RH Designs ZoneMaster (I & II)- Opinions?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Melisa Taylor, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    rbarker mentioned in another thread in here how well his Zonemaster II enlarging meter worked.

    I'm interested in hearing more opinions on this. I ran out of ideas for what I want for Christmas, and this may be a contender if I hear enough good things about it.

    I'd like to hear pros and cons.

    Also, I'd like to know if it's easy to setup. Until my darkroom is built, I will be using the ones at my local community college. I'd like to bring that with me to get more work done, but only if it's not a PITA to set up every time.

    :smile:

    edited to add: I just looked at the RH Designs site and I don't understand what this means:

    Model ZoneMaster II
    exc. VAT= £146.84 inc. VAT = £175.00
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2004
  2. lee

    lee Member

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    con is that they cost a lot of money
    pro they are worth every penny

    from what I hear good tech support

    lee\c
     
  3. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    i finally figured out the price with shipping to the US after converting the Pound to the Dollar. It looks like it's approximately $300 for the Zonemaster II.

    Not bad. Of course, it's doubtful it will get here by Christmas. But it's not like I can use it till about the 2nd week of January anyways.
     
  4. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I don't have one but I would like one. I've heard nothing but good things about it or any of the RH Designs products. I've emailed them a couple of questions in the past and they are prompt, honest and not always saying what I wanted to hear.
     
  5. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Melissa,

    I have a Stop Clock Vario for my Zone VI 8x10 cold light, and an analyser pro one for my Besseler III. I've had mine for years. I used my Analyser pro to get me back into the swing of printing. If one can follow the directions (it took me a while to figure it out [which doesnt say much for me]) it is extremely accurate. I believe it has the same function as the ZoneMaster II except mine runs the enlarging light.

    Both have worked flawlessly.
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Can't help re' the analyser as I don't have one, but you can download a manual for the analyser from their website which should tell you how easy, or not, it is to setup.

    300 USD is about 155 GBP at today's exchange rate. A few other things to consider: allowing for postage and any customs duty that may be due and the postal carrier's customs brokerage fee, I would guestimate that you are looking at more like $350 - $400 in total depending on what the duty is, if any.

    Pity they do not have a US distributor.

    Still, at least you don't have to pay the dreaded 17.5% VAT!

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  7. Leon

    Leon Member

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    hi Melisa

    I use an Analyser Pro - the meter for which is roughly the same as the zonemaster. I have stopped using the meter part of it now and just use it as a timer unless I have a particularly tricky negative. it is an excellent tool and when I first started using it and had it calibrated properly, my printing improved no end.

    That said, if you are going to be taking it into a public/ college darkroom where you may not be using the same enlarger two times in a row, it may be a problem as different enlargers will need different calibration settings and it would not be practical to set this up. I would suggest it would be better to wait until your darkroom is set up.

    That said, I now think I would have been better off buying a stopclock timer rather than the analyser ... maybe that would be worth considering as you would continue to find this useful long after your printing skills go beyond the need for a meter.

    just a thought
     
  8. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    Leon, I see what you are saying. I will have to think about this. I think as long as I can use the same enlarger (1 out of 2) in the Advanced darkroom I might be ok with calibration settings. Those days that i don't get to use the same enlarger, I just won't set it up, i guess. Still, i need to think about this.
     
  9. Timothy

    Timothy Member

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    RH Stuff

    I am using an Omega enlarger with an Aristo Cold Light head. This set up and others like it, (zone vi, etc...) will not work in a scenario where the Analyzer is directly connected to the controller for the cold light head. This is because the cold light head does not have a continuous even output of light. So whatever amount of light is measured by the analyzer, it could never be matched by a controller that was only controlling time of running.
    My explanation sucks, there is a better one on the RH websight. The point is that I got an Analyzer Pro, and a vario Stop Clock to connect as a timer for the cold light head. If I understood him correctly, it sounds like Leon has the RH unit that combines the analyzer and timer in one unit. Obviously he must be using some form of incadesant enlarger. This is an important point.
    If you use a cold light enlarger you will need to use a "vario" type of timer. These actually have a separate sensor which is attatched directly to the light and there is no way you will be doing that on borrowed equip or any portable or temporary basis. It involves drilling a hole in the casing for the light.
    However you are asking about the Analyzer not the timer. The thing is, if a cold light is involved, you can not use the analyzer without a "Vario" timer.
    In this situation one needs to evaluate carefully, do you really need both the Analyzer and the Stop Clock timer. If you get the Analyzer, you will have to get the timer or the Analyzer will be useless. But is you get just the vario timer, it will always be useful.
    On that last point I agree with Leon. The Analyzer is very useful and accurate but time consuming, and once you have done half a dozen prints with one set of materials, it just becomes a waste of time. But the Timer is probably the greatest bit of kit I have ever had and would not trade it for anything.

    Tim R
     
  10. Leon

    Leon Member

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    Timothy - i think we're getting a little confused with terminology. The RH designs Analyser Pro is an Fstop timer with an integral meter. What I imagine you have is a Zonemaster (meter) and the Stopclock Vario (timer) - does that make sense?

    either way, you are right - I dont use a cold light source. But you make an excellent point there Timothy ... not only would the calibrations be out from one enlarger to the next, the whole zonemaster unit would be completely redundant with a cold light head - of which there could possibly be one in the public darkroom melisa uses ... it's all so complicated! Possibly another good reason to wait 'till you have your own darkroom melissa.

    If you are looking for a xmas gift ... why not try the RHDesigns paperflasher for now?? I go one of these recently and it is excellent for getting detail from highlight areas of negatives I never thought detail would exist. And you could quite easliy take this to the college darkroom with you.

