View Full Version : infrared viewers - any suggestions?

20-Dec-2016, 00:33
I've seen mentions of using infrared viewing goggles for film development.

Has anyone actually used same?

Any make/model recommendations?

- Leigh

20-Dec-2016, 09:08
Haven't tried it, nor do I really see the need, but I'm interested in seeing what anyone has do say regarding this. Probably works best with ortho film and paper. Not sure I'd trust it otherwise.

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20-Dec-2016, 09:15
I have one of the ATN Viper sets that Ken Lee recommended. I bought it used on eBay, and it's fantastic. Hard to find when I was looking for it last year, but well worth it. I believe I paid around $250 for mine.

I only use it for loading film, not for development by inspection.

Bob Mann
20-Dec-2016, 09:28
Recommend the ATN Viper - been using it for years - both to load film into holders and to watch development of film in dip/dunk tanks. Works great and has saved me from a number of mistakes, not to mention being able to see what is around me while I am working. Well worth the investment.

20-Dec-2016, 11:51
Have you run film fog tests with it? Do you limit it to slower speed film or pretty much anything (except IR film)?

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Bob Mann
20-Dec-2016, 12:38
Have you run film fog tests with it? Do you limit it to slower speed film or pretty much anything (except IR film)?

I use it with all the film I use - HP5 and Tmax400 are the highest rated - I have never run a fog test, have no reason to as I have not found a fogging. I use a densitometer and film edges are the same regardless of goggle use. Should also mention that I find these very useful when loading 120 film on reels.

Will Frostmill
20-Dec-2016, 12:39
I haven't used it in the darkroom yet, but it is often easy to convert an ordinary webcam to infrared. I'm building a darkbox - a rigid changing tent, basically - big enough to hold tanks for dev, stop, and fix. I'm going to set my laptop on the top, and put my infrared webcam inside so I can see what my hands are doing.

To convert a webcam to infrared, unscrew the plastic housing, remove the lens assembly, and take tweezers to the filter assembly between the sensor and lens. On mine nothing held it in place but the lens assembly, no adhesives at all. Very easy. Your milage may vary.

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20-Dec-2016, 13:43
I did that to a Nikon 1 J3 digital camera. 10mp. Cheaper, older technology, but takes good enough IR. Anyway, looking at goggles I can connect to that for the same purpose in a darkroom. But using a lens hood I could easily do what you're talking about.

There are toy infrared goggles but they reside closer to the visible light area, being a dim red. That could work for making darkroom prints.

I got into this over 30 years ago & not so much worried about loading film into holders or onto reels, but could come in handy when cutting down film sheets or during printing.

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20-Dec-2016, 14:55
Haven't tried it, nor do I really see the need, but I'm interested in seeing what anyone has do say regarding this. Probably works best with ortho film and paper. Not sure I'd trust it otherwise.

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guys have been using infrared goggles int the darkroom for a long time

20-Dec-2016, 15:11
If you wear eyeglasses be sure you can fit them in the viewer.

An odd aside: I got Russian IR viewer about ten years ago. It had a rubber lens caps. The viewer saw right through the rubber (or composite) caps as if they were not even there.

Bill Burk
20-Dec-2016, 19:14
I use an ATN Viper, and I did a fog test.

Here's what an ATN Viper does when aimed at a sheet of TMY-2 for an hour...

Now if you only work for 15 minutes... and if you further cut the light by two stops... This graph shows a theoretical worst-case result of possibly 0.04 of additional density versus working entirely in the dark. In practice, I have never detected any fog effect on my film that could be due to the infrared emitter. Despite using it much of the time, I always have the same low base + fog as when I work in total darkness.



21-Dec-2016, 10:15
What kind of densitometer do you have? I had access to one but not anymore and I'm in the market. Thanks for sharing your results.

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Bill Burk
21-Dec-2016, 21:40
I've got two, one's electronic... a Macbeth TR524 and the other is much simpler, a Marshall Studios densitometer. I'm lucky I got them both for fair prices and they are both serviceable and working. I thought nothing could go wrong with it but I spoke with one person who got a Marshall Studios densitometer with a bad field mirror. I can replace the bulb in the Macbeth at a local hardware store, I've read about some which have special bulbs that are extremely expensive... and when I saw that model on eBay, I could tell many of the available ones have had the pushbutton removed - a clue that someone tried to replace that rare bulb... So good luck.

You could always make your own.

22-Dec-2016, 21:47
I use a toy set of goggles. I think I paid $25 for them. They work great, and I have yet to notice any fogging during tray development.


Ken Lee
23-Dec-2016, 06:04
I use an ATN Viper, and I did a fog test.

Here's what an ATN Viper does when aimed at a sheet of TMY-2 for an hour...

In your test, the device was placed 15 inches from the film for 1 hour's time. That's a serious test :)

Ordinarily, the film is at arm's length: 30 inches or more, twice the distance. Given that intensity drops with the square of distance, would your test correspond to 4 hours exposure at arm's length ?

When I develop sheet film, the sheets are face down in the tray because it's easier to gauge development. When shuffling, if we develop N sheets for M minutes, each sheet is at the top for M/N minutes. For example, if we develop 10 sheets for 10 minutes, each sheet is at the top for a total of 1 minute: a modest fraction of 4 hours.

If others follow a similar approach, perhaps that's why fogging has not been reported.

23-Dec-2016, 08:57
But why develop by inspection? Isn't the process supposed to be repeatable for a certain time, temp and developer strength? Why risk fogging at all, visible or not?

