View Full Version : New to Pt/Pd question about the UV Lightsource

25-Oct-2015, 15:20
Hello all!

I'm new to the Pt/Pd printing realm. Been doing a bit of research and its finally time to start ordering supplies before I start my Independent Understudy in Pt/Pd printing at school next quarter (last quarter before I graduate with my AAS in Photography).

My objective is to have my own equipment before I graduate.

Here is my question. With regard to UV Lightsources. As I'm not an expert in electrical work (I know enough not to stick my finger in a lightbulb socket), I am opting for a UV light table. I would like to have the ability to print up to 20"x24". Is the following UV Lightsource reliable for Pt/Pd Printing? Any knowledge?



Thank you in advance.


25-Oct-2015, 16:12
That would be a good light source. Many people have built them for less, but I hesitate to recommend that route to someone who's honest about not having electrical skills. Search the forums here if you're interested.

If you are going to actually print that big, a vacuum frame will be desirable rather than a spring frame to keep things flat. Once you get to a certain size, spring frames aren't evenly pressured to keep negative+paper in good contact.

A gralab timer is good for operating the light source as well. Better people than I use the standard analog 300 style timer. I use a 451 timer which I got a good deal on used, the benefit being it remembers for me what the exposure time was, so I can adjust or repeat as needed.

25-Oct-2015, 16:36
I would take a look at eepjon.com too. I bought my UV light source there years ago and I've been very happy with it.

Chauncey Walden
25-Oct-2015, 17:06
Or, add a third string to: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?122508-LED-UV-Light-Box-Build-Your-Own-for-Under-150&highlight=biggerstaff

25-Oct-2015, 18:53
Quick questions.

I was thinking about using a contact printing frame. Wouldn't this eliminate the issue of keeping things flat? Or would using the contact printing frame introduce an unnecessary complication?

Secondary: Spring frame. What is that referencing specifically? Would it be a primary concern if I am using contact printing frames?

I did watch a video of a printer over in Italy, where he had an open UV light source that he placed on blocks over (about 6-8 inches above) the Negative/paper and was printing that way. Not sure how many printers use that method but I thought it was pretty nifty! :)

At school we use a massive vacuum UV light source for Vandykes & Cyanotypes. (wonderful loads of fun cyanotypes are! :) ).

As far as cost. For my budget right now I can only go up to $800. But I do need the size 20x24 as far as the light box is concerned. Primary consideration is that I will need that size for Cyanotypes and Pt/Pd AFTER I get out of school.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.



25-Oct-2015, 18:57
Largest pt/pd prints I make are about 11x14 and I use contact print frames without issue. But, my guess would be that something as large as 20x24 would demand a vacuum setup to ensure absolute positive contact between the paper and the neg.

25-Oct-2015, 19:57
Check into used graphic arts equipment. There used to be uv / vis plateburners, I've seen them big enough to make 20 x 24 or bigger. These had a big vacuum easel that you laid your offset plate on then your negative over that. Closed a glass door and then the whole easel would revolve to be exposed to super bright source. This was almost 40 years back, can't remember but I think it was a arc light. I passed on a source like what you are looking at only nicer, went to the dump, that was probably 15 years back.
My company scrapped a process camera that had to be 24 x 36 ,it was about 12 feet long.

David Aimone
25-Oct-2015, 20:01
I have a simple contact print frame with a 23x31 exposure area. I wanted one that could take an entire sheet of 22x30 paper. Works great, no problems. One of three different sizes I have made by the great Douglas Kennedy, but I think he may have retired from making them now....

25-Oct-2015, 20:07
I just checked ebay there are a lot of plate burners listed starting below a hundred bucks. These use Mercury vapor bulbs, mercury vapor lamps produce boat loads of uv, but the mercury vapor lamps used for lighting have glass that filters out the uv. Not sure with these, all I remember is that these thing were shielded so as not to blind the graphic artists and operators.

25-Oct-2015, 22:10
I paid $150 on eBay for my "Virtual Sun" grow light fixture and another $100 at an aquarium supply store for the appropriate bulbs. Mine uses six 2-foot T5 bulbs but you can get them larger if you like. It would easily do 16x20 but for 20x24 you might want an 8-bulb unit.

Jim Fitzgerald
26-Oct-2015, 07:14
Look for a used NuArc 26 1K plate burner. They come up from time to time and have the vacuum frame built in. I have them and they work great for my carbon work. I can do 20 x 24 if I wish.

Wally H
1-Nov-2015, 17:23
I recently built a uv light source to do carbon with strips of led lights for about $130. No where near as efficient or convenient as Jim's wiz bang plate burner but for someone like me just starting out it works pretty good.

neil poulsen
2-Nov-2015, 07:31
I suppose the Freestyle unit probably works OK. But, the guidelines I followed in building mine recommended that T12 bulbs be spaced about 1/4th inch apart. Maybe this has to do with volume of light, versus continuity?

2-Nov-2015, 22:45
I wanted to thank everyone for the invaluable information. I will let everyone know about the final route I decide to take. Have a great week!


15-Nov-2015, 12:25
I built an exposure unit. It works well but the sun is still the best especially for pt/pd. Good luck!