Whoo-hoo! Free Darkroom Headstart!

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    My uncle was getting rid of his darkroom stuff, which he hasn't used in years, and thought proper to dispose of. I'm now in possession of quite a number of interesting items, incuding among others: a small Vivitar enlarger with 50/75mm lenses, masks for 35 and 6x6, Ilford VC filters (there's a tray in the enlarger head to slide them in), a Zone VI cold light head with a heavy block that has a on/off switch and...a really old box of Cibachrome paper, a developing tube, and a Cibachrome exposure timer!! There are also some Ciba filters, an Alden loader, changing bag (they were sturdier back then: the identical one I just bought is a POC), and a Paterson tank.

    Now the Ciba stuff may be only marginally useful (the paper is probably not worth the box it's in now), but I must say I am touched to have in my hands the proof that some time ago it was common to print directly from slides. However, I am more intrigued by the exposure meter, and I wonder if it can be of use for B&W. Now I wish I could describe it properly, but it's stowed away at the bottom of the box I brought it in. It's got a small rectangular white area with a little hole in the center. On the right there's a dial with time marks, and some LEDs.

    Other thing I'm not sure about is how to keep the Zone VI light properly setup in the head. There are no holes for screws in it, so I wonder how it should be kept in place. The enlarger's head is one of those metal ones that look like a saloon hairdryer, it's just thin metal.

    All that equipement is pretty nice to have come by--the irony is that the enlarger was once my father's, who sold it to my uncle--and I hope I can get started on setting up some bathroom darkroom pretty soon.
     
  2. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Since I doubt the ZoneVI cold light head fits the Vivitar enlarger, the mystery is what enlarger does it fit and where is that enlarger.

    Is there an Omega, Durst, or Beseler lurking in your family treasures? :smile:

    But it sounds like you're ready to get started. Enjoy.
     
  3. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Well, my father does use a Beseler so it's not really up for grabs. I was wondering if some contraption involving foam, screws, or metal rings could give me a stable and constant bed for the light.

    How cold is it in fact? Does it need a lot of airflow around? Also, why are there two connectors from it: one a two-pins wall plug, the other a 5-DIN, which goes into the switch. Why the extra wall plug if there's already the switch?
     
  4. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Oh, boy.

    As owner of a Zone VI, I've recently asked most of those questions. The second plug is for a heating element (which I'm told has a thermostat); it's to keep the light at a reasonably constant temperature, since the light output of fluorescent tubes (like the one in a cold light) varies a lot with temperature. The 5-pin DIN connects to a CdS light metering cell that can be used with either a stabilizer or a compensating timer to get constant exposures even if the tube temperature varies over the course of a single exposure -- the stabilizer with keep the light output constant by varying input voltage, while the integrating timer will simply count "different length seconds", shorter when the tube is brighter and longer when it's dimmer.

    The light doesn't get terribly hot -- I've left mine on for about fifteen minutes continuously, so far (haven't printed with it yet -- but will this weekend!) and it hardly gets warm to the touch, as would be the case with most fluorescent lighting fixtures. In my Omega enlarger, the Zone VI cold light sits down inside the original condenser housing, with the tubes and a diffusing sheet directly above the negative carrier. Your Vivitar probably doesn't have a large enough head to permit this if it's only 6x6 capable, and anything that mounts the light further from the negative will make for dimmer light and accompanying longer exposures.

    For that matter, I note that my Zone VI, made for 4x5, is quite dim with a 35 mm negative in place, and the 50 mm printing lens stopped down to f/8, as it would be for exposure; much less than 10% of the diffuser area is illuminating the negative compared to the 4x5 format the head is designed to light. As a result, especially with split filtering using maximum cutoff filters, I expect I'll run into some longish exposure times with small negatives (my smallest format is Minolta 16, 10x14 mm image area), though that will be less and less of a problem as I go up through 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x9, and 9x12 cm.
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Thanks a lot for the details Donald. My light head's DIN connector is only connected to a flip switch, so I'll assume that I should leave it connected in both the wall plug and the flip switch, using the latter to control exposure timing.

    I've had some talk with my father yesterday and he told me that the head could sit directly atop the filter/neg tray, without fear of heat. I'll try to set it up this weekend when he comes over.
     
  6. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    just and fyi, cold light heads need to warm up before use, or at least the older models. so leaving it on for 15 minutes is not a problem
     
  7. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Don't just sit there; get some chemicals and start printing!

    I can almost gaurentee that your family will think about filing missing persons reports with the local constabulary, because of the amount of time you'll disappear into the netherworld of your darkroom...

    ...which begs the question...have you picked out your spot for the darkroom?

    Keep us posted!!!
     
  8. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

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    Hand-me-down darkroom equipment should come with one proviso - pass it on when you're reaady!

    I ended up parting out the remains of an old pros equipment - kept the LF gear and enlargers, including a 5x7 Solar. When it came time to leave the States I sold off the gear I wasn't taking and gave away the enlargers to some people my father and I knew who had more experience and desire than cash. But they were given with the understanding that the next person down the line would recieve the same treatment. Sure, you'll find people who might take advantage of this and sell the stuff, but a little bit of trust goes a long way with equipment thats not worth a lot.
     
  9. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Oh I will, Joey! But for now I have to work on some contractual work this weekend (non-photo related, alas I'm not there), so my hope is to get a manageable temporary setup in my bathroom. My own bedroom is already my office and bed place (I live with roomates), and all the other rooms are so damn big it would be impossible to light-shield them.

    That's a sound advice Jimny, I'll remember it when I have enough money to buy me a bigger kit. I think the availability of free gear is essential. Otherwise there'll never be young ones like me who can get started in anything.
     
  10. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I've just about finished the work necessary to convert my larger bathroom to a darkroom in five minutes (put the light shield in the window, wheel in the enlarger cart and plug in, close the door and put a towel under it, clamp safelight on a shelf and plug in -- ready to mix chemicals), and back to bathroom in about the same time. A little thought and a little money (surprisingly little money, in my case, thanks to a providential purchase of photo goodies a couple years ago when I was just after the 620 spools) go a long way.

    Tomorrow... :smile: