View Full Version : Variable contrast head

Richard Schlesinger
15-Feb-2005, 15:25
I am contemplating purchase of a VC head for my Beseler MC enlarger. Steve Anchell describes several; Beseler dichroic color, Beseler Universal 45S and the Aristo 4500 VC head. I have read here that the Aristo is very good, but one must focus with blue or green light, and that this can be difficult. Also heating and/or cooling may require a Metrolux compensating timer (expensive and tricky to install) Unfortunately Calumet says their new LED head is not available, they don't know when it will be and anyway they have no plans for a model to fit the Beseler. I used a VC head on a Beseler 23, and it seemed ok, also a color head on a small Saunders, and that seemed to work ok. This is a relatively expensive item, and I wonder about the Aristo focusing etc.

I would very much appreciate opinions, ideas etc. Unfortunately it does not seem possible to 'try before I buy'.

ronald moravec
15-Feb-2005, 15:57
Talk to the folks ar Aristo to see if they can address your concerns. They are helpful.

In the event you are not satisfied, I would use a Chromega 4x5 as you can adjust magenta/ yellow to get the contrast you need. The head is very bright and I require supplimental density to make snall prints from 4x5 at reasonable stops .

Last choice is the VC Saunders that can`t even be alligned. A Chromega can be alligned fully in both lens and neg stages. I have written here on how to accomplish this.

Gem Singer
15-Feb-2005, 16:11
Hi Richard,

I don't see the Zone VI VC head, with the adapter for Beseler enlargers, listed on the Calumet website, anymore. They had them in stock a few weeks ago. Perhaps Calumet still has one in stock at one of their stores. They might even have a previously owned one hanging around somewhere. Or, you may be able to find one on Ebay.

The Zone VI is a two-tube cold light, similar to the Aristo. However, un-like the Aristo, it allows for white light focusing has a built-in stabilizer. It can be used with almost any standard timer. I have the Omega D version of the Zone VI VC lamphouse. It has given me many years of reliable service. I use mine with a Beseler audible/repeating timer and a foot pedal. I can highly recommend that combination of lamphouse and timer.

Brian Ellis
15-Feb-2005, 17:48
I have the Aristo 4500 VCL head with the Metrolux timer and used them for about ten years until switching to digital printing. I don't understand the comment about focusing with green or blue light. The light ranges from totally green to totally blue with about 50 gradations in between. You can focus with whatever combination you like. I usually set it at 2.0 as my beginning point for normal negatives m which is a blend of green and blue, and focused with that. It was quite simple to do and I never had any focusing problems. I never thought about the lack of a white light until reading the above message about the Zone VI head having such a light, I never found it necessary to use a white light with the Aristo.

I also don't understand the heat/cooling comment though maybe I've forgotten something about the head and timer., it's been a long time since I installed them. I do vaguely recall setting some kind of heat or cooling adjustment when I first installed the head and timer but once it was set the first time it didn't need to be touched again.

I do concur that installing the Metrolux timer is tricky - you have to put the head in a vise and drill a hole through the metal so that the Metrolux sensors can be attached to the glass tubes in the head. The tubes are right behind the area where you drill and it's easy to envision the drill bursting through the metal and breaking the light. I was very nervous while doing it , having just paid $1000 for the head, but it ended up fine and I'm no handyman by a long shot.

Keith Pitman
15-Feb-2005, 20:26
I have used two Zone VI VC heads. I'm still using the one on the Zone VI enlarger. They work very well, but both are very slow printers. Exposure times are quite long compared to other equipment I've used.

The best I've used is the LPL 4500. They're fast and its very easy to dial in precise contract in a manner similar to paper grades.

Either system, and probably others, are much better than using VC filters.

15-Feb-2005, 20:43

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