diffusion, even spread of light across entire mixing box to the negative, one less source of dust contamination, dial in filtration, dont have to worry about switching condensers out when changing formats.
At one point I had a Durst L54 (condensor only) and a L1000 with colour head side by side. When adjusting contrast, prints from the same negative came out almost identical. The grain was no snappier from the condenser but in fact looked slightly larger und a wee bit less sharp under a loupe which I suspect is caused by diffraction of the direct light on the grain-pattern. But as you can read in Barry Thorntons Edge of Darkness, bigger grain can make for the impression of a snappier picture.
In the end I sold the L54 and switched to the diffuse light source entirely as it meant a lot less time wasted on spotting.
You can use a higher grade paper with a diffusion enlarger but it just doesn't look the same.
I love hard gritty grain.
Dust is all a matter of being careful, having good eyes and using A-grade film; it's perfectly avoidable, even with six surfaces.
Most modern condenser enlargers use a coated bulb so are already somewhat diffuse so the differences in local contrast between them and a fiffuser enlarger with a dichroic head is minimal. They do show up any dust though.
However if you use a more intense small light source, usulally refered to as a point source enlarger with condensers you can increase the local contrast but setting the lamp needs to be done every time you change the enlargement to get the best illumination, the lamp housing needs to be quite tall (on a vertical enlarger).
A dichroic head enlarger is far better all round whether it's a dedicated VC head or Colour head.
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Are, now you raise another moot point. In my own darkroom I always use glassless carriers, even on my diffuser enlarger.
Originally Posted by sandermarijn
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
And then there's the Vivitar V1 which I acquired knowing little about enlargers, but the more I read and use it the more I think this is a nice piece of kit. Dichroic colour head through a "light pipe", which insulates all heat, then condensers and glassless neg carrier. The little I've used it so far, dust hasn't been a problem.
I have both a condenser and diffuser enlarger but almost always use the diffuser. Reasons are similar to what others have said.
I have condenser but have printed on both and would prefer diffusion.
There's nothing special about the contrast of a condenser head, nor anything especially bad about it (no matter what Fred Picker said to sell his cold lights.) It's just contrast. With negatives developed to suit the prints won't know the difference, tonality wise. And even with negatives not adjusted, the difference is well within the range of paper contrast adjustment. The one big difference is that the diffusion source will show less dust and surface defects. That makes it worth wanting for me, but condenser is what I have.
I did recently buy an LED light source lamphouse and it's an improvement. It doesn't do anything for the sharper rendition of dust, but it does eliminate heat and negative popping as a variable. I too use glasseless carriers. Dust is enough of a problem with two surfaces. I'd probably give up photography or go hybrid rather than mess with six!
If the negatives were developed to adjust to the light source a dichro/VC head would be the best. But enlarging is not that simple.
1. Most of us have many negatives with a range of negative densities. Some look better printed on a condenser and others print easily on a dichro head. MF negs printed on a condenser does not result in grain with my print sizes.
2. There are variations in enlarger ergonomics and quality. My favorite enlarger is a Leitz 1c, semi diffused light source.
3. My LPL 670 XL (condenser) has even illumination; producing a bright image on the baseboard. It weights less and easier to move than my 670 MXL dichro. The condenser avoids long print times when making large prints.
4. A dichro softens the edge of dust. One should use several non enlarger techniques to minimize dust issues. Eliminating dust reduces one dichro advantage.
5. Some images look better on my condenser head, more micro contrast in low tones with mid tones shifted up the scale a bit. That may help an image or may not.
6. Having flexibility to use a dichro or condenser on the LPL is useful, especially with graded paper. With the LPL modular design I switch heads leaving the carrier, baseboard and column in place.
Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 03-16-2012 at 10:35 PM. Click to view previous post history.