Zone VI 5x7 Type II VC enlarger foam parts durability : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I looked over a Zone VI 5x7 Type II VC enlarger for the first time at Calumet last week, and was disturbed by crumbly foam that seals the negative carrier to the head, as well as apparent reliance on compression springiness of the same type foam used to maintain lensboard alignment.

Would anyone who's owned one for a while please advise us how the foam holds up? I'm really anxious to find out how often you've had to replace it, as well as what environment (temperature, humidity, smog) your enlarger lives in. The potential of this enlarger to provide extremely even 4x5 illumination - - it's got a 5x7 double-diffuser light source - - and, using the out-straight carrier, to hold negatives flat without glass, is exciting. However, incorporation of such "cheesy" design elements greatly detracts from the overall impression of quality.

Thanks in advance for any informed responses.

-- Sal Santamaura (, August 08, 2001


Sal, I have had a Type one for many years, about 10, and the foam seal still looks like new! I imagine the one you saw is probably a demo at the store being mishandled. Beised zone VI carry a lifetime warranty, so dont worry, if it crumbles then call them and ask them to either send you one, or that you are sending the head for repair.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, August 08, 2001.

I owned a Zone VI-II 5x7 for a few years, but sold it.

I didn't see any deterioration in the foam over those years, but I've seen it happen on many other products with foam. The problem, from what I've heard, is that there is a fungus that attacks the foam and deteriorates it. You should inquire with Calumet to see if they incorporate a fungicide in the foam.

While the Zone VI performed well for 4x5 (and I didn't use the "out- straight" carrier) I had the following complaints.

1. The lens height adjustment lost its grip, especially with high compression of the bellows. Ask Calumet to show you (not explain) how the adjustment is made to tighten this. Unless you're hands are half the size of mine, you won't be able to get at it. You'll be lucky if you can even find someone at Calumet who can tell you how to adjust it. Their tech support on these products stinks.

2. If you follow the wall mount kit instructions provided (at least at the time I bought mine), the turnbuckle rods will form an arc. I tried to explain this to them over the phone to see what I did wrong, and couldn't get a competent response. Again, the Zone VI tech support is less than admirable.

3. For anything negative smaller than 4x5, the enlarger is mediocre. The light is dim, and it's difficult to focus and compose.

Simple math explains part of the problem. The following shows the % of total light output used for each image size.

4x5 = 57% 6x9 = 23% 6x7 = 18% 6x6 = 15% 4.5 x 6 = 11% 35mm = 3%

The other part of the problem is the eye is most sensitive to yellow light, and the enlarger produces virtually no yellow light.

The VC head, however, was easy to used & very consistent.

My current enalrger is a Saunders 4500-II and I like it much better.

-- Charlie Strack (, August 08, 2001.

Sorry, but the lifetime warranty went away with Fred Picker. Calumet no longer provides this, but I believe they honor the warranty for people who bought from Zone VI.


-- Charlie Strack (, August 08, 2001.

I've had the Zone VI Type I enlarger for about five to six years. I bought it used from the original owner, so it's at least a couple of years older than that. I don't see a problem with the foam. It doesn't appear to be fraying or turning to powder like some foams.

-- neil poulsen (, August 09, 2001.

Sal, I almost bought a Zone VI 5x7 Type I enlarger, but wisely called Calumet for the missing negative carriers before I made the purchase. Not only does Calumet have no carriers in stock, they have no plans to ever sell them again. Calls to dealers specializing in used enlargers came up negative (sorry) as well.

I should add that Type II negative carriers are readily available, but I think there should be some responsibility of the manufacturer to keep a supply of replacement parts or, at the very least, a good referral to a reliable parts dealer. The folks at Calumet were professional and polite, but not able to help me. Hope this h

-- Bill Noll (, August 09, 2001.

Bill, I agree with you Calumet did a disservice to their customers by totally discontinuing accessories. I had the same problem, luckyly I was able to find them in the used market at E bay and from Calumet.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, August 09, 2001.

Neil, your e mail does not seem to be working I tried to respond to you but it kept comming back as undeliverable....

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, August 09, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