You don't really need a color head. Nice, yes, essential, not by a long shot. I've never owned a color head and used to print a lot of color. Color printing filters take about 10 seconds to change versus 2 seconds for the knobs on the color head. Not a big difference at all and totally lost in the overall scheme of things. You get finer control with a color head but I have CP filters that go down to 2.5 units, a difference I find barely distinguishable on RA4 (and even less so if you still have some Ilfochrome - the Ilfochrome filters re only in increments of 5.)
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Color head is better, if for no other reason because the diffusion source will show less dust, but a condenser head with a filter drawer (I just lay 6" filters atop the upper condenser on my D2) and a set of filters works fine.
I printed in the same space when I did color, and hope/plan to again. I agree the fumes can be nastier.