PKM, there is a guy that I have seen post on LFF that makes an LED variable contrast head. I believe he just started making them. If you are really tied to that enlarger maybe it would be a good solution for you. Frankly in the long term your best bet would be to get a Saunders/Omega/LPL VCCE enlarger. If you aren't going to print color, they are just sooooo nice to use. The only other enlargers (for 4x5) I think I would consider would be the Durst 1200 or maybe a Kienzle, but they are really expensive. Durst's can still be had cheap(ish). Using filters below the lens is also a good plan and better than using a color head. VC filters are speed matched (at least Ilford's are) so until you get to grade 4 the exposure remains the same. I think 4 through 5 are one stop slower. It could be grade 3 though. My memory is foggy on that.
To answer the question "why" use a VCCE head, the answer is in the name itself. "Variable Contrast, Constant Exposure." The head provides constant exposure values throughout the range of a paper. This is very handy while printing. A color head will land you all over the place exposure wise. When I used a color head I would always split print. One exposure through max magenta and one exposure through max yellow. That simplified things, but it was a little slow turning two knobs all the time, especially for small proof prints when one exposure would be much better and faster.
Edit- PKM I forgot to add that your Omega film holders will fit straight into the Saunders, although I have an Omega glass holder that is too thick/screws stick out too far.
Last edited by Patrick Robert James; 12-22-2012 at 03:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.
For the exposure, I can use a simple exposure meter and adjust the exposure time. I print color, so VCCE never come to my plan. But good to know. I've seen VCCE head from time to time.
A photo amateur
Sinar P2/F2/Nikon F5/F100/Bronica ETRSi/GS/Saunders 4550XLG/Jobo CPP2/CPE+/ColorStar 7000
Originally Posted by slight
I am in Berlin, and I have been wanting to march on Paris for a while now. But it would be nothing like the last time. I would be armed only with a Focomat 35 mm, Durst 138, De Vere 5x7, and two De Vere 8x10 enlargers, and in any case, I am an American. What kind of space do you have? Any thoughts? --Joe
I use VCCE especially the Ilford 500 system because I usually lay very improvised different contrast grays on the image. I usually first print the image on grade 4, and then expose various parts in grade 4.5 and 5. Or some times to burn in the hight lights I simply expose it through high power lamps by grade 3-4. I use grade 5 so much that when I printed for my Berlin exhibition I printed 24 50x60 prints and burnt almost 10 lamps in four days. Each lamp won't survive more than 45 minutes when I burn in the print. No kidding. I improvise a lot when I do dodge and burn. The finished images look very full because they are based on grade 3 or grade 4, but there are various parts so violent and they are under grade 5. I fully understands how important VCCE is...
Originally Posted by Patrick Robert James
Originally Posted by JMB
Sorry but now I live in Beijing, China...Yes a Durst 138 is very nice, but the postage to Beijing will be sky high...Thank you very much for your info though!
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Hello Patrick, is the unit you are selling a complete 4550 VCCE head with the mentioned components and accessories? Pls pm me I'd like to have a look and am very interested to buy. Thank you very much.
Originally Posted by Patrick Robert James
I currently use all Beseler gear, how easy would it be to find two 39mm and two 50 mm lens boards, three glass carriers, one for 6x6 or 6x7 and two for 4x5, one to be made oversize so it does not crop out part of the frame, all anti newton and all for the LPL 4500 VCCE that is...and not over a matter of months, but days as this is a business, not a hobby folks...
As for that cool LED head, it will not work with my RH Designs Stopclock Pro and might not work with my Beseler 45, it is designed for a Omega D series.
Also, I can get up to 19x24 with my 150 Apo-N on the baseboard, how large can one go on the LPL 4500 and 4550 XLG and is it an enlarger that can be laser aligned?
See the issues here? The 45MXT is a very good, proven, popular and plentiful enlarger that is also availible brand new and yet, there is NO MC head for it...
By the way, the Stopclock Vario I use is a compensating type with the sensor for the Aristo cold light head. Am I correct to assume that I will also need the sensor in a Beseler color head like the 45S?
Last edited by PKM-25; 12-23-2012 at 12:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
PKM- you can buy everything you need brand new. No need to go hunting around for it.
I use a 4x5 glass carrier and masks I made myself for smaller sizes that simply lay over the carrier. I am not aware of a specific glass carrier for medium format. Omega made a glass carrier for their older enlargers that should fit, but I find it much simpler to just use the 4x5 one. The 4550 has mixing boxes for 4x5, medium format (don't know specifically what size it is) and 35mm, which has a small condenser in it. The prints I get from 35mm negs are incredibly sharp, more than likely due to the hybrid diffusion/condenser arrangement. They are sharper than what I used to get from a medium format Saunders VCCE that was purely diffusion. It is in effect a similar system to the Leitz enlargers- large light source, one condenser.
The 4550 can be mounted on a wall, so you can make prints as large as you wish. Wall mounting is the most stable method if you are concerned about alignment. The 4550 comes aligned out of the box, head matched to the column, but you may need to tweak it a little. Mine was used when I bought it and was off by about 2mm on the Versalign target. I added a tiny shim to the column, I believe it was a piece of paper. Once it is aligned, it stays that way. I still check it occasionally, but haven't had to touch it in a couple of years now. How many enlargers can you say that about?
I don't have a compensating timer because the 4550 uses a tungsten lamp. I don't think you really need a compensating timer for it. I use a Gralab 645 and my brain. It works well (the Gralab, the efficacy of my brain is debatable.)
You can still buy the Durst brand new as well. They are rock solid and have more flexibility than the 4550. If I ever had an opportunity to buy one that had the point light source head I would do it just to print 35mm. http://www.durst-pro-usa.com/L1200.php
Hi Patrick, I understand the wall mounting, but in a 66" x 71" inch darkroom, the only option is the supplied baseboard, so what is the max size on that?
Once my print sales volume increases enough, I can rent a bigger darkroom space, but in Aspen, that is still going to be thousands per month...
Honestly, I think at this point it makes a whole lot more sense to wait until I find a good deal on a good used Beseler 45S head for a couple hundred bucks and use my compensating timer with it. Down time while playing enlarger roulette is lost income so since I am so close to having it work the way I need, I can not really be looking at swapping enlargers until I have more space to do so...
Last edited by PKM-25; 12-23-2012 at 05:05 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Anyone thinks this might be a good deal?
What's your opinion?