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Thread: Beseler 45mx

  1. #1

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    Beseler 45mx

    Ok, someone is going to flame me for starting a new thread in this manner however.... I read post after post of people slamming beseler's enlargers. I myself started of with one of their 67 frame jobs and once I put new gearing on it, it was very useable, (very stable), but, still kind of primative. Worked as a first enlarger however.
    I soon bought a Sunders LPL and was amazed at how well it worked. Good solid enlarger I must say. Only gripe? Cannot do 16x20 enlargememtns on the baseboard without them being off center on the paper. (This has turned out to be a huge drawback that no one ever mentions). Not too long ago I managed to get my hands on a Beseler 45mx that is only about 10 years old. It was part of Hitachi's Electron Microscopy lab. When they went digital, they got rid of all of it! I paid nothing for it with Schneider's top glass. About $4500 dollars worth of stuff!
    Ok, new paragraph so the people that scan the posts will see this part. The Beseler 45mx is far superior to any enlarger I have ever used! I have used extensively the following. Durst (don't rmemeber the model number but it was a 4x5) Omega D2-D3-D5 enlargers (In grad school). These were solid enlargers and I was going to look for one when I finally went to enlarging 4x5. I could always recommend them. Saunders 4550s. And some other thing I used for a while in school that I don't remember even the Manufacturer. The Beseler is far superior! I believe there is a reason that Ansel Adams preferred the Beseler 45mx for his 4x5 work. The motorized lift on the head is wonderful. For those that want to talk about the spring loaded saunders head lift I say the heads on these enlargers don't weigh a particularly great amount and that is why that system works. (The light weight nature of the saunders makes it prone to vibration as well). The Beseler 45mx needs the motorized head as the head alone weighs somewhere in the neighbohood of 35 pounds. The focus is incredibly smooth (just as good as if not better than the saunders microfocus).
    Now, here is the clincher! I can make a 20x30 enlargement on the baseboard! Try to do that Saunders! This alone is reason enough to own one. When I wanted large with the Saunders I had to shoot on to a wall! (or the floor). So, in closing this ranting and raving post, I must say that all the manufacturers 4x5 enlargers are quite nice but the Beseler has many aspects going for it (20x30, really good negative holders, intuitive negative stage adjustment (for 35mm, 6x6, 4x5 settings), Good solid weighty design (lack of vibration).
    If you can afford one of these pricey enlargers, you will not be disappointed. If you are lucky you can pick one up relatively cheap but if you buy new, you will pay upwards of $3500 for enlarger, Light housing, neg carrier, and lens (a reasonably priced one). Ok, that was my two cents on the subject.

    Tom

  2. #2

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    Good luck

    I have been there, done that and moved on. On my MXT I did not find the focus to be smooth. The alignment was poor, realigning it was a major PITA....it should have come from the factory with Preparation H.
    I like Durst. 8.5x with a 150mm lens, 28.5x with a 50mm lens..on the baseboard. Smooth focus w/o backlash. This enlarger has not been aligned since it left the factory and continues to give edge to edge sharpness at any aperture the lens performs well at. The enlarger is well over 30 years old.

    Here is hoping that you continue to enjoy your Beseler and that it will give you decades of very satisfactory service.

  3. #3

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    Good Morning, Tom,

    I bought a Beseler MCR-X new over thirty years ago and have never regretted it. Most of the 4 x 5 enlargers available then and now seem to be of solid construction and should give very satisfactory service. I would put more emphasis on using top-quality lenses than on the particular model of enlarger.

    Konical

  4. #4
    hortense's Avatar
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    I've owned a Bessler 45MX for over 25-years. I find it does everything I want - and, no problems with it what so ever (better than any previosly owned enlargers). However, I have placed an opaque black strip of fabric around the carrier to prevent light leaking into my darkroom.

  5. #5
    Maine-iac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hortense
    I've owned a Bessler 45MX for over 25-years. I find it does everything I want - and, no problems with it what so ever (better than any previosly owned enlargers). However, I have placed an opaque black strip of fabric around the carrier to prevent light leaking into my darkroom.
    Ditto. I bought mine USED 25 years ago, and it's still going strong without so much as an adjustment necessary, despite being shipped to Europe and back and being used on a transformer while there. The strip of black fabric or black tape around the neg carrier is a necessity however. It also helps to paint the area right around your enlarger a flat black.

    If there's a better enlarger (I've used Durst and Omega D's also), I don't know what it is. It's a "Sherman tank."

    Larry

  6. #6

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    I'm a 25 year Beseler believer and all I can say is if you like the 45m's you should try a CB-7.(if you can find one)

  7. #7
    jmdavis's Avatar
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    OK, I have an opportunity for a CB7. Does anyone think that I will like it dramatically more than my D2? I'm not sure if my Zone VI coldlight will work with it, but if not, I will use it to replace my 23C condensor for 35 and 6x6/6x7.

    Thanks,

  8. #8

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    Don't take this in an argumentative tone, but my experience (as someone else's earlier) was that the Beseler was difficult, if not impossible to align, important in my opinion. My Omega D2 (at least 50 years old) will do a 16X20 easily (or 16x16 for square format) on the baseboard from any format (50mm for 35, 80mm for 2.25, 135mm for 4x5) with no placement problems. I can also very easily align the neg stage (although I've only had to do it once, when I first assembled the enlarger from scrounged parts). As for stability, you are right that the Beseler is more stable, but it doesn't take much engineering to stabilize any enlarger if you put your mind to it. I also prefer simpler mechanisms in general, no motor to fail, etc.

    You don't mention the FL of the lens you are using for 4x5 (or what it was on your other enlarger), which would be a factor in max size for any enlarger.

    One other thing, you can find lots of D2s on Ebay for cheap. My wife just outfitted a nonprofit workshop with 4 D2s (2 cold lights, 2 condensors) and 7 assorted lenses, lens boards, neg carriers, etc. including shipping for $1600.

    In the end, I believe that the quality of our prints depends on other things, as Edward Weston used to say of his fundamental and basic gear.
    To each their own.

  9. #9
    jmdavis's Avatar
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    George,

    I'm guessing that your wife is Carlie and you're talking about the Hand Workshop. It's interesting that she picked both cold light and condenser enlargers. I haven't seen the darkroom, but I did stop by on Monday to see "Random Portraits of Virginia."

    Like you, I have been happy with my 50 year old enlarger (D2 rather than DII). I like it even more with the VC cold light. But, a CB7 that's a real bargain might replace my 23CII. Or if its really nice the D2. I don't think that I would be willing to buy another VCCL for it if my Zone VI didn't fit, but...

  10. #10
    George Papantoniou's Avatar
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    I've worked with Durst 4x5 and 5x7 (the huge Laborator 138), Chromega 4x5, the LPL - Saunders 4x5 and several small enlargers (Leitz, Kaiser, Durst etc). The one I fell in love with was my 45MX that I bought second hand 8 years ago. It might leak some light from the neg stage (I found a way to deal with that without using tape) but it is so sturdy and easy to use that everything else I've used seems like a toy compared to it. The Laborator is a mean machine, but too complicated and difficult (it took me a couple of years to figure it out). Now I've installed the MX at its new place, fixed it on the wall, with a removable base that allows me to project on the floor for big enlargments it's even better than before... As for the LPL/Saunders thing, I found it was too much a fragile and amateurish design. Sorry LPL fans out there, but I have to declare that it would be my last choice for a 4x5 inch enlarger... to me, comparing the LPL to the Beseler is like comparing a Nikon to a Leica or, more precisely, a Bronica to a Hasselblad.

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