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  1. #1

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    Ilford Multigrade 500 system

    We have an Ilford Multigrade 500 Enlarger and Control System with green and blue lamps. Does anyone have information on how to use programs 0 - 9 which are in the switch at the back of the control unit/keypad? I have the operating Manual but it gives no information on how to use these programs.
    On (Multigrade Glossy) I have printed the step wedge with constant F-stop and time, cycling through each of the contrast grades (0 to 5) in each of the 10 programs. Programs 8,9 and 0 are for the 500HLZ head (for 35mm) I believe.
    We are trying to figure out how to determine what program # we should use for our general printing as the enlarger was made prior to the current multigrade papers.
    Thanks. J.Higham

  2. #2
    Ross Chambers's Avatar
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    No idea whatsoever, I note the programmes 0 - 9 which may rely on density readings but mine came without the sensor to read densities of the projected image.

    Does the controller not have grades and exposure times? Mine does.

    I use the Ilford controller sometimes--usually when not printing on Ilford paper (see below) and the RH Designs devoted Analyser Pro 500, which is pre-programmed for Ilford papers.

    The Ilford controller is easier to use for split grade printing too.

    I'm using Foma papers lately, so I'm back to the Ilford controller and test strips.

  3. #3
    George Nova Scotia's Avatar
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    Later manuals have section 4.6 which seems to cover use of this switch. I say seems because I have not tried it yet but might later today.

    Ilford also included a gray reference with a small hole in the middle. They refer to it as a Mid-tone density. It is a little lighter than an 18% gray card.

    You select a negative that has a good area of mid-tone. Set the control unit to grade 5 and make a print where the mid-tone matches. This becomes the reference print. The density of the rest of print is not important just the mid-tone.

    Using the same exposure you then make prints at Grade 0 for each of the 'program' settings 1 to 7. Mark the prints.

    Then compare the area of mid-tone with the reference print made at grade 5. The one that matches is the switch setting to use.

    I believe this is to set the green lamp intensity the same as the blue. The switch setting varies the green light only.

    That info is from the later manuals where the control unit has the raised "expose" bar. An early manual (the one usually found on-line) has a different procedure mentioned in section 3.7. That controller only uses the first 5 settings, again to balance the green and blue lights.

    The desired effect seems to be to get a constant mid-tone for all contrast grades by balancing the blue and green lamps. If the lamps are of equal brightness - brand new setting 1 should be the choose.

    Best of luck

    George

  4. #4
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    Hi Judy,

    All silver emulsions, whether on paper or film, are "biased toward blue", as blue light is the "natural" sensitivity range of silver halide emulsions. Silver halides are silver bromide (AgBr) and silverchloride (AgCl) primarily in the papers (silver iodide - AgI - to a lesser extent). This is probably not entirely surprising, as it is also the more energy rich form of light / fotons. To get any other kind of sensitivity (e.g. the green light), the paper or film is sensitized with dyes, that allow the silver halides crystals to become perceptible to other colors as well.

    The way variable contrast paper works in combination with the lamps, is that the blue light puts down primarily the shadows, whereas the green light primarily controls highlights. This is a gross over-simplification, but may help you to understand. For a more detailed description, you can read the following document:

    CONTRAST CONTROL FOR ILFORD MULTIGRADE VARIABLE CONTRAST PAPERS:
    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/...0201152306.pdf

    Actually, as you see in this document, using green light only reduces overall density for a given exposure (hence low contrast = +/- "highlights") since the emulsions with little to no green sensitizing dye, do not or only minimally respond to the exposure. It requires a bigger / longer exposure to get to the same maximum density.

    I agree printing a grey scale is useful to find out if there are any problems with the lamp balance, but most likely, if the lamps are good, position 1 is the right choice (balanced). However, checking it is not a bad thing, and you may wish to use another setting if the grey scale results turn out better with your paper and current state of lamps and dichroic color filters (green/blue).

    Marco
    Last edited by Marco B; 07-12-2011 at 02:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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    "I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White." - David Burnett in 1978

    "Analog is chemistry + physics, digital is physics + math, which ones did you like most?"

  5. #5

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    Ilford Multigrade 500 system

    hello Ross, George and Marco
    Ross, our 500 head does have grades and exposure times, we also have the probe, but we still need to develop the skill to use it. We're going to try it again.
    I would like to use this enlarger for some time before thinking I might need another piece of expensive equipment to be susccessful with it....so I'm not considering RH Designs at the moment.
    George and Marco thanks so much for the advice to determine which program to start with.
    We started out with the grey scale, the densitometer numbers jumped around so much, so we knew we probably had a problem with the light source. One of the bulbs was about 1/8" out of its socket. Thanks for that tip, Marco.

