Omega D vs Beseler 45 enlargers for 4x5? What?? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi again, I have a Beseler 45M that I bought cheap and am paying the price for it. As in a sheeve for a bellows and vital parts missing. The question for all you older and more experienced 4x5 buffs is how does the Omega D series stack up against the Beseler 45 series enlargers. If you have used both I would really like to hear from you. I want to get a new one (better shape) and like the cost of the Omega's but wondered how they are as compared to the Beselers. I am on a budget in that I only have about $650 to spend for everything. Thanks again for all the fine knowledge you have sent my way. Doug

-- Doug Theall (, March 29, 2001



I've had a chance to use both though my opinion may be one sided.

The Bessler I used was not new but practically unused. Excellent shape and I found it very easy to use, whether with just 4x5 or using it with the 6x7 and 35mm format. The Omegas I used were in poor shape. Heavily used machines at the Ft. Lauderdale Art Institute. Both were condenser models.

Though I'd prefer a Bessler, I'll likely end up buying a Omega D. One thing about the Ds I did use, they seemed indestructable. They were worn but still produced nice prints. And after reading posts on this sight over the past few months, I'll convert the Omega I do buy to a cold light head.

Best of Luck. J

-- Jeff Hall (, March 29, 2001.

I've been lucky enough to own both a pristine Beseler 4 X 5 from the early 80's (I think? it's blue - not black) and a "Berkey Omega Universal Pro-lab 4 X 5" with auto-focus that came from a U.S. Govt. auction.

I have no specific preferences. The pro-lab auto focus was a nice feature and the voltage regulator and motorized elevation unit on the Bes is nice. I have to cut the 6" X 6" VC filters to fit the Bes, but not the Omega. I think the Bes is easier to re-align if it drifts. Certainly I did not look forward to adjusting the Omega when I moved it (which I did, 3 times - within the U.S. and once overseas).

The Bes has the tilting top which will allow you to make REAL BIG enlargements on the wall if you have the right lens and can mount the enlarger on a rolling stand that is stable enough not to move during exposure. Also if you move up to 8 X 10 there is the Alan Ross Cold light adapter.

With the Bes there is the neg-a-flat negative carrier and the one for roll film - allows you to turn a knob to advance the film from frame to frame.

The Omega seemed to be more susceptible to vibration - a heavy enlarger head extended aaaaaaaalll the way up to the top.... I'm not sure it showed in the prints I made, but I was always nervous about it.

-- Sean yates (, March 29, 2001.

Hey Doug, we have 2 MXTs, and 1 MX here where I work. I've got 2 D2Vs at home. So, I've had some experience with both I guess. I think the newer Beselers lack the tilting head feature, but they have better alignment controls on the lens stage than the older units have. We retrofitted a new bellows/turret stage to our older MX here to give us better alignment. But I think you can get an aftermarket lens board (Delta??) to help with this too. They're really rugged, solid pieces of gear. We use cold heads and color heads on them, we ditched the condensers long ago.

The D2's in all their versions, are real workhorses, and I think your budget would go alot farther with the Omegas in regards to lens boards, neg carriers etc. There's just so much used stuff out there, it seems easier to find Omega stuff cheaper. There's also alot of weirdo Omega stuff . You can find all sorts of rapid carriers, reduction bellows (like making a wallet sized print off a 4x5) etc. The enlargers are easy to service and align too,if you know how to do it, although I don't think the range of control is as great as the MXTs (alignment wise). If you were making really big enlargements, then an MXT on a drop table, would probably be more stable. I've got cold head on mine, so I don't have the problem of the heavy condenser, but when I used the cond. head more, I would just let it settle down. I never had a problem with it really. I really just use one now. I have a push-pull (sliding) D2, and a geared D2VXL. I like the longer XL chasis, but the sliding one is nice too. Thing's may be different wherever you live, but around here I see D2s alot that are pretty cheap. I paid $75.00 for the XL chasis that I have....

-- DK Thompson (, March 29, 2001.

I haven't used the D's, but have the Beseler. The Beseler seems much more stable without additional bracing. I've got arthritis and manually moving a D up & down with a crank isn't my idea of fun, so Beseler wins there.

In all, if in good working condition you really can't fault either. My current preference in new enlargers is the Saunders/LPL, which is what I have. Their movements are perfectly conterbalanced and are flawlessly smooth in motion. A very well engineered product. They have 2 useful accessories I like a lot: a masking stage and a remote focus for big enlargements.They ocassionally turn up used or on EBay.

-- Charlie Strack (, March 29, 2001.

I have a Beseler 45MXII and D6XL right next to it. I prefer the Omega but I can really says its better. Its just one of those personal preference thingies. I started out using Omega, never had any troubke with them, so they remain my favorite probably because I'm more used to them. I gott the Beseler for next to nothing, used it for 6 months, and liked it a lot too.

-- Wayne (, March 29, 2001.

You can get replacement bellows and parts from Beseler ( A set of upper and lower bellows will set you back about $300.

-- Jim Colburn (, March 30, 2001.

Jim, that's about what we paid for the part we got. It's actually the bottom part of the beg stage, bellows, and a new lens stage. We were having some alignment problems, and this gave us better control (this is an old worn out MX). I was told by a Beseler tech at the time, that you can't fully align an older unit with one of the tapered bellows/old lens stages. The only problem that I've seen with old Beselers is that sometimes the frames can be warped (probably from misuse) and make life miserable...

-- DK Thompson (, March 30, 2001.

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