View Full Version : Night Vision DBI and TMax 400

Arthur Nichols
14-Jan-2006, 07:14
Has anyone tried using DBI with night vision goggles on TMax 400 film? I have read all the posts regarding doing DBI with night vision goggles and also the ones about using DBI for TMax 400 film. This film seems to be notoriously difficult if not impossible to DBI.
Kodak and Ilford are both offering film cut to ULF sizes and I need to order some and to decide which film to use. I like to use DBI and if I could develop TMax 400 by DBI I might consider to order some for my 7x17.
I know that I can buy a set of goggles and some TMax 400 and try for myself, but time is now limited for the deadline for these film purchases. I was hoping that someone else might have some experience with doing this and can give some feedback.
With all the problems of DBI with TMax 400 that have been discussed I have not found any discussions of this paticular technique and it just might be the answer.
Thanks for any and all input

Michael Kadillak
14-Jan-2006, 09:07
I believe that the difficulties with T Max 400 and DBI were associated with the conventional low illumination green light procedure with the unique film base used with this film and not with the night vision goggles.

My infrared monocle has been in use for about a year now on a headset and with T Max 400 I have not noticed any film fogging from either the small red infrared light that eminates from where the infrared light source is located or from the minor ammount of green illumination that could come from the eye piece when in use. I have found that the closer you view a subject to the IR source, the more intense the green glow is around the eye piece. When at arms length (which is where I view a negative), the green light is inconsequential. You can also adjust the eyepiece to be as close to your eye as possible to mitigate this condition.

That said, there are a couple of things that one can implement with this technique to improve the results if the model you acquire has a more powerful IR (the red dot associated with the IR source) or light gathering unit (the green illumination that your eye sees) and you want options just to be perfectly safe.

First thing you can do is to put an IR source (a cheap 24 +/- LED light bank) on the wall above your processing sink and cover it with a cheap diffusion globe and you get very even and perfectly invisiible infrared light without any visible red component associated with it. You could also use a foot switchpiece to turn it on and off.

With the wall IR source you do not need to turn on the IR illuminator on your headset (just the light gather unit) and the green glow around the eye piece is dimished considerably. Your ability to evaluate your negatives is still accomplished bysimply holding the negative briefly between you and the wall IR light source.

Another option I have heard about is to use a cloth head hood to capture the green glow of the gathering unit under it if you felt it was detremental to the net result.

Testing in the same manneras how one tests safelights should be conducted to evaluate your systems to your own satisfaction. The procedure works.


Arthur Nichols
14-Jan-2006, 09:34
Thanks for your reply, I was hoping that you would weigh in on this subject. I have been doing DBI with the Photowarehouse ASA 125 film and it has worked great for me. I need a faster film to stop movement in water and I had placed an order for some of their ASA 400 sheet film and after one week was told that they could not sell it to me, this was quite upsetting and a disaapointment as you can imagine. So now I am scrambling to find an alternative. Since I like DBI I want to find a film that I can continue doing this with.
When using the goggles with Tmx 400 can you accurately judge the negative densities ? How does it compare with using the standard green safelight, this is how I have been doing it. I guess that before I spend a substantial amount of money on a film that I have not used, I need some ressurance.
Thanks for your help

Michael Kadillak
14-Jan-2006, 12:51
Similar to becoming familiar with the unique nuances of working with a dim green light for conventional DBI, working with infrared goggles has a similar set of variables relative to results that one must become familiar with. These vary modestly with the specific type of film (and corrresponding film base) and the developer you are using. While it is quite a visual experience to watch shadow density evolve in front of your eyes, the critical variable is the quality of the highlights as a function of development time and to know when to pull the film when they conform to your specific subject brightness range (SBR) objectives. My experience is that this becomes a learned judgement call as a function of time and the more experience that one has with the technique, the better one becomes at it.IMHO T Max is no harder or easier than any other film I have use with this procedure.


Daniel Blakeslee
14-Jan-2006, 13:12

Where can I find an LED light bank?

Michael Kadillak
14-Jan-2006, 13:30
I found one on that auction site for about $15 a while back that had 24 small IR LED's in a circular silver housing that you just plug in to turn on. You can pay a bunch more for a unit that has light sensors built in it that automatically turn the unit on when it gets dark (they are used for security applications) but these features are not necessary.

Buy domestic if at all possible to avoid transactional problems and high shipping costs.

Maybe someone else has a more updated source for purchasing the IR light banks that they could share with all of us?


Ken Lee
14-Jan-2006, 16:33
I have used my IR device for tray development, loading, and unloading of film, with no untoward results - with HP-5, TMax 400, FP-4. Also with 2 kinds of Ilford Photo Paper. It's the best thing since sliced bread.

Matt Miller
14-Jan-2006, 18:01
I've been developing TMY by inspection for over a year with great success. I'm using a red safelight with a 15w bulb. In fact, with the red safelight, I can see more on TMY than I can see on any other film. I'm inspecting by reflected light and developing in Pyrocat HD. The green light just doesn't work for this film, but red surely does. I don't know why. Maybe it's the magenta dye. So, if you want to try the cheap route first, give a red light a go. That said, I've just purchased some night vision equipment from ebay and am awaiting it's arrival.

Tony Karnezis
15-Jan-2006, 12:37
Matt, could you tell us what equipment you bought so we can get a sense of the spectrum of gear that people are buying? I'm about to get some night vision goggles myself. Thanks and good luck with it.

Matt Miller
15-Jan-2006, 13:34

Here's what I bought: ebay item #7210729327.

Arthur Nichols
18-Jan-2006, 06:30
Thanks to everyone who offered answes to my question, it has been very helpful.