Densitometers

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by timpppa, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. timpppa

    timpppa Member

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    Hello!

    Can someone give advice for purchasing a densitometer
    for B&W use. I've looked through ebay and such, but what would
    be a good model and make, which is not too expensive?

    Edit: Hope this is a right category, maybe Darkroom equipment??

    --
    Thanks,
    Timppa
     
  2. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Some years ago, I bought a used Macbeth TD902 which is a transmission densitometer. It was initially quite fascinating just to look over film curves on combinations that I had been using and having some pleasant moments of discovery where I could interpret issues that I had struggled with and attach some meaningful numbers to the situation. I then realized that I should really have a way to interpret the "on-paper" results of what I was discovering on the film and subsequently bought an old Macbeth RD series for that. My darkroom timer/analyser has a densitometer module for reading projected negatives and has color channels. This has proven helpful as I've been using staining developers that function more realistically on the blue channel. For this duty, the ultimate solution is a unit with UV capabilities but I haven't been able to rationalize the relatively high cost of one these units.

    What I'm leading up to in a long-winded manner is that if I were to start over on a densitometer purchase, I would get a combination unit (transmission/reflection) and would also look for a color capable unit. As I've tuned my processes, I've learned to trust my eyes more and rely on the machines less but this is partly from the validation that the machines provided as I worked toward these ends. I find I'm cranking up the machines when something seems a bit confusing or when trying something completely new or different but, in truth, they might run once in a 3 month period. My guess is that my experience is likely a common one for hobbyist darkroom folks. I think that most darkroom enthusiasts with a technical fascination would enjoy owning a densitometer and as they're floating around at quite affordable prices, it typically isn't too forbidding financially.
     
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Timppa,

    I have a Heiland TRD2, bought new some years ago, and the only criticism I would make of it is that I occasionally wish it had a longer arm. It's white-light only, which is theoretically limiting but less so in practice.

    My sole advice apart from recommending the TRD2, however, is not to buy something too old, as the older they get, the less reliable they are and the more often they have to be calibrated. This will probably not be an issue, as most of the densitometers now swilling around are reasonably modern solid-state devices.

    My own view of its usefulness is slightly different from Craig's, however. I bought it because of what I do for a living -- writing for the photographic press, as well as for my own website www.rogerandfrances.com -- and I really don't think it's done my photography any good at all. It confirms a lot of things I can see visually, and it allows me to construct film and paper curves, but so what? As a means of quantifying information for an article, it's useful, and lends an air of (sometimes spurious) authority. But taking pictures and printing them is a lot more use.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  4. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    Dear Timppa,

    I have a Heiland TRDZ in fact a TRD2 with some extras to construct film and paper curves very easy. Very usefull to try out new and unknown new films and developer combinations which we are also selling through the internet.

    Same advise: Buy it not to old due to the calibration problem. If you have a reference instrument which is not working well you are better off with no densitometer.

    About the arm, you can make it longer with some options, same is valid for the adjustable apertures. (0,5mm - 3mm)

    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  5. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    I went for years without a densitometer, but I always thought it would be fun & useful to own one, for those times when I am trying out a new film/developer combination.
    Much more accurate for establishing correct exposure index & developing times than trying to eyeball the results.

    Got lucky earlier this year & nabbed an Xrite 810 for $50.
    It came from a mini lab that had closed down.
    I was told they were around $4,500 new (Aussie dollars)
    Even at $150 I would have still bought it.
    Higher than that & I'm not sure as I won't be using it all the time.

    So decide what it's worth to you & keep looking.
    I'm very happy with mine, I only use it for B&W negs but it will also do colour & reflection.
    It's already given me plenty of help.
     
  6. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    How about a homemade version.

    While you are looking for a good deal, maybe you might want to give this a try. Once you calibrate this against known densities, it works great.

    -A
     
  7. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    I take density readings in the UV mode with pyro negatives. By finding a DR in this way it makes determining the mixtures for Pt/Pd printing so much easier. My questions is.. Can this same technique be used to determine negative densities that would print well with silver. And what would the DR ( in UV mode) be for a good pyro negative for projection type printing? Naturally it would need to be a thinner negative than a negative used for contact printing with PT/PD. I'm guessing 1.05 DR? I'm sorry I don't mean to get off topic. Thanks, Robert
     
  8. sbelyaev

    sbelyaev Member

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    You may want to consider Analyzer Pro (RH design). It is not cheap, but it works really good as both analyzer and densitometer.
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Robert,

    First, I am fairly certain that if you plan to determine negative densities as they will print in silver you will get a more accurate indicator by taking the reading with Blue mode rather than UV. Silver graded papers have their spectral sensitivity primarily in the Blue wavelengths at about 400nm to 450nm, whereas VC silver papers are sensitive in Blue as well as green.

