Darkroom safelight?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Joze, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. Joze

    Joze Member

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    My darkroom is coming together...:smile:
    I need a safelight. The area is about 10m2 . Can anyone recommend a good safelight, available in the U.K.? (and where to get it?) I've seen a Durst Labolux LED safelight from first-call- though this is for colour and may be OTT - and Encapsulite lights from Richards of Hull (haven't checked the price). Jessops do Nova safelights and the Kodak beehive/s. Do they mean anything to anyone? I would like to have one ceiling light as a red light, with as bright and even illumination as possible, and another ceiling light for white light. It would be mainly for B&W graded and VC papers (also Ortho film for enlarging negs). I need to get one asap as it's holding up progress...
    Any advice would, as always, be much appreciated.
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Buy a red light bulb.
     
  3. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    The encapsulated fluorescent tubes give a good spread of light, but will need a quality fluorescent fitting to go with them if they are to switch quickly.

    Why not buy one or two of the patterson domes to get you going while you sort out something better. The kodak Beehives are quite good, if a little too directional for my likeing, although you can reflect their light off a white ceiling with good effect.
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Do a search for safelight threads. In one of them someone had given a website in which Les McLean had tested a number of lights including I think the red fluorescent tubes as sold by FirstCall. As I recall Les rated them highly but they are expensive compared to the Jessops, Kodak or even Ilford safelights.

    I have an Ilford which takes a range of filters. It's about 10 inches by 8 inches and can be swivelled to reflect off a wall or ceiling. Mine has the 902
    filter which is a brown/amber colour and is fine for multigrade but there are other filters which you buy separately for ortho etc so you don't need a separate light for different mediums such as ortho. There's a pdf file on the Ilford website covering the lights and filters.

    The filter is quite thick and should last a long time if not forever without the risk of becoming unsafe. Lights relying on thin plastic type material which is close to the bulbs may be eventually be affected by the heat from the bulb. I found this with a Durst Tricolor light albeit it was secondhand when I got it so had a fair bit of use. It's safe limit had become very short. The Ilford has a normal 15W clear bulb and in a 10x8 box doesn't generate a lot of heat.

    I find it remarkably bright, given the wattage of the bulb and the thickness of the filter.

    Both Nova and Secondhand Darkroom Supplies had secondhand ones with various filters and of course there's always e-bay. My room is about 8 metres square, so smaller than yours but I believe that my safelight would still give adequate light in a 10 metres square room.

    Pentaxuser
     
  5. Poptart

    Poptart Member

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    Don't bother with the old beehive light.
    I own an Adorama OC led screw-in bulb (which is inexpensive but I'd recommend at least two) and an led display from a sign (I think I posted a photo of it already) which is really bright. My absolute favorite safelight--it's adjustable for brightness--is the Thomas Duplex. Expensive but you'll never need any other.
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Practically any safelight will do the job. It's mainly a question of how much you want to pay. LED based lights can be brighter because the light they emit has a very narrow emission range with little emission outside their centre frequency. If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can make an adjustable LED based safelight for under £25 that is bright enough to let you read the newspaper while waiting...

    I would advise against buying the type that use a normal bulb and a coloured filter second hand as the filter fades over time and may have faded by the time you buy it... A new one will work fine though.

    Whatever you get, test it in the darkroom before using it. Read the document called SAFELIGHT at the bottom of this (http://www.ilford.com/html/us_english/bw.html) page.

    Have fun! Bob.
     
  7. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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  8. Joze

    Joze Member

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    Thank you all for responding so quickly to this thread.

    Having thought about your replies I think what I'll do is get a new Ilford 8 x 10 with 902 filter, and use this with an AP safelight I already have, and was quite happy with on its own in a much smaller space. I can try this as a start and can always add more similar if need be.

    I've spent the afternoon painting one wall and am beginning to get excited now - I've never had space of my own that I don't have to set up and dismantle every time I want to use it.

    Thanks again. :smile:
     
  9. edz

    edz Member

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    For multigrade materials I have (and like) the Kindermann Dukalux Tandem. Its a hanging lamp with 2 PL fluorescent bulbs (typically 11w but some install lower wattage bulbs). I can literally read in the darkroom. Among the non sodium safelights its right now the safest and brightest for multigrade materials. For colour materials I use, however, sodium vapour spectral lamps (Durst Sanat and Osram/Kaiser Duka 10/50) and they are my absolute favorite save the price of replacement bulbs. I modified my Sanat with a filter and tested it at close range with some B&W and variocontrast/multigrade papers for over 20 minutes. Perfect. Just not suited to turning off/on and.. did I mention that the replacement bulbs are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e? That's why I got the Kindermann.. and why when I'm up for a long and late session I still will use one of the sodium lamps..

    LED lamps using Amber/yellow LEDs have and are being sold for use in colour darkroom but they are just not up to the level of sodium. In a B&W darkroom they too are less safe and/or dimmer than my Kindermann Dukalux. Their main and ONLY advantage is cost to operate. LED lamps have a very long MTBF (mean time between failure) and are quite efficient. The PL lamps used by the Dukalux-SL and Tandem lamps are while not as long lasting as LEDs still quite long life and the cost of replacement is low. For colour, however, the choice really is: either LED or sodium.. (and with the trend to very fast overly sensitive RA-4 papers perhaps increasingly sodium or darkness)..

    For Ortho materials neither the Kindermann nor the Sodium lamps are appropriate. Here is where LEDs prove best. Kindermann has an LED lamp called the X-Tronic with 150 Red LEDS and 640nm filter that is perfect but its not cheap and quite rare on the used market. For a few Quid, however, you can make something while not as nice still does the job.

    Some vendors like Ilford, Kodak and Agfa sell, resp. sold, lamps using filters and standard tungsten bulbs. I'd avoid these. They run a bit warm and their filters tend to "wear" out relatively quickly. With the decline in the market the replacement costs have sky rocketed over the past few years (a 5x7" Ilford 902 filter retails now for around 50 EUROs) making them less and less a option. The lamps too are quite expensive.. An Ilford DL-20 hanging lamp retails for more than the Kindermann Dukalux Tandem.. Even the primative Kodak Beehive has become an expensive item!