Bessler/Omega : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Some advise please. I will be checking out the Bessler 45 MXII, and an Omega D5. Most likely I will be adding a 150mm, Schneider Componon-S. I'm quite familiar with the Bessler, not at all with the D5. Still curious though, about diffusion. Never worked with one. Many comments on this site about condenser say its the way to go when it comes to 4x5, but the comments about diffusion being " the only way to make a good print", and "all the great ones only used diffusion" baffles me. My "best of show", "1st place", and "honorable mention" photos were all done on a Bessler 45 MXII. I was told the judges thought very highly of my printing, so what I'm trying to find out is, IS it easier to print on? Do you need to do less burning since highlights aren't blocked up? Are prints really less sharp? You do get more tonality, but is it a big deal since it is a 4x5 neg., maybe even with the Zone system. And diffusion is 2 filters less contrast??? So is printing time usually longer? The Bessler I will be looking at has, what I'm told, (something that begins with an "R"??), where you can turn the intensity of the light bulb up, for say, burning puposes, instead of opening up the apeture, is this a big deal? Thanks very much for your time taken with my questions, Raven

-- Raven (, June 21, 1999


you should probably go with what you are comfy with, but an enlarger is an enlarger especially when you are choosing between beseler and omega. I've used both of these with color heads(diffusion) at work and own an omega with condensors. They are fine enlargers and you will have to get accustomed to either in regards to contrast. Some people say to add 20 percent developing time to your films if you work with a diffusion or coldlight head. Some say add yellow filtration with polycontrast papers. Others adjust with paper contrast, type or paper developers. I use condensors so I have to be very careful not to overdevelop my film. You will learn which way to go when you see the prints from your first printing session. The componon-s is good thinking and will serve you well. I've noticed you've been shopping for one for a while now, and you should probably dive in...get one or the other..either has an assortment of factory and independent mfg's heads if you don't care for one or the other but remember you can fix most of your problems by changing paper contrast that is until you complete your testing...the real difference between these two enlargers and light sources is the printer and how good that printer is at adapting. You'll do well.

-- trib (, June 24, 1999.

I thought the notion that one was inherently preferable to the other had pretty well been put to rest in recent years and that conventional wisdom now is that either will work equally well - you just have to get used to whichever one you end up buying. Ansel Adams started the "cold light is superior" idea, I think, but he came to this concusion by putting negatives made for diffusion heads (i.e. higher contrast) in enlargers with condenser heads and then blaming the condensers for the resulting "soot and chalk" look. The only real advantage that I know of for a diffusion enlarger is that dust and scratches on the negative tend to be less noticeable in the print with a diffusion enlarger. Otherwise I think either diffusion or condenser will work equally well once you adjust your working methods to whichever one you buy.

-- Brian Ellis (, June 27, 1999.

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