Since Michael appears to be printing with filters and multigrade papers, there is the "luxury" of printing different portions of the image with different contrasts. I have been using an Aristo VCL4500 for years and find that to be a very useful tool and have not noticed any loss of sharpness. I print up to 16x20 from medium and 4x5 format negatives. Sometimes using only a portion of a negative. I started out with a condenser then switched to a cold light and the to the VCL. Once you get used to the new equipment you won't look back.

http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/