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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    Any advice as to the merits of the more expensive Saunders 4x5 LPL enlarger? Do the 250 W light ( vs 200W ), larger easel, and longer column make any meaningful differences justifying the $400 or so higher cost??

    Elliot

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    I've been using the LPL 7451 (the smaller of the Saunders). I find it a very capable enlarger and have it wall mounted so it is rock steady! I could find no real benefit in paying out the extra and anyway, the baseboard would have been a tight fit on my worktop. With it wall mounted I simply use an easel directly on the worktop surface. The fan is noisy!! But strangely doesn't cause any noticeable vibration - due possibly to the fact that it is wall mounted. It is very sturdy and the head moves effortlessly up and down the column - very smooth too! There are minor light leaks from the casing around the fan but this is probably the case with most enlargers - a few pieces of black card and some masking tape have cured this - although I believe some printers use a home-made velvet "skirt" to block these leaks. I highly recommend it!

  3. #3
    b.e.wilson's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
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    I have a sort of hybrid Saunders 4x5 enlarger. I have the 4550XL head, but with a mid-sized column and the smallest baseboard made for the 4x5 enlarger. I found that in printing up to 20x24 on the baseboard I need the 135 mm lens at almost the full column height. You'll need the tallest column made if you want to use the 150 mm lens when printing big on the baseboard.

    As for the lamp power, having the 250W lamp is nice when printing big (especially big, slow Ilfochrome), but a positive hinderance when printing B&W 8x10's. There is an attenuator (a perforated metal disc that can be placed in the light path to kill about 3/4ths of the light) that helps a lot when working with sensitive materials, but I forget to switch it in sometimes.

    I too have had some light leaks around the fam (fixed by realigning a metal baffle) and some around the film carrier, but have found that even with light-colored walls the diffuse light striking the paper during exposure isn't a porblem (and might even help a bit when printing slides by bringing shadow densitied up a bit). I tried the velvet skirt with a 6x7 Sauders enlarger and found the dust problem greater than the light problem.

    The fan is noisy, but pretty much vibration-free. I haven't tested it, though. I can feel vibration in the housing, especially by the lens when it is extended very far, so it may contribute to a bit of unsharpness when the head is up high. I have looked at grain with a grain magnifier and can't see any vibration, but maybe that isn't an appropriate test.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    I like my LPL a lot. I also have a Beseler 45 MX, which now is only a contact printing station for Azo.

    I fixed the light leaks with blue masking tape (three layers). I s'pose I could have used duct tape, but didn't want the residue.

    I have the 200W bulb and wish I had a little more oomf. If I had it to do over, I'd spend the extra money. The 200W bulb burnt out after 50 hours - right on schedule. Get an extra bulb right away - they're not expensive, but also not readily available and they always blow when you NEED to print.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    I have the 4550 VCCE XL it is a good enlarger. I think that the 250 watt bulb is a matter of how large you want to print and how your negatives are developed. If you print 16X20 and ever get up to grade four, you will appreciate the extra light.

  6. #6
    jovo's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
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    Jacksonville, Florida
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    I have the 4550VCCE XL. When I bought it the oversize baseboard was relatively new I believe. If you do 16x20's and especially 20x24s, you'll be happy you have that base because the easel fits on it comfortably. Also, the column and baseboard are built very substantially with a steel support under the center of the base. The 250 watt bulb is excellent as well. As Donald said, you'll appreciate that extra light if you make big prints.
    John Voss

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  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Minnesota
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    I have the 4550 VCCE and am extremely pleased with it. If you think you may move up to 4X5, I would recommend buying that capability. It will be one less expense you will incur in the transition. If not, you will likely get all the capability you need in the MF version.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    New Jersey
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    I also have the 4550VCCE XL and while it is a well built enlarger and a joy to use, it was NOT perfectly aligned out of the box as LPL claims. Both the negative stage and lens stage were out of alignment. I was not happy about it too since there is no capacity for adjustment since it is suppose to be perfectly aligned at the factory.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Japan
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    35mm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahler_one
    Any advice as to the merits of the more expensive Saunders 4x5 LPL enlarger? Do the 250 W light ( vs 200W ), larger easel, and longer column make any meaningful differences justifying the $400 or so higher cost??

    Elliot
    You can't go wrong with a real sturdy column design on an enlarger. It just saves your energy as well as your effort on printing.

    I've been using a Fuji condenser-head enlarger(LPL OEM) featuring that big column, and I'm pretty happy with it.

  10. #10
    agGNOME's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
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    For those light leaks (not on a bellows) perhaps this may be of interest: I used a rubber kneadable eraser ( the putty-like eraser commonly used for drawing) to seal off a light leak at the lens stage where two metal pieces were not sitting flush. It's not permanent, pretty tolerable of heat, leaves no residue, and it doesn't necessarily attract dust. You can knead into shape, plus you can give it a low profile. Not to mention it's our favorite percentage of grey.

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