What is a good enlarger for 4x5 B&W

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Hi and thanks for you input again. I have a Beseler 23C that I have been using for some years with no problems. Now that I have bought a 4x5 field camera I need a 4x5 enlarger and don't have any experience with one. Your opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Doug

-- Doug Theall (rooster_two@yahoo.com), January 10, 2001


I recently bought an old Omega D2 and mounted it to a table that I built. I added a quality lens and a used cold light and am quite happy with the results. The used D2s are quite inexpensive, if that is an issue -- see ebay or a local camera swap.

-- Mark Christopherson (mchristopherson@lhdl.com), January 10, 2001.

I too have an Omega D2 but the Beselers are decent also. There are a great amount of parts available so you should have no problems finding replacement parts when needed. Just use common sense when buying, i.e. look at the bellows, feel how the focusing is and get a good set of lens...

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), January 10, 2001.

In my opinion:

If your pockets are impressively deep ($25k) get a ZeBe. They have a web site.

If your formerly deep pockets are a bit more shallow after exhuberant Holiday shopping: Durst 1200 $5k+ Parts/accessories are pricy but from someone I know a pro uses one, it has become his favorite enlarger. He also owns 10x10 Devere, Durst 184 8x10, several Chromega 4x5, etc.

If you want to follow in John Sexton's footsteps $2k-$3k: Saunders If it's good enough for John, it's probably good enough for most anyone.

-- Roger Urban (roger_urban@yahoo.com), January 10, 2001.

Doug, I don't know where you are based if by any chance that would be England buying in Holland shouldn't be difficult. http://www.fotoabro.nl has several Durst 1200 second hand for very reasonable prices and going to pick it up won't cost a fortune Saunders LPL is fine if you do not absolutely want condensor light greetings

-- Andrea Milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), January 10, 2001.

The Durst L1200 Multigraph is perhaps one of the finest 4x5 enlargers available. It is pricey, but includes the timer, filter control unit, and is built like a tank. It comes factory alighned, but unlike others that make the same claims, should never require alignment unless broken.


-- Bill Smithe (bs2@aol.com), January 10, 2001.

If you like the Beseler 23, then the Beseler 45 is a fine enlarger, and works about the same. Lensboards are interchangeable, though negative carriers are not.

If you're in the US, they run about $1100 new for the chassis & baseboard from B&H, Adorama, etc. They are probably the most stable 4x5 without a wall mount. Any 4x5 will be very stable with the simplest of wall braces unless you're next to a train. This is, by the way, the only 4x5 I know of that has a lock for the focus.

I bought a Saunders LPL 4500 and am exceedingly happy with it. If you release the lock for up/down motion, you can move it up & down with your little finger, it's that well counterbalanced (with a torsional tension spring). My column arrived with a little dent & Tiffen (US importer) sent me a new one, no questions asked, no charge (not even for shipping) & I didn't have to send the old one back. I've had 3 or 4 minor problems with Tiffen products and their customer service attitude cannot be topped.

Omegas are highly regarded, and Dursts in 4x5 (new) are astronomically priced. You really can't go wrong with any 4x5 new enlarger. For used ones, just make sure the company is still in business so you can get spare parts. Most older Omegas and Beselers are so similar to current production that you can get parts easily.

Enjoy your step up in format!

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), January 10, 2001.

Doug also consider the DeVere 504 bench or free standing. Still manufactured and available new/SH from Odyssey Sales (www.odyssey- sales.com). There are about five or six different heads available. All spares are available and their instruments are factory aligned and that includes their SH enlargers. If you are in the UK they will be happy to install. They also offer a service call-out contract (which is very resonable).

This is a very fine instrument built to last and extremly precise in operation with lathe base board controls for both focusing and head hight (both lockable). It has an oversized neg. carrier which will enable the entire 4x5 neg. rebate as well (should you desire) to be printed. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), January 11, 2001.

I have a DeVere 10x8 with a multigrade head and a Durst Pictograph (1200 chassis and closed loop multigrade head). I had to get the DeVere for 10x8 and it is ok. The Durst is the finest instrument I have ever used. (But now I have to go and check what a ZeBe is!).

-- Mark Eban (markeban@compuserve.com), January 12, 2001.


The 1080watt Starlite head can be used with the ZBE Sentinel auto everything enlarger chassis as well as the ZBE Sentinette (DeVere design). Adaptor plates can also be made for other chassis makes.

Don't rule out the Durst 138 series. As good as the 1200 is...the 5x7 floor standing or wall mounted 138s/L138 is better. You just need enough darkroom height and floor space to park the thing!

-- Carlos Herrera (workshops@anseladams.com), January 13, 2001.

I`ve owned and used a Durst L 1200 over ten years now, it`s really a fine piece of equipment. No it wasn`t inexpensive then either. However, if you plan on doing this for a long time, it may be a good investment.

-- Steve Clark (agno3@eesc.com), January 19, 2001.

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