darkroom lighting

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Nathan Smith, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

    Messages:
    479
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm finally getting ready to put the lights into my small darkroom (9' x 7') and would appreciate your input.

    I'd planned to used canned lighting: 1 set of 3 for incandescent floods, and another set of 3 for safelights.

    Now I'm leaning toward the same plan, but using the spiral fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent. I imagine the fluorescents would be lousy for color, but for B&W it wouldn't seem to matter too much.

    Your thoughts/experience?

    Nathan
     
  2. lee

    lee Member

    Messages:
    2,913
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fort Worth T
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I am not sure with the spiral fluorescents but on the long fluorescents they continue to emit light after being turned off. I would go with incandescents.

    lee\c
     
  3. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

    Messages:
    2,165
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Use incandescent. The spiral bulbs I have in the rest of the house emit some UV and do glow for quite some time after being turned off.
     
  4. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

    Messages:
    578
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Agree with comments above and will add: I used incandescent and put in cans (or high-hats, as they're called some places). In my 7x7 foot space I used 6. It generated a lot of heat and it was quite bright with 60w bulbs. I find that I unscrew the lamps in half of them much of the time.

    I wish I had planned a spot for a swinging, articulated drafting lamp. A task light that you can swing about on the enlarging table or on the shelf over the sink would be useful. Since you're in the pre-build stage, I thought it was worth mentioning.
    Neal
     
  5. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,727
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Your thoughts/experience?

    Nathan[/QUOTE]

    Nathan,
    A canned light with a small incandescent bulb a couple of feet over the fixer tray run through a foot switch allows easy, hands-free white light illumination for evaluating a wet print.-I use a 25 watt bulb in a small bullet reflector.

    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,906
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have 3 lighting systems in my DR, all incandescent.

    One is bright for general work and uses 8 60W bulbs in overhead fixtures, the second is dim using 2 40 W bulbs for adaptation and work inbetween dark work and the third is 2 15W or 2 7W bulbs in beehive lamps used indirectly for dark work. I use yellow or red safelight for papers, depending on the paper, and I use total darkness for film.

    I use the WR13 filter for color printing.

    I have flashlights with WR70 filters on them for reading balances and graduate cylinders in the dark. They can be used with directed light for brief moments or can be pointed at my GraLab timer.

    At Kodak, we had racks of these flashlights with different filters for different films and papers.

    PE
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,160
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is another thought...

    Put in three systems:

    1) Safelights;
    2) Print evaluation and other special purpose incandescents; and
    3) Spiral or other fluorescents for general cleanup etc - uses where you aren't needing to go back and forth between dark and light.

    Have the switches for the safelights and incandescents in one location, and the fluorescent switch on another wall.

    The fluorescents can be quite bright, without the attendant heat and high energy costs.

    My $0.02

    Matt
     
  8. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

    Messages:
    479
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks to all - I'm glad I asked!

    Nathan
     
  9. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

    Messages:
    1,691
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Saratoga Spr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nathan -

    The advantage of spiral fluorescents is energy savings. The disadvantages are the linger glow problem mentioned by others, and the fact that there is a pronounced warmup characteristic that results in lowered light output for the first minute or so after they are turned on.

    In a darkroom, the lights are off most of the time. When you turn do turn on lights, you expect to be able to immediately do whatever you need light to be able to do. Having spiral fluorescents would not be helpful. Yes, you might have to pay a bit more in energy cost for the few minutes that incandescents are on, but because that is likely to be a very small period of time anyway, I think the cost is justifiable in terms of the convenience.

    Energy savings is a noble thing to do, but there are times when common sense must prevail. Use incandescents.
     
  10. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Canned lights tend to produce hot pools of light don't they? IMHO thats not very good for safelight conditions. I opted for indirect lighting for my safelight by bouncing it off the white ceiling tiles creating a very even but not overly bright safelight level. This allows seeing down to the floor, under things, etc. that a harsh shadowy light will not allow. I have a direct beehive over the developing tray as well.
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For safelights I use DC and AC LED arrays. For intermittent white light when switching back and forth from safelights, I use white AC and DC LED arrays. For general set up and clean up, measuring and mixing chemicals, and judging color balance I use daylight balanced high CRI (color rendition index) fluorescent tubes and spirals. I turn off the fluorescents far enough ahead of using light sensitive materials for the glow to dissipate. Used in reflectors pointed at the ceiling, the glow from spiral fluorescents is not a problem after a few seconds.

    Lee
     
  12. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

    Messages:
    3,238
    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    Location:
    Eight miles high
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Darkroom lighting....that's easy-as little as possible !
     
  13. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,452
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you use incandescent bulbs, dimmers on room and safelight circuits can reduce light and heat.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

    Messages:
    1,954
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I agree with the heat buildup issue in a small darkroom in Austin.

    Also, don't put all of the lights in the midline of the room or else you will always be casting a shadow on the workspace.

    I have to large globes in the middle of the room, each with two 75 watt incandescent bulbs for general lighting. I also have a separate set of several recessed cans with 75 watt halogen bulbs for task lighting.

    You might consider some track lighting over the workspaces so that you can adjust it over time as your work habits change.

    I was tempted to get one of the Thomas Duplex safelights which are very nice but far too bright for a regular darkroom without some heroic dimming efforts. Failed my paper fogging test.

    Put some thought into how you will turn on/off the lights from where you are standing while you work.
     
  16. Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith Member

    Messages:
    479
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, this is great, lots of good insight.

    So, since the room has 10-ft ceilings, I'm thinking now that instead of canned lighting I should make some simple drops out of conduit and hang 'em at around 8' with some sort of globe to disperse the light from the room lights (incandescent) ... and use dimmers.

