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Christopher Barrett
7-Feb-2017, 16:17
Hey people. I'm planning on building out a darkroom in my basement. I've just begun to investigate what's available for 4x5 enlargers. I'm looking at the Durst L1200, the Omega LPL 4550XLG and the Beseler 45VXL. I'll be going with new gear. Theses units are all close enough in price that it's not really a concern. After reading a few reviews, I was planning to go with the Durst.

I'd love to hear any opinions you guys might have.

Thanks!
Chris

Bob Salomon
7-Feb-2017, 16:18
Durst.

angusparker
7-Feb-2017, 16:24
Durst, only advantage of the 45XVL is that you can put an 8x10 head on if you beef it up.


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Fred L
7-Feb-2017, 16:25
no Deveres in the area ? but yeah, I'd take Durst over the others.

Bob Salomon
7-Feb-2017, 17:01
Durst, only advantage of the 45XVL is that you can put an 8x10 head on if you beef it up.


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But then you have to use an f9 wide angle process lens since the Beseler lens board is too small for a modern 240 enlarging lens.

chassis
7-Feb-2017, 17:13
I have a 45VXL and it is solid. Have never used a Durst but from what I read/see on the internet, it seems like the negative stage/apparatus may be more refined and robust than the Beseler.

LabRat
7-Feb-2017, 19:00
Thumbs down on the newer sheet metal Dursts...

I have worked on some worn, used models and they don't age well with harder use... Neg stage carriers develop slop, locks wear without positive locking, stages sag/wear, nylon gears in colorhead are near the lamps that get very brittle with the heat, color settings often don't repeat well, little/no alignment points, many common parts are not available even from distributors, and if there's electronics involved, unnecessarily over-complex and can develop chronic issues...

Maybe new as a 1 owner carefully maintained unit, but rather overpriced from the get-go... And a USA distributor had varied professional issues, so can't endorse...

Plenty of other new/used choices out there...

Steve K

Neal Chaves
7-Feb-2017, 19:40
All it takes is a small relief cut at the lens stage of the Beseler 45VXL to fit larger lenses on the Beseler 4X4 lensboard like the 300mm 5.6 Rodagon shown here. This mod has been discussed on this forum many times. I find the 300 a bit too long for most of my work and use the 240mm Rodagon almost exclusively. That 240 f9 Beseler lens has developed a bad reputation for some reason although both the previous owner of my enlarger an I made many satisfying prints with it. I much prefer the Rodagons for their increased brightness and illuminated scale.160965

angusparker
7-Feb-2017, 20:01
But then you have to use an f9 wide angle process lens since the Beseler lens board is too small for a modern 240 enlarging lens.

Actually you can modify the lensboard and the lower part of the enlarger to take an f5.6 - no too hard


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Halford
7-Feb-2017, 23:54
I have a Durst L1200 and absolutely love working with it. I have never experienced that kind of stability and solidity in another enlarger. But it's an old enlarger. Doesn't sound like the new ones are built to the same quality based on LabRat's comment above.

ruilourosa
8-Feb-2017, 01:04
Durst! i have two Laborator 1000 one 1200 and one 138, never saw any issues with wear... maybe with the cheaper models thatīs true. Iīve seen some 35mm and 6x7 that used plastic lensboards and negative carriers.

all laborators are amazing, i even prefer the older ones as they are really tough. No one selling a laborator 900????

i used a beseler and quality is good

Cheers

Bob Salomon
8-Feb-2017, 04:32
Durst! i have two Laborator 1000 one 1200 and one 138, never saw any issues with wear... maybe with the cheaper models thatīs true. Iīve seen some 35mm and 6x7 that used plastic lensboards and negative carriers.

all laborators are amazing, i even prefer the older ones as they are really tough. No one selling a laborator 900????

i used a beseler and quality is good

Cheers
Had the L900 and loved it. Traded it years ago for a new Rolex

Michael Graves
8-Feb-2017, 06:05
I have owned both the Beseler and the LPL. I have not used a Durst. I kept the LPL because it it the finest piece of equipment I have ever owned. I did own a medium format Durst a few years back. It was also a very fine unit, but had a few quirks I didn't like...mainly the user-unfriendly negative carriers. My LPL came out of the factory perfectly aligned and has survived to moves...still perfectly aligned.

