Darkroom Equipment Help.

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by jgwetworth, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. jgwetworth

    jgwetworth Member

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    Hey guys, I have a few questions about equipment for my dark room. It's going to be setup in about a month but I have slowly been gathering supplies.
    Here is what I have so far.
    -Enlarger
    -Paper
    -Safelight
    -Timers
    -Thermometer
    -Paper Trays
    -Development Trays
    -Developing Tank

    Now my question is what else do I need? And What chemicals would you recommend I get [Note: I use 35mm B&W]I have been looking at Formula 130 from photoformulary but what else will I need if I plan on doing both paper and film or is the formula 130 all I need?
    Also any tips or advice would be great!
    Thanks a ton!
     
  2. walbergb

    walbergb Subscriber

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    Welcome to the wonderful world of DIY photography:tongue:

    See Ilford "Making Your First B&W Print." The exposure meter is optional.

    Also, Kodak "Basic Darkroom Techniques."

    The three things that immediately stand out for me as items missing from your list are (1) a grain finder (2) an easel (a 2-blade is cheaper, but a 4-blade is more flexible), and (3) chemical storage bottles.

    Start with one set of materials (i.e., film, film developer, paper, paper developer) and a basic procedures before experimenting with different materials and procedures. I recommend starting with resin-coated paper (RC) and 8"x10" size.
     
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  3. jgwetworth

    jgwetworth Member

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    Are there any home bottles I can use? IE: Bleach bottle washed out or another chemical or drink.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Don't use bleach bottles!

    Empty and thoroughly washed pop (soda?) bottles are workable for most chemicals, provided that you have lids that retain a good seal, the bottles are the stronger, slightly more rigid types, and they are very clearly marked so as to avoid anyone mistaking them for beverage containers.

    Glass is even better, but heavier and harder to handle.
     
  5. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    freestyle sells very nice chemicle bottles for this, not too expensive and last forever.

    as to other advice, not sure what formula 130 is (the web site says it is paper only) , but if you have never, ever, done darkroom work before have you considered just a basic good solid developer like Dektol for prints and D-76 for film?

    They're widely used and cheap for a reason: they work very very well for the vast majority of uses. I've used little else for decades and am very happy. They also cost half what the Formulary stuff does.

    like a preceeding person said, start with RC paper -- cheaper and easier to wash and dry. Fiber based paper is nice, gives better whites, but is harder to dry properly (a blotter book is a handy thing) and more fussy.

    get yourself a good quality set of print tongs, too -- chemicals irritate some people's skin badly.
     
  6. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    Buy a 12 pack of grolsch, drink beer and you have 12 excellent bottles:smile:.Or go to your local chemist/drug store and buy some brown 500ml medicine bottles.
    Also graduals for measuring your chemicals,plus jugs to mix in.Graduals to 250ml and jugs to 1 litre work for me.One for each,that is one jug for developer,1 for fixer,1 for stop.Funnels perhaps for pouring fixer back to bottles.Print tongs and clips [you can use clothes pegs].Supply of paper towels /clean cloth is handy.
    Two thermometers, 1 for fix,1 for developer.
    Now this you may find usefull.On the back of the door to my darkroom I have a large blackboard, on this I listed the process from start to finish..such as remembering to adjust aperture on enlarger lens after focus is found.
    Most importantly, enjoy and don`t worry about mistakes -
     
  7. Arctic amateur

    Arctic amateur Member

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    I was planning to use used bottled-water bottles (the thin-walled type) for my stuff. Is that a bad idea?
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    i2nd walberg's advise,except for the easel, i never saw a need beyond a flat wooden boardon leveling feet.
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Tongs and cloth pins.

    Reels to go with your developing tanks.

    Lots of measuring cups.

    Anti-static cloths/can of air/soft brush (something to clean your negatives)
    Long mixing sticks.

    Contrast filters.

    Enlarger lens and a jam nut.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2012
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    only if you confuse them one day!happened to mewatered-down paint stripper tasts awful.
     
  11. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    He didn't say where he is to have the darkroom so ventilation/exhaust system comes to mind also a print washer or tray siphon, print drying screens and tongs and/or nitrile gloves. Chemistry: print and film developer, stop, fixer, hypo clearing agent, photoflo and if inclined toner of choice. And of great importance an understanding significant other or spouse.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    There are pros and cons for re-using other bottles intended for other purposes. This is one of the hottest debated topic. Myself, I use chemical storage bottles from photo retailers.

    None of the B&W photo chemicals are down right toxic. Perhaps most are far less toxic than house hold cleaners. That said, they are not made for drinking and it will make you feel sick or make you sick. I take two step method for many things in darkroom to prevent mistakes.

    For example, my paper safe has a tape across the opening in addition to a latch. What the tape is supposed to do is, if I become careless and try to open it, it will stop me just long enough for me to realize, I am making a mistake. Visual warning is a step 1. Tactile warning is a step 2.

    Same thing for bottles. I never bring drinks or food into my darkroom. I also use specific bottles for photo chemicals. They are all labeled clearly. Visual should stop me first. If that fails, unfamiliar (for drinks) touch should help me second.

    The choice is yours. I prefer to not have accidents. By nature, accidents happen when your concentration and attention aren't at optimum. By definition, anything can happen - even if you are normally a careful person.
     
  13. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I would add a paper safe to your list. It will make printing go a bit smoother. Definitely an anti-static cloth. Don't use bottles that contained household chemicals such as bleach or ammonia.
     
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  15. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    White vinegar comes in very thick plastic bottles that are terrific. If you are near a Costco, they sell milk in heavy square plastic bottles with a huge mouth. These are the best!

