I'm trying to decide on a new easel.
I'm currently using the following which I obtained secondhand along with the rest of my darkroom clobber (the first two get the lion's share of the usage):
Durst fixed 10x8 1/4" border
LPL 12x10 2-blade 1/4" border
LPL 18x14 2-blade 1/4" to 1/2" border
I generally print on 10x8 RC, dropping to 5x7 for some giveaway mantelpiece shots. My intention is to move more to FB paper, keeping the image size the same or larger and giving more generous borders. My enlarger is an LPL 7700C and I print from 35mm via a 50mm EL Nikkor.
My shortlist consists of the following (in no particular order):
Dunco 90/5 16x20 4 blade
Dunco 90/4 12x16 4 blade
Beard 16x20 4 blade
Beard 12x16 4 blade
Saunders V-Track 4 blade 16x20
Saunders V-Track 4 blade 12x16
Saunders Pro 16x20 4 blade
My questions are:
1) Does anyone have personal experience / recommendations of any of these?
2) The only place I can find online quoting prices on these in the UK is Silverprint, and the prices are painfully high (between £287 and <gulp> £528. However, a conversation I had in Calumet this week leads me to think that I can get a Beard easel from them for RRP £70 less than Silverprint and actual price £140 less than Silverprint. Where would you recommend in the UK for a good price on an easel?
3) Am I going in the right direction here, or is there something I've overlooked?
This purchase will blow my darkroom budget for the year and probably some of next year too, so all help is very much appreciated!
Thanks in advance.
If you're not adverse to importing, check out Fotoimpex (www.fotoimpex.de) for more alternatives and nicer prices...
Beseler 11x14" EUR 210.-
Beseler 16x20" EUR 450.-
LPL 30x40cm EUR 199.-
Kaiser 30x40cm EUR 365.-
Kaiser 40x50cm EUR 430.-
Kaiser 50x60cm EUR 535.-
AHEL 30x40cm EUR 169.-
Max. fourth margin 41mm, can take paper up to 40x50cm.
MWT must be added within the EU...
<edited to insert some information>
looking forward to seeing some replies to this question... I've been wanting a decent easel too! I use a Durst Commask (8x10 on one side, various smaller sizes the other size) and a LPL something that hold a 12x16 piece of paper but can't actuall set the 3rd and 4th side big enough. It also doesn't do a big enough boarder (max about 20mm)
I use the Saunders Pro 16X20. It is an excellent easel in my opinion. I have used others in the past in the interest of economy but found the economy was false.
I agree with the Saunders pro 16x20. An easel is one of those items that it seems you can get by with a cheaper version but in the long run a quality easel makes your printing easier and darkroom more efficient. I have had a number of cheaper easels in the past and wish I would have invested in a top line one earlier.
I use a Saunders Pro 16x20 4 blade as well as their 20 x 24 4 blade model. Both are excellent IMO. Everything is easily replaceable in case of damage and the blades adjust easily should you knock them out of square. Although somewhat expensive in comparrison to other manufacturers, you get what you pay for.
Like Jim, I have spent good money on cheaper easels and finally bit the bullet and purchased the Beard 4 blade easel and it's superb. I have no personal experience of most of the easels mentioned in other posts, the choice is limited in the UK, so I don't know how the blades are adjusted. Bill's comment about knocking blades out of square highlights why the Beard is the best IMO for it is impossible to do that. Each blade is adjusted at both ends and and cannot move once the screws are tightened. I have had mine for 5 or 6 years and carried it around the country in the car to use when I lead workshops and the blades are as true today as they were when I purchased it. They are not cheap but they are a very good investment.
I too have been mucking about with cheap easels but finally decided to get a Kaiser 4 bladed 30x40 cms. However prices are forbidding so I had a look at an auction site here in Holland and got one for € 125.- (new price € 425.-)
The good thing about a four bladed easel is that you can make any borderwidth you like.
Beard and Dunco (waiting list of some months I have heard) are very well made, too.
All the best
I am using an albert 4 blade that weighs a ton. I got it used at a photo shop for $25 US.
Dont waste money on a cheap easel, eventually you will have to get the good one. I use the Saunders V track 16x20 easel and I have found it to be a great easel. Have had it for many years, moved it from TX to CA, back to TX and now to Mx and the easel still great. If UPS did not manage to mess it up from TX to MX, I doubt you will.