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  1. #1

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    Info needed on this Safelight I purchased?

    Hi,

    I bought a 2nd hand darkroom setup and it included this safelight;

    It has a rectangular housing with a glass plate and a yellowish lightbulb.

    The glass plate consists of 2 pieces of glass with what looks like yellow paper sandwiched in the middle. The paper has this writing on it:

    "Gilkon Safelight. For use with Bromide, Chloro Bromide and contact papers, cine positive film and lantern plates."

    The Bulb is a Phillips 240-250V PF 710B made in Holland * K9 which looks dark red and gives a yellowish glow when switched on. I've noticed a few chips in the coating of the bulb so can't use it without the glass plates in place.

    My darkroom is 2.5M x 1.5M and the light is mounted at a height of about 1.8M.

    When you switch on the light with glass plate in place it gives out a very faint orange light, not enough light to light up the darkroom and definately not enough light to work in.

    What are Bromide, Chloro Bromide and contact papers, cine positive film and lantern plates?

    I'm realtively new to the art of B&W, I studied 1year of B&W photography last year and really now just getting into the art.

    Can anyone recommend a safelight to suit me as this one doesn't sound like the right thing for me?

    All info much appreciated. Cheers Leo

  2. #2

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    Those are the type of emulsions for which the safelight was designed. You can safely use your light for all graded b&w papers and possibly some multicontrast papers. You don't want to use it with films, ortho or panchro.

    There are two approaches to safelights. You can get a powerful one (like THomas duplex light with sodium vapor light) to illuminate a large part of the darkroom, or use several small safelights. I use a Thomas Duplex for the processing area, and a few small ones for the enlarger area. These days they're hard to find, but those LED keychain lights with red LED are usable as tiny safelights. Red LED headband lights are also useful. These are useful when I set easel precisely, or when I read some enlarger settings, or when I try to find something small that I misplaced.

    There are a lot of safelights. For basic b&w printing purposes, you want to use orange, amber or red safelight.

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    fotoimpex.de was giving away red LED keychains as a promo for a while. I don't know if they still have them, but I got a few of them. They're quite handy.

    J&C of course could do the same promo.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  4. #4

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    Or you could make a few as well :-)
    It's easier and more economical to make them with a lithium cell and a toggle switch, just in case you need hand-free light that you can put down while working with the light.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by tek_nological
    It has a rectangular housing with a glass plate
    and a yellowish lightbulb.

    The glass plate consists of 2 pieces of glass
    with what looks like yellow paper sandwiched
    in the middle. Cheers Leo
    Double filtration. No wonder the light is dim.
    Try 5, 7.5, and 15 watt frosted bulbs. Use with
    Graded paper for a well lite darkroom. Dan

  6. #6
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    I would change the bulb as Dan suggests but also try to find a friendly local theatre who will give (sell) you a piece of lighting gel to put in place of the filter paper.

    The three colours I would suggest are No. 020 Medium Amber, No. 022 Dark Amber and No. 026 Bright Red.

    Theatres buy this stuff in sheets about 2' x 3' so a small piece should not cost much if anything.

    Obviously you would need to test it out first by exposing a piece of paper to it for a few minutes then putting it in the developer to see if it stays white.


    Steve.

  7. #7
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    Sounds like you have a bit of an antique there... You could replace the paper with some gel as suggested. A possibly easier option might be to visit a local artist's supply shop and see if they have any red plastic on a roll. You may need to double it up (or more) but that's not a problem as it will be sandwiched between the glass plates. Then replace the existing bulb with a normal 15W one and you should be fine.

    If you have not been in a darkroom before, bear in mind that with a single safelight of this type you will not get a lot of illumination in any case. Only by going for a sodium vapour or LED based safelight do you get a significant amount of light (or by using 3 or 4 of the 15W bulb+filter type that you have spread around the room).

    If you don't want to go down the route of retro-fitting your existing safelight, any of the commercial ones from the likes of Paterson etc will do the job. Best to buy a new one if possible as the filters fade with time. Sodium vapour safelights are expensive and the lamps do not last very long and are themselves usually very expensive (over 100 GBP). An LED based light can be fairly cheap and most LEDs are rated at 10,000 hours, so they will last...

    I would go for orange over red as I find red a depressing colour! Amber is better, but unless it is a LED or sodium based safelight you will risk fogging the paper as it is getting close to the colour to which the paper is sensitive. In any event, test the safelight with your paper using either the Ilford of Kodak methods - they both have PDFs on their sites that describe it.

    Good luck, Bob.

  8. #8

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    My darkroom is similar to yours in size. I have an Ilford 902 safelight which is fine for multigrade paper. Mine has a 15W bulb and the light seems quite good but I understand that others fit a 25W bulb without problems.

    The real issue is getting as much light as possible without fogging occurring over the length of time any one sheet of paper is exposed to the safelight. So if you didn't need a safelight exposure of say greater than 5 minutes then the amout of light you could have is likely to be greater than that you could have if you needed 10 mins safelight exposure.

    Use one of the safelight tests and if it gives you way in excess of what you need but the light isn't as bright as you'd like then try a second light or increase the bulb strength and test again.

    It should certainly be possible to have quite bright darkroom without having a very short safelight time limit

    pentaxuser

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser
    The real issue is getting as much light as possible
    without fogging occurring over the length of time any
    one sheet of paper is exposed to the safelight.

    It should certainly be possible to have a quite
    bright darkroom without having a very
    short safelight time limit
    A very important point you have brought forward.
    I don't care to think of the multitude that have been
    dissuaded from darkroom work because their first
    impression was one of a darkened cave.

    Graded paper was the norm in the late 50s. The
    safe lights were yellow to orange-ish and the level
    of lighting could be quite high. Today some would
    consider unbelievable the high level lighting I use
    when working with graded paper. Dan

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser
    The real issue is getting as much light as possible without fogging occurring over the length of time any one sheet of paper is exposed to the safelight.
    The safety of safelight should be judged by the contrast rather than fog. The image contrast in highlight area can lower significantly due to preflashing effect before any noticeable gross fog develops. If you do classic coin test for safelight, you probably want to cut the safelight exposure to a substantially shorter amount than the fog limit. Both Ilford and Kodak have technical sheet you can download in PDF to get a better way to test for safelight exposure.

    As I said before, I use sodium vapor light, and it's very nice and less fatigue-prone (of my brain, not the light bulb) compared to dimmer lights. My safelight exposure is usually less than 10 seconds so I can keep my darkroom pretty bright.

    I also keep dark red light for processing orthochromatic films by inspection. They may have sensitivity limit comparable to multigrade paper, but due to deeper sensitization and other factors, they have small intrinsic sensitivity to orange/red light, so they should be kept in dim red light at most.

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