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  1. #1
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Best equipment for Develop & Print

    Hi everyone

    To help me set up a darkroom (processing and printing) and before buying all the equipment, I'd love to hear your suggestions/experience as to what equipment works best for:

    1) Ease of use
    2) Speed
    3) But most importantly: artistic ability!

    I really appreciate your help and have learnt so much already through APUG! Big thanks to Sean and to everyone for their input.

    Kind regards
    Nicole

  2. #2
    jovo's Avatar
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    I suspect this will become a long thread as most folks are partial to what they use. I'll leave it to others to recommend equipment, but will suggest you buy the best you can and anticipate the evolution of your work to the highest level of which you are capable. Specifically, buy an enlarger that will handle the largest negative you can ever imagine yourself someday working with and the largest 'wet' side of your darkroom you can afford the space for. Get the best enlarging lenses, easel, grain magnifyer etc. you can buy...even borrow if need be. Consider the outlay to be an investment. You can always resell the stuff someday if you choose to, but the finest equipment will sustain the most value. Good luck!!
    John Voss

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  3. #3
    juan's Avatar
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    You need to tell us more about what you want to do. What formats specifically. 35-mm enlargements require much different equipment than 8x10 contact prints. What kind of budget do you have? New or used?

    Artistic ability is in you, not the equipement. Remember that Ansel Adams apparently used every camera and enlarger ever made (only a slight exaggeration) while Edward Weston used an old 8x10, an old lens, and contact printed with a light bulb. Both produced exceptional work.
    juan

  4. #4
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juan
    You need to tell us more about what you want to do. What formats specifically. 35-mm enlargements require much different equipment than 8x10 contact prints. What kind of budget do you have? New or used?

    Artistic ability is in you, not the equipement. Remember that Ansel Adams apparently used every camera and enlarger ever made (only a slight exaggeration) while Edward Weston used an old 8x10, an old lens, and contact printed with a light bulb. Both produced exceptional work.
    juan
    I shoot with 35mm and 6x6. Budget is limited to second-hand equipment but on the better end scale.
    Cheers
    Nicole

  5. #5
    Bob F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicole McGrade
    Hi everyone

    To help me set up a darkroom (processing and printing) and before buying all the equipment, I'd love to hear your suggestions/experience as to what equipment works best for:

    1) Ease of use
    2) Speed
    3) But most importantly: artistic ability!

    I really appreciate your help and have learnt so much already through APUG! Big thanks to Sean and to everyone for their input.

    Kind regards
    Nicole

    Cheap, simple, quick & easy for roll film is a Paterson daylight tank & universal plastic reel(s). If using colour, temperature regulation is even more critical as it is run at a higher temperature, so then you are looking at maybe spending cash on a Jobo CPE-2 (you can do it with the Paterson, but you will need a water bath to keep the tank in during processing and some trial and error. The CPE-2 does it all for you - I use mine for B&W just because it's so easy (and because I also use 4x5")).

    Speed is more a function of your darkroom setup. Using either the Jobo or Paterson tanks takes much the same time. If you are borrowing the bathroom for a couple of hours then that will obviously slow you down as you need to move your gear in and out, let people use it for it's primary purpose, opening the window to let the fumes out (you can help yourself here by using low-odour Stop and Fixer). If you have a purpose built room with running water, wet side with sink & a dry side, all the cupboards and shelves you need, effective ventilation, a door you can lock from the inside etc etc then things tend to go a lot faster. Using one of the Nova slot processors can save time as you can keep the chemicals in the tank between sessions: I've not used one but lots of people swear by them and the smaller surface area keeps the smell down too.

    I prefer an enlarger with a colour head, even for B&W as it lets me dial in VC filtering for different papers, and its diffused light does not show up every tiny little scratch as a condenser head tends to do (although there are plenty of people who prefer condenser heads I hasten to add!).

    Artistic ability I can't help you with (as any of the few people that have seen my prints will testify)... What you want I guess is maximum flexibility that allows you to express yourself. Flexibility comes at the cost of materials and equipment; but mostly experience. Once you have the basic setup, you are set to do 95% of whatever you can think of - all you need then is time.


    Happy hunting... Cheers, Bob.

  6. #6
    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicole McGrade
    I shoot with 35mm and 6x6. Budget is limited to second-hand equipment but on the better end scale.
    Cheers
    Nicole
    To start, opt for a second hand enlarger, but spend on new or nearly new lenses for it. Agree with Jovo, you should build the darkroom to handle the largest negs and prints you think you'll want to make. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Nicole's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone!!!

  8. #8
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    My suggestion, Nicole, would be to look for an older Omega enlarger, as they are plentiful and still have parts support. I use an Omega D2V variable condenser that handles all film sizes up to 4x5. I'd also suggest concentrating your darkroom budget on good lenses - the best the budget will allow, as that allows you to get the most from your negatives.

    I prefer stainless steel tanks and reels. For 35mm, get the Hewes reels from Calumet. Their patented film-gripping design will make your developing life much easier.

    If the budget will allow, I'd also recommend an enlarging meter from RH Designs in the UK. I use the ZoneMaster II, which gives you both a suggested contrast grade and the exposure time. It's great for getting to an optimal exposure more quickly. Cost is about £150, but worth it.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  9. #9
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Nicole

    A vertical washer will be indespensible for your work,
    I agree with Ralph , an Omega 4x5 enlarger is an excellent choice.
    A good water panel for tempature control
    You can make a good sink out of wood if required
    A nice set of 20x24 trays x6 will allow you to do a very good process
    a good sterio for the darkroom
    Build a drop table for your enlarger( I can send you the plans for one that works with a omega enlarger once you decide on your direction)
    Room for a second light source for flashing, solarization ect.
    Home depot can supply most of the goods for print drying.

    I know this is a lot of stuff, but if you plan on printing for a long time these items will help.

  10. #10
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Nicole

    Actually the very most important thing for a new darkroom is a well thought out plan for disposing of the photographic chemistrys after you have created your magic.

    I do not know the guidelines for your neck of the woods, they are very tough rules here in Toronto,

    There are companys that will help you out with this, just go to any pro lab and ask them for some advice on this issue.

    do not dump fix or selenium down the drain.

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