    Nathan
     
  17. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

    Messages:
    601
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Bath, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Get Creative

    Can lights are often adjustable with lamp depth, and a wide variety of lamp configurations (different bulbs yield different flood patterns). Here are a couple shots of how I set up my darkroom. On the enlarger side, two wide spots on a dimmer circuit provide light exactly where I want it--while the Kodak 8x10 safelight adequately illuminates the easel and work area for both enlargers at print time.

    A choice was made to use two Kodak "bullet" type safelights, along with a bar of three wide floods on a dimmer over on the wet side. One safelight is aimed down at the development tray position, and the other swings around to cover the center worktable and print dryer. Note the central control mounted at ceiling height--access to dimmers for the floods and switches for the safelight positions.

    Additional incandescent clamp light is available in the toning position of the sink. At the spotting and negative positions, fluorescent light of 5000K/98CRI is provided. Generally, when using fluorescents wait at least eight minutes before getting happy with film or paper. Color is another matter--with films like Ektachrome you may find a fogging issue up to 15 minutes after using the light. Best to not have used them for at least half an hour if you have any in the darkroom.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,114
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As a safety item, I have my wet side white lights, operated by a string pull switch from the ceiling.

    The idea is that one day with continual on and off switching with moisture on my hands, it may just possibly lead to conditions where there is enough moisture to cause a current leakage inside the actual switch.

    In eighteen years I have worn out one ceiling string pull switch from use, I think the second one is about to go.

    Mick.
     
  19. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,984
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One thing I find quite useful is to have my main room light on a remote control - that way I can switch it on from anywhere in the room. I have a light over where the fixer or washer tray goes for inspection on a pull-switch and an LED safelight which is on all the time.

    Have fun, Bob.
     
  20. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,196
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    You can also turn on the lights with your teeth, which is handy after processing negatives in trays because of fixer dripping fingers.

    Murray
     
  21. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,948
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2004
    Location:
    South Norfol
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lee L,

    Would it be possible for you to describe how to construct an LED safelight array?

    Tom.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,906
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Regarding electrical circuits in the darkroom, I have all of mine on GFIs so that if I touch anything wet, and the grounding is not proper, the electricity dies, not me.

    PE
     
  23. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Regarding LEDs, I've got a couple of these LED bulbs, one in red and one in white. My intention was to use the red one as a safelight and the white one as a small white light for short periods of use on the dry side of my darkroom. I discovered, though, that both bulbs continue glowing for a minute or two after being switched off. The amount of light output is quite low -- it's not perceptible in normal B&W safelight conditions; I only noticed it the first time I did color enlarging after installing the LED bulb. I don't know if this is a quirk of this particular bulb or if it's true of other LED bulbs.

    The red LED makes a great safelight, though. The afterglow isn't much of a problem for that situation, of course. The light is quite bright and doesn't fog my paper (I've run safelight tests).

    Oh, and PE's suggestion of using GFIs is quite sensible. I've got those in my darkroom, too.
     
  24. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I didn't have to really construct anything, just jumper wired together some stock parts.

    For AC powered bulbs I use these http://superbrightleds.com/specs/E27-W24.htm in both red and amber for safelight and white for intermittent light when printing. Check the spectral graph link at the bottom of the page to see if output is suitable for your materials.

    For DC powered arrays I use http://superbrightleds.com/specs/LB1.htm, but they have more choices here http://superbrightleds.com/light_bars.htm that will work. I power the DC light bars, which are designed for a 12V power supply, with these http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?&Partnumber=120-536 , which I got on sale for about $8 each. This lets me adjust the output to safe and comfortable levels. The supply provides 3V, 4.5V, 6V, 7.5V, 9V, or 12V DC, and 6V or higher provides usable output. I bounce them off the ceiling from the top shelves above my processing bench and behind my enlarger. Just two amber 3-LED sections from a light bar are plenty bounced off the ceiling above my processing bench, and throttled down to 7.5VDC.

    Note that inexpensive jumper wires in different lengths are available for the light bars, and can be routed to physically spread out the LED bars. The light bars I chose can also be snapped into four pieces with 3 LEDs each, then linked with jumper wires.

    I put the Edison based LED array bulbs in cheap aluminum reflector clamp lamps so that I can direct them or fire them off the ceiling. They aren't effectively dimmable because of the internal circuitry to drop the 120VAC supply to the lower DC voltages the LEDs need.

    These http://superbrightleds.com/specs/e27-w8.htm also work well, and are about $4 each in red or amber. Hard price to beat.

    Like Ron and others, I have my whole darkroom on GFI circuits.

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2007
  25. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,196
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I was thinking of using the amber ones for safelights, but your comment on 'afterglow' makes me pause as they'll be plugged into an RH Designs Analyser Pro, and the Analyser automatically turns off the safelights when in metering mode to get an accurate reading from the negative.

    Anybody use LED safelights with their Analyser Pro?

    Edit: Just found this in the FAQ's section of the RH Designs website;

    So LED safelights are OK after all :smile:

    Murray
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2007
  26. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Unless things have changed lately, the white LEDs are actually blue LEDs exciting phosphors that emit the fuller spectrum. It might be these phosphors that continue to glow. If you're using red or amber for safelight, I'd be very surprised to see any afterglow unless there's a capacitor bleeding off somewhere...

    I just checked white, amber, and red versions of the lamps you're asking about, and saw no afterglow from any of them in the darkroom with all lights off. They were only on for a short time, and I wasn't fully dark adapted, but I don't think you'd see any problems with readings from the Analyser Pro after turning them off, especially if they weren't directed right at the baseboard.

    Lee