FS LED Lamp House for Omega D-series enlarger

Discussion in '[Classifieds] For Sale' started by cardiomac, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    This is a brand new LED replacement lamp house for the Omega D2, D3, D5 and D6 condenser enlargers. It replaces only the existing lamp house so you keep the condensers and the ability to use above-the-lens VC filters. The primary advantage is the total lack of infrared radiation, so the negative will not heat up, no matter how long the exposure. This prevents shifting and popping of the negative which can ruin focus. Also, since the light comes only from the center of the lens there is much less stray light than with a bulb which tends to reflect a lot of light off the black lamp housing. The end result is that prints made with this product are very, very sharp. Glass negative carriers are not needed for most negatives. The unit is a real pleasure to use.

    Build quality and uniformity of illumination, both spatially and temporally, are superb. Ilford VC filters work as expected with this unit. Exposure times are similar to those of a 150W bulb. Uses 110VAC, 9.5W North American standard power.

    Asking US$150.00 plus shipping however you want.
     

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  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Any plans to make a similar unit for Beseler 45s?
     
  3. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    Thanks for asking. This product only works with condenser enlarger heads but I plan on making a similar one for the Beseler 45 condenser head in the future. It would be similar in design to what I'm making now. Diffusion heads are trickier to design from scratch because they need more complicated attachment points for lifting and stabilization. With such a small market you have to be very careful about how much you spend on design and construction of a new product. Even then, the price to deliver such a product may be too much for the market to bear.
     
  4. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Thanks. My bad choice of no punctuation. :pouty: I didn't really mean literally the "45S" color head, I meant forty-fives as a plural, and of course it's for the condenser.

    I think you might have a market, as there has been much discussion about the availability of tungsten enlarger bulbs in the future. On the other hand, many of us have put in a stock of them, and I expect that your price point may have to come down some. In any event, good luck!
     
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  5. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Looks nifty - how is the color temperature compared to the normal bulb used in condenser enlargers, with respect to contrast response to the filters. I am using an Aristo V54 light, so my response is off the charts anyway, but what about this one?

    Also, to anyone, how hard is it to find a condenser set for the D2, with the drawer? Mine I got as a giveaway years ago and never had the condensers, so I went straight to Aristo.
     
  6. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I wish the price could be lower but the reality is that it is really expensive to make. The components are all very high quality and cost just over $100 - just for the parts. The LED module alone is almost $60.00. It takes me about two hours of work each to make them and some of the steps are time consuming (the wrinkle paint has to be oven cured, for example). I haven't even begun to recover prototyping and design expenses yet. It may be possible to save $15.00 or so by casting the housing out of epoxy resin rather than having it machined from aluminum. Some time could be saved by not painting certain parts. But overall, I think the lowest price it could be sold for is maybe $129.00. My suspicion is that even that is too much for most people.

    You know I got into this because I was frustrated with the contortions I was going through to avoid focus shifting when printing 4x5 negatives, focus shifts that would occur because of heating from the incandescent bulb. In this 21st century, there had to be a better way. After many, many hours of experimentation, I finally came up with this design and it has put the joy back into printing. The focus issue is gone completely. A giant unknown variable has been removed from the equation. And not only that, but the enlarger just works better. We like to think these old enlargers had everything figured out and to mess with them is to ruin them but that's not the case. When the D2 was designed, the incandescent bulb was the best point light source available but in reality it's not that great. The majority of the light emitted by the bulb is not directed where it is needed. It is either absorbed or, worse, scattered by the housing. This scattered light is a diffuse light source. In effect, the stock enlarger is a blended condenser/diffusion device. By directing the light where it is supposed to be, this new LED light source enables the enlarger to work as, I assume, the engineers intended, i.e. as a pure condenser enlarger. In other words, it's the light source they likely would have used had it been available at the time.

    This product gives the old enlarger new capabilities. It makes it a more pure condenser enlarger while avoiding heating the negative. In my opinion, it creates a sharper print with better grain definition. If that's the look you like, then that's the reason to buy it.
     
  7. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    The color temperature is 2700K. In the tests I've done with a Stouffer step wedge, Ilford VC filters are just about spot on from 00 to 5 for MGIV paper.

    Condenser sets come up all the time on eBay. It may be possible to special order just the variable condenser (drawer) housing from Omega. Or find somebody willing to part out a broken enlarger. Good luck.
     
  8. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

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    This all sounds very interesting. My first question is, how long do you expect the LED light source to last? And how much is a replacement? My 212 bulb has gone out two or three times in the last 30 years; should I expect the LED to do the same?

