BUYING DARKROOM EQUIPMENT


A complete darkroom is typically divided into two sections: a Dry Side, where printing and enlarging takes place, and a Wet Side, where the processing  of the film and paper is done. If you are just processing film, you only need wet=side equipment. Otherwise, you need equipment for both the wet and dry side.

The hardware you'll need to set up a darkroom can run from a few dollars to a few thousand depending on what you need and how you shop. On the cheap end, are the darkrooms put together from garage sales and want ads. Usually, this equipment is in very good shape. Unlike most photo equipment, such as cameras and lens, darkroom equipment never goes outside to face the elements, and doesn't move around much and get bumped. Most people who are selling the equipment hardly used the stuff. Many people never got around to taking the stuff out of the boxes. Many of those that did never figured out how to use it properly or found out that they just don't have time to do the darkroom work. Whatever the reason, you benefit. If you see darkroom equipment advertised, check with a store to see how much it sells for new. If it's so old that the camera shop doesn't carry it anymore, demand a BIG discount.

There are also inexpensive, pre-packaged darkroom kits, however you'll find that the quality of the materials in these kits is mediocre. In addition, the kits invariably include items you don't need and lack things you do need. If you live near a used camera shop that sells darkroom equipment, you can ask them to help you select what you'll need. If you have the money, you can get everything new, but even here you will have a lot of options.

For all of these categories, there are many companies that make products with many different features -- pros and cons, depending on your approach.  If you go to your local camera shop for information, they will usually steer you in the direction of the products that they carry, which is normally a small sampling of what is actually available.  For specific details, it's best to request information from the manufacturer.  To find out about manufacturers, check out the photography magazines and the web.


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