Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
Nobody needs a densitometer to make better photographs, but to the technical inclined it can be a great aid in learning what to do different to get better negatives and prints.
I agree. The key, I think, is to remember that a densitometer - like your camera - is just a tool. A means to the end, not the end in itself. It all depends on how you make use of it to achieve your goals.

In my case I've used mine to objectively get me into the ballpark with a film's exposure and processing variables. Once I have that objective baseline in hand, final adjustments are then made subjectively using my eyes and judgement.

But a more valuable use of the tool for me is ongoing process control after I've settled on a calibration. Every so often when I'm out with the camera I will look for examples of lighter and darker continuous tone objects. Whiteish fences in sun, blackish walls in shade. That sort of thing. I then set the lens to infinity, move close to fill the frame, and make quick highlight (development time) and shadow (film speed) test exposures.

It usually only takes a minute or two and a couple of frames. If necessary I could do the same for expansion and contraction tests, but I rarely do. I'm usually just looking for a quick sanity check.

After development all it takes is a quick check under the densitometer to confirm that the calibration is still valid. Reasonably close density numbers are perfectly acceptable, as I'm not running an analytical lab - just a home darkroom.