Colour printing with an Omega D2?
I'd like to try my hand at RA4 printing but can't quite swing a new enlarger at the moment. I have an Omega D2 condenser enlarger for my B&W printing, and I'm hoping that there's a way to make it work for colour. The two options I've come up with are 6"x6" Arista CMY filters from Freestyle, and tracking down a colour head. The filters seem to be the cheapest but are probably cumbersome, then there is the issue of the colour of the enlarger bulb. I don't even know if there is a "white" bulb suitable for the D2, or can I compensate using the filters?. The other option is to find a lonely individual colour head. The Super Chromega head seems to be pretty common but is it possible to mount one on a D2? I'd probably be better served by saving my pennies for 6-9 months and finding a proper colour enlarger, but my inner child wants to play NOW!
Would I need a voltage stabilizer and colour analyzer too? What's the going rate for a kidney these days? Why couldn't I be interest in something like logic puzzles instead of LF photography?
Originally Posted by Justin Silber
It is certainly feasible to make color prints with a D2+Condenser+filters. The appropriate bulb would be a ph211. I made lots of prints using that combo (as well as with a D3v) in school. The filters are not particularily cumbersome except when printing ring-arounds (and even them then you can speed things up by having filter packs ready to go). Learning to see color will be much more challenging than swapping filters.
It is also feasible to mount to a color head on a D2. However, to do so will require changing out the lift arms in addition to the head (both the axles and the arms are different dimensions than those used to mount the condenser head). Those parts will be prohibitively expensive to buy new when compared with the second hand price of a complete enlarger. In fact, unless the color head is free, you can likely buy a complete used enlarger for less than the cost of the used head and parts to mount it.
I used filters for years before the advent of digital made the purchase of a 4x5 color enlarger economically possible. I simply stacked the filters on top of the negative carrier. Several years ago there was an article in Photo Techniques by a fellow who built a filter drawer for a D2 using thick mat board. I forget the issue, but am confident you could figure out how to do the same on your own. He used light springs to hold the drawer assembly to the screws on the condenser assembly and he reported no printing issues due to the increased distance of the condensers and the negative.
A voltage stabilizer will make your life easier, but you can begin your attempts without one. An analyzer is unnecessary but a set of Lee viewing filters is a nice luxury. Find an old Kodak Color Darkroom DATAGUIDE as it has nice examples showing how to adjust the filter pack.
Last edited by Neal; 10-08-2008 at 08:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.
There are two other options, in addition to the CMY filters and color head purchase you've mentioned:
- Use red, green, and blue filters (you'll need just one of each) and print in an additive way. This will require three exposures, similar to split-grade B&W VC printing: one for red, one for green, and one for blue. This procedure is cumbersome compared to a single subtractive (CMY) exposure, but it gets the job done. As a practical matter, I'd only recommend it if you happen to have suitable filters already.
- Buy a lens with built-in filtration. A Polish company made these under the brand name Janpol. Searching eBay, I see five such lenses for auction or sale right now, all 80mm models. (55mm models were also available, but they seem to crop up on eBay rather infrequently.) I've never used one of these lenses, so I don't know how good they are or how easy they are to use. I note the eBay descriptions all say they're M42 lenses. If that's accurate, you might need a new lens board.
Overall, the most common solutions to your problem are to buy a color head or use CMY filters. I just thought I'd toss out these other two options for completeness' sake.
Materials are not cheap. Consistency is very important with color printing. I believe in the long run that you would be well advised to have an enlarger with a stabilized colorhead. This is also very useful for variable contrast printing of black & white negatives.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
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To start I'll pick up the CMY filters and try to find an inexpensive voltage stabilizer. Of course I'll eventually get a proper colour enlarger, but working 20 hours a week is putting a damper on large purchases. I don't think it's necessary to do anything fancy for a filter drawer, I'll just do what I do with my VC filters and put 'em in the variable condenser drawer! Thanks everyone!