De Vere 504 - mixing box

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by robrover, Dec 14, 2017.

  1. robrover

    robrover Subscriber

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    I am just starting out in black and white darkroom printing. I bought a De Vere 504 with a Dichromat colour head. It came with reasonable condition 150mm and 80mm lenses but only one mixing box for 4x5.
    I have experimented with printing both 4x5 and medium format (6x6) using the 4x5 mixing box for both. I am finding it harder to focus the 6x6 and am getting long exposure times (sometimes 2 min with +two stops open) when printing at 16x16 inches.
    How essential is having a medium format mixing box for medium format printing? I'm guessing that the image would be brighter because the light will be more concentrated into a smaller output area giving easier focus and shorter exposures? In other words is it worth the effort to find a medium format mixing box? (This enlarger is a stop-gap until next year when I will have a proper darkroom built in my back garden. I with more space available I will be looking for a 504 with an Ilford black and white head and 500CPM timer.)
     
  2. FerruB

    FerruB Member

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    Hi,
    I have as well a DeVere504 with only a 4x5 mixing box. I am printing 35mm and 6x7 but so far I didn't have any issue with long exposure printing up to 20-24". Maybe you can just add a white screen to partially reduce the mixing box aperture down to 6x6 or 35mm, in order to reflect back into the box the light.
    Cheers,
    Ferru
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  3. chiller

    chiller Member

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    I print every format I have with just the 5x4 mixing box as well. I believe there is a slight loss of illumination using the 5x4 box for 35 mm but it has always seemed more than adequate. Illumination is still extremely even corner to corner. Stunning enlarger.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    robrover

    robrover Subscriber

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    Thanks guys, I will persevere with the 4x5 box.
     
  5. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Having printed with most of the DeVere heads apart from the Cathomag, I'd strongly advise against the MG500 head unless you really need the raw power (and the MK V dichroic is arguably more flexible). It will not make anyone a better printer. The less computerised the head, the better from a long term reliability standpoint, perhaps unless you go for a brand new Heiland LED setup. The MK IV & V dichroic heads also have the huge advantage of having a built in ND filter which can be incredibly handy. The MK V can also be fitted with a shutter, which again can be useful for advanced techniques. If you need specific filtration, use the under lens Ilford filters.
     
  6. FerruB

    FerruB Member

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    I have a MKIV head but I never saw a ND filter...Do I miss something? And why should be an advantage a ND filter?
    Cheers,
    Ferru
     
  7. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    The Ilford Multigrade 500 system is fantastic to work with as it makes it very easy to print at one grade and then burn specific areas at another grade without having to touch the enlarger to change the filtration (either dials or over/under lens versions). Being able to pre-programme a series of exposures is also a big help when printing a series of images from a single negative.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  8. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    It should be on the left side of the head - as for why it's useful: it lets you use your lens at optimal aperture without having to stop down to where diffraction might start to be a problem.

    I do like the push button control & the beep/ metronome - the programme stuff just gets in the way I feel, especially if I have a lot of negatives to print - & after the second or third print I find that muscle memory takes over. The lack of adaptability to colour printing & the slightly elderly (& rather complex) electronics are things I'm less keen on. Don't get me wrong, it's very, very good - I was using one yesterday - but if I was buying right now, I'd probably go for a MKV dichro or a Heiland LED (which apparently comes very close in performance to the MG500 & can do colour).
     
  9. tedr1

    tedr1 Member

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    Check that the 4x5 mixing box is clean inside, the walls should be clean smooth bright white surfaces. With my LPL4x5 I compared the medium format and 4x5 mixing boxes and found that when working medium format the medium format mixing box shortened exposure times by about one half.
     
  10. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    I really do not understand your thinking here and I think you are giving the OP bad advice. Firstly, of course it is of no use for colour printing as it is a dedicated B&W system. The electronics are kids stuff for anyone with any experience with repairing electronic circuits. The programmability of the keypad is what makes the system so versatile. The MKV Dichro is indeed very good BUT only if the complete enlarger is rigidly fixed to a wall so that adjusting the filters does not vibrate the enlarger between different exposures at different grades.

    The Heiland system is both bloody expensive and predicated on the split grade system. This I do not like because split grade printing (whilst achieving OK prints very fast) does not yield optimal prints for my taste because combining a 0 grade exposure with a grade 5 exposure leads to the whole print having a veil of grade 0 which kills micro contrast which, for me, is the death of the lower shadow tones.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  11. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    You can operate the Heiland either as a split grade or conventionally, there are several control interfaces available. Remember that the MG500 head is essentially mixing 0 & 5 in exactly the way you decry (looks like it uses MOSFETs for light intensity control/ mixing) & it does just fine. Both use additive sources/ filtration. Thinking about it, replacing the control panel with an f-stop timer or similar newer control interface would probably eliminate the one difficult to repair component.

    If you do not use the wall bracket with any DeVere, you are asking for trouble. Same with pretty much anything with a 1M+ column.
     
