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  1. #1
    SchwinnParamount's Avatar
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    Cold light head vs. diffusion head

    Does anybody know what the effects these two heads have on printing? Are they basically the same effect? Are they both better than using a condenser head?

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    Ole
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    I have only used diffuser and condensor, but I will not say that one is "better" than the other. They are different, but not better or worse.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by SchwinnParamount
    Does anybody know what the effects these two heads have on printing? Are they basically the same effect? Are they both better than using a condenser head?
    Both diffusion and coldlight heads emit non collimated light. The benefits are less problems with dust and spotting then condensor heads (collimated light). The detriments, in my opinion, are lower local contrast and lower apparent sharpness then condensor heads. I have both types and thus really have no axe to grind on the matter.

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    Eric Rose's Avatar
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    I printed with a condenser head for years and then went to a diffusion head. I have just recently got a condenser head for my 4x5 enlarger and want to see what it will do for a series of very gritty photos I am doing.
    www.ericrose.com
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  5. #5
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    I think it's sort of a squares and rectangles thing. All cold light heads are diffusion heads, but not all diffusion heads are cold-light.

    Both will produce less contrast than a condensor head, but the cold-light uses a florescent tube (or tubes) rather than incandescent light. Because of that, there are issues of consistency with light output with cold-light heads that are often solved by special timers with light probes that attach to the head.

    Other cold-light users can give you more info. (I use a condenser enlarger.)
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  6. #6

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    Most agree that cold light and diffusers produce the same approx look and contrast. They reduce surface marks and imperfections on the neg. Cold cathodes are not normally OK with VC, tho some are specifically designed for it. CC heads produce moe bluse light and are therefore fast with graded papers. Condensers produce a more contrsty light with greater apparrent sharpness. Negs should be lower in contrast. I have about a 2 grade difference in my kit, the diffuser being 2 grades less contrasty. I use the condenser when I want grain to be sharp and more obvious. Personally as I shoot mainly landscapes on LF, I prefer the diffuser. If I shot more street scenes I would use the condenser more than I do. They look different, very different IMHO, the condenser being totally intollerant of poor technique/dirty negs, dust etc.

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    Eric Rose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
    Most agree that cold light and diffusers produce the same approx look and contrast. ... I use the condenser when I want grain to be sharp and more obvious. Personally as I shoot mainly landscapes on LF, I prefer the diffuser. If I shot more street scenes I would use the condenser more than I do. They look different, very different IMHO, the condenser being totally intollerant of poor technique/dirty negs, dust etc.
    You seem to be talking in circles here old boy.
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  8. #8

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    I think it's not a question of which type is better, but which type suits your negatives better.

    After 5+ years of printing with condenser, I tried a diffusion head for the first time last weekend. I tried it on a negative that was fairly dense, and had a wide range of tonal values. This particular neg never would print well on my condenser rig, giving a classic "chalk and soot" look, with blown, featureless highlights. With the diffusion head, it looks stunning.

    However, I then took a fairly "thin" (i.e. less dense) negative, one that had a more comressed tonal range, and printed it under the diffusion head. OK, but nothing to get excited about. So, I'll likely always need both condenser and diffusion.

    The cool thing is that I've now got 5 years worth of negatives that I'd given up on that I can go back to and print!
    "If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will fall over" - Fudd's First Law of Opposition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Bennett
    I think it's not a question of which type is better, but which type suits your negatives better.

    After 5+ years of printing with condenser, I tried a diffusion head for the first time last weekend. I tried it on a negative that was fairly dense, and had a wide range of tonal values. This particular neg never would print well on my condenser rig, giving a classic "chalk and soot" look, with blown, featureless highlights. With the diffusion head, it looks stunning.

    However, I then took a fairly "thin" (i.e. less dense) negative, one that had a more comressed tonal range, and printed it under the diffusion head. OK, but nothing to get excited about. So, I'll likely always need both condenser and diffusion.

    The cool thing is that I've now got 5 years worth of negatives that I'd given up on that I can go back to and print!
    I agree, one size does not fit all. I use both diffusion and condenser heads on my D 3, and I am now looking a old enlarger that I can convert to a (I know not a true point source) point source type enlarger.

    Regards

  10. #10

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    Diffusion? Are you speaking of a dichroic or of a light bulb
    and diffusers?
    I'm considering the removal of the condensers from my
    Omega B8. With it's single round bulb I've doubts if it
    can do well as a diffuser. Dan

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