Need advice on buying a good 4x5 enlarger : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm looking to buy a 4x5 enlarger, but am somewhat lost as to what is out there. Is any one particular brand preferred over another, or are all basically the same? I'm currently looking at a cb7 by Beseler for 750$ w/out lens. Is this a good way to go or should i buy a brand new settup? I presently do both color and black and white with a 35mm enlarger and condenser head. Although i have achieved satisfactory results with this, i'm wondering if a different light source would make for easier and better printing once i have upgraded to 4x5. Any advice would be great. -Thanks

-- tyson fisher (, March 04, 2000


I've never heard of a beseler cb7, but a beseler 45M or an Omega D would be a good choice, and you should be able to find one used for less than $750 depending upon the head. Enlargers are fairly simple machines, and I wouldn't be afraid to buy one used.

As for light source, if you are going to continue with color work, I would go with a dichro head. They also work great with polycontrast B&W papers.

-- David Brown (, March 05, 2000.

I've never heard of a "cb 7" Beseler enlarger either. However, the fact that the number "7" is in the name would make one think that perhaps it's a medium format enlarger, not a 4x5. Any of the major brand of enlargers currently being made - Beseler, Omega, Saunders, Durst - are fine enlargers if they are properly aligned. Most of the differences among them are matters of convenience. For example, the Beseler MXT has a motorized head, which is nice but not a necessity. Durst enlargers tend to be more expensive than others. I've never used one so I don't know whether the price differential is worth it or not. Personally, even if buying used I would stick with a brand and company that is still in existence just because of the parts problem with enlargers that are no longer being made.

-- Brian Ellis (, March 05, 2000.

The CB7 was the top of the line enlarger from Beseler and had all of it's controls grouped conveniently on the front edge of the base board.

It was an excellent enlarger from the early 70s.

Since it has not been made for some time and was far from the most popular or common enlarger from Beseler parts and accessories unique to it could be a major problem.

-- Bob Salomon (, March 05, 2000.

I have an (old) Durst Laborator 138 fitted with a CLS 301 dicroic colour head. It must be 25 years old and I use it for everything from 35mm to 5"x4" (it actually takes up to 5"x7"). The great thing about this machine is that the neg holder swings and tilts, the lens swings and the baseboard swings and tilts. Oh, and it's fan cooled too! It's by far the best enlarger I've ever had and I would recommend it to anyone. I don't know whether this model was imported into the U.S.A. but get one if you can.

-- Garry Edwards (, March 05, 2000.

Get the best you can afford as it will pay off in the long run. check its operational features and make sure you are comfortable with it. I personally use an ancient Omega D-2 on a push-pull chassis with a condenser head. I only do B&W and have tried a diffuse light source but found little or no difference in my prints. Make sure you get the best lense you can afford especially for color even if you have to scrimp on the enlarger i.e. get an older used unit.

-- Ronald J LaMarsh (, March 08, 2000.

A used enlarger can do everything a new one can, for less. Buy used and use the extra $$ for a lens. The rental darkroom I use has a CB7 altough I havent printed with it. Its a nice enlarger, but may have the drawbacks someone else mentioned. Very convenient controls, but too many buttons and switches for my taste. If you are patient you can find a 4x5 with color head for under $1000, or piece one together. Color heads can be had for several hundred used, and both Beseler and Omega 4x5 chassis can be had for under 500, sometimes well under. If you arent patient you can still pick one up w/color head for 1200 or so, give or take.


-- Wayne (, March 11, 2000.

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