Metrolux Timer? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I have an Omega D5 with an Aristo VCL 4500 head. I use an electronic Gralab timer which is ok but I understand that a Metrolux timer that reads the temperature of the cold lite head and makes adjustments accordingly will provide more consistent results. Does anyone have experience with the Metrolux or similar timers. Your input would be appreciated.


-- Robert Bedwell (, February 08, 2001


It does work very well and it adds some consistancy to my printing, the only difficulty is mounting the sensor. I had to drill an ugly hole in my nice new coldlight head and it took a few different trys to get the sensor in the right place but overall it works very well.

-- bill zelinski (, February 08, 2001.

I've been using that setup on an D2 chasis for the past few years, and it does a great job. As far as I know, the Zone VI timer might be the only similar product available right now. But I don't think it has a display, or some of the other functions that this timer will do. Like the shutter speed tester, or if you get the probe, you can do some projection sensitometry or use it like you would an enlarging meter. This works good, but sometimes it gets a little buggy, and I have to unplug the whole thing, like "rebooting" it almost. Yeah, you do have to drill a hole in the top of the head too. Placing the sensor is real tricky if you have the VCL unit with the 2 tubes. It took me a while to get it right, although I still think it's a bit off for some of the settings. If you get one, the best piece of advice I can pass along would be to get a back issue of View Camera magazine, actually there's a couple of them, where they go into detail about the placement of the sensor. Even rigging up two sensors, one for each tube.(the timer has 2 channels). That said, it's the best system I've ever used. Good luck.

-- DK Thompson (, February 08, 2001.

Does this thing really servo off the temperature?
I'd have thought the obvious thing to do would be to sense the actual light output of the tube, or is that just too easy?

-- Pete Andrews (, February 09, 2001.

No, I think it actually does measure the light output of the tube. The sensor is a real small photo eye type thing (I'm really technical here..) that you have to strap to the tube. With just one tube, that's pretty easy. But trying to get the position right for a 2 tube system is tough. This timer, unlike the ZoneVI, can be used with any light source. Coldlight, condenser, even the sun (printing frame). You know, a cloud passes overhead, it compensates for that. I should note that I never had any problems using a Gralab with the VCL. Where I work we use an old Aristo D2 with a high intensity tube, and a Gralab (with a contactor), and don't have any fluctuations either. I'm not just talking about making one print either. I've done some pretty large print runs and haven't noticed any changes. But, I'm not using a reflection densitometer, so who knows? The VCL can be used with any timer, but if you use an older head with a digital timer, sometimes you can fry them out if you don't use a contactor. A guy at Metrolux told me to use a surge suppressor anyways with the VCL unit, just in case. It's a cool timer, though.

-- DK Thompson (, February 09, 2001.

Hey, one more thing! When you use the timer, you're not really using seconds anymore. It's a little more "fluid" than that as it's tryng to compensate for any changes in the light source. It will always deliver a repeatable result though (in theory). You'll get the hang of it after a while, though.

-- DK Thompson (, February 09, 2001.

DK, Why do you say that the Zone VI can not be used with any light source? I have seen used with about every light source. Mine was used on my coldlight back when that was the thing to do and now I use it on my dichroic head. Never a problem. I like its ease of use. When I have used Metrolux timers in the past, I felt that I needed the manual out just to make a basic exposure. I am sure that it is easy enough to learn but the Zone VI works like any regular timer.

-- Jeff White (, February 09, 2001.

Jeff, You're right. Sorry for that misinformation there, my only experience with the Zone VI timer comes from when I was ordering these things from Calumet a long time ago. I was under the impression that it was dedicated to the Zone VI head, and had an Aristo sensor as an accessory. But, I just dug out an old catalog and see that I'm completely off base here, so sorry you all... Yeah, the Metrolux is a complicated little beast. I really thought I'd use the probe more, but it's just real finicky. I keep a dogeared copy of the manual hanging on the wall next to the timer. If you just use it in it's simplest form, it's pretty easy. But start to explore the other functions, and you have to get that manual out for a refresher. I don't think it's an absolute necessity for a cold light though. I like it for split filtered printing, but then a good 2 channel timer, maybe a Kearsage or Gralab would do this too. Sorry again for the confusion, I'll try to do my homework better next time.

-- DK Thompson (, February 09, 2001.

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