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Thread: Beginner

  1. #1

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    Beginner

    Hi all I was wondering what chemicals and paper I should get (on the cheap preferably) as a beginer in darkroom work, I have an enlarger and am using 35mm frames, any tips would be helpful.

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    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    Ultrafineonline.com sells all sorts of cheap photo supplies. I would start with a multigrade RC paper, 5x7 and 8x10. If you don't have a set of multigrade filters I would get on that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mooseman View Post
    Hi all I was wondering what chemicals and paper I should get (on the cheap preferably) as a beginer in darkroom work, I have an enlarger and am using 35mm frames, any tips would be helpful.
    A couple of places to try, Darkroom Central.ca and Henrys.com. As for chemistries, there are usually standards, for example for film developing there is D76 (Kodak) and ID11 (Ilford), for Paper Kodak has Dektol and Ilford has Universal. Fixer is fixer, although you want a non-hardening fixer to start. Both Ilford and Kodak have an odourless indicator stop bath, while not needed for film (a water stop can work well), it can be useful to immediately stop development in paper, although it can be used with film as well.

    Kodak does not sell B&W paper anymore, Ilford does, my recommendation is to use Ilford Paper and chemicals for your printing, There are other papers and chemistries available from the US, but not all US dealers will ship chemistries across borders. If your just starting out, you want to be as close as possible to standard processes, as you get experience you can try other things. Never change more then one factor at a time, for example if you get some different paper, you don't want to change developers at the same time.
    Paul Schmidt
    See my Blog at http://clickandspin.blogspot.com

    The greatest advance in photography in the last 100 years is not digital, it's odourless stop bath....

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    MattKing's Avatar
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    Where in Canada are you?

    If we knew, we might be able to recommend something local.

    In addition, there are a couple of more Canadian internet sources.

    Matt

    P.S. sorry, I forgot to say welcome (thanks for the reminder Murray)
    Last edited by MattKing; 04-27-2009 at 11:56 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: forgot welcome

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    Quote Originally Posted by MattKing View Post
    Where in Canada are you?

    If we knew, we might be able to recommend something local.
    ...or some options in your Province.

    Oh, and welcome aboard APUG from the north coast of BC

    Murray
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    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

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    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Check out freestylephoto.biz as well. They sell a lot of supplies at slightly discounted rates to educators and photographers alike. They are also a partner with APUG. So don't forget to mention us when you visit.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
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    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  7. #7

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    I recommend you get a book on darkroom basics, such as The Basic Darkroom Book, 3rd Edition by Tom Grimm -- or browse a local book store or library. Alternatively, read a few Web sites, such as The Black & White Darkroom. That said....

    Briefly, you need at least two chemicals (three if you count water) to process either B&W film or B&W paper. Others are optional:

    1. Water pre-wet -- optional, used mostly with film.
    2. Developer -- develops an image. This one is mandatory.
    3. Stop bath -- a mild acid solution (less acidic than vinegar) that stops development. May be skipped or, more commonly, a short water wash may be substituted.
    4. Fixer -- removes undeveloped silver halides from the emulsion, making the image permanent. Mandatory.
    5. Hypo clear -- speeds the following wash step, but how much depends on the fixer used. Often skipped for some types of paper and even with film when using certain fixers.
    6. Wash -- a water wash of 2-40 minutes, depending on materials and whether or not hypo clear was used. In this context, "wash" means to leave the film or paper in running water; there's no soap involved!
    7. Wetting agent -- optional and used only with film, this final step makes the water more slippery so that it slides off the film without leaving drying marks.


    As to specific products, there are many choices, and unless you get into really exotic stuff, it's hard to go badly wrong. For developers, common beginning products for film include Kodak D-76, Ilford ID-11 (which is almost identical to D-76), Kodak XTOL, and Kodak HC-110; but there are many other possibilities. For paper, Kodak Dektol is the standard beginning developer, but lots of others will work as well. I like a mix-it-yourself developer called DS-14, which is related to a commercial one called Silvergrain Tektol.

    For stop bath, I'd get any indicator stop bath. This contains a dye that changes color as the pH changes, which will tell you when the product is too old to be used any more. (You can re-use indicator stop bath.)

    For fixer, just about anything will work, but rapid fixers work more rapidly than non-rapid fixers; however, rapid fixers are made from an ammonium compound, and so some of them have a strong ammonia odor. Just how strong varies depending on other factors. Kodak Flexicolor fixer, although marketed for color film, works with B&W film and paper and is inexpensive; or you could buy TF-4, which is more expensive but has clearer instructions for use with B&W products. TF-4 is one of the fixers that benefits least (maybe not at all) from a hypo clear product.

    For hypo clear, I have no strong recommendations. For a wetting agent, Kodak Photo Flo is the standard, but Ilford and others make equivalents. I know of no reason to favor one over another.

    Now, on to paper....