    Easy rule of thumb is developers need full glass bottles (ideally), fixers and stop baths are fine in half full plastic or glass.
     
  16. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    A good fan blowing over your shoulder is nice to keep the smells down. Use Rapid Fix and odorless stop (or mix very dilute stop bath) for maximum smell-free action.

    Also, get some PecPads to wipe your negs before printing. There is nothing better for dust busting. Those things grab dust so well that I can print with a glass carrier in my dusty basement and almost never have any problems with dust.
     
  17. jgwetworth

    jgwetworth Member

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    Thanks a lot everyone this is helping loads. I got an venting system for my room already, and I Just went out to pick up an easel. I think ill be using Dektol for prints and D-76for negs but what else should I grab in the way of chemicals? I know i need a stop and fixer but what's a good one to go with? Also Ill be using glass mason jars to store my chemicals.
     
  18. Coffeehound

    Coffeehound Member

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    Add some Orbit or HCA (Hypo Clearing Agent) to reduce the wash time for all the work, prints or negatives. Photo Flo (that spelled right?).. it does help reduce water spots of film and I think it can be used for prints also. Possibly some white cotton gloves when handling your negatives, though I don't find them convenient.
    I would also second the suggestion to get storage containers SPECIFICALLY FOR Photography. If you have small children or might ever have some visiting, or what ever, you would not want someone picking up the wrong bottle.
     
  19. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    Chemistry that comes in liquid form is easier to deal with. Just dilute and you're ready to go. I've used Edwald and Ethol liquid print developers and they were both fine. We use Sprint chemistry where I teach and it also very good. Keep it as simple as possible in the beginning.
     
  20. aleksmiesak

    aleksmiesak Member

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    I'm guessing you'll be printing some contact sheets of your negs as well so a good piece of glass with rounded (or taped) edges will come in handy to keep your negs flat. Formulary has a great neutral fixer called TF-5 that when mixed with distilled water has almost zero odor. I know some here are quite fond of the fix smell and might disown me for even saying this but odor free darkroom is quite pleasant :smile:
     
  21. Silverhead

    Silverhead Member

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    You might as well start out with Arista or LegacyPro. Both will certainly get you going at a good price, and both appear to have several Kodak clones in their lineup, according to Freestyle's catalog.
     
  22. Huub

    Huub Member

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    Actually it doesn't matter much which brand stop and fix you will use: they are all ok as long you use them as intended. They don't influence the print quality. Stop can be replaced by diluted table vinegar (a dilution of about 1+ 4 should be about right) and some people even prefer a water rinse. Any general fix will do aswell. Keep track of the capacity and seperate the working solutions for prints and films and you're settled. I would get something odorless that is readely available and not to expsensive.
     
  23. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    I would advice you to get drying clips/hangers and a film squeegee.
     
  24. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Some general suggestions:

    Stop bath...
    Use Kodak Indicator Stop Bath if available. The indicator function is useful when doing large print runs. You won't exhaust it with film.
    Avoid use of water as a stop except for films that specifically require it. Water is not a stop, and does not stop development activity.

    HCA and Photo-Flo...
    I use Perma-Wash for hypo clearing of film and paper, but other products are similar. This GREATLY reduces wash time. Use as directed.
    Photo-Flo is mandatory IMO if you want to avoid water spots on film. It's not used with paper. Dilute as directed and discard.

    Keep all chemicals in the dark. Use of brown bottles for developer is highly desirable, but not mandatory.

    Two safety issues...
    1) Never use any bottles with visible consumer product markings (even effaced) for storage in the darkroom (soda, vinegar, whatever).
    2) Never permit any consumer beverages in the darkroom (soda, beer, etc) in their original containers.
    These two steps combined will minimize the likelihood of ingesting photo chemicals.

    Enjoy.

    - Leigh
     
  25. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Member

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    I'd been using a shared darkroom at a local university that has studios available for use by members of the community - until the college decided to remodel the building; so I've been accumulating what I'd need to set up my own darkroom at home.

    I think it's better to keep chemistry in containers intended for that purpose and marked accordingly. You'd also need measuring beakers/graduates, gloves; and maybe these have been mentioned - safelight, timer.

    Sharing a darkroom that got a lot of usage, it got pretty dusty (and I guess it didn't help being over the pottery studio!) so I took along a microfiber cloth for the enlarger, and they used Beseler dustguns to clean the negatives (I used one as needed).

    I found it helped to use tongs of different colors or with tips in different colors (I prefer bamboo to plastic) for the developer, stop, fixer - that helped prevent cross contamination so as you slide paper into one tray the tongs can be put back with the previous tray. (I had experiences with getting black marks on prints and just got into the habit of rinsing them all well first... but I think it will help me at home to keep tongs for each type of chemistry).

    While I'm in the process of setting up a darkroom I've been doing lumen prints, and using ferrotype plates as my surface to squeegee prints. They're intended to make prints glossy if you leave the prints on them to dry, but I just find they're a nice surface and fit across my kitchen sink; they're easy to squeegee and wipe dry, and store.

    To dry prints I've used a photo drying book, and am experimenting with a silk screen tray (which is more portable and easier to store than a large drying rack). One small size screen can't hold many prints at a time, but for my purposes now using expired/small sized photo paper it seems to work.

    And maybe you'd need 'cheat sheets', they had some up in the shared darkroom and I found that to be a help to refer to for the steps and times, especially starting out.
     
  26. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    I just got some chemical containers from B+H...they're only a few dollar each.