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Thread: Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

  1. #1
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    After a break of 4 years, I am reanimating my darkroom in a new location in Ireland. I do 4x5, mostly landscape. Due to circumstances, I will resume printing on VC papers (so far I used to use graded and an old cathomag head, now broken).

    If you were to make a choice between an Ilford MG 500 or an Aristo VCL4500 heads, which one would you prefer? I'm interested in any major advantages/disadvatanges of either. Emotional preferences?

    Enlarger is DeVere 504. I have a Zone VI timer with the light-probe gizmo.

    (I posted this question on APUG yesterday, please accept my apologies if you saw it there)
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  2. #2

    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    Well, I'd look at this before I bought either of those others.

    Huw's website

    scroll to and click on: "5x4 diffuser Lead Head"

    I have a LED head that Huw made for my Focomat - it is absolutely wonderful. Continously variable contrast with constant exposure. If you are lucky Huw will make you one - he's already made one for his DeVere 504.

    Its at least equal to my Saunders LPL 4500 VCCE, perhaps better. There is no heat build-up (which will really matter with LF negatives) and the lamps should last practically forever.

  3. #3
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    Intriguing! How many LEDs are there in the head? Is the illumination quite even or point-source-like?
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  4. #4

    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    Mine is wonderfully diffused light that is routed through the stock Focomat condensor. I have not seen Huw's as he lives on the other side of the Atlantic ocean from me. The LEDs are mounted on a plate with a diffuser between them and the negative. Blue and green LEDs arrayed over a large flat plate in a light mixing box. Mine has a dial in a control box that adjusts the relative intensity of the blue and green lights while keeping exposure the same.

    Huw is an absolute genius. He's building his very own full frame digital Leica M2 now. Yes really - you read that right, he's building a digital camera. Full frame B&W only, no on-board processing just stores raw capture to a memory card.

  5. #5

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    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    The VCL 4500 is silent and you can do split filtering exposures with it. (expose extra with the bue filter only for
    extra deep blacks or increase the densities in the sky with green only). But if you want to make many identical prints
    with it in one run you have to have a compensating timer (Metrolux or Zone VI), the Ilford is rather noisy but has got
    a nice timer and an exposure probe that can speed up the work and halogen light that does not requier compensating timer for print "prodution".

  6. #6
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    I've used both. I prefer the VCL4500. If I had the money I'd get their 8x10 version.
    I 'm not sure what Gudmundur is talking about. I run print productions without a compensating timer. The head has a thermostat keeping the head at a constant temperature. I've never had any problems with exposure from print to print. Last Spring I made 50 prints. They were identical. The only thing I don't like about it is the round diffusion portal just barely covers the 4x5 negative. You have to have it really close to the negative otherwise you'll end up with serious print falloff at the corners. I which they made the portal rectangular.
    As far as LEDs go it's a really nice concept. I had the IT design guy at my school build one with me and test it. The most contrast I could get was about grade 4.5 on Ilford MG IV and Forte Polygrade V. I wanted an LED head for my 8x10 negatives but ended up being very disappointed.

  7. #7

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    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    I haven't used the Ilford so I can't compare them but I did use the VCL4500 for many years and was always very pleased with it.I could easily print with contrasts ranging from the equivalent of .5 to 4.9. I also periodically called Aristo with questions when I first got the VCL4500 and the person with whom I spoke was always courteous and helpful. My only problem was with the initial set-up, which involved drilling a hole through the metal side so that the sensors from my Metrolux timer could be attached to the two glass tubes. Since the tubes are right next to the interior of the metal side, and since it required some degree of force to get the bit through the metal, I had visions of the bit poppping through the metal and breaking the tubes, thereby ruining my new $1,000 head. But that didn't happen and I was able to get the hole drilled without shattering the tubes (and I don't think that hole has to be drilled unless you use a compensating timer such as the Metrolux that I used).

    I don't know what's involved in fitting one to a DeVere, it can be used out of the box with Beseler 4x5 enlargers and with many Omegas using an adapter that Aristo sells. I assume it's possible to fit one to a DeVere but if you're not sure I'd check before buying one.
    Brian Ellis
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  8. #8
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    Seriously, you don't need to use a compensating timer.

  9. #9

    Ilford MG 500 or Aristo VCL4500?

    Andrew wrote:

    "As far as LEDs go it's a really nice concept. I had the IT design guy at my school build one with me and test it. The most contrast I could get was about grade 4.5 on Ilford MG IV and Forte Polygrade V. I wanted an LED head for my 8x10 negatives but ended up being very disappointed."

    Huh?
    What blue LEDs did you use?
    I must be missing something - can you expand your statement for me? Since I'm planning on building an 8x10 enlarger I'd like to know what it is I might be missing. What do you do with grades higher than 4.5 anyway?

    (Rafal - pardon me for detouring your thread)

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