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Thread: LPL 4500 or a....

  1. #1

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    LPL 4500 or a....

    Hi, im in a bit of a pickle, my darkroom has been in storage for a good decade and I have been bumming off friends and pubic ones as needed but a new project has got me fired up for printing and when I pulled my enlargers out of storage they where pretty rusted. I'm triaging and going to save the Focomat V35 but im in need of a new MF to LF enlarger.

    I did google around a bunch and its opinion city out there, i had a crap 45MXT but one of the public labs i used for awhile had a LPL 4500 with a VCCE head and I love the VCCE option but looking around its hard to find a price on them, ebay has some but in the $1700-2300 range?!

    Are they a good investment? are finding parts and bulbs for it getting crazy hard or am I better to put that money in a deferent enlarger.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    jim_jm's Avatar
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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    I don't have the 4500, but the smaller-format C670MXL, which will handle up to 6x7 negatives. Mine is the slightly older Saunders/LPL, versus the current name LPL, or Omega/LPL. They are all very similar except for some cosmetics, and can still utilize many of the same parts. I have the dichroic color head, but only print B/W and it's functionally very similar to using a VCCE head. Split-grade printing is a breeze.
    This is hands-down the best enlarger I've ever used, and many of the same features and functions are carried over to the 4x5 models. KHB has a great resource site for LPL.
    I have an older Omega D-2 for 4x5, but if I was to replace it I'd look for another LPL. Definitely worth it. If you can't find used parts, most are still available new. I recently bought a focus extension for mine from KHB.

  3. #3

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    If you want a good one, go with a Durst, DeVere or LPL. LPL parts are the easiest to get in the US and you can still get most things new. Only you can determine if the investment is worth it. It is something you are buying to use though, like a car. Lamps are easy to find and pretty cheap. A few bucks a piece last time I bought a few. They last a long time too. I think the bulb I am using now is at least 6 or 7 years old.

    There are a few parts for the LPL that are pretty much impossible to find, like the medium format mixing box. You don't need it though. LPL enlargers are pretty simple compared to Durst for example. If you get a Durst you might have trouble finding all the little things.

    The VCCE head is probably going to cost the most. You can use a dichroic head, but I found that to be a pain and bought the VCCE head. Try to get a glass carrier too. You can use it for medium format if you want and even 35mm, but the V35 is the easier option for that obviously. I have a Focomat 1c as well so I am pretty much set up the way you intend. If you ever want to do large prints, the LPL will handle those better than the V35. If you have the inkling that you might do that, getting the 35mm mixing box for the LPL will be a necessity. And as an aside, the LPL with the 35mm mixing box is the best 35mm enlarger I've ever used and I've used a bunch. I don't know what it is about that mixing box, but the prints are just perfect.

    There were a couple versions too. There were some older grey ones that I believe used a lower wattage bulb and had a shorter column. You really want to get a XL or XLG version.

    If you are dying to get one, you are going to have to pay. If you are patient, you may get lucky although I think those days are pretty much over. I picked mine up eight years ago off of CL for a couple hundred bucks, and the person I got it from said I was the only one who contacted them in two months.. You never know.

    Anyway, I hope that helps you and good luck.

  4. #4

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    The main issue with the LPL is the lack of adjusting facilities. Also, it is difficult (if not impossible) to adapt a cold light source.
    As mentioned, you can perfectly use it with the 4x5" chamber and the glass carrier for all formats, although not as comfortably as a dedicated smaller enlarger. The latest bigger version has a really powerful lamp, maybe excessively bright, to my taste.
    IMHO, I`d rather prefer to have a good medium format enlarger for everything up to 6x7/6x9, and another exclusively for large format work (4x5" or whatever you use). There are good old LF enlargers for almost nothing, not as fancy as modern ones but fully functional.

  5. #5

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Highly recommend a Durst Laborator Ce 1000 or L1200 (I have and use the former) with the color head. Mine came missing a few parts, but they were easily obtained at very reasonable costs. I've also easily adapted non OEM carriers to it. I had a cold light source for it but just prefer the CLS450 color head. If you should choose to go with a Durst, the nomenclature of the parts #s can be very confusing unless you have the IB or Durst literature to refer to. I initially wanted to get a LPL, but after looking around for a couple of months, I spent a fraction of the cost of acquiring a LPL in getting the Durst Laborator Ce 1000 and never looked back.

    I do not recommend the previous model, the Laborator 1000. From my experience, parts for it are very hard to find. Before getting the Ce 1000, I tried for a year to get a Laborator 1000 up and running and final gave up.

  6. #6

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Also consider a ZONE VI enlarger. Put one together from literally a couple of "parts" boxes for a local university. Used it a few times and loved it. Would like to hear from other ZONE VI enlarger users... have been seriously considering getting one lately.

