Is a timer necessary?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by IloveTLRs, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I was walking around my local camera supply shop last night, looking at enlargers. I've been meaning to setup a darkroom recently and so I was pricing things. I found a timer, but it was $200 :sad:

    It's been a while since I've done prints (almost 15 years) and I was wondering, is a timer necessary? Can't you just turn the light on and off? What are average exposure times for a daylight scene?

    Sorry again, but like I said it's been almost 15 years and I don't really remember anything except putting the prints in the trays of water.
     
  2. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    Up until last christmas, I didn't have a timer. I used a pocket watch and turned the light on and off by hand. It works fine if you have exposures longer than a second or two.
     
  3. vdoak

    vdoak Subscriber

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    I use a metronome to keep track of time, turn on the enlarger light with a switch and use a gray card for a "shutter" (the same one i use for burning and dodging). The metronome is accurate but is a cheap electronic one. I try to set up exposures that are in the 12 to 15 second range. This is so I have time for burning and dodging.
     
  4. Micky

    Micky Member

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    sure it can be done, and I've been doing it.....but a timer is a great thing to have, and I wouldn't like to go back to timing by hand.
     
  5. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Strictly speaking, a timer isn't REALLY necessary - meaning that you can expose paper under the enlarger without it. But, it sure makes life in the darkroom a lot easier.

    My advice: check the local ebay or similar "for sale" secondhand ads, and I'm sure you'll find something quite a lot cheaper - meaning something in the $10-$20 range, which is quite reasonable.
     
  6. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I did it when I first started by just counting. It worked pretty decently - consistency was alright. However, a timer makes things SO much easier and enjoyable. I would get a digital one.
     
  7. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I don't know supply and demand for darkroom gear in Japan, but $200 is A LOT for a timer, even a new one, unless it has a lot of bells and whistles. Here in US, I'd expect to pay $10 to $50 for a used one, depending on type (mechanical or electronic), features and condition. The price difference between used darkroom equipment and new darkroom equipment is huge. If nothing available locally, check the ads here in APUG; I'm sure you can get one a lot cheaper even after factoring shipping to Japan.
     
  8. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    It's not just Japan -- here in Canada used basic Gralab timers go for $150-$200 in camera stores used sections. I got mine, like new, off ebay for $25. And of course, just afterwards, I was given another one when I bought my enlarger. IloveTLRs -- if you are interested in this timer, please send me a pm -- I'm willing to pass it on to you for the cost of shipping.
     
  9. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    As others have said, a timer is great convenience, but not vital. I learned with one, one thousand, two, one thousand, three......... I now have a programmable electronic timer I built years ago from a Heathkit. I still count to myself, as the exposure is being made.

    One thing: make up some kind of simple foot switch so you do not touch the enlarger cord. A friend made one for me using a rubber door stop, a push switch, lamp cord, and end plugs. Works great.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    While I echo John's comments I now prefer a timer, I've had one for years, a Phillips bought in the early 70's it has a meter that can be calibrated and it'll even tell you what grade paper to use (via a chart).

    However when printing long runs commercially (70's/80's) we never used a timer, on occasions we'd do runs of 100/200 or more prints off each of a number of negatives for Press Releases etc and we'd use the red filter below the lens instead of a timer flicking it in & out of the light path. We had remarkably consistent results but we were used to working this way.

    I still count while burning & dodging.

    Ian
     
  11. Vincent Brady

    Vincent Brady Subscriber

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    A friend of mine also uses a metronome in his darkroom work and I can't understand why. While his work is excellent I'm sure that that an electronic timer would allow him so much more freedom when printing. I just cannot imagine myself doing without my timer which is also an F stop timer.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'm sure many of those mechanical Time-o-light timers get thrown out every day in the US. Maybe someone will send you one for the price of postage to Japan :smile: . I gave mine away about 10 years ago (all my current enlargers have integrated digital timers).
     
  13. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    QUOTE
    It's not just Japan -- here in Canada used basic Gralab timers go for $150-$200 in camera stores used sections. I got mine, like new, off ebay for $25. And of course, just afterwards, I was given another one when I bought my enlarger. IloveTLRs -- if you are interested in this timer, please send me a pm -- I'm willing to pass it on to you for the cost of shipping.

