Zone VI LED Lightsource

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by John Snyder, Mar 3, 2005.

  1. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    I've been looking for a review of the new Zone VI 4X5 LED VC lightsource but haven't been able to find one. Has anyone out there tried it and what was your experience? I have an early Zone VI 5X7 VC head, but I've found it to be difficult to work with and, now that one of the tubes has burned out, I'm looking for an alternative.

    Thanks,

    John
     
  2. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    John-why don't you send an email to Mr. Simmons at View Camera Mag. It would be the best place as Calumet might lend one out for someone to try. I saw the unit at the show in NYC. Looks impressive. I also have the VC light and it works just fine for me. I sent mine back and it was fixed for good. I try to bump up the contrast in my negs. to make it a little easier for the lite to work as it doesn't come close to a grade 5. But then again I rarely use that grade anyway. I work mostly with Forte and the lite seems to go along with it quite well.
    Regards, Peter
     
  3. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    Peter,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I sent an email to View Camera asking if they could maybe get the head and publish a user report, but didn't get a response--we'll have to wait and see if anything happens. It's interesting that your experience with the Zone VI VC head was the exact opposite of mine: I tried most of the available VC papers and with my lightsource, though all were contrasty, Forte had the most contrast--I had to use the soft light at maximum and the hard light at minimum and add a CC 20Y filter. (I'm trying to avoid having to split the exposure). Maybe the head for the type I enlarger is different than for Type II--or maybe it's a matter of calibration. I guess I'll send mine in and have it repaired until I can get a report on the LED version. I'm not ready to spring for the new lightsource until I know more about it. I learned my lesson buying an early Zone I enlarger in 1992--only to find that it was incompatible with the newer version a few years later.

    John
     
  4. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    John-You should definately send your head in to Calumet. While they tend not to give much support the repair dept. is pretty darn good. they know their stuff. Can't account for other equipment as I've only sent in Zone-VI equipment. (timer) Which head do you actually have? Type 1 or 2? Honestly, I bought my head used out of the NYC store and it was defective. Once I decided to send it in the problems have gone away. I also have the regular cold lite in 5x7 which I can swap out to do graded paper. Since Kentmere is coming out with a graded Bromide paper it might be VERY interesting. VC papers have spoiled me but with Forte on hold I'm not really sure where to go once my supply runs out.
    John-do a post on the View Camera Magazine Forum about the LED Head. I'm sure Mr. Simmons monitors that site. Is the lite listed in the new catalogs? Or website?
    Good luck with your venture. Calumet does quick turnaround on repairs. Right now its your cheapest alternative. Please post back here and let us know how you did.
    Regards, Peter
     
  5. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    Note on VC Papers

    Peter,

    Sorry I didn't make that clear--I have the Zone VI Type I VC head. I'll send it off tomorrow and give an update when I get it back. In the meantime, of the VC papers I tried, I liked the neutral-tone Bergger the best. Bergger and Forte were the most receptive to selenium toning with a marked shift toward purplish/brown in the lighter grays. Bergger almost looked as if it "split" with extended times. (Oriental, Kodak Polymax, and Ilford Multigrade were all fairly neutral, even after long toning.) So if image color is a factor, I'd recommend the Bergger.

    Thanks,

    John

    P.S. I haven't tried any of the warmtone VC papers.
     
  6. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    Update

    I'd said I would post an update after I got the head back from Calumet. As it turns out, the transformer for the soft tube had to be replaced. I'd been told beforehand that it would cost $150.00. I don't have anything to say about the repair--it seems to work--but I was unhappy with Calumet. The head was in their posession for a month and I was astounded by the way it was shipped when they did get it back to me. I packed it up the way it was originally supplied by Zone VI with ample packing and protection around the head. When Calumet shipped it back to me the head was sitting directly on top of the transformer--nothing to separate it--with a cardboard box over the top which was covered with styrofoam peanuts. In the course of shipping the head slid around (scuffing the paint and scratching the diffuser) and the peanuts disintegrated covering both head and transformer with small pieces of styrofoam. I had to get out my shop vac and vacuum off the components--the whole process of getting it unpacked and cleaned up took more than an hour.

    I was in the process of writing a letter to address these things when I noticed yet another thing. I'd specified (in writing) that the head be sent back to me Fedex Ground and billed to my account. A few days ago I noticed that I'd been billed $72.00 for the shipping. Calumet had sent it by air rather than ground. (Even if I hadn't asked, common sense would dictate sending a 24X16X21 box weighing 33 lbs by ground.) I'm surprised by the lackadaisical approach to this transaction on Calumet's part, but I talked to them yesterday and they said they'd refund the cost of the air shipping. As to compensating for cosmetic damage to the head, I'd have to ship it back to them so they could assess it. I'll pass...

