How Much?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by bstguitarist, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. bstguitarist

    bstguitarist Member

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    How much does it cost to buy an maintain a darkroom for color and B&W film. Suppose i may be able to get some stuff free how much does it cost to maintain it?
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Take a look at the classifieds at usefilm.com, and you'll find a guy who is selling a pretty complete darkroom setup for someone just starting out for $600.

    How much does it cost from there? Depends on how much work you do, what processes you like, and how many test prints you make before reaching the final result. You can price out paper and chemistry at bhphoto.com or freestylecamera.com.
     
  3. Robert

    Robert Member

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    What do you mean by maintain? Chemicals and paper? If so the short answer is it depends.

    The longer answer is

    1) How much will you use it?

    2) How expensive are your tastes? RC paper costs less then fibre. 8x10s cost less then 16x20s.

    3) How good are you at finding deals? At least one of the local places puts RC paper on sale every Sept when the kids go back to school. If you know this you save 20+%.

    For equipment it depends again. Are you willing to get the sort of equipment that requires more effort on your part? Or do you want all the bells and whistles?
     
  4. RAP

    RAP Member

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    There is a pretty good cost difference between a color and b&w darkroom. Color you need a color head for your enlarger, more precise temperature control, a print processor, the chemestry is more expensive and so is the paper.

    B&W is much simplier and less expensive. If you are doing contact prints, you don't even need an enlarger. There are books to tell you what you need. You can also click on the Calumet link above are research there. They have everything you need.
     
  5. Robert

    Robert Member

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    Isn't colour paper the one thing that's actually cheaper?
     
  6. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    Nowadays if you buy good used equipment your cost for supplies will quickly surpass the initial outlay for durable gear like enlargers, tanks, reels, etc.

    Earlier this year I bought a Durst 606 enlarger on eBay, just to use for making contact sheets and preflashing paper, for around $60. It came with a very good 50mm lens for 35mm negatives, a decent 80mm lens for 6x6cm, all the original documentation, a handy carrying case and even some 35mm and 6x6 negatives from the original owner dating back to the mid to late 1960s. That's a pretty typical deal right now for a good used older b&w enlarger.

    A good used color head enlarger like my Durst M605 will range from $200-$500 depending on brand, model, features, condition and accessories. I paid around $300 for mine, which included a very good 50mm lens, Gralab digital timer and other accessories. Since I bought locally and could examine the enlarger before buying I was willing to pay a bit than I might have online, where some (not all) sellers tend to overrate and overvalue equipment.

    For another $100 you can get enough tanks and reels for 35mm and medium format to meet all but the highest production quota needs. If you can buy 'em used the cost will be much less. For example, a new Hewes reel and single stainless tank will cost at least $20-$30. But at a recent camera show I paid five bucks for a top quality older Nikor two-reel and tank system, which included a reel lifter. At the same show I spent another ten bucks with various dealers for additional tanks and reels, a total of $15 for gear that would have cost at least $100 new.

    Add a safelight and paper cutter (I use an inexpensive Fiskar's cutter because I don't print larger than 11x14) and you're pretty much set. Most other items can be cobbled together from household supplies.

    For example, my print processing trays are lightweight plastic Reynolds PotLux disposable/reusable baking trays, large enough for 8x10. Or I'll use tall, narrow 1-gallon Rubbermaid cereal keepers, especially for HCA baths and similar chores where I don't want to bother interrupting my workflow to agitate prints.

    I often print borderless right onto the baseboard so I don't have a fancy easel. When I want borders I'll use a couple of Speed Ez-Els. I would like a good 2- or 4-blade easel, tho', for my square prints.

    The rest - film, paper, chemistry, etc. - you can look up for yourself on the ads for B&H, Adorama and many other suppliers. I'm extremely frugal with my expendable supplies so I can usually keep my costs for these supplies to under $500 a year.

    At the other extreme I'll bet there are some APUGgers out there who've invested thousands, if not tens of thousands, in their equipment and spend hundreds more, perhaps thousands, a year on supplies.