Cold Light Enlarger Heads

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by MikeGates, Oct 17, 2004.

  1. MikeGates

    MikeGates Member

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    As I get my darkroom together, something tickles the back of my brain about cold heads for an enlarger. Could someone please remind me what they are? I have a regular condenser head, as well as a dichro head for my Beseler 45MX enlargers. Also, can I use the dichro head for VC papers, or is that not recommended?

    Thanks so much!

    MikeGates
     
  2. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Hello Mike,
    As to cold light heads, I can't help you.
    A condensor gives "harder" light, a colour head (excellent for VC printing) is more forgiving towards scratches and dust particles. I have a Durst with a colour head and use dual filtration for variable contrast papers. See paper manufacturers' data on this.
    Regards
    Hans
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    A cold light head is a light source that is diffusion type. Ansel Adams attributed some mystique to them. They typically use a fluorescent type lamp incorporating phosphors that emit in the light spectrum that exposes photographic paper.

    Your dichroic head is a diffusion type light source and can be used for VC papers.

    I have found, in my experience, that a condensor light source will give improved local contrast in a print when compared to a diffusion light source. I own both diffusion and condensor type enlargers.
     
  4. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I have all three and of course in our lab we have all types. There has been a running decison for years about which is the best (and I mean years !)

    The negative should be matched to the light source, All will make wonderful prints if we have wonderful negatives.

    As Donald indicated the dichroic head can be used for VC papers and in fact if you are going to be using that type of paper it may be the most useful as you will not be limited to the manufactor grading system.

    If you are happy with your prints why invest in another light source?

    Because i use graded papers, and my educational background i tend to use a cold light head. However, in the lab I have been known to use what ever is available at the time.

    There is a difference in the "look", but it may take a bit to recognize the differences and frankly if you would line up a series of prints made from each light source and ask most viewers to determine which source made which print few would be able to pick out which print was made with which light source.
     
  5. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I am clear on teh difference between condernsers and Dichro heads, but remain scheptical that a dichro and cold light would look different on graded paper (Once contrast matched). As I have an ancient cold light head yet to be mounted on a devere 5108 I will soon find out.....
     
  6. lee

    lee Member

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    You may not see a difference between a cold light head and a dichro head. I have an Aristo 4500 VCL which is a two color head. Now I don't need to use filters with VC paper. In my view, either will yield the same print. Graded paper is all blue light in my case and with the dichro head is all Yellow light. Blue is the additive color and the opposite color is yellow and that is subtractive.

    lee\c
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    You'll be happy to know that Zone VI/Calumet is about to release their LED light source to add more to the confusion of "what should I buy".

    Apparently it is about 3 stops brighter as well as other goodies.


    Michael McBlane
     
  8. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Wonder how come no one has told them "film is dead":rolleyes:
     
  9. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    SHHHHH they are one of our sponsors. I think they know that there is a huge niche left that needs to have sources. Some marketing guy was smart enough to look behind them, before making a fatal mistake to follow the crowd.
     
  10. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    cold lite

    Actually Calumet has been B.S ing about this lite for quite awhile. Of course since I own the variable contrast cold lite they'll probably drop the support for it like they have with their zone six timers. When I sent my timer in for repair the guys were ripping apart any last pieces they had to repair mine.;and they have no more parts or plans to stock parts to fix them.Why supportCalumet? Fred Picker sold me that timer with alifetime guarantee- Calumet could care less.
     
  11. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Sorry to hear that, my experience with Calumet has always been great.
     
  12. Peter Rockstroh

    Peter Rockstroh Member

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    New Timers for Zone VI Cold Light Heads

    Hi,

    I am new to this list - and to the whole internet forum concept - so I would appreciate your feedback. I just finished my house, built a darkroom, and when I wanted to test my enlarger I found out that my Zone VI Compensating enlarging timer was damaged (probably during the move). It is hooked up to a Cold Light head for my Beseler 23. I hope it can be fixed.
    I contacted Calumet, where I was told these timers are no longer made. Apparently they can be replaced by Enlarging Timers made by Metrolux (also unavailable at this time) and appear to have the same features (seconds, tenth of a second and decasecond time selectors; drydown, audible timer).
    Has anyone had the experience of using these timers ? Do they interphase with the Zone VI Cold Light heads ? Do they require a separate footswitch ?
    I have all my images filed with a printing recipe, based on that light/timer combination, so you can imagine my concern.

    Thank you
     
  13. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    MetroLux is available directly from Metered Light:

    415.452.9923

    It should be a completely compatible and more with your ZIV coldlight. The footswitch I don't know. Your 'times' will still be good. These are very good times, very reliable, and repairable should the need arise. I have 3 and have never had any problems.
     