    We used George's instructions with the grey scale. We didn't have the Ilford grey reference which George refers to, so we just used the density of the grey card (.75 I think) as our mid-tone reference reading, we projected the matching wedge of our grey scale neg and printed Program 4, grade 5, at F16, 71/2 seconds, 8 seconds, etc right up to 10 1/2 secs (7 exposures on one strip) and then measured the print densities = not high enough (.58 was too low) for the mid-tone reference. We tested again, Program 4, grade 5 at half seconds from 10 seconds to 12 1/2 secs. Nothing showed in the 70's for mid-tone, but low 80's was 10 secs. We decided to test all programs F16 10secs at grade 0. Program 1 had the closest to mid-tone. Then we tested Program 1 (with the same mid-tone wedge on our grey scale) F16 10secs at each grade and half grade. All densities were in the 70's so we figured this was good enough. Program 1 is our choice.
    Printed our "shirley" (our own B/W reference negative -- included a person for skin tones; The colour Macbeth chart including the black, white, and 4 neutral shades of gray from the Macbeth, as well as black velvet and flare from a CD [for extremes]) -- in program 1, all grades. It was really interesting to see how each grade affected the reference image. Voila! Our controller had been set to grade 8 (which made really grey images, no contrast), and we didn't know how to test. So, a big Thanks to all of you.

    George, you mentioned "Later manuals have section 4.6 which seems to cover use of this switch." Our manual must be an older one and does not have this section. Is it possible you could send me this info?

    I was talking to someone else here on the west coast (Canada) who suggested the programs might have been for different types of Ilford paper (although this person was not familiar with the Ilford 500 enlarger). Has anyone tried this or do you have any idea what the programs are for?

    I've read the .pdf that Marco attached, contrast control for Ilford vc papers and I noticed some info on other papers (from the last time I searched in 2009) posted in 2010.

    ....so I'm back in darkroom, looking forward to using this enlarger! Judy

  6. #6
    Marco B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluejeh View Post
    hello Ross, George and Marco
    Ross, our 500 head does have grades and exposure times, we also have the probe, but we still need to develop the skill to use it. We're going to try it again.
    I would like to use this enlarger for some time before thinking I might need another piece of expensive equipment to be susccessful with it....so I'm not considering RH Designs at the moment.
    There is no reason to disregard the Ilford 500C or CPM controllers at all. I have had great success printing loads of different and difficult negatives with them. The only reason I recently bought an RH Design controller, is that my 500C controller started malfunctioning again for the third time, after earlier attempts to repair it. It was time to get something new...

    Quote Originally Posted by bluejeh View Post
    Program 1 had the closest to mid-tone. Then we tested Program 1 (with the same mid-tone wedge on our grey scale) F16 10secs at each grade and half grade. All densities were in the 70's so we figured this was good enough. Program 1 is our choice.
    Program 1 is balanced lamps, so it seems your lamps are in good, or at least equally used/balanced, state.

    Quote Originally Posted by bluejeh View Post
    Our controller had been set to grade 8 (which made really grey images, no contrast), and we didn't know how to test. So, a big Thanks to all of you.
    You probably meant to write the controller originally came set at program 8, which is an incorrect setting for lamps in good balanced state, as it outputs 40% more green light according to the Ilford manuals. This also explains why your initial results were highly disappointingly grey, as the green light is primarily used for soft grade settings.

    Quote Originally Posted by bluejeh View Post
    George, you mentioned "Later manuals have section 4.6 which seems to cover use of this switch." Our manual must be an older one and does not have this section. Is it possible you could send me this info?
    It is probably section 3.7 "Program switch", page 13+14 in your PDF manual. At least, that is what it is in my manual. I have a copy here:

    http://www.boeringa.demon.nl/techniq...ing_manual.pdf

    Quote Originally Posted by bluejeh View Post
    I was talking to someone else here on the west coast (Canada) who suggested the programs might have been for different types of Ilford paper (although this person was not familiar with the Ilford 500 enlarger). Has anyone tried this or do you have any idea what the programs are for?
    I don't think this statement is correct. The Ilford manual clearly states the program settings are for balancing the lamps, not adjustment to different paper types. Also, Ilford clearly states the head was originally only designed for the long depricated Ilford Multigrade II VC paper (which doesn't mean you can't use it with other papers! I have successfully used it on Agfa MCC, Ilford MGIV (incl. Warmtone), different Kentmere papers, Rollei Black Magic VC liquid emulsion).

