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Nov 15, 2005
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Unfortunately im soon to finish on of my courses i take at the local college and i've been able to scrounge their darkroom off them.

with the prospect of not being able to develop my own film i'm looking at one of two options..


Buy full darkroom, tanks enlargers paper etc and carry on as i did


Buy tanks, spools, darkbag and an Epson V500/700 to develop negatives and scan and use them digitally.

bearing in mind i shoot both 35mm and 120 i am opting towards the latter option as i have always wanted to be able to use my film stuff online etc..

any opinions / advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks :)
I did your first option a few years ago. Darkroom kit is cheap, but I found it a real pain not having a dedicated darkroom space, and when I cleared out an area of the loft for that purpose I found it a pain not to have sinks and running water, so unsurprisingly I seldom do wet printing now - too much trouble to carry buckets of water up and down loft ladders...

A V700 or 750 would have been a good option (and if you don't already shoot 120 colour transparencies I'd urge you to try it - Velvia in 120 is amazing). I've got a Nikon Coolscan V, which is fantastic, and I mostly shoot Kodachrome so it being limited to 35mm isn't an issue, but the 700 or 750 is supposed to be pretty decent at 35mm and excellent for MF. There is a very detailed review of it online somewhere; Google is bound to help you find it.

I've done a little scanning here in college off their Nikon scanner (dunno what model)... all I know is that it is nowhere near as satisfying as doing it in a darkroom (takes forever too). But, for a lot of people (including probably me), it's the only choice we're going to have when we no longer have access to a darkroom.

If you can go the darkroom route (good for you!), you basically need 3 things: 1) table space, 2) running water, and 3) no windows. If you can jury-rig something for a bathroom, it usually works pretty well for a lot of people.
Do both, hand printing is so much more satisfying and creative than photoshop, I always had a scanner too for chucking stuff online though. H
I second Harry. You need to be able to make prints in a darkroom setting, even if only on a set-it-up, break-it-down basis. And yes, it can be a huge pain. But your best scans for electronic use will come from a dedicated film scanner, bar none. So choose which is most important to you and start there.
i know nothing about prints, so please dont be offended, but have you considered switching to DSLRs?
Well i do own a 30D + batt grip + 5 lenses + 2 flashguns so i'm pretty sorted there. I enjoy film more though.

Just had a friend mention to me that he can get epson scanner for half price, so that option is looking pretty good right now
^^ If you can still get good prints by scanning your negatives, that's a great option. Keep in mind good quality inkjet prints can be costly, too: good photo printers, archival inks and paper, aren't cheap! Just a reminder to think ahead to what you want for final output.

If that's less an issue than just getting your hands on negatives to be able to scan and post your stuff online, a good scanner for a bargain may indeed be your best solution. You certainly don't need a full darkroom kit to develop film, as you know - it can be done cheaply at home, and you have full control. Again, it's all about what you ultimately want to do with your images: think about how much printing you do now and expect to do in the future, vs just good digital files and posting online.

btw - I don't have running water in my home darkroom, either, and while it would be a nice extra, I get by without it just fine. If you find yourself missing the option to make your own silver gelatin enlargements, you can always find great equipment at dirt cheap prices these days. Once the initial equipment investment is made, darkrooms are still pretty cheap over the long run.

So, experiment with this half & half "hybrid" workflow, and see if it works well for you. No need to spend money on anything you ultimately won't use. :)
Another vote for the hybrid route... even if you end up going with a full darkroom in the future, scans are excellent for proofing photos.

As for choosing a scanner... I'm a big proponent of a quality flatbed (like a epson v700) over a hand fed dedicated film scanner. It's nice to be able to scan medium and large format film, and it's REALLY nice to be able to scan 24 frames of 35mm at one time instead of frame by frame.
Show it off then, and dont say you havent got a scanner, use the dslr. H

By the way try buying a second hand scanner, there must be loads out there, I bought an epson expression 1600 pro spec scanner in 2002, cost £700 with the tranny/neg adapter but I bet you can find a similar model on ebay for peanuts now. H
I just printed for the first time today.

Scratch my previous post. Get the darkroom stuff. It's easy and WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah the real thing is something of real beauty isn't it? Ilford paper is simply magnificent.

Like we said earlier though... reality kicks in for a lot of us and we simply can't set up that kind of an environment. If you can you definitely should.

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