Aristo V54 tube w/ Polymax or VC papers : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Aristo's V54 tube is supposed to print VC papers without additional filtration/correction. Does anyone have experience? (Particularly with Polymax FA Fiber base paper and Polymax filters)...

-- David Meriwether (, May 24, 2001


David, I bought the Aristo V54 for my Beseler 45 about a year ago. I did not use any other filtration than the Ilford multigrade printing filers. The Arista V54 worked ok with most of the papers I tried. One thing I did notice was, the light was very contrasty. Most of the filters (2 thru 5) produced contrast of 3+. I didn't have many options for softer grades. I was under the impression that the cold light would print with less contrast but I found it to be a grade harder than my condenser head. I went back to the condenser when I couldn't get more than a 3 1/2 with my favorite paper Oriental VC. But with Kodak Poly Max, Ilford MG, and Arista paper from Freestyle I was getting a wide range of contrast and the top was about 5 1/2. I still have the V54 and will probably try it again in the future. Possibly the box of Oriental VC I tested was a fluke. As most people say, either light prints well if you have the right negative. Hope this helps.

-- Brett M. Thomas (, May 24, 2001.

Aristo says to use a yellow with the contrast filters. I have printed with my cold light for years (without the yellow filter) and usually develop for the cold light. Essentially that means a flat negative. Diafine or another compensating negative developer helps out ALOT. If I need to tweek from there, I use Dr. Beers developer and start off with mostly Bath 1. As I need contrast, I add increments of Bath 2 to punch it up by 1/2 grades. It works for me. Most of the time though, I use Ethol LPD paper developer at 1:2 for a cold tone look and come out great.

-- Scott Walton (, May 24, 2001.

David: After trying without success to add yellow filtration to my Beseler 8X10 head (made by Arista) and Omega B22 (Zone VI but made by Arista, I think) I called Arista. Arista will tell you that the yellow filters won't cut it, even though the Kodak litt. suggests that this can be done. They said yellow filters would help some but go with the V54 tube to get it right. I converted both enlargers by installing the new tubes. The light becomes a weird aquamarine blue. I then tried the Oriental fiber based VC paper with Ilford filters. In my experience, it works great. I like the look of the paper, it tones like gangbusters in Selenium, and the contrast grades do seem to go up and down in 1/2 grade increments as advertised. Prints were developed in Clayton P20 or in Dektol. The grade 2 1/2 filter prints like I would expect a grade 3 paper to print, so arguably it's a little high in contrast. But you have lots of filters below "2" and I've never had a negatice which requires me to press it to the limit. I've never needed a filter higher than 3 1/2 so if the 4+ ones don't work -- well, I haven't had to go there. I tried a box of Polymax, again with the Ilford filters. It also seemed to "work" but I think that combination is a bit more contrasty than the Orietal. But still I have plenty of room to filter up and down where I need to go. Polymax didn't seem to tone as effortlessly with selenium compared with the Oriental paper, but I plan on using it more. The short answer is that the V54 tube seems to work very well. The fellow on the phone at Arista (call them, they're very helpful mentioned some article that tested the head with Ilford filters and confirmed how well it worked. View Camera maybe? I regret only spending the wasted time a paper trying to filter the old light with the yellow. It just doesn't work. A number of people in camera stores told me Ilford filters vs. Kodak was no real difference but I can't say without trying both. I was very pleased to test and find that putting the filters under the lens made no difference that I could detect in the sharpness of the prints.

-- Kevin Crisp (, May 24, 2001.

That would, of course, be Aristo not Arista. That will teach me to stop at Freestyle on the way back to the office.

-- Kevin Crisp (, May 24, 2001.


There might be a chance Aristo put the wrong tube in your head. I would definitely contact them to verify. The V54 is supposed to have blue and green phosphors specifically to allow VC printing using standard VC filters, but without the extra yellow filters suggested for blue tubes. Your experience makes me think this tube only had blue phosphors.

David-- I haven't used this tube, but had a Zone VI VC head. I was very happy with the printing, and would expect the Aristo V54 to do perform as well, but you will require standard VC printing filters below the lens. What I didn't like was the the light was very dim for focussing and composing, since eyes are not as sensitive to blue and green as they are to yellow. This was mostly a problem with 35 & 2-1/4 negatives. 4 x 5 was much better.

-- Charlie Strack (, May 24, 2001.

Thanks to all, esp. K. Crisp. I talked to Aristo yesterday. The V54 tests out with all the results that K. Crisp describes. Aristo recommends replacing old tubes, even Zone VI for improvement of light spectrum (no need to yellow filter) and for even steps. They even said to buy the replacement tube from Calumet rather than directly because it would be cheaper there. Thanks to all.

-- David Meriwether (, May 26, 2001.

Why don't you run a series of stepwedge tests and see how the filters affect the contrast compared to graded papers? You will see as I did that there is no correlation between the numbers. I use an Arista with a v-54 tube and develop to a higher contrast for a diffusion light source. I have never run out of "low contrast numbers".My normal negative prints on #2 1/2 equivalent to graded #3. George

-- George Nedleman (, May 26, 2001.

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