Dichromat or 500
As a newbie to this forum, thereís nothing quite like starting a new thread with your first post. Having signed up a few weeks ago, I spent awhile leafing through old threads that looked interesting. Great stuff on choice of enlargers, pros and cons etc. paper/film/dev choices etal. So much, that Iíve come to the conclusion that after 30yrs in the darkroom Iíve been doing most things all wrong! Hereís my dilemma, I have a Devere 203 with a Cathomag head (cold light), no transtab just a timer. This was bought in the halcyon days of graded paper ie: Agfa blue label Record Rapid, anyone remember that? When I made the change to VC, I fitted a set of below the lens filters, not the right thing to do, but Iíve made it work. Ignorance is bliss. Now Iím spending a lot more time in the darkroom and the cathomag is no longer flexible enough for what I need these days. My options are, a Mk2 Dichromat head or ideally an Ilford multigrade 500 system. Both I can source secondhand, at a price. I print a lot of lith from 35mm infra-red, and the cathomag is just to slow. Which would be the prefered option? The Dichro or the 500? I think I know the answer to this before asking it!
I can offer a little bit of vauge advice, sorry, I will offer one bit of experience.
I have worked with a DeVere 504 MK2 that had two 250watt bulbs and a shutter in its head. I would think that if the 203 head was similar (2 bulbs) then it would be superior. Or at very least a faster enlarger.
I have never printed lith so my advice may not help you much. I have both a Chromega dichroic head and an Ilford Multigrade 500 head. For VC paper the Ilford head is excellent. I recently bought the RH Designs Anlayzer for the Ilford and it gives fstop timing as well as standarizes the contrast grades for any paper you test. With this sytem I get almost perfect proof prints with no test strips. The stock timer/controller for the Ilford head was a weak area of the Ilford head. With the Ilford head I get a wider contrast range than the dicro head.
If you print from 35mm make sure you get the 35mm mixing box for the Ilford and you will have all the light you will ever need.
Dave, I have the De Vere 504 Mk lV colour head on my enlarger, it has a single 250W globe.
It works perfectly for B&W with one exception, you can only get to about grade 4Ĺ, not 5.
In the past I've also used the Ilford system, alongside a Beseler colour and a table top De Vere colour, in the one darkroom, all 5x4" enlargers.
I mostly used the Ilford as it was the best for subtle changes when required, compared to the colour heads. Mind you it cost an arm and a leg when the lab bought it!
Thanks for your thoughts and views. I've thought for a while that the 500 would be the way to go, although the most expensive! Thanks again.