Need help: Equipment for Darkroom

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Photo Chemist

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I had plans to re-do/revamp our laundry room so it could double as a darkroom. It's looking a little more complicated getting cabinetry etc. to do what I'd like, in the small space. Instead, I think I'll just but plywood over the washer/dryer for the trays and get a smallish table for the enlarger. For make-shift it will do. I'm not sure what else I need. I know I need to black out the light, and I'll find some fabric (multiple layers) for that, I have trays and tongs. I need paper, a paper safe and chemistry. I am planning on starting out with black and white. I have no idea about enlargers or their accessories, so any recommendations would be great (or recommendations where I can get more information on different enlargers). I know I can get a used one, but I'd like it easy (last time I found an enlarger it was a hassle and let it go)...and I'm looking to keep it for a long time.

Can you help?
 

chip j

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Don't forget about venilation. I'd rather get a good used Durst than any modern enlarger--except maybe a Kaiser from Germany.
 
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Don't forget about ventilation. I'd rather get a good used Durst than any modern enlarger--except maybe a Kaiser from Germany.
Yes....ventilation. *sigh* I'm not sure how to to deal with that. Our laundry room doesn't have a vent, besides the dryer vent, and from what I have read, it's not a great idea to make it do double duty.

I'm not familiar with a Durst. I was just looking at their website - is it either color or black and white? (I really have no idea.)
 

MattKing

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Search Craigslist and eBay for enlargers either near you or that can be shipped, then post the links up here and ask for advice.
Availability tends to vary regionally - enlargers that are really common here may be really rare where you are.
Want to buy notices can sometimes work - who knows how many people in Tennessee have one in their basement, and read the notice boards in the grocery store.
 

Rick A

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What formats do you plan on enlarging? I'll take it for granted you will at least be doing 35mm, but what else, 6x?, 4x5, or what. You will need an enlarger that will handle the largest negatives you shoot, maybe even plan on getting one that is capable of going even larger just in case you decide to step up a notch or two. I would advise one capable of at least 6x9 negatives to start, unless you also shoot 4x5, then either an Omega D-6 or Beseler MX series, both can handle 35mm through 4x5 negs.
 

CMoore

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Because they are Big and somewhat heavy.......like Matt said, your "local" Craigslist or similar resource.
Do not hesitate to take one for free, or buy one that is in good shape but not "complete".
Complete can mean a lot of things. It might seem strange to you right now, but.....Not all enlargers will have a Lens or come with A/Some negative carriers.
You are just starting out (i am not much further along than you) so the more ":Complete" of a unit you can get the better.
Then again, these markets are Very Fickle. You might not see much for 4-5-6 Months, and then after YOU buy one.....Three very nice enlargers pop up for sale. Nothing you can do about it. That is ONE reason i have four enlargers. I need to get rid of one.....at least
TRY to be patient, but you cannot do Anything until you have the enlarger. :smile:
I work at night because i am retired and do most of my sleeping during the day. But Night is probably Easier/Better for most people in your situation. Not saying you Shouldn't work during the day, but night MIGHT make it easier for you to get started...Just A Thought.
You can probably get some air in at night by cracking a window or door and having a small fan gently moving the air around...Etc etc etc
LOTS of photos get printed on Enlargers that are nor perfectly aligned. But, at some point, you will want to do a basic Alignment/Check on yours.....after you get going.
Unless it is pretty far out, you probably will not have any problems Starting/Using it the way it comes.
Good Luck
 

jim10219

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Will the enlarger be a permanent install? If not, you might get a sturdy cart with locking wheels to put it on. I actually have my Beseler 23C iii on wheels. I use it on the ground, which is good enough for me. It allows me to move it quickly in and out of my bathroom. Recently, I built a darkroom out of an old bedroom (not dark enough for film, for which I still use the bathroom, but good enough for paper). I have a Beseler 45MX permanently set up in there.

4x5 enlargers are great, but they're also really large and heavy. If you don't plan on ever doing large format, I'd skip on enlargers that size. I can't even get my 45MX in and out of a room without taking it apart. My Besler 23Ciii is much smaller and does up to 6x9. It's a lot more manageable.

As far as accessories go, you'll probably want a darkroom timer and a grain focuser. I don't know that you'll need a paper safe. I used to have a couple, but got rid of them because I never used them. I just keep paper in their original boxes (with the original plastic bags folded over) and never have any issues. This also helps me to know what paper is in there, and how old it is. You might also want to get a stopwatch or kitchen timer to time your development and/or fixer. You'll also need an easel to keep your paper flat during exposure. You'll probably also need some multigrade filters and a place to hold them, and maybe a red safe light filter for the enlarger (if you plan on dodging and burning). And don't forget a drying rack or clothespins to hang the prints to dry.

