to it while using it, I don't find that it's too big a deal. It took some time to adjust, and I used some lightly applied and wiped off WD40 on the focus mechanism, and adjusted the friction till it worked well, but it does work well, and I'm happy with it.
     
  6. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    John -- Smieglitz refers to the enlarger's ability to stand up to use (abuse) in a student darkroom. A 23cIII might last a person's lifetime -- but may not last 5 years in a teaching darkroom! Our darkroom has a wall of 23cII that have lasted for a long time...but no 23cIII, so I don't have any direct experience. In the same vein, I would never recommned a Tachihara 4x5 for use in a student program -- too fragile...but they could last an individual for their lifetime.

    Vaughn
     
  7. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    The CIII looks like an upgraded version of the 67 and not the CII.