    B&W papers vary in two important dimensions: base (fiber-based [FB] or resin coated [RC]) and contrast control (graded vs. variable contrast [VC]; VC is also known as multigrade [MG] or other similar terms). For beginning work, a variable contrast fiber-based (VC FB) paper is best. The VC characteristic enables you to change the contrast of a print via filters (which may be built into your enlarger or can be bought separately). Graded papers, OTOH, require you to change papers to change contrast. The VC feature is therefore very helpful when learning, since you don't need to keep multiple stacks of different papers on hand and you can experiment with contrast quite easily. In terms of FB vs. RC, FB is the traditional method of making photographic papers. RC adds a resin coating to the paper that tends to reduce wash times and make papers dry flatter (or with a uniform curvature), vs. the wrinkled sort of way that FB papers tend to dry. RC papers are also stiffer when wet; FB papers tend to flop around a lot. Thus, RC papers are easier to handle in the darkroom and produce flat prints with little fuss. OTOH, some people prefer the look of FB papers; but IMHO, for learning purposes RC papers are superior.

    Within the VC RC realm, there are lots of choices, and every single product on the market has its fans. Since I don't know, and even you probably don't know, what your preferences are/will be, my recommendation is to buy whatever is inexpensive and/or easy to obtain. Once you've used a couple of 100-sheet boxes, you might want to try other products for comparison. Ilford is the big name in the field, while Foma products are probably the least expensive (but may be hard to find locally). Adox, Kentmere, Oriental, and others are also available.

    Sometimes manufacturers make similar papers that vary in tone. This is the color of the paper -- cool tone papers tend to be slightly blue or green, whereas warm tone papers tend to be slightly brown or red, and neutral tone papers have little color tone. These effects are fairly subtle; we're not talking about a flaming sunset red or sky blue here, just a very subtle color effect that you might not even consciously notice except in a side-by-side comparison. Warm tone papers are often preferred for portraits or other subjects in which you want to draw the viewer in emotionally; cool tone papers are often preferred for emotionally harsher or distant subjects (say, industrial architecture).

  8. #8

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    I was wondering if this setup would be good to begin with:

    Qty Item Each Total
    ILFORD ID-11, 5L 829363 $12.99
    ILFOSTOP STOPBATH, 500ML 1893870 $7.99
    ILFORD UNIVERSAL DEV., 500ML 115091 $10.99
    ILFORD RAPID FIXER, 500ML 1984253 $7.99
    KODAK PHOTO-FLO 200, 16 OZ. 1464510 $8.99
    ILFORD MGIV.44M 5X7 25SH 770988 $10.79
    SubTotal: $59.74

    Thanks from Ontario

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mooseman View Post
    I was wondering if this setup would be good to begin with:
    ...
    ILFORD MGIV.44M 5X7 25SH 770988 $10.79
    ...
    That one is seriously wrong. Get a 100 sheet pack of that size and a 25 sheet pack of 8x10. The later will be useful for contact sheets. Honestly, 25 sheets of paper is far too little.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mooseman View Post
    I was wondering if this setup would be good to begin with:

    Qty Item Each Total
    ILFORD UNIVERSAL DEV., 500ML 115091 $10.99
    ILFORD MGIV.44M 5X7 25SH 770988 $10.79
    (Item list trimmed....) I'm not familiar with the Ilford Universal Developer. A basic Web search suggests it's a liquid concentrate paper developer. I'm not sure how concentrated it is or whether the 500ml figure is the volume you get or the volume you make. I'd guess the former, though. 500ml isn't enough if it's the volume it'll make. I routinely use 1l of paper developer in an 8x10 tray. If you get 500ml and that makes, say, 5l of working solution, then that should be enough to start with.

    Concerning the paper, that's not nearly enough. I recommend skipping the smaller sizes and getting a 100-sheet box of 8x10-inch paper. You can easily cut the 8x10-inch sheets into smaller sizes, such as two 5x7-inch sheets (plus a 1x10-inch strip) or three 4x6-inch sheets (plus a 4x2-inch scrap). The leftover strips and scraps will still be useful for doing test prints. Particularly when you first start out, you'll be wasting a lot of paper on bad exposures of one sort or another, so you'll burn through a 25-sheet pack of 5x7 paper very quickly. A 100-sheet pack of 8x10 will last longer and will be more economical in the long run. You'll have the flexibility of making bigger 8x10-inch prints, too!

    Of course, to cut down paper into smaller sizes, it helps to have a paper cutter. I have a basic rotary trimmer that I bought at a local office supply store, and it works fine for me. In a pinch you could use scissors. That might be easier after using the paper, though -- print two 5x7s (or whatever) on a single sheet by using a mask over the unused part of the paper, process normally, and then cut it up after the paper's dried. Sometimes this is convenient even with a paper trimmer; it saves time, since you can more easily run multiple small prints through the chemicals than you could if you pre-cut everything.

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