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  1. #1

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    Black & white enlarger heads & the use of MG filters

    I print using the colour heads on both my Meopta and DeVere enlargers. However, I note a traditional black & white head is still available for the Meopta and wonder if the use of MG filters offers any benefit aside from printing very low contrast negatives? - my previous experience of using ILFORD MG filters wasn't particularly positive as they were rather well used in a college setting. As a counterbalance, I'm aware of the real benefits of the colour heads in terms of flexibility and calibration etc.

    Tom

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Tom, I used below the lens Ilford MG filters for years with my old Johnsons V54 & De Vere Cold Cathode head, they always gave excellent results.

    There will be slight benefits of a B&W condenser head and MG filters over a colour (or Multigrade) head with low contrast negatives as the light source itself is more contrasty. However it really depends on the design of the head and what type of bulb is used, there was little difference between my Dusrt M601 with a condenser of colour head..

    Ian

  3. #3

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    Ian,

    The Durst M370 colour I occasionally use for proof sheets and 35mm printing appears to have lower strength filters compared to the Meopta and DeVere so I can well imagine differences between products may be as significant as differences between technologies.

    Tom

  4. #4

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    The only advantage I see to using variable contrast filters is at the extreme ends of the contrast range afforded by some papers. It may not be possible to achieve the absolute softest and hardest grades available for a given paper. I cannot remember the last time I needed a true grade 0 or grade 5, if ever. In any case, if I did there is always a way to use variable contrast filters with any enlarger. On some, it means using the filters designed for use under the lens with all other filtration dialed out. On others, there may a space where an above the lens filter can be conveniently inserted into the light path. I know that with my Chromega II, I can easily slip a 6 inch filter directly under the light mixing chamber above the negative if needed. Now if you want to argue the relative merits of condenser vs. diffuse light sources, that's another thing altogether. Personally, I don't think there's any advantage to a condenser type lamp house.
    Last edited by fschifano; 05-11-2010 at 02:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Frank Schifano

  5. #5
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Condenser heads give more bang-for-the-buck when it comes to lamp wattage and energy use. Since the bulb is smaller, many don't have a fan. Many don't need expensive regulated power supplies and just run on line voltage. Because of these characteristics and the fact they have no dichroic filters, they are cheaper.

    If you already have a dichroic head, there would be no reason to get a condenser head, except for as spare or something like that.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    Condenser heads give more bang-for-the-buck when it comes to lamp wattage and energy use. Since the bulb is smaller, many don't have a fan. Many don't need expensive regulated power supplies and just run on line voltage. Because of these characteristics and the fact they have no dichroic filters, they are cheaper.

    If you already have a dichroic head, there would be no reason to get a condenser head, except for as spare or something like that.
    I agree they are cheaper. As you said, if you already have a dichro head there's no real reason to change it out. As far as energy usage, it's really a non-issue. The halogen lamps typically used in dichro lamp houses do put out more light per watt than a more standard tungsten lamp, but the diffusers and filters eat up a lot of that extra light. In the end though, we're talking about something that's not in continuous use, and for the few seconds that it's on, it really doesn't matter.
    Frank Schifano

  7. #7
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    A year ago someone was setting up a point source enlarger to experiment with. Now that will probably give a different look than the others, but my opinion is that it is probably only suited for technical/industrial work. I have not seen any follow up posts on his progress or results.

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    I thought at one time both Omega and Besseler made a special point light source for there enlargers,I think it was adjustable,to focus more on neg size or lens focal length.

  9. #9

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    Another enlarger head type that is sometimes mentioned is the cold light source, however, I'm unsure how many people actually use these as they seem to have been in fashion at various times but my hunch is that colour heads dominate today.

    Tom

  10. #10
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    I use a color head which is a diffusion head to print B&W and it works great. I wouldn't waste the money in buying another head. Cold light heads are fine, but they might not be compatible with MG filters since the light is slightly bluish with some heads.

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