View Full Version : Saunders LPL VCCE 4500 II or Devere 504 Dichro

7-Mar-2008, 17:56
I am considering upgrading my rather old Omega D2 Chromega with either a Devere or a Saunders, any advice would be appreciated. I print solely black and white, 35mm up to 4x5 but probably more 120 and 4x5 than 35mm. I'm interested in something that is solid and going to last, I'm also wondering about the longevity of electronics in the VCCE system vs. the simplicity of a dichro color head.

The Devere (table-top version) seems like a decent deal (several hundred bucks), is pretty local, in average condition, has the non-computerized Dichroic head, is built like a tank and will probably last forever. Unfortunately its a bit large for my current darkroom but I think I could manage with it for a couple of years until I move up to a bigger space. It'll probably need some cleaning up which is fine with me.

The Saunders takes up less space (wall mount), has the slick head that balances output through different contrast values and is more expensive. It seems like the obvious choice with space being somewhat of a premium but I wonder about the build quality of it as well as what my options will be if the VCCE head decides to stop working down the line.

I realize that ultimately neither is going to make a huge difference in the quality of prints I can make, more in the enjoyment of the process of making them, and it could very well be that I just stick with what I've got. I've looked in the archives and read through the info but haven't seen these two directly compared. If anybody has worked with both, I'd appreciate any insight. Also, any thoughts on what one should expect to pay for either of these would help as well.

Thanks for the info.

Jon Shiu
7-Mar-2008, 18:06
Hi, the Saunders VCCE system is really just like a dichroic color head, so there aren't any complex electronics involved. Here's my understanding of how the VCCE works: the single dial will dial in varying amounts of magenta and yellow to adjust contrast grade, and a cyan to adjust exposure (filters are controlled by calibrated cams). That said, I don't there is reason to switch other than enjoyment of nice equipment. I think the Saunders VCCE runs $400-800 on the used market.


7-Mar-2008, 20:30
I have the Saunders 4550 XLG with the color head and love it.

I do mostly 120 with some 4x5 and it's a great set up.

John Powers
7-Mar-2008, 21:16
I have the 4550 XLG VCCE and love it. Search here and APUG. There has been lots written. My guess is that both are good choices. Both may be hard to get parts when needed. The only thing I have needed in four years is a lamp and B&H had that. Omega has not been a good parts source for either Jobo of LPL, but then Devere isn't local either.

Good luck,


7-Mar-2008, 22:09
Thanks for the replies. So the VCCE is a mechanical setup with cams, that somehow seems like it might last a bit longer than whatever method I had imagined in my head. Any thoughts on how well it does with keeping the exposure the same across different contrast levels?

Oren Grad
8-Mar-2008, 00:06
I have a 4500II with color head. After about 15 years of light to moderate use it still functions flawlessly.

Be aware that the LPL 4x5 design has no provision for user adjustment of the alignment. If something is out of whack - which it could well be, even though it's supposedly aligned for life at the factory - you can look forward to having to buy the masking stage (not a bad item to have, though) and correcting through some combination of a tilted easel and shims tucked in under the masking stage and/or the column mount.

I wasn't tempted by the VCCE head. For a variety of reasons, including variation in filter response among papers and variation in the way I key on tones as I print different pictures, I figured that even if the exposure matching was perfect for some arbitrary situation, in practice I'd have to keep making test strips anyway, and I wanted the greater flexibility of the color head. I haven't regretted that choice.

evan clarke
8-Mar-2008, 07:22
Ihave the VCCE and a dichroic LPL. The VCCE maintains consistent exposure throughout the contrast range by using a ND filter. I love both of them, I also have 2 Omegas and a DeVere...I prefer the LPL...EC

8-Mar-2008, 08:11
What's wrong with your Omega? Hasn't already proven itself "something that is solid and going to last"?

I drool over the Saunders but, when it comes right down to it, it wouldn't do anything that the Omega D-2 can't also do...would it?

8-Mar-2008, 08:40

You're completely right in that technically the new enlarger probably isn't going to do anything I can't do with what I've got. With the LPL I see the ease of constant exposure as well as the space savings that a wall mount enlarger with a vertical column and no integral baseboard would offer. The Devere is still huge, just a solid enlarger at a good deal. That said, if I can't get a pretty good deal on the LPL I've got no reason to not wait for one to come along. Thanks again everybody for the advice and information.