I don't have any recommendations for but I would recommend against the Gralab 300 clock-face style timer. I currently use one for my enlarger.
1. It is very hard to be consistent. It doesn't click between seconds (no steps) if you know what I mean (at least mine doesn't).
2. Again, consistency & exactness is hard because the enlarger turns on while you are winding the second hand forward. Normally I just twist it as fast I can but when I need to be really exact I work the enlarger power switch and the focus/enlarge knob on the gralab and try to turn both on the exact same time.
3. I definitely like my Gralab way better than not having a timer. But if you can get something digital or with knobs rather than a clock face I think you'll have a better time.
The Gralab 300 came in a variety of flavours. Mine has a separate switch to start and stop the timing cycle. So on mine I switch it to "stop", set the time, and then switch it to start.
Originally Posted by horacekenneth
At the end of the timing cycle, the power goes off (and the buzzer goes if you forget to turn it off).
Just use the switch off, set time, switch on again procedure from there.
It does definitely work better though if you use longer exposure times.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
If you need cheap and indestructible, go for a gralab 300. No frills but that's what I used on my Valoy II and I still have it as a backup.
Originally Posted by poppers
Pretty much anything by Gralab is going to be good quality.
It is surprisingly difficult to find used Gralab timers in the UK - for instance, the only ones on eBay recently are from the US, which means they will be 110V of course; and shipping/insurance can add up too.
Brand new, I believe they are in the region of $200. Not "cheap"
Yikes! Well, I guess we are lucky here in the US because we happen to use 110V, and there are a lot of them around, are therefore inexpensive and shipping is domestic. But they are heavy so shipping to the UK would probably be prohibitive.
Originally Posted by pdeeh
If you're going to spend $200, you may as well go for an RHdesigns. Or just roll the dice with something on ebay. I did that once and got a unicolor electronic timer that works great. It cost me $30 shipped.
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Is it advisable to get one that also switches on and off the safelight?
I leave the safelights on. I see no reason to switch them off as the printing itself only represents about 10%-20% of the total exposure time under the safelight.
Originally Posted by poppers
Originally Posted by MattKing
And that switch is separate from the Focusing switch that turns the enlarger on without starting the timer? Because that would be a nice feature to have. I hope mine has it and I'm just missing it.
Most likely in the UK are Paterson, Philips or Kaiser timers. In general, all timers will have a switch for focus/timer -- at least I've never seen one which doesn't . . .
Forget getting anything clockwork, on grounds of precision and repeatability. They may have been tolerable when new -- but thirty years later, after decades disused in a damp shed, not so good.
There are electronic timers with one dial, for example Durst TIM, but these might be tricky to set precisely at the bottom end of the range. Ideally you want something that you can set in tenths of a stop and for small enlargements (and hence short exposure times) this will mean precision of well under a second. A useful and practical style has three dials, one each for tenths, whole seconds and tens of seconds. Other models have a switch for "x10" while using one dial, hence two time ranges on one control, which can also be an adequate solution.
The switching off of the safelight when the focus-switch (and also timer, usually) is active comes from the historic use of enlarging-meters which are sensitive to the safelight as well as the actinic light of your enlarger, therebye giving a false reading and requiring the safelight to be off during measurements. Probably you have no enlarging meter so this feature is not required at the moment. In the future use consistently made contact-prints as your enlarging meter, instead of another gizmo.
In "the olden days" many started off with a simple on/off switch in the enlarger cable and counting ticks of a metronome, or "one thousand, two thousand etc", which can also work perfectly well if you can avoid short exposure times.
You really want an f/stop timer if at all possible. There are several to choose from including free (if you can solder) - see my signature.
Failing that, an electronic timer, not an inconsistent mechanical knob.
Failing that, a loudly ticking clock. I printed for my first year with a loud clock and a table on the wall listing 1/4 stop timing increments. I would take the ticking clock over a gralab any day.