Saunders 4550XLG enlarger. Can its alignment be improved? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I hear much about checking enlarger alignment. I have the Saunders 4550XLG which I love. However it claims to be "aligned" out of the box. I hear that changing its alignment may be difficult.

Is it worth launching down the path to check the alignment of this enlarger and use some of the commercially available aligment checkers, or should I leave well enough alone when it come to this emlarger? Thanks you for your input...


-- Scott Jones (, November 20, 2001


The Saunders is a tricky enlarger to align as the only(?)option involves shims in and around the negative stage. Do you suspect that your enlarger is not aligned? If not then leave well alone. Mine came straight out of the box (used) and I had no problems. Mine is wall mounted - did it the best I could, but its still not perfectly square! But I don't notice any problems even printing full frame and BIG!!

-- paul owen (, November 20, 2001.

The only commercially-made alignment tools worth fooling with are pretty expensive (Versalab Parallel, Zig-Align), so unless you can borrow one may be too expensive for simply a check.

Otoh, quite a few people who have bought "aligned out of the box" enlargers have found them to not be quite aligned. Along those lines, my big Durst was supposedly aligned out of the box but the last time it was in the box was perhaps 25 years ago.

Since the Durst also doesn't provide any sort of alignment adjustments I've used metallized tape to shim the lensboard and neg stage; that's worked fine. I use a Versalab Parallel gizmo.

-- John Hicks (, November 20, 2001.

Scott, I have a Saunders 4550XLG along with the zig alignment tool. I also made my own vacuum easel to make sure that the paper lies flat. I put the vacuum easel on adjustable legs. Rather then aligning the head with the base, I align my easel with the head. The easel can hold up to 30x40 prints and is very substantial in weight so it does not move easily. I have found I only need to align it about once a year.

Rather than building an vacuum easel, you could do the same thing with a secondary base board that has adjustable legs. Use a laminated board because it will lie very flat and seal the edges so that it will not warp over time. I used pads on threaded rod as feet. You can buy them at any hardware store. They are used for leveling furniture and chairs.

Hope this helps.

-- Stephen Willard (, November 20, 2001.

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