Advice on a 4x5 enlarger
I am looking to buy a 4x5 enlarger and would love to get some opinions on what is available.
Right now I shoot medium format but will probably be shooting 4x5 in the next few months or so.
Let me know what you have and why you like it or you don't.
Anything but Bessler is a good starting point. I have used Bessler, Saunders, Durst and Omega. Any of the latter 3 are good solid performers.
Originally Posted by david b
I think by the time you get up to 4x5 enlargers, any of the main brands will do fine. Some have nicer features, etc. But the build quality shouldn't be much of an issue. The major "Micky Mouse" enlargers are mostly 35mm models aimed at students.
FWIW, I use an Omega D2v and have had no issues with it. They can be found rather cheaply.
Originally Posted by EricR
I would have to disagree with that statement.
I have a Beseler 45V-XL. It is rock solid and I have never had any problems with it.
In the research I did about 6 months ago (concentrating on cheap and used and doing medium format, 35mm and 4x5.) I found that the Omega D2V is the cheapest and the Saunders is probably the best (in the cheap and used category anyway). I couldn't find a Saunders, but I found a D2V locally for $100 with 2 135mm lenses and a 50mm plus other darkroom stuff.
I have used the Besseler too and it seems OK, but heavy to ship and it seems to cost more on that auction site.
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I got my Besseler 45MCRX off ebay for $380. To avoid shipping problems (I guessed that shipping a 4x5 enlarger could easily cost around a hundred bucks), I only bid on in-state enlargers. After I won the auction, it was a wonderful trip (four hours each way) to the seller's location to meet at a remote Dairy Queen and "do the deal".
I've used most of the major brands of enargers except Saunders. I hadn't used a Besseler motorized enlarger like this before I bought it, but so far it's been pure joy, unless you count that time I was cleaning the dust off one of the electrical cables with a damp rag and the cable crumbled in my hand and sent a jolt of 110vac through me. Easily fixed (the cable, not me. (: ).
In my experience there is a marked difference in design and results obtained between differing manufacturers.
I have used Bessler, Omega, Saunders, and Durst. I have observed work produced by other photographers on other brands of enlarging equipment as well. The prices for all of these various brands and designs have ranged from several hundred to well in excess of $60,000.
I would rate the two manufacturers first listed as the least desireable to me and the two last listed as most desireable to me.
Beyond manufacturer, one needs to determine the light source type as well. My preference, in the work that I do, is a well designed condensor light source as opposed to a diffusion or cold light source. I find that one can not obtain an equal result with a cold light/diffusion source in terms of local contrast and print sharpness to what a well designed condensor light source can and will produce.
Good Afternoon, David,
I have used a Beseler MCR-X since the mid-1970's for everything from 35mm to 4 x 5. It has been completely trouble-free. I'll ditto jdef's comments about the negative carriers and add that specialized carriers for odd-sized negatives are easy to make from 1/8 inch Masonite. As noted, the Negatrans for 4 x 5 is great.
I suspect that just about any good-quality 4 x 5 enlarger will deliver results practically indistinguishable from those of any other of similar type; e. i., condenser/condenser, diffusion/diffusion. I'd be much more concerned about using the best lenses I could afford and checking the condition of any used equipment.
Can only comment on the Omega D3VC. Simple, robust gives great prints.
Originally Posted by david b
Came with 2xSchneider for 35mm and med format, and 1xJapanese 150mm lens for 4x5's all in excellent condition for US$280. After replacing the 150mm lens with a 2nd hand Schneider, gives nice contrasty edge to edge crisp prints up to large sizes. Can even do posters on the floor if you wish to.
The only thing that bothers me is the 150mm focussing rail isn't matched with the new lens so I have to pop a spacer in there, but actually not much of a hassel. Also have difficulty aligning the head, but this most likely due to my inexperience - it certainly has the facility for proper alignment. All in all, thoroughly recommend them. Love mine.
Last edited by John McCallum; 07-12-2004 at 08:20 PM. Click to view previous post history.
i also have an omega d3v, but mine is a war contract enlarger so the condensors & everything "up there" is about 1 "+ larger in diameter than the standard d3v ( used to print aerial film ) it is built like a tank like the other omegas and the d3v is a great deal when you can find them. there is a guy named harry taylor who has parts, rails, board/cones &C if you end up with an omega enlarger, and can't find things you might think you need ... and can't find on FEEbay. his website is classic-enlargers.com
good luck !