Digital vs Analogue Timers

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by jaydebruyne, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. jaydebruyne

    jaydebruyne Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So,

    Obviously there will be greater precision with digital timers, but for a brand new starter like me, do I need such precision like 1/10 of a second at this stage?
     
  2. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,927
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You may not need that precision, but assuming you're looking at used ones, the timing circuits in many electronic analogue timers use capacitors that degrade over time (decades). I had one here that no matter where it was set timed for about a half second. Even "new old stock" stuff could have the problem, as it's related to more to age than use.

    My $.02
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,122
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My Analog timers go down to 1/10th of a second so get what you can at a decent price. That precision is useful for print flashing (an advanced technique).

    Ian
     
  4. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,040
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It depends. For 1 second exposure, it's a 10% error rate. But for a minute exposure, it's not a big deal. IMHO.
     
  5. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

    Messages:
    543
    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    My opinion:
    1/10 of a second would only matter for exposures which were very short - and I never do super short exposures. My minimum enlarging exposure tends to be about 15 seconds, if it gets much shorter than that, I stop down the lens. With a 15 second exposure, +/- 1s is barely noticeable (the difference between 14 and 15 seconds on the exposure is about 1/4 stop) so precision is not the reason to go digital.

    I've used both, and happen to prefer the analog timers since I have a better feel for the amount of time when looking at a dial vs a display, but I currently use a digital timer, since it is integrated into my enlarger head.
     
  6. miha

    miha Member

    Messages:
    1,250
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Get a digital timer. My previous Kaiser analogue timer was precise enough but it's repeatibilty was horrid.
     
  7. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,463
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Analog (like a gralab 300) could be more reliable as the keypads for setting the digital timers get corroded over time unless you find one with a waterproof keypad.

    Digital could be slightly more convenient and repeatable (like if you have to make a whole bunch of consecutive 10 second prints) for short exposures.
     
  8. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

    Messages:
    703
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Probably OT but I have an old red Kodak clockworks timer. Messing around with it yesterday I got it to where it was just 15 seconds slow over 3 hours. And I think I can tighten that up a bit more.

    s-a
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,179
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Digital timers work well with f-stop printing - I recommend them.
     
  10. Ricus.stormfire

    Ricus.stormfire Member

    Messages:
    271
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Location:
    Bloemfontein
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    +1
     
  11. jbridges

    jbridges Subscriber

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2007
    Location:
    AR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Get the best one you can afford. The best investment will be film and paper.
     
  12. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

    Messages:
    314
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2013
    Location:
    Southern AZ
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'd vote for digital. I just brought Dr. Beat into the darkroom, and am more accurate than my Gralab 300. Setting small intervals for test strips had quite a bit of variance, but we never really printed anything less than 10 seconds. With Dr. Beat, I can set sixteenths @ 120 BPM and get 1/32 second intervals, with quiet good accuracy.

    However, I have been playing bass for over a decade (mostly jazz) and have been noted for having excellent time and groove. My girlfriend is a drummer, so she's definitely not a slouch with beat/groove either. YMMV depending on your musical skill, though. For us, at least, we've been overall happier just manually hitting the switch on our voltage regulator and using a metronome vs the old GraLab 300, so if were going to buy one again, it would be a digital one.
     
  13. winger

    winger Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,923
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    southwest PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a Saunders digital timer and love it. One big factor to consider is consistency. I know that setting it for 8 seconds is going to give me the same time every time. I had a "Time-o-lite" that would be anywhere from 6 to 10 seconds if set for 8. That gets aggravating fast if you're trying to make several prints in a row the same.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,353
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe analog in this context means clockwork. That is what I thought of when reading the question.
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,353
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe analog in this context means clockwork with dial-face and digit. That is what I thought of when reading the question.
     
  17. DannL.

    DannL. Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2013
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I use a Time-o-lite one minute timer similar to this M-72 model for timing the enlarger bulb and making contact prints. Having gone through digital and solid-state meters, I still prefer to use these. They can be found on ebay for very little. Plenty adequate for my work. Then I use the GRALAB Model 300 for timing development in trays/drums. Both timers mentioned have a dial face.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2014
  18. jaydebruyne

    jaydebruyne Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yeah I was reading about pre-flashing last night. Need to read it again though as it was a little confusing!
     
  19. jaydebruyne

    jaydebruyne Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I hear ya!
     
  20. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I like the Grablab 300 for film & electronic for printing.
     
  21. jaydebruyne

    jaydebruyne Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks, Matt! I've got my eye on a Peterson copy on eBay! I'll look up what f-stop printing is in the meantime :wink:

    I hope you don't mind an unrelated question to what the post is about, but other than a difference in light output, why does an enlarger lens have an aperture range? Or is that the sole purpose? Does it actually effect focus? Does a smaller aperture give you a sharper image?

    :/
     
  22. jacaquarie

    jacaquarie Member

    Messages:
    105
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    For what it is worth I have the Time-O-Lite and it works well for me.
    My suggestion is not to worry about digital or clock-type but something you will use and go to the dark side and print!
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,179
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Every lens has a "sweet" spot - an aperture setting where the various aberrations inherent in real world lens design are at their minimum total effect, and diffraction limiting hasn't started having a large effect.

    For most enlarging lenses, that "sweet" spot setting is about two stops down from maximum opening.

    Sometimes however, that "sweet" spot opening either lets too much light through, or lets too little light through, to give you practical enlarging times, so you need to adjust the aperture away from it.

    In addition, you generally want to compose and focus on the easel with as much light as possible, in order to see best what you are doing. Then you stop down to your printing aperture.

    Finally, smaller apertures will give you greater depth of focus (helps slightly with curly negatives) as well as greater depth of field (enables adjusting for converging parallels and helps with curly printing paper).
     
  24. jaydebruyne

    jaydebruyne Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Agreed.

    I want to purchase a timer I can use while I learn the basics, but one I can use later on when I'm more experienced and get more creative.

    I don't want to buy the same kit twice! And I like to research :smile:

    (I'm contradicting my opening question I know, but people's views sometimes puts my own into perspective)
     
  25. jaydebruyne

    jaydebruyne Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Ahhhhh *penny drops* :smile: and the longer the lens, the bigger I can make the print? As I have a 50mm and and an 80mm lens.
     
  26. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,179
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nope.

    Enlargers work backwards when compared with cameras (they are like projectors).

    The shorter the lens, the higher the magnification.

    But .....

    Generally, you don't use shorter enlarging lenses than the ones that are recommended for your format (50mm for 35mm film, 80mm for 6x4.5 - 6x6 or sometimes 6x7) because the shorter lenses won't cover the larger negatives. By "cover", I mean sharply focus all the detail in the negative right out to the corners. The 50mm lens will sharply render the centre of a 6x6 negative, but the corners won't be sharp, and may not be shown at all on your print.

    You choose the enlarging lens based on coverage and you adjust the enlarger to set the magnification.

    Hope this helps.

    PS there are special purpose exceptions to the above - like wide angle enlarging lenses - but its best to consider the usual choices for now.