    It is reasonable to conclude that the indicated DR will vary a lot according to the exact paper used for the test and the method of enlargement, say condenser or diffuse light source. However, in recent testing myself I determined that the DR needed for Ilford Galerie FB Grade 2, using contact printiing, is about 1.40.

    Sandy
     
  10. OP
    OP
    timpppa

    timpppa Member

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    Thanks everybody for the replies. I'll try to find one.
     
  11. karavelov

    karavelov Member

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    I am not using dedicated densitometer but when I scan for preview my negatives the VueScan software gives me the densities (ctrl + point where). Works for prints also. And it can meter the different color channels also. Am I doing it wrong?
     
  12. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I've used a VERY OLD Kodak densitometer to find my film speed for tri-x and HP-5 in HC110. Worked out OK.

    I've started using 510 pyro as my developer of choice.

    Sandy, does the above apply to all pyro developers? Looks like I may need to upgrade my densitometer?

    Thanks

    Mike
     
  13. Ai Print

    Ai Print Subscriber

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    Old thread revival alert!

    I just purchased ( from the classifieds ) what I assumed would be a current version of a Heiland TRD 2 densitometer.

    Upon receiving it I find it is an older one and since I am getting this for academic reasons I am wondering just how old it is and if there might be a reason to return it and sit tight until a current one comes up for sale. My main concern is older components that might no longer be supported by Heiland and calibration issues over time as stated above if it is too old.

    It was not exactly a bargain either so considering I paid the going rate for a good used current one I am a tad miffed it is older.

    Thoughts?

    2EB0518A-C159-4C8B-8348-2399C0AC0478.jpeg
     
  14. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    If it works and you can get it in calibration (do you have a calibrated density patch?) I'd use it. If it fails in the future and cannot be repaired, then look for something else. I don't know much about those but the design looks a lot newer than the Tobias TCX I have been using since 2001.
    wejex and tobias 800.JPG
     
  15. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Subscriber

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    timpppa,

    I bought a used Gretag D200-II and find it very helpful in determining personal film speed and proper highlight density. But, you don't need one. If you plan to develop with any of the staining developers, you might want to read this article:

    https://www.unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Densi/densi.html

    I remember seeing a new densitometer specifically made for reading stained negs, but I can't find the link at the moment. It is possible, though probably not the most accurate, to use a white light densitometer for stained negs by using a deep blue filter to zero out the unit first. Theoretically, this step will allow a white light unit to more closely simulate the paper's response to many enlarger light sources. All I really know is that this method has worked for me.
     
  16. Billy Axeman

    Billy Axeman Subscriber

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    Did you receive this unit including the original calibration strip? You could try to do a calibration check yourself first, the instructions are in the TRD2 user manual, downloadable from the Heiland web site.

    The last sentence from the instructions is:

    "The tolerance is ± 0.02 log. D. If greater variations are encountered, the TRD and the calibration strip should be sent to the manufacturer, or authorized service centre, since a new calibration is not possible without the necessary testing devices."

    I don't have a Heiland densitometer myself, but I read through the manuals because I want to buy one myself early next year.

    You can also mail Heiland in Germany with questions (see http://heilandelectronic.de/home/lang:en), my experience is they are very responsive.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2017
  17. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    If you don't have a calibration wedge (although yours doesn't appear to be user calibrated), checking performance shouldn't be too hard. Stouffer's T5100C has worked for me to check things and can give you an idea of the basic accuracy of the reading you are getting. Affordable at $18, too.

    http://www.stouffer.net/TransPage.htm
     
  18. Ai Print

    Ai Print Subscriber

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    It comes with the transmission and reflective calibration strip, seems to be pretty much on.

    I am just trying to pin down a date it was made because again, I was under the impression it was the current version of the TRD 2 which it simply is not.

    I paid a small fortune for it, more than some up to date models have gone for on eBay. I have a note in to both Heiland and Versalab.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  19. Billy Axeman

    Billy Axeman Subscriber

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    The user manuals downloadable from the Heiland web site (for the new model) are dated 01.03.2012 so it's older than that.

    Also note the following caution in the user manual:

    Never use the measuring head to carry the instrument. Damages caused by disregarding this rule are not included by guarantee. The measuring arm is mounted to the base unit by a precise bearing.

    The precise bearing is needed to exactly align the light source and the sensor. So when it is displaced you will get wrong readings which probably can't be compensated by a calibration (the arm must be re-aligned).

    Personally I would never buy a used TRD2. It is a precision instrument and you have no guarantees the original owner handled it carefully.
     
  20. Ai Print

    Ai Print Subscriber

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    Well the upshot of all this is that it is pristine and well cared for, all original packaging so it's a chance I had to take I guess.
     
  21. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    I have the very same one. Had it since about '98. Never an issue.
     
  22. Ai Print

    Ai Print Subscriber

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    Excellent, I appreciate the input.

    I heard back from Jurgen Heiland today, he it was about 17-20 years old and said even though some parts are no longer around, they do have some of the major components and support it.

    I guess I will just roll with it.
     
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