[quote="frank"]So I finally got my LF enlarger, and I have a few friends telling me that I've just got to start printing on FB paper and get a cold light head for it to make really good prints. The trouble is, I can't see any magic in their cold light FB prints that I don't have in my condenser or diffusion head RC prints.
Then you need new friends. You do need to develop your film a little longer for cold lights. Maybe only one stops worth really. The fiber issue is one of longevity really. RC is just not meant to last like the fiber paper. Some will argue but it is a demonstrated phenomena. A great majority of galleries and museums will not accept RC for that very reason. For proofs it is ok. I don't want to start a war here but this is the way I feel about it.
The old heads had a bluer tube in them and when the graded papers ruled the earth that was all you needed. VC paper got better and better and the graded papers started to disappear, the old blue cold light started to need help. Most people I know that had one simply put a 40 y cc filter in the light path and used VC paper. It was better but not great. And the photo gods smiled. Aristo, being a corporation, started to deal with the issue of the graded light and vc paper. First the tube was changed to the V54 light source. This keeps the photographer from having to use the 40 y cc filter which really only slowed the exposure down. You are able to use regular VC filters for VC paper with this light source. Next, they built the VCL4500 head. That is the blue and green light. That brings us to today. That addresses your concerns about cold light heads. One other thing that cold light heads do is hide scratches and dust spots to a degree. That is because of the light that is scattered before it is focused. That all being typed one can claim that if you taylor your negative to the light source you can make an equally excellent print. I have been using cold light heads for many years and I recently used a condenser enlarger and it was a disaster. One last argument is that if you make good contact prints of your negatives, it is virtually impossible to make a print to match the print with a condenser enlarger.
What I want to know is why don't your friends cold light head prints look good or at least have some magic in them?
WEll, that is probably more than you asked for but I tend to be that way.