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A guide to photography darkroom equipment

Despite the popularity of digital photography, there is still a large community of photographers who prefer to use film. Film still presents better quality images than anything but the best digital hardware and there is something very creative about processing your own prints. This article explores the main equipment found in a darkroom.

The darkroom

The biggest piece of equipment is the room itself. A dark room set up at home often consists of a multi-use room so some improvisation is required. Good rooms to consider include basements, due to their natural darkness, loft spaces for the same reason and also bathrooms due to their running water. Under-stair toilets could potentially be used although they are a bit small in general.

Enlarger

The enlarger is probably the biggest piece of equipment in a dark room. It is either table top, for up to around A3 sized prints, or floor mounted for large format and larger sized prints. There are two types, one geared for black and white and the other for colour prints. The latter can normally also do black and white prints, but in both cases, they require a mains supply of power. You also need to consider where to put your trays and chemicals for development. The development process for gray scale versus colour prints As soon as you've exposed your print, you then need to develop it without turning on a white light. In colour printing, the whole process is done in darkness, making the setup of the development equipment critical. Black and white printing allows you to at least have a darkroom red safe light that allows you to see around the room.

Film development

Black and white film can be developed without using a darkroom while it's generally recommended to use a professional lab for colour development. Materials that you require for development purposes In order to develop black and white film, you need a dark room or film changing bag, Paterson type development tank, thermometer and several measuring jugs.

Other equipment.

Other darkroom equipment and supplies you might find include chemicals, trays and a timer or clock. The clock and thermometer are two of the most important pieces of equipment because without them, accurate film and paper development is impossible. All these equipments can be acquired second hand quite cheaply, yet they would provide you with the same interesting and rewarding experience.

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