Heiland splitgrade module

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Has some one experience with the Heiland splitgrade module. This is promising piece of electronic to automate the darkroom a bit.


-- Pascal van Heesch (pheesch@europe.cirquedusoleil.com), January 05, 2000


There is a review of this by Erwin Puts (the Leica lens tester) in the latest issue of Camera & Darkroom, the British magazine (not to be confused with the now defunct American magazine of the same name).

-- Mani Sitaraman (bindumani@pacific.net.sg), April 17, 2000.

He promises to make the same information available at http://www.imx.nl/

-- Mani Sitaraman (bindumani@pacific.net.sg), April 17, 2000.

Here's a thread from the parallel Leica thread on LUSENET:

http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch- msg.tcl?msg_id=002MKA

-- Mani Sitaraman (bindumani@pacific.net.sg), April 23, 2000.

That did not work, so here is the text of the thread:

(Moderator- I trust this is not out of line, as all the quoted text below is directly relevant).


Erwin Puts' article in the 8/99 issue of Leica Fotographie on the Heiland Splitgrade system, available for several popular enlargers including the V35, has piqued my interest. I'm looking for any further knowledge and experiences with this system. It looks great actually. The savings in time, paper, and chemistry and the near perfect prints achieved without using test strips sounds too good to be true. I'm emailing the company for more info and will post here any further info I get.

-- Tony Rowlett (rowlett@alaska.net), January 19, 2000 Answers Dave, thanks a lot for responding. This is all very exciting. May I ask a few questions? Have you had to download any software/updates for the unit, and if so, how do you like the interface and was it easy? What paper(s) do you use? Is it all in English?

-- Tony Rowlett (rowlett@alaska.net), February 11, 2000.

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I bought one for use with a V35. It is everything it promised and more. Simply amazing. Very easy to use. The contrast/density combinations it "chooses" are right on the money for general printing. My first prints are much closer to finals than ever before. In fact I have modified only 20% of the first run prints, mostly based on conent considerations. Buy it. Dave Guidry

-- Dave Guidry (T-Nut@home.com), February 10, 2000.

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The Heiland Splitgrade is a fancy enlarger accessory system for printing on variable contrast papers. It is manufactured for probably five or six different enlargers, the Leitz Focomat V35 included. Because I purchased my Splitgrade for my V35, I will use my enlarger as the example here. I don't know how the system differs for other enlargers, except that the operations of the controller and probe will remain the same. The system is a combination of densitometer, computer, and motorized VC module. It comes with a probe which is used to read the various densities of the negative as it is projected onto the easel at the working aperture. A foot switch is included in the package as well.

Everything is plugged into the master timer/controller unit (the computer) - the safe light, the enlarger, the probe, and the footswitch. The motorized VC module, which fits in place of the Leitz Vario-contrast filter module also hooks into the master controller. The filter module has an amazingly quiet motor which operates the placement of the yellow and magenta filters during the exposure.

The instructions are unbelievably simple:

set the enlargement ratio and compose set the working f-stop (sharpest) press the focus button on the controller unit and drag the probe across the projected area to include both the darkest areas that you want slight shadow detail and brightest areas which you want to be just slightly darker than the paper base press the focus button again to turn off the enlarger and finalize calculations place the paper in the easel and punch the "go" button (or footswitch). That's all! You can temporarily interrupt the exposure by pressing the go button. Pressing the same button again will resume the original exposure, and any other button on the controller unit will cancel the exposure altogether. This makes breaking down a single exposure for dodging pretty easy. There are numerous built-in menus and options that allow you to tweak the system, bias contrast or exposure one way or another, or make it compatible with papers that are not stored in its updatable PROM. This makes working with difficult images easy. The book's examples were "Black dog on coal" or (get this) "Egg on white plate."

The system has a burn-in submenu which allows you to key in times and grades for up to four burn-in exposures.

Once ready for an exposure, the unit will display the results of the probe:

"Time: 9.6 seconds Grade: 2.3"

With a few beeps and buzzes, the enlarger goes into action by turning on with the yellow filter in for a few seconds, then off, then on again with the magenta filter, then finally off.

I've learned that success with this system is determined by probing technique. The instructions warn not to probe small, brightly lit objects like lanterns or candles, or small dark (or completely black) areas like the eyes of a polar bear because it may throw off the results. There is an option for advanced use of the probe which allows selective probing, i.e. probing the details and solid white or solid black areas.

The appeal for me is not so much that the system uses "split grade" procedures to produce a print, but the fact that each negative is densitometrically analyzed, which takes practically all the guess work out of printing. I've made a couple hundred prints over the last few weeks and I haven't even been in a hurry. About 80% of the prints are keepers, and all of them were made without test strips. This saves not only paper and chemicals, but time.

-- Tony Rowlett (rowlett@mail.com), March 06, 2000.

-- Mani Sitaraman (bindumani@pacific.net.sg), April 23, 2000.

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