What easel recommended to make up to 16x20

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Puma, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Hello,

    I want to get it right the first time with an easel. Is there a best easel to purchase that does 8x10, 11x14 and 16x20 that is solid, will last and is easy to use? Or is it wiser to have multiple easels?

    I have a Leica V35 enlarger and as far as I could tell Leica never made a large easel though I might not have found it in my searches.
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Elsewhere on forum, you said your darkroom space and counter spaces are limited. I think, you will need to consider the practical size you'll be able to handle in your situation. To do 16x20, you'll need at least 3 trays that size and a place to wash your paper. If you do second fix stage, that's one more. If you do fiber, you'll be adding hypo-clear-agent stage and that's 5 total. Rather than trays, you can also use vertical processors but these are pretty expensive at large size. Also, from 35mm, you'll have to have a perfect negatives to go that large as well.

    As to easels, Saunders are pretty common and are very well made. I think many companies sell the exact same thing under their own brand names as well. These come up every few weeks on APUG for good prices. I just bought my 11x14 kind and I really like it.
     
  3. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Thank you for your reply.

    I'm thinking of the future expandability of things. The space that I have is very small but I have a good idea about how to maximize the space. I'm going to build a stair step system to handle the trays because otherwise I would only have room for 5x7's and even then it would be pretty tight. So the solution is use the upward space. I don't really need to see the prints come up, though I did enjoy it back when I did it long ago. I just know that as my skills in printing advance I will want to make 16x20's. For now I will learn with 8x10.

    Also in the somewhat near future I will have a dedicated darkroom space where I will be able to design the room exactly how I want it. I have a friend who has a giant loft space and he approached me with the idea that if I rented it he would build it out to suit me and my endeavor. The location is perfect and the loft is a completely blank space.

    Sincerely,

    Puma
     
  4. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I'd go for the 4 blade variety...great way to custom size your prints. Spend the money upfront and get a good one.
     
  5. Puma

    Puma Member

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    So what's the best one? And can a 16x20 easel make smaller prints?
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I find that my Saunders 11x14 four bladed easels work well with everything between 5x7 and 11x14, but are slightly awkward with prints smaller than 5x7. I wouldn't want to do 4x6, for instance, with a 16x20 easel.

    The large easels can be difficult to position if you are trying to do small prints from a smaller, non-centred portion of a negative.

    Even the cheaper two bladed easels can work well for the smaller sizes of paper, so I would suggest remaining open to the idea of two different sizes of easel.

    In my case, my Saunders 11x14 four bladed easels are my main easels. I have a two bladed 8x10 easel for postcard and smaller prints, and a two bladed 20x24 easel for the relatively rare 16x20 prints I do.

    EDIT: I don't really need two 11x14 easels - I just happen to have a second due to a bulk darkroom purchase, and each of the two are worn in different ways.
     
  7. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    Good 11x14 4-bladed easels can be had for $30-50, and good 16x20 4-bladed easels can be had for $200+. I would buy the 11x14 bladed easel for now, and buy a bigger one later. You'll want to use the smaller easel most of the time anyway.

    Alternately, you can get a cheap 16x20 2 bladed easel for the few times you print that big, and an 11x14 4-bladed easel for the rest of the time.
     
  8. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I have had an 11x14 two-blade for years, recently picked up a 4-blade 11x14. But even more recently I ended up picking up a cheap ($15) 8x10 two-blade off ePrey because doing 5x5 test prints in a large easel is a PITA.
     
  9. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Advice heeded. I'm going to get a four blade 11x14 Saunders, they seem to be very popular.
     
  10. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    I purchased a Saunders four-bladed easel hears ago that still works great. This plus a Saunders 16x20 two-bladed easel is an economical combination that will satisfy my needs for all sizes up to 16x20.
     
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Why not just a steel plate and a few magnets to hold the paper down? It's very cost effective and flexible solution, and it is easy to store. I trim all prints after drying anyway. This gets rid of the chemical-penetrated edges which are hard to wash clean.
     
  12. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I am going to say something really obvious but here goes anyway - Large Easels are heavy and take up lots of room

    If you are a printer who frequently print a wide range of paper sizes then a single Easel is the way to go

    However, if you frequently print a smaller size but might like occasionally to print up to 20x16 then you might be better with a pair of easels - the first for your standard print size and a 20x16 as the second unit

    If your Darkroom has lots of room then size won't be a problem but if it’s a bit on the snug side then the size of a 20x16 easel can easily become an issue.

    For my part I have a 20x16 4 Blade Kaiser – and it’s a lovely piece of kit.
    It is also large, heavy and unwieldy and frankly a PITA when printing 10x8 or 11x14

    Martin
     
  13. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I like to have a few easels so it is simpler to switch paper sizes. I have a Saunders 11x14 4-blade that does 5x7 (or 4x6), 8x10 and 11x14 but I will often use a 2-blade 8x10 LPL as it is just easier to wield at times.
     
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  15. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I see, I'm pretty much alone with my no-need-for-an-easel concept. This surprises me, because I adopted the concept after visiting several master printers and observing them doing the same. To name a few: Ansel Adams (taped the paper to the wall), John Sexton (uses dusted double adhesive tape on a wooden board) and Howard Bond (using weights to hold the edges down on a wooden board). I revised the concept slightly by using a thin steel panel on top of the baseboard and magnets or magnetic strips to hold the paper in place.

    What's the big thing about an easel? What am I missing?
     
