my black and white photos of the Mendocino Coast: www.jonshiu.com
Well the one eBay listing has expired and the seller doesn't show any other auctions. Are these still available?
I too would prefer one the functioned as a diffusion head without the condensers, but I'd probably buy one of these as-is. I have an Omega so not looking for a Bessler model.
I tried a 150w bulb and found it too bright for my usual printing so I went back to the 75W. Some of y'all must be making some seriously dense negatives or you like very short printing times. No matter - I can always add some neutral density to the filter drawer and it could be nice to have the extra speed when needed, making large prints from dense negatives or such.
This looks like a really great product.
Well I did buy one of his early units. Here's a duplicate of what I just posted about it on APUG:
I have had a chance to do a fair amount of printing with my LED lamphouse now. The results have been great. I can tell no difference in evenness or contrast between the LED lamphouse and the incandescent one. Printing speed is just about squarely in between that of using a 75W #211 bulb in the incandescent and using a 150W #212. In other words, it's faster than the 75W, but slower than the 150W. It's fine for the vast majority of my negatives.
I have not tried the extreme ends of the contrast filtration scales yet. I was going to do that, but Cemil graciously offered some free upgrades of my head (which is one of the first prototype units) to his current standard, and I just shipped it back to him today. I haven't had a chance to print in a while as I've been quite busy (and probably won't again until April. Should have a lot more time after that, though.)
But the last time I printed I did finally get around to making some test prints with no negatives to compare evenness.
These are prints with no negative in the carrier, using a 6x9 cm carrier, 100mm Componon-S enlarging lens, on my Omega D2/II-V (it's a D2 chassis on which someone has mounted the variable condenser head.) I used the grade 2.5 MG filter from a brand new set of filters. I use the 6"x6" above the lens filters and just lay them atop the lower condenser, which works fine. The lens was stopped down all the way to give a somewhat manageable albeit still short exposure time, which probably explains the in-focus splotches and dust that were apparently on the bottom of the upper condenser and which I immediately cleaned off, but also had not noticed on any of my prints, as I don't normally expose negatives at f/32.
The densities are obviously not exactly matched, but I didn't care to spend more paper getting them closer. You can match in PS if you want and still compare evenness.
These show why I can tell no difference between prints made with the two lamphouses. Some edge fall off is normal but on both I see a bit more than I thought it was. I normally edge burn all my final prints by about 15% of the base exposure time. I may extend that a bit, and maybe burn a little farther in from the edges than I have been particularly on the long axis, though I've not noticed any problems or unevenness in my prints. This sort of test will show tiny variations.
Standard incandescent lamphouse:
I'm quite pleased with the unit. It's nice to leave the light on as long as you like for focusing and cropping without worrying about negative popping or lamp life and to make exposures as long as you like with the same lack of concerns. It's also nice to use it for checking the negative carefully and repeatedly for dust without concern for lamp life.
Mine being a very early unit, it has a two prong plug and cord. Cemil is graciously replacing the cord for me with a three prong grounded cord and plug. This will be better, though I was not concerned with it personally as the way my darkroom is laid out there isn't really any realistic chance of it falling into liquid or the like. It also may improve the one very minor drawback I've found - it generates a fair amount of radio hash and interferes with my FM boom box in the darkroom. Most folks who listen to music while printing may be 100% digital anyway. In my case, I use my iPhone just outside the darkroom or the computer upstairs to stream Pandora or, most often, WWOZ from New Orleans, with the output going into an FM modulator which I pick up on the (all lights taped over) boom box inside. When this unit is on it generates a fair amount of hash, but I can live with that as it is, of course, only when the enlarger is on. The grounded cord may help this. I can't just use the iPhone inside because I can't turn on airplane mode and still stream, and there would be the chance of getting a call or text and a very unwelcome blast of light at the wrong time.
Pros: Very well made unit that looks like it came out of a factory. Actually, strike that - it looks like it came out of a factory perhaps 30-40 years ago when they made stuff more solidly. Works well with very even illumination, or at least comparable to the stock incandescent lamphouse. I suspect what unevenness is present is due to the design of the condensers rather than the light source, since the two are so similar in evenness. I also suspect but have no tests to prove that both the spectrum and the light output of an incandescent bulb vary more over its life than this LED source will, so prints may be more easily repeatable from notes when made much after the initial prints and data. Much less heat generated and power used than the standard lamphouse.
Cons: Hmm, well, it generates some radio static. It probably isn't usable for color per our discussion [on APUG] though I haven't tried it, so if you print color with CP filters you may have to switch back to the standard lamphouse. This takes about 30 seconds if you take your time, 15 if you hurry. Honestly that's all I can think of.
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Most blest is he who lives free and bold
and nurses never a grief,
for the fearful man is dismayed by aught,
and the mean one mourns over giving.
- Hávamál verse 48