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Old 15th October 2018, 11:00 AM
MattPitts MattPitts is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 14
Default Masking easels

Hi everyone,

I'm gradually getting together all the darkroom kit, I found a secondhand easel on eBay and I have noticed that the blades and edge of the frame do not sit flush with the metal base, so the paper isn't held completely flat in the easel. (see photo)

I haven't actually tested this yet, but I thought the whole point if the easel is to hold the paper flat?

I'm guessing that this is important to get the sharpest image?

So is an better quality easel something worth investing in?
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Old 15th October 2018, 12:29 PM
alexmuir alexmuir is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Glasgow, Scotland.
Posts: 2,344

Most resin coated (described as RC, or sometimes PE) papers tend to sit flat without needing any help. Fibre based paper, on the other hand, is seldom flat out of the pack, and needs some pressure on the easel. Itís difficult to tell much about your easel from the picture. An overall view would help. The blades of two blade designs should sit flat against the base, and there is sometimes a very small gap along the two fixed edges. It all depends on the particular model. Some lighter weight examples may struggle to flatten a sheet of double-weight fibre paper.

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Old 15th October 2018, 04:06 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Daventry, Northants
Posts: 7,966

Matt, the answer is: it depends. If you are happy with set borders and set sizes of prints such as 5x7 and 8x10 then there is a lot to be said for fixed easels or speed easels as our American friends call them.

My experience of this in 5x7 ( Paterson) is good. No adjustment required and each of the borders is parallel but of course is fixed in size. Slide the paper into it and you're done. The Paterson 8x10 works the same way and I am sure is as good but I don't have one.

If you want to be creative with different border sizes and paper sizes then the 2 blade Beard comes into its own. The blades run on rails at their far ends and remain parallel. They are heavy and wide which helps keep paper flat. Those where the blades are "loose" at their far ends might be OK but because there are no guide rails can be slightly out of true.

The problem with blades that are even slightly out of true, even as little as 1.5 mm is that the eye, well my eye at least, has the ability to see this over much above 10 inches. It may bother you or it may not. People vary

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Old 15th October 2018, 06:15 PM
Richard Gould Richard Gould is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Jersey Channel Islands
Posts: 5,263

Hi Matt, hard to tell from a picture, but with RC paper, which pretty much lies flat no problem, you can print on RC paper very well without an easel, just lie it flat on the baseboard with the red filter in place, with FB paper you need an easel that holds the paper flat as it usually has a curl before processing, an old trick tom make sure the blades are flat is to use som weight on the blades where the cross, some cheaper easels tend to not have bladesthat are slightly out of true, which can be a problem in that the borders of the prints are not even, I would suggest you look for something like an LPL/Beard/Kaiser Ect, available used for good prices, nothing wrong with 2 blade easel but get a good wel known make and you should be problem, Dunco,and Bessler also make good easels, get one made by an enlarger maker, all the ones mentioned are from such firms look ad SDS, a forum sponsor, who have a wide range at good prices,
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