  7. #7

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    The LPL 4500 is a Great enlarger. Probably the best 4x5 enlarger made today. It's current and parts are easily available, new and used. The VCCE is probably the best B&W head made. I would keep an eye out on the forums and Craiglist for one. I bought one for around a Grand and then found an XLG for half of that on Craiglist. Funny, I've managed to align mine without any problems. I had two Zone Vi's bought new and sold them both. Hated them. The Dursts are great as long as they're in operating condition and have all the pieces parts. Otherwise, Good luck! If you get a Durst, get a simple one, not one with 1970's electronics. You'll have a nightmare unless you're really good with circuits. PM me if you want more info.

  8. #8

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis-F-S View Post
    The LPL 4500 is a Great enlarger. Probably the best 4x5 enlarger made today...
    I concur.

    Quote Originally Posted by jose angel View Post
    ...it is difficult (if not impossible) to adapt a cold light source...
    In 2019, there's no reason to adapt a fluorescent source. Rather, if one wishes to replace the halogen system with a modern alternative, simply drop in a Heiland LED mixing box replacement:

    Last edited by Sal Santamaura; 12-Dec-2019 at 15:50.

  9. #9

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    I have a Zone VI and definitely love it. For whatever reason, I had a Type I and two Type II enlargers at one time. I kept a Type II.

    The real find was coming across a Type II with a 5x7 and 8x10 head (and adapter) on EBay. It was under $1500. I bought it and was able to pick it up "locally" after an 80 mile drive.

    I use mine primarily for 4x5 with a Beseler 45s color head. Both Zone VI (Type I) and Calumet (Type II) produced a Beseler adapter. With a simple modification to the head, I also have a D2 condenser head that I can use with this adapter. Even though it was years ago that I sold the other two enlargers, I only just sold my Type I adapter a couple of weeks ago. There was another one like it on EBay at the time.

    Here are some observations that I would offer on Zone VI enlargers.

    > I would use the Type I only for 4x5 using a color head. It can be used with the "5x7" head, but only if split printing. Otherwise, contrast can be inconsistent. The Type I was originally designed as an over-sized 4x5; it cannot be used for 5x7 with the original "5x7" head.

    > After acquiring Zone VI from Fred Picker, Calumet developed the Type II with a larger 5x7 head that had separate feedback control mechanisms for the green and blue tubes. So, one could obtain consistent contrast control, and the head was large enough for 5x7. For a brief period, they made this head for the Type I. Probably hard to find.

    > Very sturdy enlargers, where the negative stage, the lens stage can be aligned to the enlarging table. (The mechanism for this is a bit rinky-dink, but it works for me.) I aligned mine using the Versa-Lab, laser alignment tool.

    > The negative carriers were designed as full-frame, so that the entire image can be printed. I can't stand either Omega or Beseler carriers, because they hide some of the image. (Some Beseler carriers were designed as full-frame.)

    > Tubes are no longer available. But, someone pointed out along the way that the tubes tended to outlast the power source.

    > The Type I Beseler adapters worked fine; but for some reason, Calumet made the Type II adapters about double the thickness. As a result, the diffusion head could not rest flush on the negative carrier. A local metal sculptor brilliantly corrected this problem with my Type II. Otherwise, I can't see how light fall-off could be avoided during printing.

    > With split-printing, the Type I would have a wide contrast range. But due to it's control mechanism, I think that the Type II's contrast range is a bit narrow. Works for me though, because I control contrast by varying negative development.

    > Calumet sold an accessory so that one would not have to reach up to focus, while peering through a grain focusing device. I have one of these, and they work great. Probably necessary only with the 8x10 head.

    I'm sure that Durst and DeVere are great enlargers. But, it seems to me that they're kind of big and kind of complicated. (Maybe even over-complicated.) My Zone VI may not be precision machined like these others. But, I sure enjoy using it. I mean, how else am I going to be able to print 8x10 in a 6'x8' darkroom?

    If you can actually bring all that you need together in a Zone VI, then I think you would have a nice enlarger. For example, would you be able to find the negative carriers that you would want.

    I think it would be easier to find what you need in an LPL. I hear the LPL's are excellent. I know that John Sexton sure likes his. I took two of his workshops, and he raved about them.

  10. #10
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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    I've been using an LPL 4500II with color head for B&W printing on variable-contrast papers since 1993, have been happy with it. Low fuss compared to old-battleship enlargers like the classic Omegas and Beselers.

    Re parts, the masking attachment is no longer available new either in Japan or here and is somewhat hard to find used. Not an issue at all if you intend to use the glassless carriers, and even with the glass sandwich carrier, you can make your own masks if needed to minimize stray light when printing formats smaller than 4x5.

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