Has anyone tried Lab-Box, a daylight film developer tank?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by terrymc, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Well, the Nikon Df seems to be for people who like the look and feel of film cameras, but want digital.

    Reminds me, though, of someone on eBay selling a package of photographic paper. They showed all the sheets outside the envelope, so one could see exactly what they were bidding on. Even though it says "Open only in photographic darkroom".

    As well as I know, in the pre-digital days, most people knew what a darkroom was, even if they never saw
    the inside of one.

    Sometimes they would be shown in movies or TV shows, though not always quite accurately.

    Yes, I suspect that most people now interested in film were doing it years ago.
  2. On the original topic (Lab-Box), I have no personal experience, but there are quite a few review videos on the huge video site (whose name I'm not sure I should mention.)

    Also, according to the Lab-Box website, a leader puller is offered along with the machine.
  3. There's a popular TV show now that takes place in the 50s or 60s, and has a character who is a photographer.
    Apparently, millennial viewers are mystified about what he does in "the red room."
  4. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Bob Cummings stared in a show in the 1950s, "Love that Bob", when real photographers used studio lights and 8x10 cameras..

  5. I've taken a few people inside my darkroom...

    One of the first questions is why it has to be completely dark when I'm handling film and why don't I "just use one of those red lights."

    When it does come time to print, people also comment on the fact that my darkroom is "really bright but orange" and not dim red. I do have a couple of old Kodak red lights around, and after showing how dark they are I just explain that I prefer something a bit different for my darkroom. "Bright and orange" comes from the fact that I use a Thompson SOX safelight, which is indeed brighter than a filtered incandescent bulb, but monochromatic sodium yellow.
  6. The darkroom at my high school was DARK. Black ceiling, walls and floor. It was hard to work in, because the only place where there was light was near the safelights. Every place else, you had to feel your way in the dark.
    When I visited another high school's yearbook darkroom, I was SHOCKED. It was bright and easy to work in. If I dropped something on the floor, I could see and find it. The key was that the surfaces (walls, floor and ceiling) were NOT BLACK. It was white and light green (no idea why the light green). The light surfaces reflected the light from the safelight, rather than absorbed it.

    So when I built my darkroom at my parent house, I used the lesson I learned. WHITE walls and floor.
    The white walls and floor reflected a LOT of light. Two 7-1/2 watt safelights were all I needed, and it was plenty bright. 7-1/2 watts was the smallest bulb that I could buy. There were no dark spots anywhere. A couple of my classmates who came over were surprised at how bright my darkroom was, with such small bulbs in the safelights.

    A few years ago, when I went to a local Community College darkroom, I noticed the same problem; BLACK ceiling, walls and floor.

    If you do not have light leaks, you do NOT need a BLACK darkroom.
    If you have light leaks, you fix the light leaks.
  7. AJG


    You're right about white walls and ceilings in darkrooms--if you don't have light leaks and/or bad safelights it works much better. In the darkrooms I've had, though, I have always painted the wall behind the enlarger and the ceiling overhead flat black to minimize any possible reflections or light leaks from around negative carriers. This isn't a problem with my Zone VI enlarger but it was with the Omega D 2 that I used for many years.
    Gary Naka likes this.
  8. My darkroom was built by the previous house owner. It is pretty small, but has four safelights,
    so it covers well. Then I changed one to a #13 safelight, which is pretty close to dark brown.

    With only the #13 on, I once dropped some paper on the floor, but couldn't find it. It is enough to find
    and use the paper cutter, enlarger, and developing trays. That is for Panalure and for color paper
    like Endura. I mostly used it with Panalure.

    It also has a big #3 (dark green) safelight, which I have never used.

    I even have a filter (from a thrift store) #10, which is darker than the #13, but haven't tried that one.

    Otherwise, the darkroom is light on some walls and dark on some other ones.
  9. Black around the enlarger makes sense, as that would also eliminate reflection from the paper, as you print, so maximize printing contrast.

    Yes I remember the D2. Some times the condenser did not sit FLAT on the carrier, and the light would leak out from in-between.
    It has been too many years, I don't remember if the head also leaked light.
    OK there was the dumb move when someone would open the condenser door, with the enlarger ON. ARGH!!! Talk about a light leak.
  10. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Gary Naka, "It [the darkroom] was white and light green (no idea why the light green)."