Some other things to consider are an air blower, some nitrile gloves, maybe an antistatic brush or blower, old towels, print squeegee and glass plate to squeegee off excess water, and perhaps a print washer. I DIY'ed my own print washer and it saves me a ton of time and hassle. A good thermometer is also handy, but may not be necessary for paper. It would also be a good idea to come up with some way of leveling the enlarger. I made a DIY laser alignment tool, but if you're not too picky, you could use a bubble level or even a long ruler.

Really, the list goes on and on depending on your budget and how involved you want to get with all of this.
 

RalphLambrecht

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Don't forget about venilation. I'd rather get a good used Durst than any modern enlarger--except maybe a Kaiser from Germany.
I 2nd the recommendation for a Durst enlarger. They are well build and parts are easy to get and the color ones can do B&W and color look for 600 or 800 series.. Get one that can do 6x6;just in case you want to go there one day
 

jvo

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i have 2 4x6 foot windows in my darkroom. i used foamcore and wrapped "room darkening" shade material (black!!!) around them and glued on the perimeter of the opposite side. slide them right in the window - perfect!

my darkroom wet side table is 8' long, and 4 foot high - when i'm not printing in the darkroom, they sit in front and hide the storage underneath - sun shines in!

enjoy!
 

mgb74

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As to the enlarger, it can difficult to reliably buy a used enlarger if you don't know what you're looking for. All to many are missing something essential or have hard-to-find bulbs or negative carriers.

But if you're willing to pay a small premium over the "I found this in my grandfathers basement" enlarger, you can often find one from a working darkroom actually used by the person selling it. Best way is to get connected to whatever local film photography group you can find near you.
 

pentaxuser

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It might help our responses if you were to tell us how long, wide and high your laundry room will be. My darkroom is a converted small bedroom, roughly 8 ft wide x9 feet long x 7.5 feet high. I do have a Nova print processor which cuts down chemical smells as each slot is only just over one inch wide but I have managed for about 13 years without ventilation for spells of say 3 hours. In that time I may need to use the toilet sometimes so that provides a change of air.

If you decide on open trays, set up your three and do a printing session for a couple of hours. If the smells are going to affect you it is likely to occur within a couple of hours. If they are a problem then you have the option of more frequent breaks or installing some ventilation.

pentaxuser
 
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It might help our responses if you were to tell us how long, wide and high your laundry room will be. My darkroom is a converted small bedroom, roughly 8 ft wide x9 feet long x 7.5 feet high. I do have a Nova print processor which cuts down chemical smells as each slot is only just over one inch wide but I have managed for about 13 years without ventilation for spells of say 3 hours. In that time I may need to use the toilet sometimes so that provides a change of air.

If you decide on open trays, set up your three and do a printing session for a couple of hours. If the smells are going to affect you it is likely to occur within a couple of hours. If they are a problem then you have the option of more frequent breaks or installing some ventilation.

pentaxuser
The laundry room is 7'x 5'11" . It's probably the best spot that can do double duty. We do have a room that's bigger as well as walk-out attic that could be used, but neither of those have water (or water nearby) and the attic fluctuates in temperature too much. I think the ceiling is 8' in the laundry room. I suppose smells don't bother me too much...or at least they didn't used to. My sniffer got somewhat ruined in grad school. It's good to know, though, that I could potentially do it without ventilation.
 
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As to the enlarger, it can difficult to reliably buy a used enlarger if you don't know what you're looking for. All to many are missing something essential or have hard-to-find bulbs or negative carriers.

But if you're willing to pay a small premium over the "I found this in my grandfathers basement" enlarger, you can often find one from a working darkroom actually used by the person selling it. Best way is to get connected to whatever local film photography group you can find near you.

This is what I'm worried about. I don't know what I'm looking for. I've spoken to some local photographers, but their enlargers have already found new homes. I don't mind spending (more) money to get a good piece of equipment, as long as it is functioning.
 
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i have 2 4x6 foot windows in my darkroom. i used foamcore and wrapped "room darkening" shade material (black!!!) around them and glued on the perimeter of the opposite side. slide them right in the window - perfect!

my darkroom wet side table is 8' long, and 4 foot high - when i'm not printing in the darkroom, they sit in front and hide the storage underneath - sun shines in!

enjoy!

Thank you for posting this. It gives me hope that my plywood "table" would work.
 
OP
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Will the enlarger be a permanent install? If not, you might get a sturdy cart with locking wheels to put it on. I actually have my Beseler 23C iii on wheels. I use it on the ground, which is good enough for me. It allows me to move it quickly in and out of my bathroom. Recently, I built a darkroom out of an old bedroom (not dark enough for film, for which I still use the bathroom, but good enough for paper). I have a Beseler 45MX permanently set up in there.

4x5 enlargers are great, but they're also really large and heavy. If you don't plan on ever doing large format, I'd skip on enlargers that size. I can't even get my 45MX in and out of a room without taking it apart. My Besler 23Ciii is much smaller and does up to 6x9. It's a lot more manageable.