    And I can relate about the negative popping. I don't do 4x5, but my MF negs pop. My standard procedure is to set the timer for a 60 second exposure. For the first 30 seconds, I put something under the enlarging lens to keep the light off the print. This 30 seconds allows the negative to pop. Then I count off the seconds for exposure. It sure would be nice to set my timer to 15 seconds for a 15 second exposure!

    Cheers,

    -- Mark
     
  9. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I wanted to chime in that I bought one of these when the OP first posted about them on the Large Format Photography Forum. Unfortunately due to family obligations this past weekend I haven't had a chance to print with it yet, but it is a very well constructed good looking piece of gear. I'm actually surprised he can sell it for what I paid. It looks better than the original.

    My reason wasn't so much the bulbs. I have a few, and I think they'll be available for the foreseeable future, but more for heat. Partly negative popping, which I don't seem to have too awfully much trouble with, but also to lessen fading of my VC printing filters. The new lamphouse actually looks much nicer and far better made than the factory incandescent one. I probably don't have much problem with popping because I use a 75W 211 bulb, not a 150W 212. I actually prefer the slower printing times, as I like to keep exposure times, typically, in the 20-30 second range to provide time for some dodging.

    I wonder if it will be possible to filter this LED source for color with color printing filters? Not sure if the spectrum is suitable or not, but eventually I'll try that. If it doesn't work, changing back to my tungsten source for color takes about 30 seconds.
     
  10. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    The LED module is rated for 35,000 hours minimum. Heat is what kills LED's, but this unit barely gets warm in use so it should last longer than that. Unfortunately, I can't guarantee that a replacement module will be available in 30 years. But then, I'm not even sure incandescent bulbs will be available in 30 years.

    That is exactly what I was doing and it was driving me crazy! That 30 seconds holding a piece of cardboard under lens seemed like 10 minutes! But my biggest fear, perhaps unfounded, was that with a long exposure the negative would bow further than the point where I had focused it originally and my print would be ruined by being out of focus, a nightmare after you have just spent 5 minutes on a complicated dodge and burn routine.
     
  11. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    Thanks for the kind words regarding this product. I hope you get a chance to try it out soon. Please be sure to email me your impressions after you've used it some.

    With respect to color printing, it's not known how these LED light sources perform. My suspicion is that perform poorly. I have attached a graph of the typical output of a white LED. There is a big spike in output around 450nm, then a big dip, then a rapid rise after 500nm. The reason for this is that most "white" LED's actually emit blue light which activates phosphors in the housing to secondarily generate the remainder of the visible spectrum, hence the big spike in the blue region. The Cree "TrueWhite" module in this product is a little different from most other manufacturers' products in that it uses a combination of desaturated phosphor-based green/yellow LED's and saturated red LED's. This effectively creates a very pleasing, warm light. When used in a photographic enlarger, the green/yellow LED's do the work of printing - the red just make the image easier to see with the eye. But nevertheless, there is still a big gap in the spectrum at around 480 nm. What that means in terms of color printing I have no idea. Maybe color printing paper is blind in that region and everything works normally, or not. To be honest, I find it surprising and fortuitous that these LED's work so well in B&W printing.
     

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  12. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I doubt it will work worth a flip for color then. It would if the gap were in the same range as the orange masking layer, but that's not the case. Given they look white I thought it was worth a try. Heck, I'll still try it. Most people probably just print color with a color head these days. If I find one for my D2 at a good price either locally or that I can ship I'll grab it up. But I've printed plenty of color with color printing filters and that works fine (with the usual 211 or 212 bulb - color paper is very fast so the 211 is more than fast enough. If I get back into color I may add the diffusion panel below the lower condenser partly to slow it down!) As I said, changing it out is about a 30 second job (if you fumble, otherwise maybe more like 15!) so it doesn't matter to me if it's useless for color.
     
  13. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    put a linhof or leica badge on it an you can charge $300.
     
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  15. prumpkah

    prumpkah Member

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    Cardiomac: looks cool. Can you say a word or two about the nitty-gritty of installation, swapping out the old unit? Tools, work, skill required?
     
  16. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    No tools or skill required whatsoever, literally. The lamp house on the D series enlargers is held in place mostly by gravity. There is a small, black plastic thumbscrew in the center of the receiver that keeps the lamp house held down in case the electrical cord catches on something when the head is being lowered, but that's it. It takes like 30 seconds to unscrew the thumbscrew, lift off the old lamp house, put the new one in place and tighten back the thumbscrew. It's really that simple.
     
  17. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    You may be right but, then again, it may be worth a try. Just for grins I've attached the spectral curves for the Aristo fluorescent cold light heads. They look pretty lumpy bumpy, too. Looks like the lamp designed for color required a compensating filter. Maybe something like that would work for LED's, too.
     

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  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    It'll be worth a try.

