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Thread: Safelight Help

  1. #1

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    Safelight Help

    Hi folks,

    My safelight is a bit on the crap side;, in that it gives out very little light. Plus i've just spent quite a while setting my room up to print some images only for the bulb to blow

    Anyway, can i use an ordinary red bulb in my ceiling light or will that give out the wrong kind/too much light? Not sure I'll be able to get a bulb for my safelight in town tomorrow and don't want to mess around putting everything away again. If i can use a normal red bulb i know i can get one tomorrow.

    Help much appreciated as usual

  2. #2

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    The only way to know is to test. Kodak publishes a good test.

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    cliveh's Avatar
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    Have you thought about a R10 strip light. I use one and find it quite good. By the way, there are advantages to dark darkrooms, as you can see the image on the baseboard more clearly.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    Have you thought about a R10 strip light. I use one and find it quite good. By the way, there are advantages to dark darkrooms, as you can see the image on the baseboard more clearly.
    Do you mean using no light at all? I did think about it. If i can't get a bulb tomorrow I might try it.

  5. #5
    Rafal Lukawiecki's Avatar
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    A "normal" household red lightbulb will almost definitely cause trouble when used on its own. Used with a safelight filter, that is not too old, should be OK. You might have a bit more success with a household red LED, especially one not over 2W (unless you have a large darkroom allowing for brighter ones) but you really cannot be sure at all without some testing, as many LEDs produce more than just the red light. Search APUG for many LED safelight threads, there is a lot here.

    The Kodak test takes only 15 minutes to do and it will tell you if your safelight is really safe. Avoid simpler tests, like the coin test, as they do not paint the full picture, ie you may think you are safe because paper is not fogging, but you may be getting just enough exposure from an unsafe safelight to make it impossible to get good contrast repeatably.

    Safe safelight is very important, otherwise you will be going in circles trying to get a good print. Second to that is making sure your enlarger does not leak too much light, I would think.
    Rafal Lukawiecki
    See rafal.net | Read rafal.net/articles

  6. #6
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MamiyaJen View Post
    Do you mean using no light at all? I did think about it. If i can't get a bulb tomorrow I might try it.
    No I didn't as you need to be able to see what you are doing.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  7. #7
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    Kodak officially recommends...

    • OA greenish yellow is for B&W contact/duplicating films
    • OC amber is for B&W print making
    • Red is only for some blue-sensitive materials
    • Light red is for slow orthochromatic materials
    • Dark red is for fast orthochromatic materials
    • Dark green is for some B&W panchromatic materials
    • Green is for some B&W infrared materials
    • Dark amber is for color print materials



    Generally it is best to handle panchromatic B&W film in darkness; same for color film.
    Last edited by wiltw; 09-26-2012 at 03:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I bought a string of red christmas lights and they work great for BW paper. $12 on ebay.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
    No I didn't as you need to be able to see what you are doing.
    Actually gave it a go and did fine haha

  10. #10

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    First, good safelights usually do not put out much light. The Thomas safelight of a few years back (low pressure sodium bulb) was an exception, and it often put out too much light to do things like focus the enlarger. Paper sensitivity does not simply cut off at some wavelength, it just markedly decreases. A good safelight keeps exposure insignificant for reasonable handling times while providing enough light to work. As you have discovered, safelights do change over time. You should perform the Kodak safelight test or its equivalent every so often just to be sure you are still safe. I strongly advise that you simply buy another safelight - one designed for the purpose. Modern papers require the equivalent of a Wratten OC, amber, safelight - others emit too much green for safety. Some papers recommend the equivalent of a Wratten 1A, light red, safelight. A simple red bulb may or may not work. Even if it works, it will probably provide less working time than a real safelight, and it may very well age rapidly. If you have one handy, you can test it.

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