Safelight experiences anyone?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by michael_r, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Since I started printing years ago I've always used my father's old Kodak safelight (the triangular one that can take two 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" glass filters). I always had two OC filters in it and have replaced them several times due to fading.

    I'd like to get something new because in addition to printing with standard VC papers I'm doing masking with Ortho film. The red and deep red Kodak filters for my safelight aren't available anymore and frankly, they're expensive anyway.

    I've read that particularly for ortho films, you want red light that has pretty sharp, accurate cutoff or else you can still easily fog the film. Some people suggested an LED safelight for that purpose because they are sharp-cutting (ie accurate). Who makes these?

    Also, I'd still like to have OC equivalent lighting for regular printing instead of red so is there such a thing that can do both? One thing I've seen is this type of safelight with fluorescent tubes and you can get the tubes in different colors, and a unit that can hold two different colored tubes. But are these any good?

    Or should I just stick to the regular type lightbulb/filter type? I just want to make sure it's good quality filtration.

    I think Ilford used to make good safelights but can you still buy new ones anywhere? What about the filters? And how do you convert those filter names like 902 etc back to the other convention (OC, 1A etc) so I know what to buy.

    I'm confused.

    Thanks in advance.
    Michael
     
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    There still seem to be quite a few of the Ilford ones available in new or near new condition in the usual auction places, often for quite reasonable prices.
     
  3. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I just scored a thomas duplex on evilbay for ~$65, havent got it yet but by far it is the sweetest freaking safelight there is. I use one everyday where I teach, and it was just such a downgrade to use my old Kodak (big rounded gray cone type) at home. Sodium vapor bulbs are where its at, with the vanes in the max opening position its almost as bright as with the lights on in the room.

    I advise you to pick one up as well too, ortho printing can be done by simply dropping the filter vanes, opened up give you orange amber. another just sold today or yesterday for ~70 bucks shipped.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    You buy red and deep red new filters from Freestyle for a resonable price. I've been using a red LED camping headlight for a while which works well as a flashlight. Others report good success with various red LEDs, either from superbrite LEDs.com, or things like bike tail lights and the camping light I use.

    If you have the space the Thomas lights are great too.
     
  5. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Are you sure this is right? Don't the vanes in the Thomas just vary the amount of illumination? Why would closing them down be safe for ortho? It's still the wrong color isn't it? Also are Thomas safelights even safe for paper? I know people like them because they are bright with the vanes open, but at a workshop a few years back John Sexton made a point of saying Thomas safelights were not safe unless you closed the vanes down to the point where you're not getting much more light than a regular safelight.
     
  6. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The thomas duplex has 2 sets of filters, orange/amber, and ortho/red for B&W printing. the red filters are attached to the vanes, the orange/amber ones are attached all the time. closing them down forces the light to go through both filters instead of one. Still very bright with them closed vs traditional safelight.

    All safelights fog, its just a matter of how long its exposed and how close it is. The bounced illumination from the thomas is very easy on the eyes if ceiling mounted correctly.
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Interesting. Thanks for the info. Hopefully some others will chime in with LED experience etc. I'll have to do some more research too.
     
  8. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    Depending on the speed of your ortho film, you may just want to skip the safelight. I do. You can learn yo do without very quickly. Just like when printing color. Line (lith) films are another matter. They can be in the red longer.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I am using these with Ilford MGIV, Kodak Polycontrast and Oriental Seagull RC black and white variable contrast papers:

    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/18-led-e27-light-bulb-110v-red-5136

    They fit in cheap clamp-on lamp holders. I bounce two of them off of the ceiling.

    I have performed safelight tests to ensure they work well.
     
  10. trexx

    trexx Member

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    If you can get one, the Thomas is the way to go. The light emitted with the vanes open is an extremely narrow band, a characteristic of low pressure sodium vapor . All my VC, Graded paper as well as Ortho films are blind to it. Cannot say the same for other lights I have tested. the light is so bright you'll think your in daylight.
     
  11. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    An LED safelight will do the job for you and offers a couple of advantages.
    It's smaller. lighter, more durable, much less expensive to ship, Will be much less expensive to replace when or if it stops working.
    It doesn't happen often but the replacement lamps for the Thomas are not cheap.
     
  12. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    ~$27+shipping for a philps brand, the OEM replacement is $99bucks from BH

    http://www.1000bulbs.com/product/4770/LPS-327817.html
     
  13. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    If you've had trouble with a not so safe safelight, a layer of Rubylith over it will probably fix it. Rubylith is used in the graphic arts and is easy to buy.
     
  14. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I have a pair of these - http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/43176-REG/Doran_PRSL5_Economy_Darkroom_Safelight_with.html
    And when I started trying the Arista lith film in pinhole, I bought (I think) - http://www.adorama.com/PESLF10121A.html I cut two pieces using a dremel (not that I'd really recommend that). I haven't had obvious fogging problems or issues seeing well. I have the red ones in all the time 'cause that's easier than climbing up and detaching them from the walls to change the filters. I can see well enough.
     
  15. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    All of my safelights are simple fixtures that have a normal screw-in base, a ruby screw-on dome which covers the bulb. I bought them from a local professional graphic arts supply house, I forget the brand, but it was a popular 20th century GA manufacturer of darkroom equipment. I put low wattage bulbs in them. They aren't bright like the Thomas, but this makes for easier vision when it's time to burn and dodge, which I do with virtually every print. At $20 - $30 each, I have them around the perimeter, and can turn them on and off individually.
    A friend of mine used to print all day with a B&W TV on in the darkroom (she was commercial, not fine art - and got bored with long production sessions). She bought a piece of red plexiglass and taped it over the screen, right above the counter with everything else. She had no fogging, so I guess simple red plexi is safe.
     
  16. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I use an old cast off Thomas Duplex safelight. It's super bright. My only qualm is that it hums very loudly. When it dies, I'll probably use orange or red LED rope lights. They use very little energy and easy to install.

    Here's a vendor:
    http://www.orangetreetrade.com/shop/
     
  17. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Dittos for Rubylith. You can make your own filter by putting it on a piece of acrylic sheet. Even more than one layer if necessary. It's cheap and if testing it doesn't give the desired result you can always try one of the other suggestions without having made much of an investment since the leftover Rubylith can be used for masking.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Mine hums the Colonel Bogey march and it drives me nuts. Must not know the words.:D
     
  19. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    This is an area where I've done a fair amount of research and gotten some dramatically successful results. The following two posts from another recent safelight thread summarize my experiences and contain links to the mentioned products:


    And in the second half of the following post:


    Hope these help a little bit.

    Ken
     
  20. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Another vote for the Thomas Duplex safelight. I use mine with Ilford VC paper all the time with nary a problem.

    It's bright enough that I can read the fine print on chemical bottles anywhere in the 8-foot by 12-foot darkroom.

    I've not tried it with film. The filters in the vanes are different from the ones in the body. Supposedly if you close the vanes the light is safe for film (ortho?), but I have no experience with that mode.

    - Leigh
     
  21. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    I, too, use a Thomas Duplex. It is very bright and can fog paper if the filters are old. You need to perform a proper safelight test like the one Kodak outlines. I have the standard filters in the base and the color filters in the vanes. I can use the vanes halfway open for black-and-white, and fully closed for color. The problem I have with the Duplex is: it's been discontinued. That means that filters are in short supply. Once they are out of stock in stores, I can't replace them when they get old and crack. I cannot get in touch with the company to find out what gels may be used as replacements since they are just gels sandwiched with tissue paper between glass.