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  1. #1

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    Colour head vs condenser for b&w?

    Hi all,

    So I have been using a durst laborator 1000 with a condenser head since I started printing and have gotten great results with it. I mainly split grade print and my 0 and 5 filters are just about shot!

    So I have a durst 401mk2 colour head sitting there (enlarger came with both) and was thinking about hooking it up. I'm missing the transformer for the colour head, but have a power supply that will do the job well.

    So for the sake of an hour or so I could have it running (assuming the lamps are ok!).

    What's the general thinking on these? I've heard that condenser heads can be more contrasty, but not sure if that's universal opinion?

    Is it worth going ahead and hooking it up?

    Fran

  2. #2
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Since you've got it and can make it work, certainly hook it up and see. It may or may not differ in contrast or sharpness from the other head. There are other variables.

    You may find that there are negatives that do not require split grade, but need something in between standard filters.

  3. #3

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    So other than figuring out what dial settings - filter settings, is there anything much else to watch out for?

  4. #4
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    I have found on my colour head that moving the knobs, it is possible to move the alignment of the head slightly so that the second blast of light makes my pictures ever so slightly unsoft. Or, the head is still vibrating when I start the exposure and it is completely out of alignment. Under the lens filters was my solution. So, if you are going to use the filters in the enlargers head, do so slowly/carefully and give it 5-10 seconds to make sure it is not moving when you start the exposure.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  5. #5

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    Ok, thanks Kevin. The filters seem to be mechanical inside the head - there is a direct mechanical linkage from the knob to the filter? I haven't actually fitted the head on (well I did try it to make sure it fit way back when I got the enlarger) so I'm not sure if there is play/movement there. Will have to watch out for that - Thanks!

  6. #6
    Tony Egan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Kehler View Post
    I have found on my colour head that moving the knobs, it is possible to move the alignment of the head slightly so that the second blast of light makes my pictures ever so slightly unsoft. Or, the head is still vibrating when I start the exposure and it is completely out of alignment. Under the lens filters was my solution. So, if you are going to use the filters in the enlargers head, do so slowly/carefully and give it 5-10 seconds to make sure it is not moving when you start the exposure.
    I also use under the lens filters rather than the colour head settings. I posted in a similar thread recently about my experience with establishing reliable highlight times when changing colour head settings which can lead to frustration, more test strips and wasted paper. Some people enjoy struggling with complexity but I find using Ilford papers with Ilford multigrade filter gels simplifies the path to a good print.

    As a generalisation, diffuser heads mean longer exposure times and what I would call more "smoothness" in rendering of grain rather then less contrast. This is usually most evident in expanses of clear sky. It is worth experimenting with the same negative at the same enlargement in both. I prefer condenser for some images and diffuser for others but it's not about contrast, which can be managed, more about the content of the negative and subject matter.
    http://www.tonyeganphotography.com/index.html
    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." Groucho Marx

  7. #7

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    Ding ding! Back into the ring... the title fight, Condenser vs colorhead, Round 7,254.....

  8. #8

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    Thanks guys. I really don't mean to drag up any old arguments!! I'm satisfied that each may have their own favourites, all with good reasons too. I'm more looking for what to watch out for - the "gotchas" given that I have zero experience of the colour heads.

    Anyway, I have the transformer sorted and intend hooking it up to see if the bulbs are OK. If they're not then the experiment will probably die right there!

    Fran

  9. #9

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    I sure question the use of filters under the lens. That is the reason they put filter drawers in enlargers. Why would you want to stick something betweenthe lens and photo paper to diffuse the image, even slightly?

  10. #10
    paul_c5x4's Avatar
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    The lamp in the Durst colour heads are usually fairly common - either an ELJ or ELC which you should be able to purchase from any decent electrical outlet.

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