As far as accessories go, you'll probably want a darkroom timer and a grain focuser. I don't know that you'll need a paper safe. I used to have a couple, but got rid of them because I never used them. I just keep paper in their original boxes (with the original plastic bags folded over) and never have any issues. This also helps me to know what paper is in there, and how old it is. You might also want to get a stopwatch or kitchen timer to time your development and/or fixer. You'll also need an easel to keep your paper flat during exposure. You'll probably also need some multigrade filters and a place to hold them, and maybe a red safe light filter for the enlarger (if you plan on dodging and burning). And don't forget a drying rack or clothespins to hang the prints to dry.

Some other things to consider are an air blower, some nitrile gloves, maybe an antistatic brush or blower, old towels, print squeegee and glass plate to squeegee off excess water, and perhaps a print washer. I DIY'ed my own print washer and it saves me a ton of time and hassle. A good thermometer is also handy, but may not be necessary for paper. It would also be a good idea to come up with some way of leveling the enlarger. I made a DIY laser alignment tool, but if you're not too picky, you could use a bubble level or even a long ruler.

Really, the list goes on and on depending on your budget and how involved you want to get with all of this.

Thank you for this list. I have some of the items already written down, but not all. The enlarger would most likely not be a permanent install, at least not for now. Something on wheels is what I was considering.

I keep telling my husband I want a larger laundry room every time we move, but instead of bigger, they get smaller. :\
 

pentaxuser

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The laundry room is 7'x 5'11" . I think the ceiling is 8' in the laundry room. I suppose smells don't bother me too much...or at least they didn't used to. My sniffer got somewhat ruined in grad school. It's good to know, though, that I could potentially do it without ventilation.

Based on what you have said I'd certainly take a chance and not bother with ventilation initially. Good luck with the conversion

pentaxuser
 

CMoore

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If you DO see something on Craigslist, just post a link on APUG.
The members can give you a thumbs up or down.....Assuming the seller has 6th grade writing skills, and at least attempted to take pictures and hold the camera phone Kind Of Still while snapping the shutter. :smile:
 
OP
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What formats do you plan on enlarging? I'll take it for granted you will at least be doing 35mm, but what else, 6x?, 4x5, or what. You will need an enlarger that will handle the largest negatives you shoot, maybe even plan on getting one that is capable of going even larger just in case you decide to step up a notch or two. I would advise one capable of at least 6x9 negatives to start, unless you also shoot 4x5, then either an Omega D-6 or Beseler MX series, both can handle 35mm through 4x5 negs.

I shoot 35mm, 6x4.5 and 6x6. Eventually, I'd love to try 4x5, but I think that will be down the road a bit. I saw an Omega B-600 on Craigslist (https://atlanta.craigslist.org/eat/pho/d/omega-b600-enlarger-with/6674472737.html) but since I have no idea what I'm looking for, I don't know if it's a good thing or not. There was also a Beseler 67 Dicro 67s for sale. It looks to be from a Photo shop, but again, I don't know what I'm look for. (https://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/pho/d/beseler-67-dicro-67s-darkroom/6678030341.html)

I could manage a pick up for both of these. They're not in town, but close enough to make it worth the drive.
 
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If you DO see something on Craigslist, just post a link on APUG.
The members can give you a thumbs up or down.....Assuming the seller has 6th grade writing skills, and at least attempted to take pictures and hold the camera phone Kind Of Still while snapping the shutter. :smile:
I just posted two links in the post above this one. Would you, could you take a look? (Is this the right place to post it?)
 

Rick A

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I just posted two links in the post above this one. Would you, could you take a look? (Is this the right place to post it?)
Looks to me like they both only have a 35mm carrier though it's hard to tell from the pics of the B-600 it may have a 6x6 carrier as well. The Omega is IMO way over priced for what it is, the Beseler is a bit high as well. Go ahead and look at them, but offer half the asking price, you never know what they'll take. I have a Beseler 23C for sale with 35mm and 6x6 carriers for $100, but it may be cost prohibitive to ship from Pa.
 

wyofilm

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I would also recommend looking to see what http://store.khbphotografix.com , up in Canada have. They are great to work with and sell new and used equipment, including quality enlargers. Also, the Canadian dollar vs. the US dollar is pretty low right now.

Good luck!
 

Photonuser

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I saw this one as well, but I couldn’t tell what brand it is. Is it worth $200?
I think he has 3 enlargers for $250 one of them has a lens too. I'd message them and see a if they are in working .order and if he would sell you just one.
 

MattKing

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The Beseler 67 would be functional for everything up to 6x7 (with appropriate accessories).
It may be that the seller could be persuaded to provide a short warranty.
As for the photographers whose enlargers have already found new homes, perhaps they would be able to help with face to face advice?
 
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