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Why Darkroom


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#1 pridbor

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 08:05

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Gents, I have now followed this forum for a short while and haven't really heard from any of you why you are still doing real Darkroom work! So I'm asking why are you doing it? When I last did such I was but 14 years of age or so and created a bunch of Photos on paper. Truly loved the process and sometimes the outcome too!

Do you make Photos professionally, like for Weddings etc or still for joy and personal satisfaction??

I may have an opportunity to lay my hands on a like New Focomat 1C enlarger but don't really know if it's worth my efforts to bring it from Europe to the US, and will I use it enough to warrant the trouble? I know that you can't really answer the latter part, but I'm just curious to hear your opinions!

Thanks

Preben
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#2 gbealnz

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 08:26

It's personal, and everyone is different, as you already know.

 

I grew up with processing, and it was my first job, back in the late 60's. I still run the odd print through, but usually in the winter (I'm less busy work wise, and the longer nights make for an easier darkroom experience).

 

For me it is purely personal, although we did (wife and I) do weddings as paid sideline many years ago, before digital.

 

The Focomat question is simple to me. Grab it, worry about whether it was a good idea (or not) later.

Gary


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#3 Paulus

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 13:04

Gents, I have now followed this forum for a short while and haven't really heard from any of you why you are still doing real Darkroom work! So I'm asking why are you doing it? When I last did such I was but 14 years of age or so and created a bunch of Photos on paper. Truly loved the process and sometimes the outcome too!

Do you make Photos professionally, like for Weddings etc or still for joy and personal satisfaction??

I may have an opportunity to lay my hands on a like New Focomat 1C enlarger but don't really know if it's worth my efforts to bring it from Europe to the US, and will I use it enough to warrant the trouble? I know that you can't really answer the latter part, but I'm just curious to hear your opinions!

Thanks

Preben

 

I do it, because I cannot help it. It's the most beautiful paper printing in the world in b&w IMHO . I tried to stop several times, but I did not succeed. Still hoping for the ideal Leica camera, which can do me forget my MP , but until now, no succes, even with the M10. I must say, my frequency of printing goes down, but every time I print something I get that feeling of happiness. 


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#4 SilentShutter

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 13:11

Why darkroom ? Why film ?

Why all the affort to get a picture this way

and is the result exactly what you want

without any retouche ?

 

No, for the most of my pictures meanwhile

I have to say when I am honest.

 

Yes, when I want and accept the picture

I got the moment I press the trigger.

 

If you have the space and the time a straight

analoge workflow ioffers you the best quality.

 

If not go on hybrid with scan & print !


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#5 TomB_tx

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 15:09

I set up my darkroom again after I retired and started collecting and servicing old film cameras. I do a lot of B&W test rolls, but mainly scan the negatives in batch, unless I'm really shooting for results. I picked up a Focomat V35 (both color and variable contrast heads), and was given a Focomat 1b and restored it to working condition. The autofocus on both is nice, but I used an Omega B22XL for decades, and can still get better contrast results with it, as I am used to it.
With the kids gone, when we had to re-do their bath (due to a pipe failing under the concrete slab), I designed cabinets to fit an enlarger, good countertop for processing, etc and still convert quickly to a comfortable guest bath again.
Darkroom work is a comfortable old friend, and makes film convenient with most processing places distant.
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#6 leica dream

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 20:38

I had my darkroom for many years from the mid 1950's, then with children around It was not practical. Latterly I moved to using a processing lab for D & P before converting to digital in mid-1990. Now with a V-Lux and a C-Lux (which I love) I am getting an itch to go back to film for quality but would use a lab.

If I do that, and get results back on CD or transmitted, will results be crisp and excellent like they used to be?

And the real basic point, which film camera should I look at, bearing in mind limited funding?


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#7 TomB_tx

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 21:12

Film scans from commercial labs (such as Dwaynes or The Darkroom) are generally like what you used to receive from film prints. However, they don't have a digital look, as if you zoom in you see the limits of grain structure. But that's not the way we viewed film enlargements in the past. They can look very good viewed normal sized.
There's a big variety of film cameras available cheaply, including the Leicaflex and R series, and the R lenses are reasonable compared to M lenses.
However, many may need service by now, and that can be expensive, An exception is the Pentax SLRs, form the 60s Spotmatic to the 70s K and M models, because a retired service manager from Pentax still services them at very reasonable prices. (http://pentaxs.com/)
Pentax lenses are also plentiful and cheap at the auction sites. I often use them on a Sony A7 digital body with good results.
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#8 leica dream

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 20:24

Interesting about Pentax because that is what I ditched when I went digital. I need deep thought about this issue. I have noticed that there are some Leica R6 around at reasonable cost, and if bought from the right place come with guarantees. Grateful thanks for the input.



