Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/09/22

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: [Leica] darkroom equipment
From: "Gary Klein" <>
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 19:22:29 -0500

If you intend to work with fiber base paper, one thing you should have (at
least I have had in every darkroom I've had) is a radio or a CD player.  It
makes it easier for me to work.  Fiber base printing should not be rushed if
you want top drawer results.

I would suggest you dry with screens, rather than a print dryer, because
some day you will process a print badly and 1. have to wash the apron and 2.
eventually have a bad print due to improper processing.  A screen can be
easily hosed down with diluted bleach and then washed completely with H20
after use.

With proper print development, fixing and washing-hypo washing, you should
never worry about these problems.  Screens will allow the print to dry more
naturally flat.   Never get single weight paper if you want decent prints
for hanging.

Buy print trays a size bigger than you print size.  For example, get 16X20
if you intend to do 11X14 and so forth.  This will give your prints plenty
of chemistry and prevent print defects.

Buy decent print tongs.  Don't scrimp here as you may wreck more good prints
than you would care to.

Get a good print timer.  I use Zone VI compensating print timer which really
makes my printing consistent.  If you can't afford that, get a good gralab
timer with the big sweep hand.

If you use a Leitz focomat V35 make sure you recalibrate your autofocus if
you switch your printing media to fiber base double weight.  It is a
different thickness than RC paper.   It will make a difference.

Get a decent safelight.  The OC flourescent tubes are nice and inexpensive.
I personally like the Thomas Duplex Sodium Vapor safelight.  Expensive, but
wow bright (has shutters for adjustability).

Above all else, get a paper and print with it for a while before trying
another type of paper.  Get consistent. Learn what the paper can do.  It is
not cheap and I am not claiming it is, but it is the only way you will

Get a copy of the Print by Ansel Adams.  It may be somewhat outdated, but
the core information is right on the mark for fine prints.