I've been making more prints lately trying to get better contrast -- i.e. the darkest blacks possible without bringing down the highlights. I'm not interested in dodging and burning at this point. The literature suggests that a grade 2 or 3 filter will cover most printing needs, but my results with these always seem to be flat. As such, I find myself using the grade 5 filter more often than not. I thought grade 5 was for slightly more advanced techniques -- like spilt-grade printing -- and not really to be used by itself. Even so, I'm not completely satisfied with my grade 5 prints.

So I've done some more reading and came across some threads and this link about calibrating your enlarger's color head for variable contrast printing:

It sounds promising -- I expose for the highlights, and then make adjustments to increase the contrast (blacks) while holding the highlights constant (casually speaking). I have an Omega C760 with dichroic head, but I don't have a light meter or step wedge transparency to run the tests. Before I go down this path and buy "more stuff," I'm wondering if anyone can speak to this process. Does it live up to its promise? Is it worth the effort? I understand the concept and I like the idea, but I want to hear that it holds up in practice and isn't just another academic exercise.


(I'm using the Ilford multigrade filters with Ilford MGIV RC paper. I'm using the white light setting of my dichroic enlarger and holding the filters under the lens. My paper developer is Ilford PQ 1:9, 60 seconds.)