I'll never set foot in a darkroom again without my RH Designs gear. It's THAT good. Metronome? Yeah, Saint Adams used one--but he started out before there was electricity.
The question isn't "Do I need a timer?", but "Would a timer make my time in the darkroom more enjoyable and productive?"
Sometimes when counting the seconds while exposing or developing my print, I lose count and either trash the print or just guestimate what second I should be on. Sometimes I screw up so badly I end up with a print that's too bad even for my low standards; that makes my darkroom time less enjoyable and productive
If I had a timer, I'd probably ocassionally set it wrong or lose track of time with it somehow*. That would make my darkroom time less productive and enjoyable.
I'm being a little cantankerous here, but I think a timer would be nice, and I wouldnt turn down a good deal if I found one and actually had a bit of spare money.
I have a surge protector that my lamp and enlarger plug in to. It sits on a table (the surge protector) next to the enlarger and is plugged in an outlet under the table. When I'm ready to expose a sheet, I flip the switch on the surge protector and the enlarger light comes on. I count the seconds until I get to however many it takes to properly expose the paper (when I contact print, there's enough light for me to see the clock as a guide if I lose count. counting 20 seconds is so easy I can do it 99% of the time without screwing up).
When developing, I just listen and count two minutes, which really isnt too hard if I concentrate. I might be more productive with a timer, but I'm a bit of a clutz, so that's just something else for me to try not to break or set wrong. :D
*at the school darkroom, we have enlarger timers for each enlarger. There's a Gralab timer on a table at the end of the sink. We usually set that to 59:59 minutes and let it run until it stops and then reset it. It's pretty easy even for beginners (at least at UAH) to watch the timer for a few minutes to make sure the print is fully developed and fixed. However, some uf us (me included) have got to talking to each other without realizing the paper has been in the developer for 5 minutes :D
Ahh, but his metronome was a _compensating_ metronome.
A good time that will do tenths of a second is a must. If your exposure is 6 seconds, how do you change it by 10%. Counting in your head is unreliable and not repeatable.
Before I answered this thread for the first time, I kind of wondered why OP was asking this question. To me, a timer is just a standard equipment. I have printed without one in the past, it still is something that belongs in a/my darkroom.
I wonder if OP have some darkroom experience already or if he/she is just setting one up and evaluating his/her options? Or, is this a question of more advanced timer and if he/she is wondering it is a better idea??
Would someone PLEASE invent a genderless pronoun?
If you are Lith Printing, you don't need one, because you determine the 'snatch point' on the fly in the developer and each print is unique.
Otherwise, it is impossible to establish an exposure time for your print without a method of keeping time. Of course, counting "one-one-thousand", etc is a method of keeping time.