Quote Originally Posted by noseoil
Second, it sounds as if you are comparing the prints from a variable head with mixing chamber to a condensor enlarger, as the different results found between films developed with PMK and ABC. The diffusion head is a softer image, while the condensor gives the true clarity and sharpness which is inherent in a good negative with high acutance.
Yes, that would be a good comparison. What I have found is that local contrast is evident on a print in which the light bundle is sharply collimated as in a condensor enlarger; that furthermore a diffusion light source compromises this local contrast because the light is scattered as it enters the negative interface. That when one fails to realize this local contrast and sharpness that it can not be captured at a latter step or even in increasing contrast (for instance) with a diffusion light source. This is evident to me today because diffusion light sources do not exhibit the need for print spotting to the degree that condensor sources do. I believe this is due to the diffusion light source light scatter "washing" the spots in the diffusion light source. This "washing" comes at a price...that price is reduced sharpness and local contrast. Of course the sharpest condensor light source would be the point light source.