Color Computer

Beseler Color Computer Head

The testing job in the quality assurance lab was very repetitive and tedious. I worked the evening shift however, which gave me my days to pursue other interests. Attempting to establish myself as a nature photographer and fine art printer, I preferred photographing using slide film, and Kodachrome was my favorite film. Creating prints from slides on Kodak materials was complicated process, and in my opinion, didn't match the results of Ilford's Cibachrome print materials. The prints were just as brilliant as the slides, thanks to the dyes and very bright whites of the paper. Ciba was a very pricey paper and chemical process, (and as it turns out was quite toxic), but I felt the resulting prints were worth it.

The cost of materials had me seeking ways to reduce waste in the darkroom. Repeatability in color printing is difficult to achieve, enlarger lamps grow dimmer over time, and the color filters in your enlarger also fade with time. So, coming back months later to print a slide again, it may not match the original print. Fortunately, Beseler had a solution called the Color Computer Enlarger Head. It used photodiode sensors in the light mixing chamber to measure the precise amounts of CMY light in a digital readout from 0-255 (8 bits). This meant it could correct for lamp and color filter drift.

This was actually My First Computer, the year was 1981, and it was a computer that helped me get repeatable, accurate results in the darkroom. The Color Computer Head was mounted on my Durst 4x5 Enlarger. In a rental room, at my first house, I built a very nice, well equipped darkroom. Designed for producing high quality Cibacrhome prints, it had all the latest darkroom hardware, digital timer, temperature controlled faucet, motorized agitators and corrosion resistant sink. Unfortunately, a brand new digital device would soon dampen my enthusiasim for the darkroom.

Due to knowledge of my color printing experience, the photo studio across the hall from the QA lab would ask me to help out with printing retirement photos on the evening shift. Little did I know, that this would also lead to a better job.

Left Arrow center Arrow Right Arrow