    BTW, since you bring up cold light heads - if you could design a head using this light source that replaced the condenser set and made a diffusion source like a cold light, and could sell it for only a bit more than these, you'd sell a ton of 'em, I think. You seem to prefer the condenser light and that's fine, but many photographers, myself included, have concluded that all condensers do as compared to diffusion sources is make dust and scratches more prominent and print at slightly higher contrast, a contrast change that has nothing special about it and is easily adjusted completely away by different VC filters or paper grades, and thus we prefer a diffusion source. It's part of why I want a color head even for B&W.

    I don't really want to get into that argument here. It's been hashed out forever already. But an LED source could make the ultimate "cold light."
     
  19. cardiomac

    cardiomac Member

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    That's on the agenda. I built one several years ago using blue and green LED's on separate controls as a B&W variable contrast head. It worked well except that the blue LED's weren't blue enough to get a hard contrast print. I've ordered the parts to rebuild it using modern white LED's. I think it could be sold for just under $200.00. I'm a little bit wary though because I have a feeling that people would rather spend $150.00 on obsolete, unsupported products they are familiar with than spend $200.00 on something new that they don't understand. Your thoughts?
     
  20. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I'm curious about the diameter of the base where it slips into the Omega collar. The Beseler uses ~6-6 1/2" could it be as simple as adding a spacer?

    Regarding market for a $200 VC head, what's an Ilford head going for these days?
     
  21. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Have you seen this project yet?

    Apparently the author experimented with ultraviolet LEDs to help boost the higher contrast levels, but eventually found them unnecessary. He claims to have been able to reach grade 5+ with white LEDs alone, and includes step wedge tests to demonstrate it. He also addressed the subject of a blue/green variable contrast head. If I'm reading correctly, he seemed to conclude it was doable but less desirable due to the inherent printing speed differences between those two end-point colors.

    I use an Aristo VCL4500 variable contrast head with separate blue and green fluorescent tube grids. His following description matches my experience exactly:


    "When I made the step wedge prints above, I was surprised how much the paper's sensitivity varied with each color. For example, the green exposure took six seconds to complete; the blue exposure required about half a second."


    Ilford's Multigrade filters are intended to be speed matched to account for this. But a raw blue/green system is not. To compensate, when I calibrated my VCL head I also created an exposure compensation factor table to do my own speed matching. The difference between my high and low end contrasts is almost 10x. This matches the author's above results very nearly exactly.

    So perhaps UV LEDs might make a VC head feasible? Nice condition VCL4500s on eBay are still fetching $500-$800 last time I looked.

    Ken
     
  22. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    If you could make one with the build quality of your lamphouse, for $200, that worked well with Ilford MG or equivalent filters, giving comparable contrast and preserving the speed matching, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

    Probably the least important part of that is the speed matching, which can only be true for one print value anyway since you're changing contrast (I suppose it's something like a zone V middle gray) but in practice it seems to work well enough with incandescent sources.

    A dedicated VC head that used different controllers for green and blue might be good too, like the old Zone VI head, but personally I wouldn't pay much if any more for that than for one that would just work with the filters.

    It would be best to preserve the upper condenser (talking about the Omega D2 here) filter drawer if possible. I have an old, graded paper only, CL head that replaces the entire head and leaves no drawer even if you wanted to filter it. I don't use it. One can use under lens filters but I personally prefer one above the lens where it's so far out of focus it can be as scratched, dirty and crumby as you like. One less thing to keep clean.
     
  23. RPippin

    RPippin Subscriber

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    I'll take one. Let me know where to send funds. I would prefer to send a check, and you can wait to ship till the funds clear. Also, any upgrades that come along as well.
     
  24. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    You might be on to something. An adapter might not be that tough.
     
  25. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I'd pay $300 for a diffusion LED head for 4x5 beseler no problem. I'm sure I could waste a few hundred $ and a dozen hours sampling LED panels, boxes, testing, etc... and if someone is all set to do that, I'd gladly pay for it in the product.

    I use a dichroic head for B&W printing now and would gladly switch it for an LED diffusion head so I could not use the external squirrel cage fan which is quite noisy. I've thought about putting a new fan outside the darkroom, but a proper quiet panasonic bathroom fan is $150 and I'd spend another $50 on piping and supplies, etc... I'd also like the LED for the ability to do super long exposures without warping the negative; such as printing on xray dupe film.

    I don't need grade 5 either. If I have to print my negatives at grade 5, I am a failure at exposing and developing film. Real bad screwups I can print grade 4 and be fine. Grade 5 is like way past 11 on the volume dial.
     
  26. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I rarely need grade 5 but it's nice to have the option for the occasional underexposed in flat light negative. Then again, I could always swap back (probably with some effort) to the condenser head!