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  15. lee

    lee Member

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    I have the Metrolux II and it is a very nice timer. It is a lux timer and has a sensor that is placed in the cold light head. It counts in real seconds also. There are 2 different channels and both channels have 3 memory slots there is dry down and a foot switch. Also, is a small shutter checker built in to the timer. There is a tool for making it a small densitometer also. It will figure the new exposure time if you have a time and then you move to a new enlargement. I highly recommend these timers.

    lee\c
     
  16. RAP

    RAP Member

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    Cold light heads light is more directional, straight down. This minimizes grain, scratches, imperfections in the negatives. Personally, I use one exclusively with graded papers. Condensers tend to scatter the light in every direction which accentuates grain. You can use a polarizing glass along with a diffusion filter over the condenser which will help correct this.

    But since you have a dichro head, you already can do more then a cold light head, with graded and variable contrast papers. The trick is to tailor your negatives to your light source with film speed tests and film development tests. Something you would have to do with any enlarger light source.

    My advice, don't waste your money. Spend it on materials or a shooting expedition.
     
  17. photobackpacker

    photobackpacker Advertiser

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    Back to the question asked at the beginning of the thread...

    I have gone through an evolution of starting with a Condenser head on a Beseler 23C, An un-stabilized 23C cold light, A stabilized 23C cold light, Stepped up to a Beseler 45MX with Coldlight, A zone VI 5x7 Variable Contrast cold light and finally, an Saunders LPL. This has been my experience.

    I found that the condenser head highlighted every little scratch on roll film and required ample use of edwal no-scratch - a pain. A the time, I was attempting Zone work with 35mm and was rewinding and redeploying film in cheap snap caps multiple times. Ansel's books influenced my decision to go with cold light.

    The regular Cold light is fantastic on graded paper. Scratches and dust disappeared magically. Using it in an unstabilized mode was extremely frustrating and not recommended. Once stabilized, I loved it. I tried using it with VC papers and found that the (40Y?) [it has been a while] filtratation was still not giving me the response I wanted and was requiring longer exposure times.

    The Early Zone VI enlarger was a piece of junk. Picker rushed it to market with an unstable negative carrier and other problems. The light source was, however, very effective in drawing out the full responsiveness of VC paper. Its only problem (this light source - I can't speak to others) was excruciatingly long exposure times with 4X5 negs.

    The LPL is a diffusion head and gives the same light quality as the cold light. I love the speed and the ease of use and no longer feel the need to be looking for something better - much to the relief of my wife. :smile: The drawbacks - Unlight the cold light, the halogen light source produces heat and necessitates the use of glass carriers to avoid negative pop. It, like most enlargers, has an abundance of light leaks and after properly sealing these, your unit will end up looking a bit ragged with black gaffers tape.

    I recommend the dicrohic head (either the B&W VCCE or the color head) to anyone who is looking. It is an excellent light source and has satisfied my needs nicely. I feel confident that I am not being held back by my equipment.
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have found that the exact opposite is true. The reason that cold light/diffusion heads indicate less scratches and dust is because the diffusion light source is not collimated. The purpose of the condensors in a condensor light head is to collimate the light beams; to direct and to focus them at the nodal point of the lens. This causes the collimated light beams to transverse the negative in a more perpendicular manner. In fact it is this difference that causes the minimization of dust and scratches with a diffusion light source. This collimation does not happen with a cold light/diffusion source.

    Think of it this way, how does one achieve maximum sharpness and local contrast when the effects of dust is minimized with a diffusion source? The same thing that achieves the minimization of dust and scratches is also affecting the pictorial details (ie adjaceny of differeing density regions) on the negative.

    By the way, I have both the Saunders 4550 VCCE XLG and a Durst 138S I very, very seldom use the Saunders enlarger today. The condensor enlarger is simply head and shoulders better then a diffusion source.
     
  19. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    I (think) I've just abandoned my enlargers cold head in favour of condensers. This is for 5x4 so the condenser head is pretty big so the neg stage is'nt gwtting warm. I've been using cold light for about 6 years making all sizes of prints up to 40x30" and I thought I liked it till the condensers came along! No more warming up the light, long exposures, dull highlights and complex electrics. Hello crispness, a cheap bulb, better highlight detail and so much spotting out!
     
  20. Silverpixels5

    Silverpixels5 Member

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    I concur with Donald. You don't directional light from a diffused source. The cold light passes through opaque plexiglass which scatters the light pretty much the same way a cloud does to the sun. This is why prints from a cold light head are usually 'creamier' and 'softer' than ones from a condenser. Unless soft prints are your thing, my OPINION is that condensers are better. Besides, you can scatter the condenser light if you choose...i'm not so sure you can turn light from a diffusion source into directional light w/o serious modification.
     
  21. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I use condenser, cold light and a color head. My negatives go back 35 years and for the first 20 years were printed with condensers so they were developed for condensers. For the past 20 years my large formate has been developed for cold light diffusion printed on grade 3 paper while my 35mm and MF is still developed for and printed with a condenser head. I think Ansal Adams printed his 35mm with a point source head. Having the option for either diffusion or condenser printing makes sense for me.
     
