Darkroom timer

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by johnny9fingers, Apr 17, 2006.

  1. johnny9fingers

    johnny9fingers Member

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    Hello, My Meopta Opemus 6X6 enlarger is on it's way, and the other bits and pieces are falling into place. What timer would you recommend for a novice on a strict budget, probably in the $50.00 range. I'm not going to try anything fancy til I get the process down so I don't need a programable advanced type,(that will come later), just a simple analog timer to get me started on my path to the dark side. I will place a WTB ad when I get some info from you fine folks. Thank you,
    John
     
  2. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Metronome.

    Seriously. Before my current enlarger with it's built-in timer, I always used a metronome and the enlarger's on/off switch. Trouble with timers is that you have to keep setting and resetting them. A metronome set for 60 b.p.m. is simply quicker - you can count through multiple burning and dodging times without having to keep half an eye on the timer.

    I used a card to start/stop the exposure - the one I'm going to dodge with usually. Card under the lens -> switch on enlarger -> count down 3 seconds 3,2,1 -> pull card out the way -> expose while counting seconds, doing any burning & dodging as we go -> at end time, put card back under lens to block the light -> switch off enlarger.

    If you do get a timer, get one that is easy to read and set in the dark - preferably with a red LED display.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  3. Paul VanAudenhove

    Paul VanAudenhove Member

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    John,

    The workhorse of all timers is the GraLab 300. Still available new, or you could probably pick one up on the auction site for under $25. Just don't do what I did: bid on several thinking I would win just one. I ended up with three...

    Paul
     
  4. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    When I was a teenager printing in my parent's basement, my timer of choice was a Hauck. Simple to use. Still have it, doesn't cutoff the safelight though. Have a CP TouchTimer that I got at an annual photo auction but currently using an IC timer. Hate Gralabs for printing because you have to keep resetting the time and the flow from focussing/printing etc is not smooth. As a process timer it's king.

    When I get a footswitch I'm probably going to move back to a metronome system which I used when I was a summer intern at a paper in Ontario. Helps you concentrate and makes dodging and burning more precise and repeatable. Also something very calming about listening to the tic toc tic toc while bathed in the glow of the safelight.
     
  5. DBP

    DBP Member

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    You could always fall back on the tried and true elephant system. See "Gregory's Girl" (1981).
     
  6. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I'm with Bob and canuhead. A quartz clock that ticks once a second is good. I've also used wind-up clocks.
     
  7. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    whatever timer you get, a footswitch was the best investment. Left me hands free.
     
  8. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    With an enlarger, or when using photographic paper, I use the metronome, and I've done it for nearly 40-years. For me, it makes exposure and dodging and burning much easier - you just count the seconds and use your hands to manipulate cards. No footswitch needed - just start the ticking when you start your session and stop it when you end.

    Of course, at the time of our divorce, what's-her-name-#1 swore the infernal ticking is what drove her to drugs and alcohol.
    juan
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A metronome is certainly fine, and you can also use it for timing long camera exposures.

    A Gralab or Omega Pro-Lab timer with a big glow-in-the-dark dial, though, is handy for other things in the darkroom, and it will turn off the safelight while the enlarger is on, which makes it a bit easier to focus, though it's not absolutely necessary. They're cheap and plentiful on the used market.
     
  10. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I use a combination of a regular clock and a kitchen timer for the sink process including washing. They work fine.

    But for the enlarger I have a LPL digital timer, and I cannot print without it.
     
  11. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    How about a Durst TIM 60? Cheap 'n' reliable.
     
  12. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    There is to the Time-O-Lite M & P-59 series. These little tanks are repeatable 60 second timers, and the P series allows for a foot switch. I have one on the enlarger, and another over the developer tray.

    As noted, the Gralab 300 is a workhorse that allows up to one hour, and the stop-click setting action makes for easy setting in the dark or between chemistry changes. I use this one for fix, wash, and toning operations.

    These are available on eBay, but can be snatched up quickly and overbidded to overly high prices. To snipe or not to snipe, that is the question...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2006
  13. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I'll second the GraLab 300 for your situation. I've had others (some pricey ones, too) and seem to have trouble eventually. I pull out the old GraLab and get back to work. I also keep a Time-O-Lite by my trays, set to 1 minute. I put my paper in and hit the timer and at the 1 minute mark, it has a soft rewind sound sound that keeps my tray timing straight for me.
     
  14. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    Craig, makes for a nice workflow, doesnt it? I like the idea of a metronome for dodging and burning. It seems too distracting for overall exposures, but for keeping one's eyes on the print at all times during short d&b sessions could be a real help.
     
  15. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    I prefer the Beseler Audible timer. Simple to set, accurate, you can get a foot pedal for it and it has a metronome beep for dodging and burning that can be switched off if you (or your SO) don't want to listen to it.

    There are a couple of them on yabe right now in your price range:

    7610668588
    7609962654

    I used several different enlarger timers before getting my Metrolux, and these were my favorite.

    Bruce
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I would wait until I had my enlarger and paper combination, and have a sense about what my average exposure times might be.

    The reason - a bright enlarger and sensitive paper leads to shorter exposure times. If you find you are using 12 seconds or shorter a lot, with the lens stopped down a long way, you may find that a basic digital timer is a good choice. It is fairly difficult to set a Gralab 300 for a 4.7 second burn, but a Gralab 450 is a piece of cake.

    I picked up a Gralab 450 on *bay for $37.00, including shipping. It took some patience, because I was being outbid regularly on other auctions, but eventually I succeeded.

    Now I've turned around and bought a footswitch for it, and paid almost as much again :rolleyes: . Oh well.

    By the way, good luck, and have fun.

    Matt
     
  17. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    For your budget, I agree with Matt that a GraLab 451 (ideally with a foot switch is the closest option. A Gralab 300 is a pain to reset all of the time. If you have patience, you might be able to find a Jobo Multitronic on Ebay which is better because it also has 3 channels to use as a process timer. I like it better than the Gralab process timer (? 900 or 9000).
     
  18. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I am currently using a Gralab 505 because it came with the enlarger I bought. Before that I use a PLC connected to the PC.