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  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Amber LED Safelight Report

    I got sick of that sinking feeling when a 40$ incandescent safelight does not light up and it's just after 9PM, so that it's too late to run to the photo store (had to wait for sundown before setting up the darkroom, 'innit?).

    I did what the modern eco man does: I got myself LEDs.
    This one, in red and in amber: http://www.superbrightleds.com/morei...lobe-bulb/438/

    With a 30,000 hours estimated lifetime, I thought that two of each would be sufficient (you never know how long you're gonna spend there...). I got the red since every once in a while I like to play with exotic papers/films and can use the added safety. Plus, looking at the spectrum, I knew it would be 100% safe for any VC paper.

    But I took the plunge and got the amber as well. The spectrum peaks at 590nm, though it starts around 550nm. Looking at Ilford MGIV, its spectral sensitivity is mostly gone by 550nm, but not inexistent as well.

    I setup the darkroom in the garage and put in the amber. I was printing some MGIV for my contacts, and then it was all graded paper. The safelight was about 4 feet above my trays, in opposite direction from the enlarger.

    My first reaction was WOW! It's never been that bright in here. So clear in fact that I was scared it was too bright. So I did a quick safelight test: strip of MGIV directly under the light for five minutes. Some very light fogging. However, since the bulb is more directional than an ordinary frosted bulb, I just made sure the beam pointed away from the developing tray, and everything was fine. I then switched on to graded, and had no issues at all.

    The amber was a revelation for me. I'm used to working in a red/orange light, and the spectrum of the amber is so much better on the eyes. It really allows for an improved evaluation of contrast without having to switch on the white lights all the time--with red light, it's a necessity. What's more, since contrasts appear "natural" to the eyes, after an hour or so, I had the impression I was working under white light.

    To be safer, I could revise a little my setup by either moving the light away a bit more, or getting a less intense one (I got a 36-LED bulb, but there are also 18-LED ones). But since I have a red one as well, I could just switch lights if I'm doing critical printing on VC paper. Which I am seldom doing, since my favourite fine printing paper is Kentmere Bromide graded paper.

    In sum, get a LED safelight. It's cheap, it won't break when you schlep it around in your temporary darkroom boxes, and will not die on you during your lifetime.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  2. #2
    Henry Alive's Avatar
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    Thanks, Michel, for your thread. I have been looking for an E27 LED Bulb, 36 LED, red colour, similar to the one you have shown. However, as I live in Spain, the one I need must be 220 volts. Can somebody recommend a led red, 220 v. for a darkroom?
    Thanks,
    Henry.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the link. These look good!

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    series connection

    Henry,

    Get two of them and wire in series, point at the ceiling. Great post, much easier than the LED's I assembled from scratch. I use VC paper so I use red, and there is no effect on the paper. I mean no effect whatsoever even with pre-fogged paper and 10 minutes exposure.

  5. #5

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    I would be careful with the Amber LEDs. I used a Luxeon Rebel Amber LED (e.g. very high power model). It's supposed to to have a wavelength range of 584-597, yet it fogged the heck out of paper at 5 feet away. These are extremely powerful LEDs though so I think the light level may have been a bit much.

  6. #6
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    I see the 36 and the 8 LED. I don't see 18 or anything in between.

    Should be possible to take the 36 LED ones and put some (mostly) neutral density over them though. Since they shouldn't generate much if any heat, even brown paper should work.

  7. #7
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  8. #8
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Hardy-Vallée View Post
    Those only in cool white and warm white, no red or amber.

    Shouldn't be hard to filter the 36s, or use a couple of the 8s, though.

  9. #9
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Ah yes, did not notice the colour limitation.

    Just place the 36 further away and you don't need any kind of filtration (remember the inverse square law!).
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  10. #10
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Actually since the "walls" of my darkroom are black plastic hanging in my basement with black plastic overhead, save for one actual wall which is white, I'll just put it in a directional fixture and aim at the white wall OR, aim at the white posterboard I have taped to one wall and the ceiling plastic now to reflect my incandescent safelight. Should work fine.

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