Aristo Cold Light Head D-2
Can anyone tell if this is a V54 model light head, if this needs compensation filters (along with contrast filters) for b&w printing? I can't identify the model of this unit. It's old, but I don't know how old, maybe 15 years... I have the original box, but it has no info. on it or in it, and the head itself has only a sticker that says Aristo, and D-2 on it (with Aristo address etc.). Any help much appreciated. Thank you, s.
Aristo as such don't exist any more but the company that has taken over their business still makes new replacement tubes. Have a look at their web site for an archive of old Aristo products and info about their range of tubes.
My understanding (not based on experience) is that the old tubes were not so good for VC filter use but I have seen disagreement on this point.
V54 was designed for VC paper and puts out a balanced spectrum .
Filters of any kind only pass light of their own color. They do not create light or change the color of light. The original Aristo tubes were deficient in green used for low contrast vc. Some people used yellow to attenuate the high blue output making the small amount of existing green not be overpowered by the blue thus making them somewhat suitable for VC printing..
Single grade paper is exposed by blue light only and green had no effect on it. The original Aristo worked well for its intended purpose.
In short you need yellow/magenta set or a green/blue set such as Roscoe Gells Roscoe works equally well at 1/10 the cost. . Yellow/Magents sets will equalize exposure of middle grey if you change grades. Since most people first establish a highlight or black and change grades to get the proper contrast, constant exposure does not work. It only works if you work from middle grey.
Last edited by Ronald Moravec; 08-03-2011 at 05:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Welcome to APUG (or at least to APUG posting)...
The V54 fluorescent tubes are a combination of blue and green. Unfiltered the combined color appears as a strong aquamarine. I believe the tube that predates the V54 was a W45.
The W45 was also blue-green, but not as sharp cutting. If I recall correctly, mine was visually a more bluish in color rather than aquamarine. It was intended primarily for graded papers where only the blue was required.
I think the earlier general recommendation for W45s was to add some external yellow (minus blue) filtration in addition to the normal contrast filters to make it sort of work correctly with VC.
John has already given you the archive page for the Aristo product line. The overall Aristo-specific home page for the company (LCD Lighting, Inc.) that still manufactures repacement Aristo tubes is:
Also, here's a spectral distribution chart that compares the various Aristo fluorescent tubes side-by-side:
If you have any technical or sales questions regarding Aristo products, don't hesitate for a moment to contact Louise Kessler at:
You won't find a nicer or more knowledgable source for all things Aristo than her.
Last edited by Ken Nadvornick; 08-03-2011 at 06:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"When making a portrait, my approach is quite the same as when I am portraying a rock. I do not wish to impose my personality upon the sitter, but, keeping myself open to receive reactions from his own special ego, record this with nothing added: except of course when I am working professionally, when money enters in,—then for a price, I become a liar..."
— Edward Weston, Daybooks, Vol. II, February 2, 1932
Plug it in and turn it on. If it is a V54 lamp, it will be cyanish in color, if normal florescent color, it's the older pre-V54 lamp. It would work only on graded paper.
I used to have one, and when I switched to VC paper, I bought the V54. I never tried the yellow filter thing that Ronald describes, but I've heard that to introduce enough yellow to overcome the blue, you lose considerable exposure intensity.
Voltarc Tech, the new company, is in production to bring some of these back. Look for a thread on this - search for V54, Aristo, etc.
This woman works for them and can help you:
Well, so Ken jumped in while I was typing. He is one of us leading the charge to get these lamps back into production.
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Aristo Cold Light Head Info.
Hello, and thank you to everyone for all this information. When I plugged the head in, the light seemed to be a sharp/acid-y green. I don't have a darkroom at the moment to run a test print, but wanted to get everything in place (whatever filters I might need) and all, so that I can use light head. Louise mentioned counting the coils of the bulb -- there are 9 by my count --which she said indicates a high intensity bulb. There is no low/high switch. I'm getting closer but still am not sure what I've got here, sounds like a V54...
I have 2 cold light heads with the old W45, both have 9 coils so that is no indication. I wished they labeled em.
Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.
From your description, you have the V54. I had the high intensity lamp for many years (can't remember the model, but I think it was W45-HI, or similar), and it was a bright bluish florescent color, but not green at all. The normal intensity bulb from that period (Maybe the W45) was a bit warmer as I recall.
Anyways. . . as Fred Picker used to say, "try it, try it, try it". Get a small pack of VC paper and some filters. If it is a V54 lamp the filters (try going straight from 00 to 5) will work, if not, all the prints will be higher contrast.
In fact, I have some extra basic Roscoe Blue and Green gells (Ronald mentions them above) I can send you a piece of. I bought 16x20 or so sheets, and I need only 6" squares. You use them in a split filter scheme - a percentage of the exposure with one, the rest with the other. (Search for "split filter printing" on this forum and you'll find a ton of info). By altering the ratio, you can control the contrast grade. Many folks print this way exclusively.
PM me if you would like me to send you a piece of each color - a cheap way to find out about the light and how it works. If it is the V54, you can continue with those filters, or buy the whole set.