20x24 or 16x20 4-bladed easels: Beseler or Saunders

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

This question is about which of 2 designs of easels is favored. Both Beseler and Saunders make 16x20 and 20x24 4-bladed easels. (For Saunders, I'm speaking of the non-V-track easel.) I've examined both and found that the blades on the Saunders are more "limp" and tend to bow extensively when the easel is opened. Conversely, the Beseler blades seem more "stiff" and bow much less when the easel is opened. Examining (with my eyeball) how flat they hold the paper, I can't see any difference. The Saunders blades also don't seem to move as easily in that, since each end is attached, the end with the movement knob always moves ahead of the other end and you have to take your hand and help the far end of the blade track along as it is moved across the top. This seems a little less than "robust" design, to me. Also, the Beseler is counter-balanced with a bigger spring when opened. What are your opinions on this? Do you like one easel better than another? Do the blades on both stay strictly in place when printing several copies of the same print? The Beseler design seems better to me at this point, but I have owned other Saunders darkroom equipment that was very good in the past, so don't know if I am being to critical of things that don't matter. Thanks in advance for your adivce.

-- Steve Baggett (sbaggett@midsouth.rr.com), February 25, 2001


Stay away from the Beseler!!! The Saunder's blade are straighter. Trust me on this one. I have the 16x20 and I think it was a waist of money. Also, with the Beseler, The screws on the blades are very cheap... I use the Saunders at work everyday and have never been let down. I do highly recommend the V track also if you can swing the extra money.

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), February 25, 2001.


I agree with Scott.... I got my money back on the Beseler, went to the Saunders Heavy(?)Duty,and Settled on the V-Track. I now have one under each enlarger and they are GREAT! Well worth the extra money. I have known people to buy used easels and they have been very unhappy. I think easels are a lot like tooth brushes. I'm not sure it's the kind of thing you want to buy used. Aside from that, a good easel can make or break a print.

My 2 cents,


-- R.L.(Mac) McDonald (rmacsteam@aol.com), February 26, 2001.

I, too, agree with the others. We have both types of easels, and were trying to save money by ordering the Beseler in 16x20 size, but in retrospect I wish we had gone with a Saunders. I'm more inclined to just not use that easel at all when making prints that big, as it's never had the "feel" that the Saunders easels have.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), February 26, 2001.

One option you might explore is to use mat board cut out just like you are framing a print. Cut it to size for the image you want while the outside dimensions match the paper size. Tape one end to the baseboard when you have the composition & framing set & then slip your enlarging paper under it, matching the edges & lower the mat onto the paper. Weight the edges with small canvas weighted bags & you will get clean, sharp edges every time. Or, use it turned over and you will get edges that dissolve in the last couple of millimeters or a soft edge look. This is a lot less expensive than the metal easels and you can make a number of sizes easily, just as you do for framing he images.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), February 26, 2001.

I must agree with the consensus on the Saunders V-Track. I made the mistake originally by trying to compromise on the lesser expensive Saunders easel and it was a mistake. I first purchased the 16x20 V- Track and then the 11x14 v-track. A real joy to use. The blades are nice and wide and hold the paper tight. I have a friend that has the Beseler and she used my 11x14 V-Track in my darkroom when we were running some tests and fell in love with it.

-- Robert Bedwell (rlb@triad.rr.com), February 26, 2001.

Hi I have a Kaiser(40 x50cm) which I am led to believe is the same as Saunders, however DUNCO is another beautiful 4 blades

-- Andrea Milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), February 27, 2001.

Thanks to everyone for the good advice. I have decided on the Saunders 16x20.

-- Steve Baggett (sbaggett@midsouth.rr.com), February 27, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