8x10 Aristo Head contrast

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I just finished building my 8x10 enlarger (based on a Beseler chasis) and while it works well, I am a little frustrated with the contrast I am getting from the cold head. I have an Aristo 1212 head with the V54 bulb. My experiance is that the head prints VERY flat with a filter below a #2 1/2 - so flat it is like everything is three shades of grey! When I go above a number 3 filter, the contrast skyrockets, and is too much. The technique I have developed is printing everything with a #2 and #3 filters - a modified split-filter printing of sorts.

I have a Kodak Step Tablet, so I was going to take some Ilford, Agfa and Kodak filters to check which gave me the best contrast stepping, but if I have to mix-and-match between systems, there would be a speed-matching issues.

Has anyone else have with this head, and had a similar experiance? Any suggestions or thoughts? I realized that a cold-head prints flatter (I've worked with 4x5 Aristo heads) but I hadn't expected this!

Thanks in advance,

Eric Boutilier-Brown http://www.evolvingbeauty.com

-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (ericbb@evolvingbeauty.com), April 12, 2002


I can't help you with your question, but I'm interested in building an 8X0 enlarger. Can you share the detail as to how you converted the enlarger to 8X10?

-- Tim Kimbler (gandy2@gte.net), April 12, 2002.

Eric: I have the original Beseler 8X10 head, which I converted to the V54 tube. I have used the Ilford filters and have not noticed the problem you are are having. When using 150 mm lens, I use the below lens filters and when printing 5X7 and larger I put 12X12 sheets (Ilford, again, you have to special order them) below the tube and above the diffusing plastic. Plus or minus a half grade, a grade 2 filter prints like grade two paper, at least for me. I use mostly Seagull VC but have tried small quantities of 4 other VC papers without problem. I have a B22 enlarger I converted to the V54 tube and it works fine too. The proper color for the V54 is a blinding aquamarine blue. Are you by any chance using the old-style VC filters instead of the new ones?

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), April 12, 2002.

An interesting question Kevin, about the filters. The finters were indeed an older set - I just got a new set this week, and when cutting them down to fit the holder, I noticed they were a distinctly different colour then the older ones - not just lighter or darker, but a different shade all together. My prayers may be answered on Sunday then, when I next print.

I shall let you know.

-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (ericbb@evolvingbeauty.com), April 12, 2002.

I have the exact same Aristo head on a modified Durst.

Perhaps your negs are too thin??? I will admit that I have never used VC papers with this head; only graded, namely Seagul and Brilliant (the original Zone VI paper (Unfortunately just ran out of this stuff!!!)).

The Aristo 1212 matches my regular Durst cold light head for 4X5 pretty well.

If your negs are too thin you may try to selenium tone the negs (you'd probably gain about half a stop in contrast.

When you develop your prints you may also try to use two print developers: Selectol soft for smooth gradations followed by Dektol 1:2 to give depth to the blacks. By varying the time in each developer you have some contrast control there too.

-- Per Volquartz (volquartz@volquartz.com), April 12, 2002.

The negs are fine in contrast - in fact, a good indication of how low the contrast is is that two of the negs that printed very well were that were too contrasty to contact print properly with a #00 filter - the only way I'd ever got good prints from them before was via POP paper. And yet with the Aristo 1212 head, I pulled off a really nice print on a #2 - delicate higlights, nice deep blacks with good separation. I will try the new filters tomorrow, and hope that is where the problems lie.


-- Eric Boutilier-Brown (ericbb@evolvingbeauty.com), April 13, 2002.

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