Tonight Paula and I had the privilege of being the first, besides the inventor, Pat Brady, to test his new light source for enlarging on Azo paper.
Heretofore, Azo has been a paper for contact printing only. It is a slow paper and if one wanted to enlarge on this most beautiful of silver papers, the enlarging times were unduly long--easily getting to 15 minutes to one-half hour with a conventional enlarging head. A few years ago Durst came up with a 5000 Watt bulb so that one could enlarge onto Azo, but the cost is $6,000, I believe, and most folks would have to get their wiring upgraded to carry such a load.
Pat Brady's invention, by comparison, is a dream--no extra wiring, no hot lights, and short exposure times.
His invention is to use a set of four custom-made bulbs that put out light in the near-UV part of the spectrum. The four bulbs insure even coverage of the negatives. By using that part of the spectrum that Azo is most sensitive to, enlarging times are shortened considerably. Paula and I enlarged 4x5 and 2 1/4 negatives. Our exposures ranged from 30 seconds to two minutes and that was with our Super XX film which has a fairly high film base + fog density. With modern films, the exposure times should be less.
The housing for the light fits Beseler and Omega 4x5 enlargers and comes with its own voltage-regulated solid-state power supply. Each of the components is handsomely designed.
Although we will not be enlarging our LF negatives, because of this new light, at some point I look forward to reprinting all of the 35mm work I did during my first year as a photographer.
I understand that the light will be going to a few others to test during the next couple of weeks. After that, it will be at the LF Conference in Monterey in April and, I believe, it will be for sale at that time.
Paula and I think this is a great invention, and we hope it will help increase the sales of Azo as this slow paper will now be able to be used by those who only make enlargements. And that will help keep Azo in production.
Great, keep us posted. Any idea of price?
Sounds like it could be just the thing to keep AZO kicking.. :)
There have been several discussions about this over the last year on the Azo forum. As I recall, Michael related two very significant points. First, the expected price is about that of a cold light head. Based upon that expectd price range, Kodak executives looked favorably upon the invention as that could open a large market for Azo that wasn't there in recent years.
Many years ago, there was a large market for Azo as the snapshots printed by the local drugstore were done on contact printing machinery. Just do a search for "Azo" on e-bay and you will see these vintage prints for sale as memorabilia. As technology progressed, commercial contact printing went by the wayside, thus, so did the Azo market share. There are enlargers on the current market that can enlarge on Azo, but they are enormously expensive and have very powerful light sources. The light sources are powerful enough that standard residential wiring circuits are inadequate.
However, this invention has the promise of putting Azo back in market to anyone willing to spring the cost of a cold light head and runs off the standard household electrical outlet. A very significant achievement, to say the least.
Not doing enlarging, I am under the impression that cold light heads sell for about $1,000. I understand that the light for enlarging on Azo will be a bit more--that it will sell for "between $1,500 and $2,000." My guess is that the final price will be somewhere near the middle, but that is only my guess.
Thanks for the information. This presents some interesting thoughts on the future of fiber based, traditional papers. Has Kodak been consulted on this project? Does this indicate that AZO and other fiber based papers will be expanded upon, maybe produced by other companies? Where will this unit be sold?
Kodak knows about this. It is one of the reasons they have kept Azo in production.
I doubt it will expand the marjket for other fiber-based papers, because the light is designed for contact printing papers only. And Azo is the only one of those in existence.
According to the spectral sensitivity curves of conventional graded papers this unit may very well have more widespread application then just Azo.
This is exciting news, I wonder if this light source will have the capability to cross over into the Alt Process area. For someone such as myself it would be perfection to have an enlarger that is capable of utilizing 4x5 and smaller negatives on a great paper like Azo and printing Platinum from 4x5 and smaller negatives also. Is there any chance in the near future of testing for Alt Process applications?
I imagine that it would have the capability of exposing alt process if you have enough time to wait. Azo while slower then enlarging paper is still much faster then alt process from what alt process guys tell me.
Plate burners (such as the 26 1K) have a lot more UV output then this lamp.