Ilford Mulitgrade 500H questions
I have an opportunity to pick up a Beseler 45 with an Ilford Multigrade 500H head, with the probe/analyzer, power supply and the 500C controller, and I have a few questions for those in the know:
Can this unit be used on other enlargers, or only the Beseler? (I assume various adapters were made, but like to confirm.)
Are the bulbs easy to replace?
Are there any known issues as far as parts that wear out or break and can no longer be found?
Last edited by ParkerSmithPhoto; 01-11-2012 at 08:45 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I did find the "Ilfospeed 500" manual on the Ilford website. Is there any real difference between the two, or just a name change?
The issues that I know about are that the power supplies sometimes die. I think this can be fixed fairly easily by a competent electronics technician as it's most likely the capacitors that dry out and die.
If the controller dies you can get an aftermarket one from RH Designs. That's what I have, and it is an improvement in many ways.
The bulbs are easy to change, and last I checked were readily available. I think they are used in overhead projectors and other AV equipment.
There were certainly kits to mount the head on different enlargers. I know one of them looked much different than my Omega kit, and included a spacer or taller mixing box so the head was elevated. I don't know if that's for the Beseler or not.
edit: No idea on the Ilfospeed name.
Also, the early versions had 150W bulbs, and the newer ones have 300W bulbs. You can run the 300W bulbs in the older heads, but you need to add the right heat shields. According to my documentation the old power supplies could handle this fine.
I certainly could be wrong, but I think all of the models prior to the 600 series have "Ilfospeed" in their name - i.e. "Ilfospeed Multigrade 400HL" (which is what I have), "Ilfospeed Multigrade 500H', etc.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
Searching here on APUG will get you several threads on these heads.
Quick answers. There are few different configs. There are two basic setups. Earliest heads have 150w bulbs and the C controller. Later the heads went to 300w bulbs, the power supply was changed and the controller changed as well. In most causes the controllers are interchangeable.
Bulbs seem to be available without too much trouble. Prices vary, but not crazy expensive.
There were/are adapters for different enlargers. The adapter on the 45mcx is pretty basic - a flat plate the couples the light source to the top of the bellows. Other enlargers have different setups, some more complex than others.
There are manuals on the Ilford site you can download. Like I said there are several good threads here and several people using here, so do some reading and ask away.
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Oof. Can one of the moderators correct my spelling in the thread title?
The bulbs are easy to find and not too expensive (at least the 300w versions are - I don't know about the 150w versions).
There are different adapters for each different brand/model of enlarger. On their own the adapters are really hard to find - obviously they are usually sold as part of a whole enlarger package. If you are counting on being able to find an adapter to fit the head to a different chassis I wouldn't hold my breath. That being said the adapters aren't so complicated that you couldn't just design your own to fit onto the chassis you want to place the head on.
As far as the mixing boxes are concerned they had 3 basic sizes (35mm/medium format/4x5) and at least 2 different lengths - some were short models (omega/devere/others...) and some were long/extended models (the larger focomats and I think beselers). You need the right length boxes for your enlarger.
I have heard of Power supply failures as well as control pad failures which isn't suprising considering the age of the system. I have also heard a few reports of failures of the fans in the heads. That being said I think they are pretty durable units and they were popular enough that spare components can be found if you look hard enough. They are worth the effort to keep them running.
If you are serious about buying it, have the selling party fire it up to see if it works. Look in the head and see if the green and blue filters are present as well as the underlying heat shield glass. Also make sure that all the components are there (control pad, Power supply, 3 mixing boxes, and 2 plates that center the 35mm and medium format mixing box in the head.
They are interchangeable, but at a cost. I went from a Beseler 45 with a cold light head, to an Ilford 500H on an Omega D2 and would NEVER go back. At first I wanted to use the head on the Beseler, but found out that I would need the correct adapter for the head, correct light mixing boxes, ect... they are all enlarger specific and pretty hard to find. I have two, actually (one as a backup should mine die) and two sets of mixing boxes from 35mm to 4x5 (and the plates that go under them - these are important!). I also ordered the foot switch (very handy) and the probe (handy as well - although I am having issued with the 50mm lens when printing 35mm negs - it's giving a very wrong reading!).
I had a cold light and it literally drove me out of the darkroom for many years. The exposures were so inconsistent that test strips were almost worthless, and getting two finished prints that matched was nearly impossible. Selling that and getting an LPL was a great decision. I'd never go back either.
Originally Posted by Katie
I have two 500H heads for DeVere 504. It's good idea to change 500C controller for RH Design's Stopclock 500.
There is a couple of threads on APUG worth reading. In my own thread about 500H you can read about the difference between 500H for different enlargers. There is important how much is the mixing box sunk into the base plate of the head...
Bulbs are very easy to replace...
An issue is controller and power supply. I haven't had any issue with power supply so far and I've changed controller for Stopclock
Stopclock 500 is fantastic for split grade printing because magenta and yellow (in my case-I changed the color from originally green one for better soft grade control) light are switched on in sequence and not together as with controller 500C. It's really worth spending some money