    I realize I'm venting some here, but it was painful. On a purely photographic note, I was told by the techician that the hard light has always overpowered the soft in that head and there's nothing that can be done about it. This week I tested the Zone VI VC paper and it is the least contrasty of all that I tried. Not surprisingly, it seems to be best matched to the characteristics of this head.
     
  7. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    John,

    My experience with the Zone VI VCCL is similar to Peter's. I get good contrast with both Agfa (FB and RC VC) paper and with Ilford (FB and RC) paper. Generally for a Grade 2 (~) I set both the hard and soft controls to D on the controller. I was a little confused when you mentioned adding 20y to the filtration. My unit is one piece with a separate controller dial box.

    I'm sorry to hear about the issues with shipping, it seems that they really dropped the ball and I would check to for any documentation I had sent them and request a refund since they messed up the shipping.

    Mike
     
  8. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    So sorry about that experience. There is a really good guy named Richard Newman. You should at least call him and talk to him right away. Maybe he's not there anymore. I always got my stuff back promptly and calumet is one of the best shippers in the biz. As long as the unit works for you that's all that matters!! Go have some fun and post some prints!!
    Best, Peter
     
  9. hortense

    hortense Member

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    I have a Zone VI head for my Bessler MX5 enlarger. While I wish it had more lumens, it has been a great enlarger. After a couple of years, I have tranformer fail. However, I sent to Calumet and recieve very good service including proper return packaging. By the way, one of the Techs name is Jeff; he is the one that fixed it. The cost: zero (Zone VI guarantee).
     
  10. Gary Grenell

    Gary Grenell Member

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    I tone Kodak Polymax in Selenium 1:12 and leave it in for 7 minutes. Gives a very slight purpling effect, very subtle. I basically agree with your assessment.
     
  11. f64'ed-up

    f64'ed-up Member

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    My year old Zone VI type II green light burned out around New Years. It was still under warranty and was repaired and back to me in a week. Do get yours repaired while you still can by Calumet (Chicago). Richard Newman is really the "go to" guy at Calumet, as far as I'm concerned. He can be reached through the Calumet site (calumetphoto.com). He was intimately involved in both the design and implementation of the new LED source. It has had trouble making it on the market and as of the beginning of the year, still hadn't shipped.
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I talked to Richard about a week ago and it looks like a couple of more months. He has his and is playing with it now.

    Michael
     
  13. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    Since two of you mentioned that your lightsources were fixed without charge, I decided to take up the terms of the warranty since I'm the original owner--thanks for mentioning that. It was a long, drawnout affair--several phone calls without response and then I sent a pointed letter with thorough documentation. I finally did get a response saying that if I faxed the original invoice they'd refund the cost of the repair. Previously they'd said they'd refund the express shipping cost, but never did. Once I faxed the invoice, they moved quickly. I'll hand it too them for making the matter right, but I wonder why it had to be so difficult, and why they didn't say the repair would be covered under the terms of the warranty if I could supply the invoice. Apparently they'd rather people didn't know...
     
  14. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Are you out there John?

    Glad to hear you eventualy got your head fixed ( :smile: ) and that it was just a transformer problem with the soft light. I think I'm having the same problem as I have to use a CC40Y filter below the light to get my normal negatives to print with normal contrast with the lights contrast controls at equal settings.

    The filtration and a weak soft light results in loooonnnggg exposures (combined with having to open the lens almost wide open) - in fact a three stop increase from I used to use for Galerie and a cold light.

    What was the effect on your exposure times and contrast settings when the transformer was repaired?

    Murray

    (added later) For those following this theads title...the Zone VI LED Lightsource that was supposed to be available July 1st, 2005 is not in stock at Calumet...it's, "delayed from vendor".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2005
  15. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    Murray,

    I was going to say that the transformer repair returned the light to its previous condition, but then I realized I couldn't answer the question. The end of last year I tested four VC papers: Oriental, Ilford, Bergger, and Forte. Then the soft light burned out. There was one that remained to be tested--Zone VI Brilliant VC--so I made matching prints on it in early May after I got the light back. I mentioned in a previous post that the Zone VI paper seemed to be best suited to the light, which made sense to me since both were sold under the same name (thinking sprectrally they were better matched). I was able to print on it with both lights set in the middle of the dial and no CC20Y between lens and negative--rather than the soft at max and the hard at min with added yellow.

    Then I realized that since all the other tests were done before the repair and the Zone VI test after, that maybe it wasn't the paper at all. The only way to know would be to go back and try one of the other papers again--it may take a week or two, but I'll try to get to it before I have to leave town in late July. Good question though and one I'd like to answer.