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23-Dec-2016, 08:59
If I were developing a difficult shot and had no idea whatsoever, I'd probably develop in the dark and just use the goggles for a few seconds at a time at intervals.

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Bill Burk
27-Dec-2016, 22:02
Ken's right... all those factors serve to reduce the risk of fog.

TMAX 400 has such a sharp drop-off in the near-infrared... confirmed by my tests... that there is no risk of fog with that film and the ATN-Viper (I reduced the light by 2 stops)...

Now if I were using a film with extended red sensitivity, I'd test to make sure it is as safe with that film (I definitely would not use it with an "almost infrared" film like SFX-200). Anecdotally, Tri-X is safe... for example I did develop some 320 Tri-X with the viewer and it didn't ruin my shots... but I haven't confirmed Tri-X with an "hour long test".

The pleasure of seeing the pictures come up is part of the benefit. Like when making prints... it's fun. But another benefit is reduced "fumbling" and the result is cleaner negatives with fewer scratches when tray processing. (Granted, this might also be a side effect of experience).

28-Dec-2016, 03:56
Kodak publication F-4043 speaks of reduced blue sensitivity at the very end, to closely approximate the human eye. No mention is made of reduced red sensitivity. Where did you see this?

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N Dhananjay
28-Dec-2016, 06:39
But why develop by inspection? Isn't the process supposed to be repeatable for a certain time, temp and developer strength? Why risk fogging at all, visible or not?

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I have used IR goggles but went back to developing by inspection with a dark green safelight. Given DBI with visible light 'works', IR is probably even safer if you do not mind looking like the bad guy in 'Silence of the Lambs'.

As to why DBI, there are many good reasons in my opinion. First off, DBI is best used, and probably has always been used, in conjunction with time and temperature. Probably the best reason is that it is one final check before the point of no return i.e., fixing bath. Just in case something is off - maybe developer was a little colder, maybe exposure judgments were off a bit, maybe you angered the gods of photography, maybe you dropped film into the stop bath instead of the developer by mistake, maybe your developing soup has aged a bit etc. And for anyone who is muttering that they never make those kinds of mistakes, I apologize but I would also urge you to honestly think about process variability - it is there in any process, even in a completely automated setup. Second, metering (even spotmetering) is a lot less precise than we imagine - primarily to do with our decisions of where to meter and the fact that the meter is still averaging the range of luminances in the spot. Third, our judgments about local contrast are just that - judgments and not measurements. Finally, there is just the flow of the process - some of us like to keep the whole thing visual, hands-on and old-school. That may sound like sentimentalism or romanticism, but it is worth paying attention to your needs - in the long run, it affects the work you do.

You do not need to develop by inspection. But many people do and it is not inherently any better or worse than other development methods. It is not dancing on thin ice - the risk of fog and fear is overstated. It might be instructive to develop one sheet of fresh, unexposed film handled completely in the darkness and one older sheet that has spent some time in the real world, maybe sitting around for a while, maybe in a hot car. As we all know, LF requires good work habits because we do not have the fail-safe, one-size-fits all approach that is arguably necessary in the world of consumer products. That hands-on approach should also inform us about the limits and flexibility of the process. And it is always worth remembering that we are probably always dealing with low levels of fog that we just 'print through' most of the time.

I enjoy DBI but it also serves to constantly remind me of the fact that this whole business is a lot less precise than we pretend. We walk around with electronic light meters and electronic timers but our judgments are still judgments. Metering technique, shutter speed variability, aperture setting variability, development variability - there is huge scope for process variability and I would argue that therein lies the charm of the process. It also helps to keep me focused on where my energies have the most impact - on my vision and on reasonably good habits.

Cheers, DJ

28-Dec-2016, 08:37
Nice rant. I love it.

I'm old school. Not much technology in my bag, just 30 years of intuition and intestinal fortitude built up from eating poorly while chasing the good light, but I digress.

I revel in the art, while precision is a must to a degree, I do shoot expired film in meterless vintage folding cameras with untested shutters for fun.

I have never experienced the process succinctly called DBI. To me, the process is like a box. Not so much a Pandora's box, but a mystery box (I know there's a mythical reference but it escapes me) where everything that goes in has an effect on the outcome, often with little more than intuition as guidance.

I am curious about DBI but if when lost that far in the woods, I'll do a clip test first. If nothing else, it gives me the ability to modify my exposure to take advantage of what little dynamic range remains. Should the film prove to be unusable, my investment in time outweighs the need to eke out a modest image.

As there are limits to how well one can accurately judge the negative image under optimal light, I have to question how well it can be done under compromising conditions. I imagine experience provides guidance. I will not attempt to vilify the procedure our forefathers greatly relied upon, however, like so many buggy whip master techniques of yore, I find it a process better romanticized than employed in modern times.

I mean no disrespect, I actually enjoyed the rare opportunity to eloquently debate the point. That being said, I promise I will try it in the event I may learn something.

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28-Dec-2016, 12:42
With regular film, I don't see the need, but it works wonders for me with xray film. Controlling what it does in the developer helps to deal with its iffy nature and its tendency to build contrast like crazy. It's true what you said about experience being a guide. It gets me close to usable results nearly all of the time, but it sure isn't as reliable as using tried and tested development regimes with regular films. I imagine it could be beneficial when dealing with expired films that you get in small batches where you don't have the time, means or patience to work out a reliable processing regime.