    This is a part of why APUG is such an exellent place, good on you.

    Now TLR lover, take him up on this offer, and a small portion of that $200.00 can go to APUG as a suscriber:wink:
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'd answer the question by saying that a timer is necessary, just not absolutely necessary.

    I think it depends on your enlarger, and the size of enlargements you make.

    If most of your prints are made using exposure times of 30 seconds plus, you can get good results without one.

    If you are regularly printing for 4, 6 or 8 seconds, or if you start making more complex prints, with lots of careful burns and dodges, a timer is a lot more important.

    I've used a timer for 30+ years, but I have also worked in newspaper darkrooms without one, and can do a mean "one thousand and one, one thousand and two, one thousand and three ...."

    Matt
     
  16. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    I use a timer, ticks of a clock and internal mississippi clock equally
    usually all regardless of whether using the timer
    final printing I use the timer but the setting of the timer up to then is probably half based on test strips and same internal clock/memory I've built over time that I wouldn't have IMO if were to have never counted seconds/beats
    i believe counting internalizes the time better than relying on a machine would
    I know MY time ..because I've synched to a machine for a "baseline" to draw from
    I'd be much less accurate if I were to tell you when each tick is taking place by clock movement memory alone
    The structure provides the accuracy

    By this I mean over the span of a minute I may be off somewhat sometime/s
    -usually sense that I am-
    and so because of the internal rhythm can speed up or slow down to correct for the perceived difference
    which I always seem to do by the end of the timing


    A clock/timer is perfect so why bother keeping track yourself
    up to you
    I'd rather have it than not even if no help in the darkroom


    I timed myself
    1 second
    results
    .93
    .91
    on the last I made up for the slowness and got 1.03
    10 seconds
    9.62
    10.35 slow
    10.25
    30 seconds no counting just rhythm
    32.56
    booya lol


    anyway why apug? send some saved money to haiti! Or even...........................................
    Lets just give all our disposable income to nee

    LOL


    ".lots of careful burns and dodges, a timer is a lot more important"
    I disagree
    just to show variety of ways
     
  17. Ross Chambers

    Ross Chambers Member

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    Aaargh! OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

    Me too (what if the battery is flat in the timer, or the mains power drops out?)

    My advice: start with a top of the line timer, otherwise suffer the compulsive counting syndrome implanted in the brain from the use of devises like metronomes.:wink:
     
  18. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    You don't need a timer for casual work, but high-quality work is difficult to do consistently without a timer. 1/12 f/stop difference can easily be seen in highlights and midtones, but it's hard to time with anything but a good timer. Also, many tests to understand materials and calibrate darkroom processes depend on a timer. I picked up the metronome idea and it works fine for timing dodging and burning, but the sound can drive you nuts after a while if used for all timing processes. Get a good timer, you won't regret it. Consider f/stop timing while you're at this point, but be aware that most timers won't support it.
     
  19. Blacknoise

    Blacknoise Member

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    i use a metronome too, but i think i might buy a timer when payday comes...
     
  20. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser

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    Now, hold on there. All timers worth buying support it.
     
  21. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Another great thing is a timer with a foot switch. Useful for dodging and burning. I ended up with the RH Designs StopClock Pro, but the Darkroom Automation one looks great too. Both f-stop timers.
     
  22. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I agree with Ralph. I use a metronome when burning or dodging but it is connected to my electronic timer and has an independent off/on switch. My timer was a good investment and has been reliable for many years. If you are using multigrade papers and more than one filter for a print at different times for each it certainly comes in handy.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    timers can be useful.
    i have 2 of them, one for
    the enlarger/s and one for the wetside.

    if you need one, check out the classy-fides there
    is one with a foot switch for cheap, and every few weeks there
    is another for sale ... while it isn't absolutely necessary
    a timer can be helpful.
     
  24. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    True. Let me rephrase.

    Too many timers don't support f/timing.
     
  25. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I never got used to the foot switch. After stepping on it accidently a few times, I threw it out.
     
  26. photoncatcher

    photoncatcher Member

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    I've seen some good deals on all darkroom equipment on the "bay". Timers included. I also have a few I may be listng soon.