    Green is the color of safelights used with color processing. That may have been part of the answer.
    ] likes this.
  11. Green is the safelight (#3) for develop by inspection for black and white film.

    The idea is that enough of the sensitizing dye has washed out, at halfway though,
    and that the eye is most sensitive to green.

    Color negative papers and Panalure have a sensitivity minimum near 600nm,
    allowing for a dim safelight near that point:


    they call this amber, though the filter looks closer to brown, or black if you
    look at the glass without light behind it. Minimum density is about 2.5.

    Color negative paper only needs to respond to the light coming through a color negative.

    For some reason I don't know, Ektachrome paper doesn't have this property.
  12. What had/has me confused was that the bottom half of the wall was light green, the top half was off-white.
    I never thought to ask the staff or yearbook advisor if they knew why the paint color scheme.

    I don't know if they ever did color processing in the darkroom. I think it was B&W only. But again another question that I did not ask. But I do not recall if the enlargers had a color head. I really should have taken a pic of the darkroom.
  13. ]


    I wish I was near, so I could take that beginning B&W film class just to learn darkroom basics. And I'd accept you as an instructor. Anyone around Knoxville, TN is welcome to teach me some basics. I want to learn this. And meeting another Photo.net member icing on the cake.
  14. AJG


    I'd be happy to teach you, but I live in upstate NY so the commute might be a bit much...
    ] likes this.
  15. Lesson #1
    Ignore any 'instructional' film-processing videos on YouTube. I've yet to see a single one made by someone that actually knows what they're doing or talking about!
    Buy an old book on the subject, written in the days when film was the only way to take a photograph.
    Lesson #2
    Your best tool for learning how to use film is a digital camera. Because apart from all the chemical slopping about, the camera skills are all directly transferable between digital and film... Except it takes a fraction of the time to see the result of your triumphs and mistakes with a digital camera.
    ] likes this.
  16. All totally irrelevant since the invention of LEDs I'm afraid Glen.
  17. I suppose so, but there are still a lot of the old kind around.
    And besides, our house came with four of them.

    The #13 has a very narrow transmission, where most color negative papers are
    less sensitive, and, as I knew some years ago, where some LED also worked,
    but also cost a lot more. But also at about 590nm, amazingly close to the line
    for low pressure sodium lamps. But how hard is it to find a yellow LED right
    at that line?

    Reminds me, in some other group, someone asked why spectrophotometers are so expensive.
    But it seems that you can find a used one for about $100. There are a lot of them out there,
    in case anyone wants one.
  18. The price of spectrophotometers dropped right after linear array CCD sensors made an appearance in flatbed scanners, and someone thought "Hang on a minute! Add a prism or diffraction grating to that, and I might be on to something..."

    Also. Nothing magical about the Sodium D lines. A near-monochromatic amber LED - or several at pennies each - will serve just as well. It's only film photography for chrisake. Not anything important.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
  19. It has been a while since I used a spectrophotometer, since before high resolution CCD arrays.

    The usual ones have a sample and reference, usually liquid in cuvettes, but I do remember putting something non-liquid in one.

    In the liquid case, it measures (the log of) the ratio between the beams through the two.
    That is, the absorption of whatever is in the liquid solvent, but not of the solvent itself.

    One that I found out learning about densitometers, (well, I might have already known this) is
    that the current through a PMT is proportional to light intensity, and exponential with voltage.

    In the case of densitometers (this is the one I didn't know), you run them at constant current,
    and the voltage is proportional to the log of the intensity, and over a reasonably large range.

    Well, log amplifiers are not that hard to make, but you want the system to work well over
    a large range of intensity, which happens easily that way.

    The thing I remember most about the spectrophotometer from so many years ago, is that
    the manual was written in Japanese English. (I hope I don't have to explain that.)
    In any case, you want accurately measure the light through the sample and reference
    at the same wavelength.

    Not so much later, I bought my first Epson printer. (Not so long after they came out.)
    Epson figured out that they should not write the manuals in Japanese English.
    However, I also bought the service manual for the printer, which is in Japanese

    But okay, if you measure the spectrum of the reference, store that, then measure
    the sample, that avoids some complicated optics to measure both at the same time.
    And the CCD doesn't remove the complication of a high quality diffraction grating.

    As well as I know, good ones want to measure over four orders of magnitude
    (absorption constant of 4), which is not so easy, and I think most scanners don't
    do that. But for many cases, you might not need that much.

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