Forgive this very basic question, but this is new to me...
I have only ever printed B&W with an old B & J enlarger- consisted of a lightbulb and a piece of frosted glass- worked OK...
I recently upgraded to a Besler 45 MX (black, with the "arm" for horizontal) which has a condenser lens(es) setup and a light ontop, it's OK ...but the condenser effect seems to be a little intense for some of my older negs...
However, to get to the point, the enlarger ALSO came with a grey metal unit marked only "Beseler" and "Agfa" on the front. It has 3 analog dials, 0-99, red, yellow and blue, and some white protrustions which seem to serve no purpose. The light appears to eminate from a transluent square of material on the bottom, no condensers, but it does have a bellows attached-
How is this used, with the condensers or without? Is it good for black and white? Better than the other head? Is this particular model outdated or otherwise incomplete? Is it capable of reproducing the effects of my Ilford VC filters?
I would like to use this unit if anyone can tell me anything about it, much appreciated...
From what you describe, you have a color head for a Bessler enlarger. I am unsure if it will fit your enlarger without seeing it. It would normally replace the condensor lamp house. It is not used in conjunction with the condensors but rather instead of the condensors. The effect will be beneficial to the excessive contrast that you mention with your older negs because it is a diffuse light source.
The color head can be used to duplicate contrast printing filters for use with variable contrast paper. I would imagine that you have Cyan, Magenta, Yellow fitration. Cyan would have the effect of lowering contrast and Magenta would increase contrast.
the color head replaces your condenser head. It emits diffuse light, which reduces print contrast up to 1-1/2 grade (depending on the effective aperture of your condenser light diffuse light has always 1.0). Diffuse light will also reduce grain accent. So you may see fewer differences between various development techniques.
A color head is convenient for VC-printing, but some older color heads are not capable of reproducing a grade 5.
Different manufacturers have used differnt density nominations. One Afga density equals 1/2 Durst (densitometric) density. The dial can usually be pulled to add an additional 100 Agfa denstiy filter. So your head is capable to produce 100 dD (or 140 cc) magenta, which should be sufficient for a grade ~4,5