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Thread: Which enlarger for color and B/W prints?

  1. #1

    Which enlarger for color and B/W prints?


    So far I used to scan my negatives and then go through a digital procedure but now I have finally decided to purchase an enlarger and start making my own prints.
    I've read a bit all around plus some books but when it comes to actually buy something there are so many variables to consider that I get somehow confused.

    My choice, so far, is between and OmegaD5500, a Saunders/LPL 4500II and, maybe, a Beseler 45V-XL.

    My aim with the enlarger is to:
    make very big prints --> so it has to have the possibility to reverse the head to project on the floor or to project on the wall (Beseler apparently doesn't have this option).
    make color and black and white prints --> I've read on Feininger's book that condenser type can do this. One of the problems is that these enlarger don't come with such head and so I am evaluating if to buy a separate head for colors, later on, and to begin only with black and white. I saw the Beseler has the Dichro 45 S Colorhead that might work, do you know if the Beseler Dichro 45 Computerized Enlarger Color Head has the same features?

    Would it be possible to mount a Beseler 45S Colorhead on a Saunders or Omega?

    Another, separate, maybe stupid, question: can I use a Ilfospeed 500 Multigrade Outfit VCCE with normal graded papers or it works only with multigrade papers?

    Any advice would be highly appreciated, thank you!


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Re: Which enlarger for color and B/W prints?

    I would go with a Saunders/LPL (which I think is an Omega distributed product now) 4550 XLG with a color head since you want to make color prints. It works fine for b&w as well. If you are only doing b&w go with the VCCE head. Parts are still available for these if you have a problem, though I couldn't foresee ever having one. If you are wanting to do big prints you may want to wall mount the enlarger to make life easier on yourself.

    You may want to also look at the Durst 1200. I don't know that many details about it but I did use one a couple times and it was as good as the Saunders but I know they do have more options. Others can fill you in.

    Frankly I think the Beseler and Omega enlargers are second rate.

  3. #3
    bob carnie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Toronto, Ontario,

    Re: Which enlarger for color and B/W prints?

    Durst 184 with a 2000 w colour head.. made for both applications you list and built to perfection.

  4. #4

    Re: Which enlarger for color and B/W prints?


    thank you for your advices!

    From what I've understood condenser type of head produces prints that are sharper than the ones produced with a diffusion head. And I want to produce sharp pictures... :-)
    If I got it right a head that has colors adjustments dials and it's a condenser type does not exist, right?
    So or I buy two heads or I use a condenser B/W type that I can use to print color negative using filters, right? Maybe later I could buy a second head specific for colors...

    What would be a good price for the enlarger you mentioned?

    The Omega D5500 is not good?

    Thank you very much,


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Re: Which enlarger for color and B/W prints?

    For really large prints, I would want an enlarger with a column that slants towards the user. (Like the Omega D versions, Zone VI enlargers, and some of the Beseler enlargers.)

    Omegas and Beselers can make very fine prints, if they're aligned properly. Ansel Adams used a Beseler for 4x5 and smaller negatives. Aligning them can be a little painstaking, though.

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