#9 pico

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 23:21

An interesting experience - I had an unremarkable photo of a neighbor women printed on Agfa graded paper in my own darkroom which had an outstanding Rodenstock lens and focus magnifier. My friends liked it.

 

When I scanned the negative greater resolution revealed, to me, an unattractive outcome.

.


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#10 Bill Clark

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 03:57

My thoughts, making prints is an art. When I had my business, I had a lab do the printing. I kept my analog darkroom equipment that I started to collect in the 1960's and accessories knowing that when I retired, I'm retired, I would put together an analog darkroom.

The high school I attended had a darkroom and I had a portable rudimentary darkroom, I would usually set up in the bathroom when I was living with my parents.

My wife and I had a bedroom finished in our lower level along with a bathroom. My wife insisted it would be designed as a darkroom first and bathroom second. Now I have my very first dedicated darkroom. I don't need to place the fixer tray on the floor anymore!

I enjoy the analog printing process. The largest print I have made so far is 16 x 20.

During the last few years of my business I offered black and white photographs created with film and processed and printed in an analog darkroom. I had quite a few takers.

I still like the look of a black and white made in a darkroom.

The only item I need to buy is a bigger waste basket!
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#11 SilentShutter

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 22:09

I am not sure if I want to go back in the old darkroom times.

Most thing I hated was to retouche dust and other crap from the prints later.

I am a sucker for film and still love to use it for my private work

but I enjoy the possibility of modern post-process adjustments

after I scanned my pictures.


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#12 pico

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 00:07

I may have an opportunity to lay my hands on a like New Focomat 1C enlarger but don't really know if it's worth my efforts to bring it from Europe to the US, and will I use it enough to warrant the trouble? I know that you can't really answer the latter part, but I'm just curious to hear your opinions!

 

It is not worth the trouble. You can find good deals in the USA for the same or better enlargers. My two-bits - even the Valoy enlargers were exceptionally well built. I still have one from decades ago. It has perfect alignment. Hang in there. Don't trouble yourself with importing.

 

Enjoy, and please stay in touch.


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#13 Michael Hiles

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 20:13

The darkroom requires learning a craft if the results are to be good. And when the results are good, there is nothing so lovely. To repeat, nothing.

 

In my mind a loose analogy is sculptor who, because it is modern and convenient, buys a 3-D printer and sells his chisels.


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Michael

I would like to manage to prevent people from ever seeing how a picture of mine has been done. What can it possibly matter? What I want is that the only thing emanating from my pictures should be emotion. - Pablo Picasso

#14 tobey bilek

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 01:35

Darkroom is the only way to get a print the way you want it.   Quite a joy to make one.  More satisfaction than home ink printing.

 

Today we can scan and retouch and then ink print or send out to be done on real photo paper. 


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#15 Guest_)-(_*

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 02:09

I missed out totally on the school darkroom experience, I'd never even been in one until last year.

Once I tried it out, I knew it was for me.

 

I've always had zero interest in digital printing, occasionally sending files to a lab to print if I need physical photographs.

 

I find the darkroom fun and totally free from stress. It's been a revelation to actually 'see' my negatives as proofs and prints, not pale scans of them.

Plus it opens the door to all kinds of photographic crafts like alt processes.

 

My only cautionary note would be time. It all takes up lots of time.

I am glacially slow in output but, since I only do it for me and for the joy of it, who cares! I take all the time I need!

 

IMHO I wouldn't worry about needing 'Leitz' to be written on your enlarger.

Enlargers are plentiful in the USA. The end result isn't directly improved by what's above the negative, just perhaps some of the small conveniences of getting there.

 

I'd rate up to 6x7 capability as more important (for when you buy the Rollei/Blad/Pentax etc. ;) ), and of course the enlarging lens and the convenience of the easel used.

Those are things I'd spend more freely on if I felt it was necessary, appealing as Leitz/Leica is.

 

I'd skip the Focomat and go take a short darkroom course to refresh your memory on process and rediscover if it's something you could see yourself doing a lot more of.

Have fun whatever you choose.


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#16 Martin B

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 16:56

Gents, I have now followed this forum for a short while and haven't really heard from any of you why you are still doing real Darkroom work! So I'm asking why are you doing it? When I last did such I was but 14 years of age or so and created a bunch of Photos on paper. Truly loved the process and sometimes the outcome too!

Do you make Photos professionally, like for Weddings etc or still for joy and personal satisfaction??