  22. RAP

    RAP Member

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    Here is some research I Googled on the Callier Effect and enlargers. As I said, I personally use a Cold Light head. Some like the condensers, great. I control contrast through exposure and development and tailor it to my enlarger.

    BTW, here is what Allan Ross uses to print the AA Special Edition prints;

    "The prints are made by projection rather than by contact, regardless of negative format. This ensures a consistency in finished size and also affords the greatest control of dodging and burning. Most of the negatives in the series are 8x10 format, but other negative sizes include 5x7, 4x5, 31/4x41/4, and 120 rollfilm. The 8x10 and 5x7 negatives are printed in the Beseler 8x10 enlarger designed by Ross, with a custom Aristo 12"x12" cold-light head. Negatives 4x5 and smaller are printed with an Omega D5500 enlarger with a diffusion color-head."

    http://www.anseladams.com/Yosemite-Special-Edition-Technical-Data-W56C292.aspx

    http://www.darkroomsource.net/enlargers.shtml

    http://www.shutterbug.net/columns/0202sb_inthedark/

    http://photography.about.com/library/weekly/aa073100c.htm

    Q: What is the Callier effect?
    A condensor enlarger collimates light, which makes the light rays parallel. When these parallel light beams hit the negative, the light beams get scattered as they hit the emulsion. On low density areas (dark areas), the light passes through relatively unscattered. But in the high density areas (highlights), the light rays will scatter more. Where they scatter less, they are more intense on the paper, and where they scatter more they will be less intense on the paper. The more light passing through the negative onto the paper the darker the image on the paper. What this means is that those areas which are to be dark, will be emphasized as dark, and those areas that are to be light will be emphasized as light, in other words it tends to increase the contrast range of the negative. Ansel Adams says in The Negative that in his experience more negatives have too much contrast than too little. You can, and will, adjust your development of the negative if you read "The Negative" and understand the zone system. Even if you don't practice the zone system, you should make tests with your equipment (camera, enlarger, water, thermometers, chemicals) to determine the proper developing times and exposure index for your film. When you make these adjustments you will account for the Callier effect.
     
  23. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Over the years I accepted the writings of Ansel Adams about the so called Callier Effect. I didn't check the veracity of his statements with actual darkroom experience in my darkroom. When I got my first 4X5 enlarger, an old D2 I immediately scrapped the condensors and installed an Aristo head. Later I bought the Saunders 4550 VCCE and again opted for diffusion over condensor because for heavens sake it was Ansel who had stated that condensor enlargers were deficient because of the "Callier Effect". About a year and a half ago after reading the material that Jens Jensen had written about the quality of light on his site Jensen Optical or Durst Pro USA (the earlier site) I had the opportunity to buy a Durst 5X7 enlarger. My print quality immediately took a big jump upward...please understand that these were from negatives that had been developed to the Zone VIII density that Ansel had specified for diffusion enlargers...so if anything, my prints should have been too contrasty. That did not prove to be true. The sharpness and local contrast of my prints improved drastically. I would not have believed it until I tried it...but that has been my experience. In my experience in my darkroom the "Callier Effect" is a non issue.

    While Ansel certainly helped move the practice of photography forward, I do believe today that he like most of us, had feet of clay.
     
  24. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    I'll second that Donald, and I have similar views regarding the callier effect - I'ts a plus! Here in the UK I dont think Ansel Adams is as guru like as he (probably always will be) is in the US. There are fewer 'traditional' landscape photographers here that use him as a guiding light.
     
  25. RAP

    RAP Member

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    Well that is great you feel comfortable with condensers. I am sure many fine images have been made with them, as well as cold light/VC heads that are presented in galleries and museums over the years. Before the invention of the cold light head, what was there to use, condensers or contact printing.

    I used to use condensers that had a piece of polarized glass and a diffusion filter over the negative which gave a more directional flow of light. But the condenser light source is 5-6 inches above the negative while the florescent grid of the cold light/VChead is less then an inch above the negative. This gives much more even illumination of the negative and less emphasis of grain and imperfections. I liked the results much better.
     
  26. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    ...my 2 cents...

    Callier is real and coldlight works well with my negs. I use it for 120 film and up. I use a condenser, for speed reasons, for 120 film and down.

    Changing light source types and enlargers at the same time is not a good test for Callier. Enlargers, like cameras, have issues of flare and glare. Most enlargers have a fair amount of reflected light bouncing around between neg and lens. This can contribute to contrast reduction at the print.

    Someone mentioned how slow their VC coldlight was. I have heard this about ZVI and know that the Aristo VC heads are slow, too. I sold mine for this reason.

    Finally, last I checked, I don't have feet of clay.