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  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....

    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.

  6. #6

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Quote Originally Posted by jose angel View Post
    The main issue with the LPL is the lack of adjusting facilities.
    well if thats the main issue I can live with that! I would love to have a dedicated MF & LF but I have limited space and don't own a home so I play the relocation game with my darkroom more then I would like to hints why it was in storage for so long. Currently I have about 9-12 month in the space im going in now before they tear the whole building down. Free rent is hard to find I did love my 45MXT not much but it was a tank.
    Last edited by lostlabs; 11-Dec-2019 at 10:14. Reason: forget

  7. #7

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Quote Originally Posted by jose angel View Post
    The main issue with the LPL is the lack of adjusting facilities...
    That's not a serious issue. If the enlarger is a factory matched column, baseboard and head assembly, they are precision aligned at the factory and it would take a very serious jolt to knock it out of alignment. If that happens, you'll most likely have more than alignment to worry about. Conversely, if someone sells you a mismatched set (which would pretty much mean they cobbled it together out of parts), you'll never get it aligned if it is out of alignment. Unless, of course you are, or know, a very good machinist.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  8. #8

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Graves View Post
    Conversely, if someone sells you a mismatched set (which would pretty much mean they cobbled it together out of parts), you'll never get it aligned if it is out of alignment. Unless, of course you are, or know, a very good machinist.
    Is there any way to tell if its been "cobbled" together?

  9. #9

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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Quote Originally Posted by jose angel View Post
    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.
    Hmm, please let me to quote my own words.

    With cold light source I'm referring to a light source that remains... "cold", say a LED based source, not an Aristo type fluorescent cold light head which (to my taste) is -absolutely- inconvenient. LED sources are a HUGE improvement, so I have all my working enlargers (4 in two darkrooms) equipped with LED... with the only exception on the LPL (sadly, because LED sources are great by its modulation capacity). I'd love to find LED replacement bulbs for that dichroic lamp. Any day.

    My LPL is the 7452 Dichroic version, which I like, it is a nice enlarger, with its modern look and "simplicity"... well, I'd like to have fully adjustable lens carriers, also a head adjustment built-in system. And it is certainly somewhat difficult to align (well, compared to my Dursts, or to my vintage Omega).

    Yes, you can shim some planes, LPLs ONLY bring a "partially" adjustable lens stage. For an "easy" alignment at least a wall mount is needed. If not, you must rely on shims, and with such heavy weight, I'd not say it is an easy task. My LPL was bought new, and it was never 100% aligned. Of course it is in perfect shape, never ever received a knock; so I always thought that the factory aligned argument was just marketing... that turned to a myth. Or it's just my unit, or maybe I'm looking for extremely minimal tolerances.

    Well, please notice I'm not saying it is a bad enlarger (I keep mine after the years, so think it`s one of my favorites, -I have discarded quite a few ones-), but e.g., many Beselers have full adjustment capability (although sometimes useless), my Omega is just fine (not so elegant but working at 100%), some Dursts are amazing (like the ones I keep), even some dirt cheap ones like the Meoptas I have used were easier to align. I'd say the "perfect" enlarger should be (1) the one that is fast and comfortable to use, also (2) the one that can be easily (and perfectly) aligned, and (3) keeping that alignment after continuous use... The LPL has a nice ratio. Just my opinion

    BTW, here in my surroundings LPLs are insanely expensive, and so hard to find.

  10. #10
    the Docter is in Arne Croell's Avatar
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    Re: LPL 4500 or a....

    Quote Originally Posted by jose angel View Post
    Hmm, please let me to quote my own words.

    With cold light source I'm referring to a light source that remains... "cold", say a LED based source, not an Aristo type fluorescent cold light head which (to my taste) is -absolutely- inconvenient. LED sources are a HUGE improvement, so I have all my working enlargers (4 in two darkrooms) equipped with LED... with the only exception on the LPL (sadly, because LED sources are great by its modulation capacity). I'd love to find LED replacement bulbs for that dichroic lamp. Any day.
    As Sal mentioned in post #8 (including a link), Heiland electronic makes an LED head for the LPL 47xx enlarger series. It is listed on their site under Jobo, since Jobo was the distributor of LPL enlargers in Germany.

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