Going back to dichroic...

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Resoman, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. Resoman

    Resoman Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    When I acquired my LPL 4550 enlarger in the mid-nineties, I ordered it with the dichroic head, even though I had never printed VC with a color head. I figured I could get the VCCE module at a later date, if I wasn't comfortable printing VC with the dichroic. Well, I liked printing VC with the dichroic head from the start, though I bought a VCCE module a few years later when one became available at a good price. I used the VCCE module briefly, didn't care for the lengthy exposures it made necessary, and went back to the dichroic head.

    Earlier this year, I bought the RH Designs StopClock Pro timer and decided at that time to go back to the VCCE head, thinking that I didn't want to be juggling exposure times due to filtration changes while I was learning to use the f-stop timer.
    With my fondness for slow, warmtone papers, my exposure times with the VCCE module were awfully long, it seemed to me. Today I decided to find out exactly how much longer exposures with the VCCE module are, as compared to the dichroic.

    I enlarged a 6x6 TMY negative between 3X and 4X onto Ilford MGWT RC, with an exposure of 32 seconds at f8 with a grade 2 setting on the VCCE. I swapped the VCCE for the dichroic and tried to make an identical print, ending with an 8 second exposure at f8 with 10M dialed in. So, I'm losing about two stops of light when I use the VCCE, about what I had expected.

    Then, I printed a 35mm XP2 negative, and the process reminded me how comfortable I am with making contrast adjustments with the magenta and yellow filtration on the dichroic head. The necessary exposure adjustments are second nature to me, and there was nothing about the VCCE module that I missed. The additional illumination from the dichroic head allowed me to use my preferred aperture, at an exposure time that suited me. Ergo, I'm sticking with the dichroic.

    There's no moral to this story, just my personal experience on the issue of VCCE vs dichroic.

    East Snook, TX
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Feb 25, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Multi Format
    I presume the VCCE adds neutral density to maintain printing times throughout contrast changes. Since you are not bothered by having to juggle exposure times, using the dichroic seems like the way to go. For me, I like the fact that I can adjust the neutral density needed to maintain printing times for various papers better with individual control of M and Y in a standard dichro head.

    Looking at one of my printing curves for M and Y, it requires about 3 stops of neutral density where the curves cross (Hungarian paper). With Ilford paper its about 2 stops, similar to your VCCE module.
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