  16. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    How do you weight down the four sides of fiber paper? My Ilford fiber wants to curl up and I'm not sure weights in the corners would be sufficient.

    I need a bigger baseboard or should just bold the column to the table but neither of my enlargers has even an 11x14" base let alone 16x20" so the use of an easel lets me use larger paper.

    I can also crop the image using the blades but I suppose if you always compose and frame your shots properly then there is no need to crop them.
     
  17. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    My magnets are strong enough to do that, but I also carefully run the paper along the edge of the workbench to straighten most of the natural curl.

    My enlarger is wall-mounted. Anyway, the steel plate is strong enough to overlap a small baseboard and still stay straight.

    I crop the print after processing with a knife and a steel ruler just prior to mounting.
     
  18. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    If you are only occasionally doing 16x20 (like me), put some marks on the baseboard and tape the paper down with drafting tape. I also made a matt board mask for 14x14 to tape over the 16x20. It is a little cumbersome, but not that bad for the occasional print
     
  19. Huub

    Huub Member

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    I use two easels too - a large Kostiner for 20x24 for prints from 11 * 14 and bigger - and a smaller Ahel for sizes up to 24x30 cm. The Kostiner is very hevay and not very well suited for the smaller prints. The Kostiner stays on the enlarger board and i put the Ahel on top of it when i do smaller prints. The Kostiner is big and heavy enough to be a stable base for the Ahel - and the four blades can be taken off.
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Ralph:

    I bet you don't enter postcard exchanges:wink:.

    IMHO, easels really help if you frequently print in quantity, or switch frequently between paper sizes, or otherwise do all sorts of fiddly sorts of things.

    Over 40 years or so of printing (including some gaps) I've never printed without an easel of some sort.
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    True, I don't print in quantity (six prints max), and I only print on one size of paper.
     
  22. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I don't use an Easel for 20x24 prints - have you seen the price of those things :blink:

    I just tape it down to the Baseboard using Masking Tape in H's - where the horizontal bar is tape up and the two verticals hope the tape up section to the base board.

    My paper lies reasonably flat – if it were curled I would just have to use more tape strips

    If I want a boarder, I use a print mount to mask the outside edges.

    It’s surprisingly easy to align the paper to the Baseboard when you get used to it - I use yet more masking tape to show reference/alignment points.

    This method is much slower than using an Easel, which is why I suspect we are all wedded to our Easels so much – we started that way and never quite move on.

    In answer to Ralfs’ point, the great master printers he refers to are concerned only with quality and not quantity, so I suspect, the added set up time is not a major concern to them.

    Martin (a creature of habit)
     
  23. Paul VanAudenhove

    Paul VanAudenhove Member

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    I believe part of the answer to 'what easel' vs 'no easel' as Ralph suggests, depends on the final use of the print.

    Using a four-blade easel is great to mimic the look of a matted print, but if the final goal is to mat and frame the print, I think that following Ralph's advise is the better (and cheaper) way to go.

    I've used generous borders when printing 8x10 for use in a clip-style frame. If I were printing for use in mat and frame, I would either use very narrow borders or print to the edges of the paper.
     
  24. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    Another vote for Ralph Lambrecht's argument: given the price of paper, I can't imagine doing enough 16x20 prints to justify an easel that big (and that's assuming that anyone besides me would want a copy :smile: ) For anyone who doesn't want to trim prints during mounting (as opposed to "crop", which implies compositional issues) the ultimate would appear to be a vacuum easel, (along with immaculate technique for handling a water-soaked sheet without ever blemishing at least one edge or corner).
     
  25. bowzart

    bowzart Member

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    Ralph,

    I like clean edges, and I want a clear white outside of the print and inside of the matte. Part of the reason for this that when the matte is made to conceal the irregular edges, one is forced either to sign on the matte or on the image area of the print itself. Both are extremely tacky, imho. Of course you could be like Stieglitz (who thought he was god) and justify not signing by saying "Is the sky signed?" He did say that. I sign in the clear area under the print, but use only a metal stylus for that purpose, so it is very unobtrusive.

    Think about it. One main purpose of a matte is to be replaceable. If you sign on the matte, will you come back from the dead to sign the next time it's matted?

    Even with dry mounting, if you have a good square easel, trimming the print and the tissue at the same time is incredibly easy because you can tack first and then trim the print along the edges. To reveal the edges for the trimmer, just cut diagonally right to the corners of the image; then you can see exactly where the blade will cut.

    And as for other printers, regardless of how sainted they are, I think I'll just do it my way, thank you. To each his/her own.:whistling:

    If you want a good easel that doesn't have blades (so you get edges made by the negative carrier) it's fairly easy to construct a box with 1x2's for edges and baffles, pegboard on the top and plain masonite on the bottom. The inside needs to be well baffled with a maze of the 1x2's which allows air circulation to every part of the inside. A vacuum cleaner can provide the vacuum. The best vacuum is an old Rainbow, because the hose has an adjustable leak. With no leak, the surface can distort, and with it, the image. Yes, it is noisy. I printed 20x24's this way.

    Now I print in a modified contractor's trailer, so it's very good that I've gotten over needing to print that big anyway. These days, most people can't afford the space to hang big prints, and they sure are a problem for storage.
     
  26. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    As you said, we are all free to do it our preferred way. I prefer to drymount a trimmed print with an overmat, clearing the print, and I sign the mat, just as Ansel Adams did (example attached). People not mounting their prints, or overlapping their prints with the overmat, may get more benefit from an easel than I would.
     

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