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  1. #1

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    Zone VI LED Lightsource

    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. #2

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    LED

    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. #3

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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. #4

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    LED

    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. #5

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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. #6

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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. #7
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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. #8

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    Calumet

    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. #9
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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. #10

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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.

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