Omega D5500 CLS
I just bought an Omega D5500 CLS.
Its a 4x5 enlarger with a dichoric head.
What do you guys think about this enlarger and
is there anything I should know about it?
It is useless! Edit... Good find.
If i am not mistaken that is what Allan Ross use in his darkroom. If you get a chance see the Expanded CD from this months LensWork and Brooks Jensens interview with Allan Ross.
i love mine!!!!!!!! super stable and when attached to a very thin table and racked to the ceiling it still allows me to print the murals on the floor. in other words, the angle of the column is spot on! have a good time with it - i think they are the under-appreciated queens of the omega line.
"the age of nature is past; it has finally exhausted the patience of all sensitive minds by the loathsome monotony of its landscapes and skies." naturaimmemorial.com
I am an avid D5500 user. I have two and a bunch of spare parts to keep them running. http://www.apug.org/forums/437328-post428.html.
I have a rough draft of "Care and Feeding of D5500 enlargers" for the Articles section of this forum, but I have not fully finished the article.
Very Rough Draft of Page 1 of 3 page article. If there is interest I will finish it up and post it in the Articles section:
Using the Omega D5500 for Fine Art printing from Minox to 4x5
The Omega D5500 was the pinnacle of Omegas 4x5 enlarger series. Concieved of a modern computer controled, redesigned improvement to the D5 series. The advantages of the D5500 are twofold. There are mechanical improvements over the D5 and there are electronic 'improvements' over the D5 series. All of the 'improvements' can also be seen as drawbacks, as will be explained. According to this web site () Ansel Adams work is (or was) printed on t D5500.
The mechanical improvements are a more robust column and a clever redesign of the negative cariers. The robust column and head make the D5500 a serious professional tool for fine art photography. The redesign of the negative carriers is well thought out and a glass carrier is also available.
The electronics of this enlarger monitor the filtration with a closed feedback loop that uses motors adjust the filtration and keep it at the specificed value throughout the exposure. This feature makes the enlarger as usefull as a modern closed loop veriable contrast enlarger, though, at a significantly reduced price.
Even though Omega does not support this computer controlled enlarger the following can help keep the enlarger going:
Most of the mechanicals of the enlarger can be repaired. There are verr few moving parts to wear out.
Cheap chassis are found on e-bay, usually less than the price of shipping.
What are the drawbacks? The ancient electronics in these enlargers can be a headache. Some vintage enlarger repair shops or websites don't cater to the D5500 because of its electronics.
However, not everyone grew up in the 'mecnanical' age. Some of us grew up in the computer age and the care and feeding of the electronics of this enlarger are challenging and enjoyable to those versed in digital electronics. The electronic design of the system is not all that complicated and I suspect the should the time come when all the controllers and power supply modules are broken and mouser.com no longer supplies critical components, the system could certainly be re-built with a grass roots designed circut. (http://www.huws.org.uk/) This web page documents the creation of a 'home build' computer controlled LED variable contrast head. Similar electronics could be used to totally re-do the D5500 using the original motors and filters. The afermarket fuel injection market has also shown how closed loop electronics can be designed and sold on an almost 'hobbyist' level (http://www.megasquirt.info/)
There is a redily available shop manual for the electronic head and controller that has the complete schematic of all the systems.(http://www.photobooksonline.com/books/manuals.html) Semiconductor warehouses like mouser.com carry many of the original type components.
Also, cheap enlarger heads can be found on e-bay.
Issues with using the enlarger for B&W variable contrast printing.
Although the yellow and magenta controlls can be individually adjusted to controll contrast, using them in combination allows one to keep printing times the same when changing contrast.
The enclosed literature that comes with Ilford papers has an example chart for color head settings that provides a good match to the filters in the D5500. The chart in the ilford literature called "kodak" filters, which goes from 0-200cc is the one to use.
I have plotted the points in the Ilford chart and used a spline function to connect the points in to smooth lines on a graph. This allows interpolation between the graph points and allows near continuous changes in contrast. Not unlike a dedicated variable contrast closed loop head.
In order to use this enlarger and head one must have the owner's manuals. These are redily available on the internet and I will just highlight aspecs of operation important to cricital fine art B&W use.
In terms of the care and feeding of the enlarger, there is a Shop Manual that is required reading. This shop manual also is available on the internet (xxx)
Beyond the Manuals: using the CLS Translator
The CLS Translator is a sophistocated device to allow the color printer operatior to use color measurements from a separate video system to preview what a negative will look like. Then these measurements are plugged into the CLS Translator and a perfect print is made. This assumes that the translator is first "
programmed" by makeing a perfect standard print.
I thought of a number of ways to use the 10 programmed slots in the CLS Translator for 10 grades of printing B&W, however, it just makes it confusing as the display is always zeroed when programmed. So if one programs position one to be 175y 000c 000m then the display is going to read 000, 000,000. In fact, each programmed slot is going to read 000,000,000, so it is difficult to remember which is which...etc.
Last edited by ic-racer; 06-14-2007 at 10:44 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks for all the info! I read through it once but I am sure i will have to go back to it. This is definately going to be a wealth of info for me in the future.
I have the operators manual and all electronics appear to be in good shape.
I do not process color prints so I will be using it only for black and white, but I figured the color filters would be useable for variable contrast printing. If you have the graph you made in excel or other standard format, could you send it to me?
Do you think the standard 4x5 negative carrier holds the film flat enough or should I look for a glass carrier?
Is heat/overheating a problem with the color head? It has a fan on it but I wouldnt want it to burn out for any reason.
Should I clean out the head for dust periodically?
Thank you again,
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Two issues cured by the glass, negative popping (MOVEMENT during exposure) and curved negatives that DON'T move.
Originally Posted by darinwc
In many settings there is enough depth of focus to get away with some negative curvature and there are ways to curtail negative popping. I like to try a glassless carrier first but if I can't get away with it I am forced to go with the glass carrier.
My rules for the glass carrier (based on experience) are :
Minox = All (the film needs to be flat to within microns for edge to edge sharpness)
16mm = All except some real small prints, same as minox but may be able to get sharp corners with small enlargements.
35mm = 11x14 and 16x20 (small prints are OK without it) Definatly need glass for big enlargements as the natural curvature of the negative is opposite the enlarging lenses field curvature at high magnification.
6x6 & 6x9 = not needed unless too much 'popping'
4x5 = not needed unless too much 'popping'
No problems with overheating or vibration.
I hope to cover all this in the D5500 article.
Here is a JPEG of the graph used for interpolation of datapoints, allowing continuous contrast control with normalized exposure times (except for M199). The lines cross at M35, Y35 (Grade 2.25) and I frequently use this a starting point when working up a print (because it is easy to remember). I usually start with less contrast (so I can see the whole tonal range of the negative) and then work in more contrast to make the image aesthetically pleasing. The slope of my H&D curves is around 0.60 and frequently I will wind up with a contrast grade around 3 to make a pleasing print.
Originally Posted by darinwc
Last edited by ic-racer; 02-14-2008 at 09:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.
If you have a B&W condenser head, can you change it out for a color head?
I have a D5500 with the B&W head that I absolutely love. I just started shooting color transparencies after only doing b&w. I am intrigued by the thought of printing color.
Yes you can change out the heads.. there is full enlarger on ebay right now with a color head: item # 130124146217
Here is a good site with a descripton of the D5500 chassis and both heads.