PKM, there is a guy that I have seen post on LFF that makes an LED variable contrast head. I believe he just started making them. If you are really tied to that enlarger maybe it would be a good solution for you. Frankly in the long term your best bet would be to get a Saunders/Omega/LPL VCCE enlarger. If you aren't going to print color, they are just sooooo nice to use. The only other enlargers (for 4x5) I think I would consider would be the Durst 1200 or maybe a Kienzle, but they are really expensive. Durst's can still be had cheap(ish). Using filters below the lens is also a good plan and better than using a color head. VC filters are speed matched (at least Ilford's are) so until you get to grade 4 the exposure remains the same. I think 4 through 5 are one stop slower. It could be grade 3 though. My memory is foggy on that.
To answer the question "why" use a VCCE head, the answer is in the name itself. "Variable Contrast, Constant Exposure." The head provides constant exposure values throughout the range of a paper. This is very handy while printing. A color head will land you all over the place exposure wise. When I used a color head I would always split print. One exposure through max magenta and one exposure through max yellow. That simplified things, but it was a little slow turning two knobs all the time, especially for small proof prints when one exposure would be much better and faster.
Edit- PKM I forgot to add that your Omega film holders will fit straight into the Saunders, although I have an Omega glass holder that is too thick/screws stick out too far.
Last edited by Patrick Robert James; 12-22-2012 at 04:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.