Omega D5500 Enlarger for VC?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Neil Poulsen, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    How suitable is the D5500 with it's color head for variable contrast printing? I've seen it implied that the automated controls kind of get in the way for B&W VC printing. Is this the case?

    What's involved in changing filtration for VC type printing? How easy or difficult is it to change filtering for VC papers?

    How well does the head cover 4x5?
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I use two D5500s for B&W multigrade printing. The standard Ilford chart of M & Y densities works well for their paper. I made my own chart for Forte paper.

    The trick when using the 'Translator Controller' is to put it into 'program' mode. Then you just set the Y and M (by typing into the keypad) and it behaves in a normal fashion, and the readout shows you the exact filtration.

    When the controller is in its 'standard' printing mode, the displays will just show "00" or any differences from your programmed standard color pack. I did try putting various Y & M combinations in its memory but that was too cumbersome. Best to just do as above.

    I think you can also program one of the memory locations to a 'standard color pack' of "00", "00", "00" then the 'differences' will show up in the display as your actual values when it is in its 'standard' printing mode.

    Of course, if you have the smaller controller, it is very straight forward to use (again, just type the filtration into the keypad).

    4x5 coverage is fine. I do all my 4x5 printing on the D5500, rather than on my 8x10.

    I have used 2 of these for about 8 years and know them inside and out. You can PM me if you have questions.

    BTW, Ansel Adams' B&W negatives are printed with a D5500: http://www.anseladams.com/content/care_collecting/SEP_processing_methods.html

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The enlarger will do fine for VC.

    I will recommend, however, that you get a full set of #00-#5 under-lens VC filters so you can:

    • Check for yourself that the VC settings you are using do correspond somewhat with the standard grades. Color heads used for VC printing are known to create moments of doubt that anything is working right, it is nice to check that things are.
    • Be able to get to the limits of the paper's contrast range. Most color heads don't have a steep enough blue cutoff to the magenta filter - you need to cut all wavelengths longer than 450 nm to be able to give a 'blue only' exposure with modern VC papers. If it wasn't for the red component in a #5 VC magenta filter the filter would look almost black (bit of an exageration, but look at filters with a 450 cutoff to get an idea of where this wavelength is -- deep indigo).
     
  4. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Thanks much for the information. Thanks also for the excellent photograph. I have a couple more questions, if I may.

    Do these enlargers lean forward at all, making the column extend at an angle versus straight up? (Like some of the other D sized Omega enlargers?)

    How's their coverage and consistency for 4x5 negatives? Does the light extend right to the edge of the negative, or is there a a little extra room. Also, how even is the illumination over the negative?

    I stick pretty close to paper grades 1 to about 3.5. I control my contrast in my negative. So, it doesn't bother me, if I can't get to the extremes of soft or hard constrasts.

    It sounds like there are two sized control panels. Can either be used with a given D5500 enlarger, or does each need to connect to a particular model head?
     
  5. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Yes, they lean forward. This gives more room for the print easel. My Beseler 16x20 4-blade does overhang on 2 sides, though.

    It is close. There is some side-to-side play in the mixing box and the negative carrier. You need to make sure they are both lined up. When lined up it is perfectly fine, but not much room to spare. The mixing boxes are 'nominal' 5" x 5" and the negative carrier is free to rotate.

    The plastic diffuser on the bottom of the mixing box is well designed, being thicker in the center than the edges. It does a very good job of providing even illumination.
    Same connector plug on each of the two control panels. They freely interchange with the head. The power supply is in the head.

    There are actually 4 control panel. Each of the two styles were made with either push buttons or a membrane pad. The membrane pad is the older version and this was upgraded to the push buttons. When last I looked B&H still had a push button upgrade kit for the smaller controller. My membrane pad still works fine, btw.
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    In terms of the filters. Replacement filters are available ( http://www.andovercorp.com/web_store/pdf/Catalog/Sections/Andover_Dichroic_Filters.pdf) , though, I almost never need full Yellow or full Magenta, so both my heads still have the original filters.

    Here is a link to how I made my printing contrast table for equal exposure: http://www.apug.org/forums/forum41/55179-making-multigrade-calibration-table-color-head.html
    The Omega head is nice because 30cc of filtration equals exactly 0.3 log density or one 'stop.'
     
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  7. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Thanks. I'll take a look at that.

    I like the idea that the enlarger leans forwards. This works better for the stand that I use. I ran two 2x6's up the back, so that I could connect the enlarger at the top.

    I have both the Zone VI Type I and Type II. I was disappointed with the first, because even with the compensating timer, it has inconsistent contrast.

    I got a complete Type II system. But, that system doesn't go from all blue to all green. It does have a variation in contrast within which I could probably live, though.

    But after taking a workshop with John Wimberley, I've gotten interested in using a color system. That's why I'm asking about the Omega 5500. Another possibility is getting the Beseler 45s head for my Type I. I have the Beseler adaptor for that system.

    I have the Beseler adaptor for the Type II, but it's about 2 inches thick.

    Thanks for the link. I would be pursuing retaining constant exposure in about the Zone VII range. Have you noticed any dependence of the constant exposure curve on the level of gray?
     
  8. Neil Poulsen

    Neil Poulsen Member

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    Oh, one more question. Does the D5500 have multiple bulbs, like one for each filter?

    If so, how effective is the compensating loop for each?
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Just a single 250W lamp. The filters move in-and-out of the light path via the servo motors. A light sensor (3 actually) in the mixing box monitors the color and the motors are automatically adjusted as needed during the exposure.

    One drawback of this system is that anytime you want to change filtration the lamp needs to be on. So, one needs to cover the lens if changing filter settings with paper in the easel. (You could use the red filter also).
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Well, yes, each constant exposure gray would have a different curve. When I do my own calibration curves I don't exactly choose a set gray value. I use the gray value that is in the 'middle' or the one that is the same number of steps from the white as the black on each of my test-calibration step-wedge exposures.

    So, when I am printing and I change contrast, I want the 'darks to get darker and the whites to get whiter'. Rather than saying 'I want ( ) zone to stay the same.'

    No problem making a curve that is based on Zone VII. Once you know how to make the curve, you can set it up exactly the way you like it.
     
  11. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I had a D5500 and gave it away, only because I found it to slow to do split grade printing with it. Beyond that I found it to be the 2nd best enlarger I have ever used. Well built, no alignment issues and a dream for color printing. Once I quite doing color via conventional means I no longer needed the enlarger. Have a Durst L1200 diffusion and Omega D5 to do B&W work. Took the diffusion head off the D5 and put the Omega condenser head in it's place.