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  1. #1

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    Safelights, how safe?

    I have lately got two 5x7 safelights, one a “Premier”, and the other a “Coastar". They are identical in design and construction but the Coastar is MUCH brighter. The difference is entirely due to the filter, easily proven by switching filters. I have found a way to eliminate the characteristic hot spot, so that both now produce a more uniform glow, and both are an orange hue. However, I am troubled by the difference in intensity and wonder if an intense orange safelight is less safe, so to speak. Being in the early stages of getting darkroom gear together (have not yet taken delivery of an enlarger), I cannot run any tests at this time. Since the instructions that accompany a safelight typically say to keep the light some minimum distance from the enlarger, it would seem that, regardless of hue, too much intensity is a bad thing. How does one test for the safety of a safelight? I would appreciate any thoughts on this issue. Thanks,
    Ted

  2. #2

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    This does the trick for me.

    BTW, you need to test your safelight for any different paper you use.

  3. #3

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    I have read that as they get older the filters fade and the safelights get worse. Mine is old and has a crack in it, but still works. The only way to *know* it works is to test it with paper.

    I tested mine by first doing a pre-flash test. Expose paper to white light from the enlarger in 1s increments until you find the first time that makes the paper fade slightly -- do this with NO safelight. Then, preflash another sheet for that same amount of time, then set it maybe 6" from your safelight for significantly longer than you normally would. That depends on your process, I used 5 minutes. Develop that, and see if it's any darker than the one that was pre-flashed and not exposed to the safelight. If they're identical, your safelight is working.

    I know you said you don't have everything together, but this can be done without an enlarger. You do need paper and developer. Pre-flashing evenly without an enlarger will be hard, but I'd try getting two sheets out and flipping on the (dim) room lights for half a second, then process one immediately and expose the second to the safelight before processing.

  4. #4

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    Thanks guys, I favour an empirical approach, and just needed to get the procedure. Anon, your method is straightforward and looks foolproof; I will go with that.
    Ted

  5. #5
    fotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrmekon View Post
    .....then set it maybe 6" from your safelight for significantly longer than you normally would.
    Most safe lights are recommended to be 3 or 4 foot from the paper. I would think any of these safe lights, 5x7, or bigger would fog the paper at 6 inches in seconds.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  6. #6
    Greg Davis's Avatar
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    www.gregorytdavis.com

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  7. #7
    JBoontje's Avatar
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    I dont have any experience with these safelights as I'm about 2 weeks away from getting my own darkroom started myself, but you could at least change the brightness of the lamp by placing it near a wall. Let the light reflect the wall, this way you will diffuse the light which should make this safelight alot 'safer'.

    I am currently trying to find out whether I should use red or amber safelights, the amber safelight is alot nicer to use (I can see much more) than the red safelight, which seems to be the safest overall. But when I look at the back of my Ilford paper, they recommend amber safelights. Guess I will have to test this myself :/

  8. #8
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Davis View Post
    I concur with Greg and highly recommend this method.

  9. #9
    Greg Davis's Avatar
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    Kodak and Ilford recommend amber with B&W materials because they do not respond much to this color. Red is not as safe unless you are using orthochromatic materials.
    www.gregorytdavis.com

    Did millions of people suddenly disappear? This may have an answer.

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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Davis View Post
    Kodak and Ilford recommend amber with B&W materials because they do not respond much to this color. Red is not as safe unless you are using orthochromatic materials.
    Amber is closer to green, compared to red. Therefore, red is safer than amber in any case, except of course for panchromatic papers.

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