Randy Moe
8-Feb-2017, 10:44
Had the L900 and loved it. Traded it years ago for a new Rolex

Smart trade!

angusparker
8-Feb-2017, 10:59
One point to make about the Durst: the power supplies for the color heads can blow - especially the EST version. It's a good idea to buy a back up on EBay. Otherwise I don't think anything on the Durst is likely to need maintenance.


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LabRat
9-Feb-2017, 07:40
Also, about the Durst's... (The ones I question are the L1200 + CLS450 heads)

If the filters in the head hang up, it is a fairly major disassembly to remove the puzzle-like panels to give the sliders a lube and nudge, and another puzzle to re-assemble the housing (and hope that they don't bind up again, and they will sometimes)... The holes in the sheet metal might not line up again so well when you put it back together (due to thermal + fit issues)... Screws are in odd places, and very slight varying sizes,, so carefully segregate while taking it apart... Very user unfriendly servicing when the tools come out...

Sometimes the head carriage will rock a little when moving up/down the column, affecting the alignment, binding & wearing over time...

I really don't like the ergonomics of the head controls, like those disappearing black column controls you have to reach around the back to operate, and there's an ergonomic change with the height of the head, but I guess users get used to it...

Granted, the ones I printed and wrenched on were very heavily used, but I have seen what's down the road for them after long, hard daily use... (Then it's a job for a DeVere...) But if someone owns the head, DO get spare sets of the color filter control gears, or any other plastic parts for the enlarger if you can...

At best, for performance, it's just another enlarger... At worst, it's like a daily driver Italian sports car... Works well long enough to get to like it, then you better know or be a gifted mechanic...

Steve K

Mark Sampson
9-Feb-2017, 08:57
Durst= Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
LPL= Toyota pickup
Beseler= Ford F-150
Omega= Chevrolet Suburban.
They'll all do the job.

Cor
14-Feb-2017, 06:35
Have been printing on a Durst L1200 for more than 20 years now, had some experience with a DeVere, liked the wheels under the baseboard, did not like the negative carrier, the L1200 has a very nicely build one. On caveat on the negative carrier: it is really for 9*12 cm film, it will not project a whole 4*5 negative. There is a 4*5 version (AM in teh code ?), rare and expensive. I used a Leitz Focomat and a Durst 606 too, but I am most grown in/used to/happy with the L1200.

I have always been printing with the condensors and filter drawer, only the bulb can break down, and I have a life time supply..
Best,

Cor

angusparker
14-Feb-2017, 10:02
Yup, still have a TRA 301 backup for the CLS 301 colorhead if anyone is interested. The Hemot head motor and Hedes/Starnes control unit for the motor are pretty overbuilt that I hope will outlive me. If not, I do have a backup crank! I suspect the L1200 likewise have some quirky electronics! Where do you buy a new Durst L-1200 in the States anyway?

http://www.durst-pro-usa.com/

Luis-F-S
14-Feb-2017, 15:16
http://www.durst-pro-usa.com/



Angus, I've personally visited them so I'm familiar with them. I think there have also been some posts about them on this forum.

Naej
20-Feb-2017, 20:17
I have a L1200 from 1979 (I think. It is written on the column), with the colour head. I also have a DII (not to confuse with the D2) from Omega. The Durst is my main enlarger as it is solid and stable. When I want more contrast, I go with the DII.

Since I got it (2 or 3 years ago), I met only one issue: the nylon universal joint used for the focus telescopic bar (sorry, I'm French so I don't exactly know how you call it), broke. I replace it by a stronger one (the one use for the colours controllers).

But about the nylon gear inside the head, I didn't met any problem with that so far. I guess the ventilation for the lamp is doing its job well.