Zone VI Cold Light and V54 Tube : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have a standard Zone VI cold light head (not the VC version) that is about two years old.

I have had the same problem as others in this forum with VC papers not responding normally to filtration. I see references to the Aristo V54 tube as the solution to my problems. What I don't know is whether the tube in my unit is the V54 type or not. I asked Calumet, but have not received a resopnse as yet.

Does Aristo make the Zone VI? If I don't have the tube in my Zone VI head already, can I get one from Aristo that will work?

It's a drag switching back to the condenser head to print VC.


-- Jerry Flynn (, June 06, 2002


I don't quite understand the problem. I've printed with multicontrast papers and a Zone VI coldlight very successfully (at least I think successfully) for many years now. It seems that you just have to use one grade lower contrast than you might with a tungsten source. I did try using a 40Y gel above the neg carrier but it wasn't worth the speed loss. Perhaps using PMK for 4x5 negs helps, but my smaller format negs are developed in conventional developers and show no problems. I admit a color-correct lightsource might be the right way to go but "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I'd be intersted to hear what kind of problems you've had. I sure wouldn't want to go back to a condenser enlarger.

-- Mark Sampson (, June 06, 2002.

Thanks for your response, Mark.

My problem is that there is not even spacing between the grades. A number 2 filter looks to my eyes like a 3 1/2 or 4 paper. A 3 filter looks just a little harder. The softer filters behave similarly. It's sort of unpredictable.

I've used both Ilford and Kodak filters and find the Kodak to be a bit better. I've used just about eevery FB VC paper out there and the problem is not the paper, but the light source.

One difference between you and me is that I do not use pyro. Also, I tend to like a bit softer than normal print.

-- Jerry Flynn (, June 06, 2002.

For some strange reason, Calumet does not respond to emails, but they have an 800 number so that you can call them. If your Zone VI Cold light was purchased new from Calumet 2 years ago, it "probably" has a tube suitable for VC papers, but they should be able to tell you for sure.

But maybe you should describe exactly what problems you are having. You should realize that even if the tube is color corrected for VC, it probably will not respond exactly the same as a condenser light source.

-- Michael Feldman (, June 06, 2002.

To lower the contrast of your prints (while maintaining deep blacks) use two developers:

Selectol Soft as the first developer Dektol as the second developer. By varying the times in each developer you have an infinite number of grades.

-- Per Volquartz (, June 06, 2002.

Jerry, I'm quite certain that you do not have the Aristo V54 tube in your Zone VI cold light head. Zone VI makes their own tubes. Call Aristo and ask them whether their V54 tube will interchange with the Zone VI tube. If so, it would be worth the effort to make the change- over. A few years ago, I gave up the attempt to print with VC filters and the Zone VI standard head. Filters were a pain!. I installed the Zone VI variable contrast head on my old Omega D-2, and began to print my Multigrade VC papers without the need for filters. A real pleasure.

-- Eugene (, June 06, 2002.

I've found that Calumet does respond to emails for customer service, but they are not really fast.

I'd suggest taking a look at Steve Anschell's book and VC printing and then, performing the tests to determine the actual grades with your filtration. He also has some suggestions on developing/customizing a filtration strategy.

Good luck.

-- Jay wolfe (, June 06, 2002.

I have the zone VI head made for the Bessler enlarger that I relamped with the V54 tube. I had the same problem you described, so it is unlikely that you have the V54. Contact Aristo directly, they are very helpful and can answer any questions you might have, and you can order directly through them. Changing the lamp is a pretty easy operation, and it works very well with VC filters. Its well worth the effort.

-- Erik Gould (, June 06, 2002.

Thanks for your responses.

Calumet my yet get back to me, but I've dropped a line to Aristo to get some information from them.

I may move to the VC head eventually, but I will probably wait until I upgrade to a 5X7 enlarger.

Thanks everyone.

-- Jerry Flynn (, June 06, 2002.

Most older cold lights are blue heavy, so contrast tends to be higher with VC papers. Also, the filters do not work perfectly as intended - the problem you describe is the classic one, with uneven spacing between the filters. Going from filter 4 to 5 makes next to no difference while going from filter 1 to 0 makes a huge difference. Using CC40 filters etc might help but will not obviate the problem - the problem is in the spectral emmision of the tube in your cold light. If you don't want to go to the expense of a V54 tube, try using split filtering (i.e., one exposure through the number 5 filter and one through the 0 filter) to get any intermediate grade you want. You can avoid the problem of uneven grade spacing that way. Cheers, DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, June 06, 2002.

I have had an Aristo V54 - high power, that I bought directly from Aristo. Seems like cost for the HP was about $120. Easy call from a net search, very good advice on the phone, less expensive, simple replacement installation. I use Elite Fine Art and calibrated actual contrast levels with step wedge enlargements and BTZS software. Actual varies from filter numbers, but once you have the real contrast range, the results are really good. (For example a #3.5 filter yields 2.5, #1 yields .5). I do have a stabilizing timer and I keep the light plugged in to stay constant temperature.

-- David Meriwether (, June 06, 2002.

The cold lights Calumet sells are on the blue side, which if printed on VC paper would give you a grade 4, print. By taking yellow CC filters you can change the contrast of the light I. E. 40cc of yellow is around grade 2 ., 10 cc yellow grade 3 . and 80 cc a grade 1. Different papers will give different results.

-- Richard (, June 07, 2002.

Are you using below the lens filters? It sounds like it. Or, can the filters be changed without disturbing the negative?

If so, in those cases where the difference in two successive contrast filters is wide, expose using both filters. That is, take part of the exposure with one filter, replace, and the remainder of the exposure with the other filter. You can get every contrast between the two filter.

-- neil poulsen (, June 07, 2002.

Jerry, I can recognize the problem now. 10+ years of practice have made what might be called a "work-around" standard practice for me. Or perhaps I've tailored my negative-making to the lightsource I have. Most of my 4x5 negs print with a #1 Kodak filter on EK's Polymax Fine-Art. Perhaps I'll call Aristo about changing the tube in my lamphead. It was a little different when the good papers (Elite, Brilliant, Seagull, etc. ) were graded and blue- sensitive. Then the (blue) cold-light and 2-developer method made sense.. although more work... and I'm allergic to the low-contrast developers... Now with the good VC papers available, life is easier that way. And I like the new papers. Beautiful prints are easier to get than ever before. Perhaps I've become a better printer, or make better negatives, or maybe the papers really are better. In any case, I have lots of negs to print, and I'm looking forward to it.

-- Mark Sampson (, June 07, 2002.

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