    John
     
  16. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Well John...I'll be sending you a Hero Badge and three Gold Stars right away!!

    I can understand why you would have stuck with the Zone VI paper. After all the head scratching and testing I KNOW you went through trying to figure out your lightsource, it must have been a relief to have lots of wiggle room contrast-wise on either side of normal and no filter factor dragging out exposure times. THANKS EH!

    Murray
     
  17. John Snyder

    John Snyder Member

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    The Answer

    Murray,

    Yesterday I went back and reprinted the same negative at the same settings as I'd used before on Ilford Multigrade VC and Kodak Polymax VC (I forgot to mention that I tested Polymax as well--six papers in all). These are the same envelopes of paper I used originally and I'd written down my settings carefully for the original test. I don't think there are any possible variables other than the new transformer.

    The results startled me--I was expecting the new prints to look the same. Prints made on both papers were much less contrasty than before. In short, my answer to your question would be that with the new transformer the soft light is more powerful than before.

    So, I'd also have to say that my results on Zone VI Brilliant VC (when I tested it said and said it was less contrasty and better suited to the light) didn't have anything to do with the paper, but the repaired light. I should also note that neither of the tubes were replaced--Calumet didn't even open the head itself.

    I don't know exactly what the exposure lengths are since the Zone VI compenating timer doesn't use a standard unit of time, and varies the units according to the intensity of the light as measured by the sensor in the head. But this variability does answer the question that first crossed my mind after doing the test yesterday: Why, if the hard light setting is the same as before, does the print have less contrast? Then it occurred to me that increased intensity of the soft tube would result in shorter units and less dominance of the hard light--hence less contrast overall. If the soft light is weak--as it was before--the unit will be longer and the hard light will provide more of the total exposure, resulting in a contrastier print.

    I glad there's apparently better balance between the two lights with this new transformer. I don't know if Calumet is necessarily aware of this. Harkening back to an earlier post, when I mentioned the imbalance between the two tubes I was told nothing could be done about it.

    I still find this light source a trial to print with, though. With the compensating timer I find that as the light gets warmer, the intervals gets shorter and the timer doesn't compensate as well as it should. Early in a printing session, when I make a print at a time and develop them, the time between prints is about the same. I usually run the light once before printing to heat it up a little and then make the exposure, with any additional exposures for "burning." When I get to a point when I have the exposures down and then I want to make multiple prints and develop them together, the lightsource warms up, the intervals get much shorter and successive prints are lighter than the first. I start to wonder if I was completely foolish to buy such a lightsource--and it gets me back to my original question about the LED version for this enlarger. I thought if I could get a light for this enlarger that was rock solid and repeatable, I could be much more productive. I guess maybe Calumet has run into problems with that too. Thanks for lending an ear. If anyone has recommendations for taming the inconsistency of this light when it heats up, I'd be interested.

    Best,

    John

    P.S. I was hoping that mention of actually testing six papers rather than five might garner me more gold stars, but three should be a sufficient measure of my "heroic" efforts. I appreciate the recognition!
     
  18. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Repeatable Results

    I make multible prints on the same head. Just give yourself a minute or between prints OR develop each after exposing. You will find much less of a variation.
    No lightsource is perfect. The Zone VI has it's own stigma but it is capapble of making great phtographs.
    Regards, Peter Schrager
     
  19. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    John Gets ***6*** Gold Stars!

    Thanks John...in my mind that's a slam-dunk diagnosis of my enlarger heads extreme contrast issues. Now I have to decide whether to get it fixed locally (fast, cheap, and no shipping) or send it in to Calumet (slow, expensive, and shipping delays/costs). If it's just a matter of replacing a transformer in the control box and not having to open the head itself, how difficult could it be to get it done locally? I ask this in all seriousness because I know SQUAT about that sort of thing.

    By the way, you got two extra stars for actually doing the tests like you said you would, and a bonus star for keeping notes in the darkroom...they're a royal pain in the arse at the time to write down, but they sure come in handy later!

    Doesn't your light come with a small green light on the front of the head that indicates when it's stabilized? Mine's consistant.

    I unplugged my Tik Tok (Zone VI compensating metronome timer) and went with a standard electronic metronome meant for music. I did this because when I dialed one of the lights up or down using the Tik Tok, it changed the time between beeps like you said. This meant that by changing the intensity of one light, three things changed...the length of the exposure, the light that was changed, AND the amount of light hitting the paper from the light you didn't change because the intervals between beeps were now different!

    Thanks again John...hope I can some day help an APUG'er like you have helped me...that's how I'll repay you - by passing it on :smile:

    Murray

    (edit) The Tik Tok worked great for the cold light designed for graded paper.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2005