I may have an opportunity to lay my hands on a like New Focomat 1C enlarger but don't really know if it's worth my efforts to bring it from Europe to the US, and will I use it enough to warrant the trouble? I know that you can't really answer the latter part, but I'm just curious to hear your opinions!

Thanks

Preben

 

I have started setting up my darkroom three years ago after a former colleague handed me his very well maintained Beseler 45M condenser-based enlarger. At this point I was working fully with digital, and I started using my acquired enlarger for making sliver gelatin prints from digital negatives. The results simply blew me away, since then I was hooked. One thing came to the other, I also started to go back to film and to develop my own color and B&W films. I enjoy a lot to make fine prints from film negatives. The quality is amazing, and good B&W silver gelatin prints beat B&W inkjet prints easily. I mostly do all of this for joy and personal satisfaction as you pointed out, but last year I took some wedding photos on the side with B&W film. I was asked to make 8x10" silver gelatin prints from some of my negatives, and both groom and bride were very amazed how they turned out.

 

I am not familiar with the Focomat 1C enlarger, but it doesn't seem to be able to handle 4x5" large format negatives. This format comes handy when working with digital negatives, or if you later plan to add a large format 4x5" camera. If you are covered for your relocation from Europe to the US, just bring it with you. But you will find quite some good enlargers here in the US market - I currently have three Beseler enlargers which I all got used for excellent deals or even for free (45M and one 67S, I just acquired another 45MXT with color diffuser head).


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#17 Michael Hiles

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 19:08

The focomat 1c is for 35mm only. But it is superb.


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Michael

I would like to manage to prevent people from ever seeing how a picture of mine has been done. What can it possibly matter? What I want is that the only thing emanating from my pictures should be emotion. - Pablo Picasso

#18 Doc Henry

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 19:17

The focomat 1c is for 35mm only. But it is superb.

 

Go for the print , the best to watch your picture on silver paper (not inkjet) and to hang 

on the wall with a beautiful frame  ...  a great pleasure to do yourself and even on sunday ,

instead of being in front of his computer, better than scan !

 

... and for Micheal and Preben to whet your appetite  :)

 

Attached File  L1015924-2homlabm9la50lf+++900 (2).jpg   107.77KB   7 downloads

 

M9-50 LA

 

Rg Henry


Edited by Doc Henry, 15 February 2017 - 19:23.

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#19 Ko.Fe.

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 19:57

User Leica film M with black and white film is still most economical and easy to get to Leica RF M series alternative. My complete darkroom set was given to me for free in 2011. And this is how you could get darkroom set today. Free or next to free, except Leica enlargers (not really necessary, but nice to have).

So, you could get user film M under very reasonable price and start printing same way pictures were printed then M series cameras were invented. Even more, for very low price you could get FB papers which are fifty years old, yet, they are totally usable without any technical limitations.

Also only in the darkroom you could get lith print and here is no lith prints from same negative which will looks the same. You could also contact print from digital negative and use different alternative process. Like tintypes. Yes, you could print digital positive and create tintype from it, in the darkroom.

Also, if you are Leica fan, you might enjoy photos of HCB, Winogrand, Meyerowitz, Zimbel and so on Leica photographers and you could get exactly the same cameras, lenses they used, using and print it exactly same way. Most of photos from these masters aren't scans prints, but darkroom prints. Even in the books, not to mention exhibitions.  

 

To sum up:

In 2017 you could get used film M camera cheap, you could also get entire darkroom set for free and if you are printing carefully and using 8x10 or less paper sizes it is cost effective and one of the best BW methods today.

And it is fun. No computers and even almost no light :)

 

25893791545_fa6c429423_o.jpg

M4-2, Elmar-M 50 2.8. HP5+ film. Old AGFA Brovira paper in Arista Lith developer.


Edited by Ko.Fe., 15 February 2017 - 20:05.

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#20 Martin B

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 20:15

My complete darkroom set was given to me for free in 2011. And this is how you could get darkroom set today. Free or next to free, except Leica enlargers (not really necessary, but nice to have).

To sum up:

In 2017 you could get used film M camera cheap, you could also get entire darkroom set for free

 

These times are long gone - you need to put some $$$ bucks down to get a well maintained darkroom equipment these days. You might be lucky if you have personal friends who give it for free. Reason for the increase in prices for film&darkroom is higher demand again. Look on Craigslist and ebay, and you get a good idea what you can get for which kind of price.

 

Getting a used M camera for cheap? Well, maybe one in BGN condition. But prices for Ms in good or excellent condition have risen since last year, too. Certainly not cheap.


Edited by Martin B, 15 February 2017 - 20:18.



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