View Full Version : Cold light head or Saunders LPL VCCE 4500

4-Sep-2009, 14:18
I haven't used my darkroom for about 15 years but I'm putting it all back together and excited about getting back into B+W printing. I have an Omega D2V that I used to use but a few years back I picked up a Saunders 4500 LPL VCCE at a thrift store. Now I realize it doesn't have the power supply it requires. I'm planning on buying a power supply so I can use that enlarger, but I'm also seeing Zone VI cold light heads for sale that I could put on my D2V. As I get back into printing what would you all recommend, the Saunders, the D2V w/ cold light head, or just keep the D2V as-is?
I've never printed on anything but Omega-style condensor enlargers. I plan on using fiber base variable contrast paper.

thanks for any input

4-Sep-2009, 14:31
I've never used a Saunders but they are supposed to be nice. No provisions for alignment but apparently they keep factory alignment well. Might be a bit more difficult to find negative carriers for the Saunders than Omega.

The Saunders VCCE head is nice because you can change contrast grades with a dial and I believe that the maintain the same exposure times when changing from grade to grade. However, the head probably has a fan which can be relatively loud.

The Zone VI head is the standard, non-variable contrast head, I assume. That has no integrated ability to change paper contrast so you must use filters and therefore would need to adjust exposure time in certain cases. Also the light output varies with temperature and it might not be as consistent as the Saunders. Most of the cold lights have a built in heater to minimize drift in light output. However, the cold light is very quiet and more esthetically pleasing to use.

If I were you, I would set them both up and then take your pick based on experience. I have recently switched over to cold light heads and prefer it so far.

4-Sep-2009, 14:36
Well, I would like to try them both but there's the matter of expense. I've got to buy a power supply for the saunders, or buy the cold light head. I'm leaning toward the saunders, but sometimes people rave on so much about the cold light heads that I start to reconsider. I thought I'd see if folks had strong feelings either way.

thanks for the reply,

4-Sep-2009, 15:10
The VCCE head is a wonderful time saver, and eliminates the problem of old and scratched filters. There is a fan, but it is reasonably quiet. Also, some inconsequential light leaks.

4-Sep-2009, 15:20
Personally, I'd try to get the VCCE up and running. If you can't get it going, then a cold light with Ilford MG filters is a nice 'non-computer controlled' backup plan. Results and ease of use will be nearly the same with each setup.

Henry Ambrose
4-Sep-2009, 16:17
I never got on with cold light heads.

I love my VCCE.

J D Clark
4-Sep-2009, 16:59
If I weren't using variable contrast paper, I might still be using a cold light head on my Beseler MXT. However, I am using VC paper, and the Saunders with the VCCE is a really fine instrument.

Other threads probably exist that describe the difficulties with some cold light heads and VC papers.

John Clark

5-Sep-2009, 07:29
There were several different makers of power supplies for the Saunders 4500 series as I discovered when mine was damaged. Make sure you get the right one as they are not interchangable. Greg or Bob at Omega Satter should know which one fits, but will need some info from the enlarger to match it up. I lucked into one on Ebay for very little.

David Karp
5-Sep-2009, 08:39
I have a 4500 II with the VCCE head. It is a very nice, well made enlarger. You may still have to align it a bit. I use strips of 120 film or aluminum foil wedged under the column base, a trick I learned at a John Sexton workshop. I use a Versalab Parallel, which works very well.

5-Sep-2009, 14:52
Thanks for all the good info. I did read somewhere about the different power supplies. Is it just a matter of different size pins (round or flat) or is it a different power supply for a different lamp? If the lamp has remained the same then the plug could be adapted, no? Of course I'd like to get the right one, but the prices are all over the place. Maybe I have a bit of research to do. Thanks for that good point.


5-Sep-2009, 17:45
I feel like hitting myself in the head a/la Homer Simpson and crying "DOH!" I just found the power supply. It was in a box of all sorts of junk and had been sitting there for several years. I don't know how I did that.
Thanks everyone for the good info, time to get printing.