Omega B8 vs Besler 23
Hello Everybody, For the past fifty or so years, I've used an Omega B (just a B, no numbers) which is a pre-war (WWII) enlarger. Over the years, I've modified it to inlude a filter drawer (used during the time I was making Cibachrome prints). I have recently been thinking about a "new" enlarger, and I wonder if anyone has had actual experience on both the Omega B8 and the Besler 23. The only other enlarger I ever owned was a Leitz Valoy. Sold it when I bummed off to Europe. The college where I last taught had a Besler 23 in the student darkroom. I never worked with it, but formed a vague, possibly erroneous, impression of sloppily finished gears on the adjusting gear and a general proneness to vibration. I've never seen a B8 in the flesh, but it looks to be a very solid instrument. Anyway, I hope that some of you may have worked on either or, preferably, both of them and can perhaps share the benefits of your experiences.
Cheers and thanks,
I don't have experience with a B8, but have (and had) the 23C. These are wonderfully solid machines. They are common and can be had used or new, as they are still being manufactured. I owned three of them, and still have one left that is being given away for the cost of shipping, or if someone shows up in prson to claim it.
The only experience I have had is with a Omega C-67, which was a poor design. When discussing with an Omega repair shop, was told the problem with the one I had was common and no parts were available.
My old Beseler enlargers, 23CXL and 45M just keep going without needing any repair. JMHO
I currently have both of these enlargers. The Beseler 23cII is in storage for now however. It's not that I think less of it, but my B8 has a cold light head on it, and I also use a Omega D2 with a condenser head on it. Both of these enlargers operate about the same so it's less confusing, and gives me more printing options. If I were to choose just one enlarger however, I would go with the Beseler, as it is easier to operate, is more flexible to use, and you can use various focal length lenses on it without having to buy the somewhat hard to find lens cones that the Omegas require. The Beseler is a larger enlarger than the B8, so keep that in mind if you're limited on space. I used an Omega B3 for a long time until the bellows rotted out. Never seen that on an enlarger before. But both the Beseler and Omega enlargers are well built and will last a long time, and properly set up will give excellent results.