    The program settings are not paper channels like in the RH Design controllers.

    A major difference is that the Ilford program settings just add a certain percentage (10,20,30 or 40%) of extra green light output in Watts for all contrast grade settings, whereas the RH Design controller adjusts the green/blue light balance for each contrast grade setting individually to adjust to a paper type's characteristics as stored in a "paper channel" memory.

    This is a fundamental difference, and means the RH Design controller makes it easier to get a well balanced print with good contrast since it adjusts to paper type through selection of paper channel, whereas with the Ilford controller, you will need to do more testing with test strips, as it essentially only "knows" one paper type (Ilford Multigrade II). End result will be the same though! and good, if you are capable to judge your test strips. I don't know what the Iford 500CPM controller does with it's "Memory" option on the controller. I didn't have that on my 500C controller. The 500CPM controller is a later version that came with the more modern versions of the head. Unfortunately, I have never seen a manual for this newer 500CPM controller and an explanation of it's memory function. The official Ilford Photo website only has the manual for the older system with the 500C controller.
    Last edited by Marco B; 07-18-2011 at 03:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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    "The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true." - William M. Ivins Jr.

    "I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White." - David Burnett in 1978

    "Analog is chemistry + physics, digital is physics + math, which ones did you like most?"

  7. #7
    George Nova Scotia's Avatar
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    A couple quick responses. Judy the Ilford test card is closer to .6 density, but you've got the idea. I tried mine out and ended up on setting 1. Marco the memory function just stores time/grade settings, the CPM controller also has a counter for the number of prints.

    I have a nice hard copy that came with the last system I picked. I plan to scan it so if you PM an email address you never know what could show up in the few days

  8. #8
    Marco B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Nova Scotia View Post
    Marco the memory function just stores time/grade settings, the CPM controller also has a counter for the number of prints.
    I already suspected this. So, other than adding a little bit of convenience by a stored default setting, it certainly isn't comparable to the RH Designs Analyser 500's "paper channels", that effectively store information about the entire calibration characteristics of different paper sorts.

    Quote Originally Posted by George Nova Scotia View Post
    I have a nice hard copy that came with the last system I picked. I plan to scan it so if you PM an email address you never know what could show up in the few days
    Maybe you could better send this to Ilford Photo itself.

    Seriously, I am not joking here! I contacted Simon Galley of Ilford Photo last year directly via e-mail concerning lacking PDFs of the circuit diagrams of the older type 500C controller and accompanying 500S power supply.

    The "MG 500 Exposure System Service Manual" they have available on the Equipment Manual page of the Ilford Photo website is for the newer 500CPM controller and updated 500S power supply. Ironically, the "MG500 Operating Manual" available from the same page, is for my older unit with the 500C controller instead. This means the Operating Manual and Service Manual don't match, and there are missing manuals.

    When I contacted Simon Galley, he regretted not being able to help me out, since they didn't have the other manuals available. He also told me, if anything showed up in the future, they would add it to their website.

    If you have the MG500 Operating Manual for the 500CPM controller, and can scan it, I am almost certain Simon Galley would be willing to place it on their website. This would be of help to others searching for these missing manuals.

    ************************************************** **
    In addition, now we are on it, if any APUG member has the full MG Exposure System Service Manual for the older type 500 systems with the 500C controller and the older version of the 500S power supply, please consider scanning it entirely and sending it to Ilford Photo to allow them to add it to their website!
    ************************************************** **

    It is a real shame these crucial manuals, that can help with repairs to these excellent systems, aren't available...

    Again, Ilford Photo's equipment manual webpage, where all the PDFs they have, are available, is here:

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/page.asp?n=161

    And this is Simon Galley's profile page here on APUG, where you could PM him, or find his e-mail adress:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/members/simon-r-galley/

    Marco
    Last edited by Marco B; 07-19-2011 at 02:48 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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    "The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true." - William M. Ivins Jr.

    "I don't know, maybe we should disinvent color, and we could just shoot Black & White." - David Burnett in 1978

    "Analog is chemistry + physics, digital is physics + math, which ones did you like most?"

  9. #9
    George Nova Scotia's Avatar
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    Great Marco, I will contact Simon when I get them scanned. Might take a couple days, at least I hope - scanner was acting up yesterday, worse case I'll have to get a new scanner.

    This last manual is an original Ilford and even came with the posters and gray card. You have to love government surplus! I also have the installation manual for a Focomat IIC, I wonder how much interest there would be in it.

    George

  10. #10

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    i would buy the RH designs unit it the best thing i ever did for my 500 set up it is right on and a real step up from the 500 c
    mitch
    mitch brown

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