Ideas for a beginner's darkroom

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Jim Chinn, May 11, 2004.

  1. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

    Sep 22, 2002
    Omaha, Nebra
    Multi Format
    In another thread noseoil was asking what we can do to keep film alive. I mentioned in reply how I have helped two people establish home darkrooms in the last year.

    I started thinking that as a service perhaps we could put our heads together and come up with a list of not only the essentials to start a small darkroom, say for a bathroom setup, but recommend equipment based on a particular budget. As an example, for one of my friends who had a strict budget we found a Durst L66 enlarger in great shape on Ebay with lenses for $60, red darkroom bulb to fit a trouble light reflector for $10, trays, graduated cylinder, measuring cups, about $10, two sided adjustable easel for $30, Gralab 300 timer for $50 and a magnasight $25. A single a double roll stainless teel tank and three reels were $30. The only thing new he bought was a set of Kodak polygrade filters and extra bottles to hold chemistry.

    Now I don't know if these items were overpriced or underpriced, but are probably fairly representative considering we didn't spend a lot of time shopping around. We put bids in or paid close to the asking price at the shows and got the items most of the time.


    So I guess I am proposing that someone with a $300 budget should be able to get decent equipment (for B&W) to get started and be able to produce quality results. Is that accurate?

    I don't want to get into debates over different equipment. But a consensus on a couple of models of enlargers, timers, safelights, easels, etc that either new or used would fit in that budget. if you have any suggestions please list them.

    List one or two books that you would highly recommend to a newbie. Cost of the books not part of the budget.

    If we can reach a consensus, perhaps we could list the items and expected price ranges in an article on the new site. Sort of an APUG's smartest buys to get started. I think it would be a great resource for beginners because of the experience and credibility of this sites members.

    Perhaps later we could do something similar for MF and LF.
  2. Silverpixels5

    Silverpixels5 Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Houston, TX
    Multi Format
    I enjoyed 'Way Beyond Monochrome' and 'Photography' (i think that was the had both B&W and Color methods, along with some photography history).
  3. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Nov 13, 2002
    New Jersey
    It's a very good idea. I don't know what used darkroom equipment costs, since I'm afraid to find out how little all my bought new, pre internet equipment is worth. Seriously.

    Maybe the approach to take is to offer several equivalences, e.g., 4x5 enlarger - Omega D5 or Saunders LPL XLG 4550 lens Schneider 135mm Componon-S or Rodenstock Ronar. To make it interesting, offer a basic (minimal) set up, and a more upscale version for each set up.

    My vote would certainly be for the 4x5 Omega D5 enlarger, plenty of spare parts, solid, adapatable to many third party light sources. The Componon-S is widely available and a very good lens. The Gralab timer for developing and the Besler audible timer for the enlarger,and a Saunders easel would be the basics for a good "value per dollar" darkroom that could be used for many different formats.