Two things I encountered when I went down to the cellar. 1.The street drains are above the level of the cellar floor, so I have to have a submersible pump in a container under the sink to pump the outflow up to the drain. 2. Ceiling height may be restricted; work out how much height you will need if you really mean to print up to 20 x 24; you may need to build an enlarger platform that can be lowered for those extra large prints. I have to use wide angle lenses which doesn't work quite so well, for me anyway.
Thanks for all the great advice. The stacking and staggering on trays is a great idea. One could almost fit two trays in the footprint of one, a huge space saver. Maybe I could place the developer and stop trays as usual because they are more time sensitive and then stack the others. The only remaining question I have is about enlarger lenses. Ive always seen "50mm is good for 35mm". So what would I need for 6X7 ? And would this mean that I would need a different lens for different formats and print sizes ?
The focal length of the lens tends to indicate how much coverage the lens is capable of - longer lenses cover bigger negatives (some special lenses excepted).
Generally speaking, a 90mm lens is optimal for 6x7. Some 80mm lenses have enough coverage to be usable with 6x7. Many people use slightly longer lenses (e.g. 105mm) with 6x7, especially if they also shoot 6x9.
You can use longer lenses, but that will limit you to either smaller prints, or to using special arrangements like wall projection to get larger prints. As you probably understand, longer lenses result in lower magnification.
By the way, while it is true that you can use longer lenses than those that are optimal, the result may be that the lens is being asked to perform at a magnification that it is not optimized to work at. Good lenses can work well over a wide range, but they are best within a more narrow target range.
I use everything between 80mm and 150mm for my 6x7 negatives, because I do a fair number of small prints (e.g. postcards) from them. The longer lenses let me work with the enlarger head a reasonable distance from the paper. Otherwise, there can be a problem burning and dodging, or using my 11x14 easel.
I have a fairly large darkroom, and I don't use trays for anything over 11X14. I use wallpaper trays, and see-saw the prints through them. Trays over 11X14 are cumbersome and tend to spill easily. I second the beseler 23C or 45MX. I use both and they're real workhorses. Colour heads are available for both at reasonable prices when you decide to start printing colour.
I recently acquired a newer model Beseler 45 (rear struts) and discovered that it is a couple of inches taller than my existing one (front struts). A condenser head hits the ceiling, but fortunately I plan on using the 45S head on that chassis, and the condenser just clears the ceiling on the older chassis. I knew it would be close when I found it would only fit in the car one way around 8-)
I have 20x16 trays, but my 9'x8' darkroom is a tight fit to use them. 11x14 is much more reasonable. I batch tone separately from printing, partly because of space, and partly because of the time toning takes.
I tend to use 50mm for 35mm, 75mm for 6x4.5 and 6x6, 105mm for 6x9, and 135mm for 4x5".
Lots of ideas above. Since you are building the sink I assume you are painting it with polyester. Be sure it has a slight tilt toward the drain. Configure it so you can make some removable covers for the sink which will provide extra counter space when not using it for wet work. There are also tray stackers available that accommodate three trays.
I have a darkroom that is about 7' x 14' and use trays up to about 15" x 24" (for platinum prints with 8 x 20 film. My sink is deep enough (about 27" front to back) for these large trays. I have a ledge on the back of my sink which gets a lot of stuff on it. If you get a stainless steel and/or plastic sink, it may not have this. If you build your own, you can build it in.
I recommend that you give yourself more than one sink faucet (I have three). You could connect a simple water filter system from Home Depot to one faucet for cleaner water.
Consider a shallow shelf on the wall above the sink - that's where I have two timers plus developing supplies. String a wire above the sink and below the shelf for hanging prints to dry if you don't have drying shelf space.
One thing I would recommend that you consider is making the sink shallow enough (about 5 or 6" or so) but mount it high enough to sit at rather than stand at. Most darkrooms are designed so you stand at the sink and put "fatigue mats" on the floor. However, I made mine the proper height (both sink and dry area) to sit at with a tall stool on casters. When you spend hours in your darkroom, your back will quickly appreciate the ability to sit down to work. Also, my sink is hand built out of plywood and the front surface is the thickness of two sheets of 3/4" plywood. I bought a length of foam rubber piping insulation at Home Depot that is about 3" around and slit on one side. Fitting the slit of the insulation over the front edge of the sink gives you a great elbow resting surface.
Here's another tip that I found useful - get a little bottle of glow in the dark paint at the drug store and put little dabs of it on key things so you can easily find them in the dark when you are developing film - such as the faucet handles, light switches, and such.
Hope this helps.
You could also buy slot processors. Or build yourself. It's not very hard to do and very space efficient.
Originally Posted by R/D