Saunders 4x5 Enlarger : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I haven't seen any comments on this forum regarding Saunders 4x5 enlargers. I am interested, but the only thing I know about them is that Bruce Barnbaum and John Sexton use them in thier teaching labs. I played with one recently in Seattle and it was pretty nice. Anyone with comments on either the 4500 or 4550 models? While I'm here, has anyone run across any used Zone VI enlargers anywhere ? Calumet seems to take appart the used ones and sell them by the part.

-- Paul Mongillo (, January 21, 2000


B&H was advertising a used ZoneVI - don't know if they still have it. It may have been the short column model and was a single-tube model. The Zone VI enlarger was redesigned about 5 years ago for more even light coverage (may not be important at 4x5 and under). Can't comment on the new one (mine has been on backorder for a month).

-- Wayne DeWitt (, January 21, 2000.

I have the 4500 model. I like it. Its solid and easy to use. If I won the lotto I would have bought the Durst but at 3 times the money I couldn't justify that choice based on a small difference in quality and ease of use. I looked at the Omega and Besseler offerings but they just seem too '50s to me. I think that they have the advantage of lots of used model availability and many individual components and spares but for me this is countered by what I think is pretty clunky operation.

I got the dichroic head even though most of my work at the time was in B&W. The Calumet guy I spoke with told me that the VCCE module is much dimmer than the color head and doesn't offer much in the way of advantage. Since I'm learning to do colour now, the flexibility is something I appreciate.

Finally I would say that many people seem to get excellent results with all kinds of Heath Robinson solutions which demonstrates that eventually one can feel at home with whatever one has. I think I probably put more sweat into the decision than it justified in the long run. It turns out that no amount of money spent on expensive gear makes up for time spent in the field or in the darkroom getting good at using what you have.

-- Colin Benson (, January 21, 2000.

I also have the 4500 model with the color head. It works very well. There is a switch on the head for low or high light intensity. I print mostly 8x10 even from 4x5 negs, and find I need the switch at the low intensity setting for reasonable exposure times.

I don't really have a whole lot to say about it because it really doesn't require a lot of thought in the darkroom. It does what I need it to do, and I don't worry about it.

-- mike rosenlof (, January 24, 2000.

I have the 4550 with the color head. I print 8x10s to 20x24s on a regular basis with it. I have never owned anything else so it would be hard for me to judge when compared to other enlargers. I have no complaints about it. It is solid, smooth, and its get the job done.

I do a lot of localized color corrections with my prints. This requires me to adjust the color pack for each dodge/burn exposure I make. I have never had the head move while I adjusted the color pack. My prints are always very sharp.

-- Stephen Willard (, February 02, 2000.

I just bought a Saunders 4500II with the VCCE module. Since I have been using my dinky old B22 35mm enlarger for years I find it awesome! I'm trying to get used to the noise of the fan. I just play my radio a little louder! Also insert the negative holders in from the side or you will cut your forehead, as I did!

-- Bob Borsuk (, February 04, 2000.

Check the classifieds at WWW.VIEWCAMERA.COM for a Zone VI enlarger. Make sure it's a Type II, not a Type I, which won't cover 5x7. (I have the Type I.)

-- neil poulsen (, February 06, 2000.

I listed a Zone VI Type II on Ebay. I have to give up darkroom work due to allergies. The chemicals are making me very sick. This is a great deal. Has the VC head, compensating timer, 3 lens boards, 4 negative carriers and manuals. I paid $3,500 and will sell for $2000. It is less than 1 year old!

-- Mike Kravit (, February 10, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