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  1. #1

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    Safelight experiences anyone?

    Since I started printing years ago I've always used my father's old Kodak safelight (the triangular one that can take two 3 1/4" x 4 1/4" glass filters). I always had two OC filters in it and have replaced them several times due to fading.

    I'd like to get something new because in addition to printing with standard VC papers I'm doing masking with Ortho film. The red and deep red Kodak filters for my safelight aren't available anymore and frankly, they're expensive anyway.

    I've read that particularly for ortho films, you want red light that has pretty sharp, accurate cutoff or else you can still easily fog the film. Some people suggested an LED safelight for that purpose because they are sharp-cutting (ie accurate). Who makes these?

    Also, I'd still like to have OC equivalent lighting for regular printing instead of red so is there such a thing that can do both? One thing I've seen is this type of safelight with fluorescent tubes and you can get the tubes in different colors, and a unit that can hold two different colored tubes. But are these any good?

    Or should I just stick to the regular type lightbulb/filter type? I just want to make sure it's good quality filtration.

    I think Ilford used to make good safelights but can you still buy new ones anywhere? What about the filters? And how do you convert those filter names like 902 etc back to the other convention (OC, 1A etc) so I know what to buy.

    I'm confused.

    Thanks in advance.
    Michael

  2. #2
    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    There still seem to be quite a few of the Ilford ones available in new or near new condition in the usual auction places, often for quite reasonable prices.

  3. #3
    Newt_on_Swings's Avatar
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    I just scored a thomas duplex on evilbay for ~$65, havent got it yet but by far it is the sweetest freaking safelight there is. I use one everyday where I teach, and it was just such a downgrade to use my old Kodak (big rounded gray cone type) at home. Sodium vapor bulbs are where its at, with the vanes in the max opening position its almost as bright as with the lights on in the room.

    I advise you to pick one up as well too, ortho printing can be done by simply dropping the filter vanes, opened up give you orange amber. another just sold today or yesterday for ~70 bucks shipped.

  4. #4

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    You buy red and deep red new filters from Freestyle for a resonable price. I've been using a red LED camping headlight for a while which works well as a flashlight. Others report good success with various red LEDs, either from superbrite LEDs.com, or things like bike tail lights and the camping light I use.

    If you have the space the Thomas lights are great too.

  5. #5

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    Are you sure this is right? Don't the vanes in the Thomas just vary the amount of illumination? Why would closing them down be safe for ortho? It's still the wrong color isn't it? Also are Thomas safelights even safe for paper? I know people like them because they are bright with the vanes open, but at a workshop a few years back John Sexton made a point of saying Thomas safelights were not safe unless you closed the vanes down to the point where you're not getting much more light than a regular safelight.

  6. #6
    Newt_on_Swings's Avatar
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    The thomas duplex has 2 sets of filters, orange/amber, and ortho/red for B&W printing. the red filters are attached to the vanes, the orange/amber ones are attached all the time. closing them down forces the light to go through both filters instead of one. Still very bright with them closed vs traditional safelight.

    All safelights fog, its just a matter of how long its exposed and how close it is. The bounced illumination from the thomas is very easy on the eyes if ceiling mounted correctly.

  7. #7

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    Interesting. Thanks for the info. Hopefully some others will chime in with LED experience etc. I'll have to do some more research too.

  8. #8
    artonpaper's Avatar
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    Depending on the speed of your ortho film, you may just want to skip the safelight. I do. You can learn yo do without very quickly. Just like when printing color. Line (lith) films are another matter. They can be in the red longer.

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    I am using these with Ilford MGIV, Kodak Polycontrast and Oriental Seagull RC black and white variable contrast papers:

    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/18-led-...-110v-red-5136

    They fit in cheap clamp-on lamp holders. I bounce two of them off of the ceiling.

    I have performed safelight tests to ensure they work well.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  10. #10
    trexx's Avatar
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    If you can get one, the Thomas is the way to go. The light emitted with the vanes open is an extremely narrow band, a characteristic of low pressure sodium vapor . All my VC, Graded paper as well as Ortho films are blind to it. Cannot say the same for other lights I have tested. the light is so bright you'll think your in daylight.
    D-76 is a standard developer, although not one I use.
    Ansel Adams - The Negative

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