Your oldest darkroom equipment
Some of my stuff just never seems to die, and it's a good thing because I'm not sure how I'd replace certain things. They are all items my father originally bought new in the late 60s/early 70s and have been in more or less continuous use ever since. I still use them all the time. I thought I'd ask if others have items that just never quit. These are some of mine (all at least 40 years old):
-Gra-lab timer analog timer: I can't believe this thing hasn't worn out, but just recently I tested it against a digital timer and it keeps perfect time. I use it all the time for processing.
-Kindermann stainless 2-reel tank: I can't believe this still works properly, and still looks brand new too. After over 40 years and countless rolls of 35mm film, it doesn't have a mark on it, and the original flexible plastic/rubber daylight lid has never leaked a single drop.
-Kodak tray siphon
-Kodak safelight (the triangular one that holds two rectangular filters): Ok, obviously I've replaced the filters multiple times, but still)
-Saunders 11x14 adjustable easel: I think later models like the v-track etc. were better but this one still works like new
-Saunders 5x7 and 8x10 easels
My father doesn't do darkroom work anymore but gets a kick out of the fact his old gear is still going. And I'm fairly attached to these things emotionally.
Aside from myself, the oldest thing in my darkroom is my Omega D2 enlarger. I believe it was manufactured in the mid 1960's. I bought it used from a guy about 14 years ago. I did replace the condenser bulb though.
Nice. Good old D2. For the longest time I used my father's Omega B66. I only stopped using it when I finally got a 4x5 enlarger.
enlarger exposure meter circa 1950
How about a set of graduates from the late '30s that measure in minims and drams? How about an original Kodak processing tank with the plastic strip that is used to separate the film coils in the tank. I could go on, but you get the picture. I'm OLD! And my uncle, who passed his photo equipment on to me with continuous use, is now 94 this week.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
I honestly don't know how old some of my darkroom equipment is, but I imagine my Kodak tray siphon is really old. It has a lot of mineral deposits on it, but it keeps flowing that water very nicely indeed.
My enlarger is an old Omega Pro-Lab 4x5, which feels really old, but I like it more the more I use it. Simple, just like me.
I'm surprised at the quality of some of my darkroom equipment. Some I bought new but threw away almost immediately because of how poorly built it was. I remember a 220 stainless steel reel that was so bent when I got it that I chucked it right away. Just utter garbage. Some tongs have been terrible, and more than a few doodads like film cleaning products and brushes that have been very bad quality. It's definitely less expensive to buy quality from the get-go.
But then again, my most expensive darkroom equipment is a Leitz V35 enlarger that I purchased from a fellow APUG member, where I have to get the height adjustment repaired as it's much stiffer than it should be. Extremely annoying.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I have 2 bottles with glass stops labelled poison (etched in the glass), which must date from about the 1880's. I use them to store deionised water.
“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”
When I set up my current darkroom in 2000 I replaced many older items. For example I found a new Kodak siphon in it's packaging, I threw out my old Spiratone thermometer that no longer worked, got new enlargers, new easels, threw out old yellow Patterson graduates and got new Jobo ones, etc. Of course all that stuff is over 15 years old now. Some things I did keep had some sentimental value. For example I kept my first enlarger (Minolta Mod III) and my first good enlarging lens (Nikkor 50/2.8) both of which I got new back in the 1970s and are still in excellent condition.
I used to have a Leitz Valoy "ball-on-a-stick" style 35mm neg enlarger - gawd knows how old that was. It may still be at my brother's farm, "in storage" (out in the barn). Twas this feller: http://auctions.natcam.com/ebay/bw/bwleicavaloy21.jpg
Like Sirius and Schwinn, me.