    I dont work for RH designs, honest!
     
  11. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I've been using the Analyser Pro for about 4 months now. I really, really like it. A lot. I have D2V Omega enlarger (condenser) It turns off the safelight when printing and when reading values. I can make most prints in two shots - the first to determine what needs to be dodged/burned and the second to do it. If you are into split-grade printing it seems to work very well, though I don't do a lot of that. There is a burn-in timing feature as well, which makes burning in easy. The footpedal helps a lot too since it lets you get all of the dodging tools ready to go before you turn on the light.

    You do have to calibrate it to your enlarger and your paper, though I have yet to do so and haven't had any issues as yet. It comes pre-set for Ilford Multigrade and I think a few others.

    Does it produce prints any better than my old WWII military timer? No, but I use a lot less paper to get to the print that I want. And I like being able to do densitometer readings with it as well since I lack a densitomer.

    If you do a lot of printing it will probably pay for itself in paper in about a year or so.

    It has a lot of features, which I've barely begun to explore. And I'm not an expert by any means on enlarging timers and analyzers, but it has certainly worked well for me.

    Good luck,

    Will
     
  12. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    we have omega condenser enlargers at the school and the enlarger i have at home is the same enlarger, only it can print color, too. Neither of them are cold light enlargers.
     
  13. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Being as it was my mention of the ZoneMaster II in another thread that prompted your interest, Melisa, I waited until others had responded to add my 2¢. Leon was actually the person who turned me on the the RH Designs products. (Thanks again, Leon.)

    As others have mentioned, they have different products for different enlarger types - some with timers, others without. Because I was in the midst of considering a new enlarger when I bought the unit, but wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go with the enlarger, I chose the (timer-less) ZoneMaster II meter. I bought on their site with a credit card, and the unit was promptly shipped. It arrived via USPS Air in about 4 days, as I recall, and there was no additional duty applied to mine at that time. (I wouldn't assume that to be the case in all situations or locations, however.) I just use mine with my existing timer, and manage the safelights manually.

    The ZoneMaster II is a small, battery-operated unit requiring no connection to the enlarger, so it would probably be convenient for you going to an outside lab. Even if you don't go through the full calibration procedure with each of the enlargers you use there, you may be able to arrive at an "adjustment factor" for the enlarger that would still make the meter useful. For example, the meter might suggest an exposure time of 10.5 seconds, but your first test print/strip indicates 12.5 seconds is better. On subsequent negs, you could simply add the 2 seconds, and "come close" on the first test.

    Reading the material on the RH Designs site will help you decide which unit best fits your needs. The site includes a couple of tutorial articles written by users which may help in understanding the calibration procedures, as well. Note, too, that the ZoneMaster II also has a densitometer mode. So, if you're working on fine-tuning your exposure/development to specific densities, this may come in handy.

    After doing (lots of) test strips for 30 years, I'm really "tickled" with my ZMII. I still do test prints to arrive at a dodging/burning plan, but coming close with the first one is a big help.
     
  14. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    Ralph. Thanks for your input on this. I see you mentioned safelights being turned off. Is that something you have to do often? I will definitely have to make sure I get the small (2 person) advanced darkroom just to be sure.
    I went ahead and told my sweetie it was what I wanted so, I'm crossing my fingers. It's either that or a slew of comedic dvd sets. :smile:
     
  15. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Safelights - yes, they must be turned off when you are metering. Otherwise the readings will be way off. I've forgotten a couple of times, and kicked myself when the print exposure was crazy.

    Here's hoping your "Santa" gets the list in time, way up there at the North Pole, and all. :D
     
  16. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    yeah, and me down here in Florida. He's got a heck of a trip...first he has to go to the UK, then Florida. :tongue:

    safelight shouldn't be a problem...I will make sure I get to the darkroom early and use the advanced room.
     
  17. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    It looks like Santa is going to grant my Christmas wish! :D

    We aren't going for the suprise element or anything. LOL :smile:

    Well, except for stocking stuffers!
     
  18. lee

    lee Member

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    lucky you!

    lee\c
     
  19. blind squirrel

    blind squirrel Member

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    Hi there. I have used an RHDesign Zonemaster for what seems like 3 or 4 years now.It got wet the other week and they offer a standard price repair option which seems to me to be above and beyond the call of duty as I now have it back as good as new.
    They seem to be a really good company to have dealings with.
    It is a great device and worth whatever it costs, because it saves you paper and time by the dishload.
     
  20. RH Designs

    RH Designs Advertiser Advertiser

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    Well, we shipped it on the 21st so I hope the Post Office obliged with a before Christmas delivery!

    Just a couple of comments - firstly you *must* turn the safelights off when making measurements otherwise the readings will be inaccurate. Second - cold lights. The issue here is stability - if the light level varies between taking a measurement and making the exposure, or between measurements, then the results will be inaccurate. A compensating timer won't necessarily help because the compensation won't be working in "focus" mode (i.e. when you're taking readings). However, if you make sure your cold light is well warmed up (leave it on for half an hour or so before starting work) and is left switched on as much as possible, stability problems will be minimised. Bear in mind that light level changes will affect your results when using test strips as well, not just when using an exposure meter!

    Best wishes
    Richard Ross, RH Designs

    PS - I've recently completely overhauled our web site, www.rhdesigns.co.uk -take a look if you haven't visited recently.
     
  21. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    Richard, yes I did get to open it on Christmas morning. You guys are fast! :smile:

    Thanks!
     
  22. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Well, what do you think? Worth it?
     
  23. Melisa Taylor

    Melisa Taylor Member

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    I won't be able to use it until the school darkroom re-opens mid january. That's the only darkroom i can use until we get one built here at home (no space to build it in yet).