  12. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    No the Ilford Multigrade 500 system does not mix grade 0 & grade 5 in a way that replicates split-grade printing (although you can use it this way if you prefer). It works by mixing two different coloured lights in a way that matches any of the manual filters available. I have no idea what MOSFETs means and suspect that you do not have in-depth experience of using the 500 system. You are quite correct to state that "If you do not use the wall bracket with any DeVere, you are asking for trouble" but this still does not reflect on the fact that changing manual filters or dialing-in different filtrations introduces the possibility of error that pressing a button on a remote control pad (such as the 500 control pad) completely eliminates.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  13. FerruB

    FerruB Member

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    On the left side there is only a knob which removes all filters at once, no sign of an ND filter.
     
  14. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    An enlarger head with a built in ND (Neutral Density) filter, can be very handy and is a great darkroom tool for both B&W and colour.

    My De Vere 504 free standing De Vere runs a MK IV single lamp head, it does not have a built in ND filter. On the left of the head it has a filter dial, this moves all of the filters out or into the light beam, nothing else.

    With most, if not all enlargers I have used with an ND filter, all had an ND filter with 60 units of ND. Every 30 units is 1 stop, meaning you have 2 stops of ND.

    In practical usage I find it a most versatile tool when doing multiple sizes from the same image. Theoretically, if you do an 8x10” print from a 4x5” negative with the ND feature at 30 units at say f/8 for 20 seconds. You then decide to use 16x20” paper and frame the same. You then remove the ND filter to zero, gaining a full stop of light and make your next (larger) print at f/8 for 20 seconds. If you wish to make smaller enlargements from whatever original size you have been successful with, you would be adding ND to keep the exposing time the same as the larger print.

    The theory is great, but in practice, the larger or smaller you go, there are almost always very slight differences in density control on a print. To add to the complexity of the process you may find you could be adding a ¼ of a grade of contrast, or maybe slightly less, say an eighth of a grade difference to make the larger print look the same as the smaller print.

    This keeping your exposure time the same, as you move up and down the enlarger column was reasonably important with certain colour printing processes, having an ND filter was the best possible thing, but it was often over emphasised as to how important it was. There was a difference, but really very, very slight unless the print size difference was huge. I’m talking of going from a 1m wide print to say 4m to 5m wide. Then the time difference is vastly different; the differences we do in our home darkrooms is almost impossible to detect.

    If you don’t have an ND filter on your enlarger, it is really simple to add your own ND by adding say 30 units of each (all three) colour into the head before you start enlarging. In practice it works like this.

    Grade 3 on my enlarger is Y30 M90 C00. To add ND I simply move all the dials up by 30 units, which would now read Y60 M120 C30. If I was using f/11 at 20 seconds and moved up a paper size I can change the filtration to read Y30 M90 C00 and still use f/11 at 20 seconds.

    Hope that helps.

    In regard to obtaining the smaller light mixing chamber for your head, unless you were going to do screamingly big enlargements, I don’t think it is normally necessary. I worked in a De Vere heaven at one stage, we had around 5 free standing 504 units a couple of 507 units and two 10” x 10” horizontal De Vere units for mural enlarging on rails.

    The only time we switched to really correct mixing chambers was when doing extreme enlargements with 35mm film. This was when one was literally on your hands and knees focusing with the front wheels and with the baseboard scraping the floor while the enlarger head was literally making marks on the darkroom ceiling. In other words using a glass negative holder and doing slightly wider than 1.2m wide prints. If my memory is correct, the difference is slightly more than a third of a stop more light, with the smaller mixing chamber. I measured this difference on my own enlarger using the exposure mode of my Lici colour analyser, which is extremely accurate.

    I’ve just been into my darkroom to see just where my smaller mixing chamber is, still where I left it many years ago. I run between 35mm and 4x5” enlarging all of the time, sometimes from one neg to another I do a lens change then into it. It would be nice to have for extremes, but if you are thinking of moving your De Vere on in a year, I don’t see why you should get one.

    By the way, if you move your De Vere enlarger on, unless you get something extremely delicious, I think you may regret that decision.

    Mick.
     
  15. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    This is where I remember that there are more variants of dichroic DeVere's than immediately came to mind... You & Mick are absolutely correct, it's the filter on/off lever that's on the side on many MKIV heads. I'm more than reasonably certain I've used a dichromat DeVere that had ND available in the head, but I can't remember which one it was now! From memory, it might have been one of the Varicontrast heads, with an extra control wheel which was for ND - the current heads I have to hand are a MKIII dichromat & an MG500 & neither of those have a built in discrete ND filter - with the MKIII, you have to use Mick's suggestion of adding all three filters for neutral density.

    To add to the confusion, a number of Durst's bigger colour heads offered built-in ND filtration, as do/ did the 4x5 LPL's.
     
  16. Luis-F-S

    Luis-F-S Subscriber

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    Gee and I print on a 5108 with the 8x10 mixing box. If times run too long I go to the LPL VCCE head
     
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