View Full Version : Current types of lights for contact prints

fred arnold
17-Mar-2006, 11:07

So, I was browsing the lighting aisle of Home Depot recently, and thinking about setting up to do some simple contact printing, using VC paper. Therefore: does anyone have any anecdotes on the relative merits of conventional tungsten versus "natural spectrum" (GE Reveal, for example), halogen, plant grow-lights, or compact fluorescents? Should I just put a small LED flashlight on a support, and use that? Nothing too complex, but that would allow me to use my old below-the-lens VC filters. As I'm not doing Azo, I'm thinking in the 30watt (or equivalent light-output) range.

Any suggestions, or am I over-analyzing the problem? I'm remodeling an office, hence the lamp obsessions.

Amund BLix Aaeng
17-Mar-2006, 11:17
A regular household buld will do fine. 30w IMO is a bit too bright, unless you like to count your exposures in milliseconds :-)

Ed K.
17-Mar-2006, 11:37
Some thoughts -

What size contact prints are you making? And, do you negatives tend to be very dense or more normal? What distance do you plan to mount the light? You can use a 30 watt about 4 feet away for most contacts, if you put it on a cheap dimmer - that way, you have more light if you need it. If you want to use filters, you have to build some kind of metal tube that has ventillation for the bulb and then a place at the bottom to put filters - if the unfiltered light spills out, your filters won't work so well. Maybe you could get a thrashed enlarger or enlarger head and use that if you don't want the enlarger - that way, you have a light source and filter holding setup and perhaps even an iris.

Your led idea sounds kinda neat if the illumination is even enough at the distance you need. It might run cool enough to allow a smaller filter rig. Fluorescents tend to expose enlarging paper very fast for their wattage, however they may be too diffused for good contacts, and possibly too big. While I haven't tried it, a lot of the inexpensive small light boxes might work as a light source if you want to go that route.

If you can find an older contact printer with the hinge top and lights below, you might like that instead. I use an old wooden contact printer with UV lights and AZO, plus ND between the light sources and the neg. I like the way it keeps the neg in perfect contact all around and the ease of the clamp-down lid. The contact printers seem to come up at auction fairly often.

Ben Calwell
17-Mar-2006, 13:25
I just use one of those silver reflectors with a clamp on it and a 25-watt bulb for contact printing. I use it for contact printing on Azo.

17-Mar-2006, 13:27
I use the smallest wattage lightbulb I can screw into a regular sized fixture. I apologize for not remembering hte wattage, but I haven't changed it in quite a few years. I think its about 8watts? Maybe 15 at most.

I bought it at WalMart.

To further increase the exposure time, I've aimed the clip on fixture at the ceiling, and bounce the light back down. I can also lay a contrast filter over the top of the fixture, as well.

BTW, the ceiling is a lovely shade of pale blue. ;)

Dean Cookson
17-Mar-2006, 15:47
How are you guys getting by with such low wattages? I'm using a 150W R40 bulb about 3ft above my print surface and my times are ~30s for Azo gr2 and more like 60-90s for gr3.

phil sweeney
17-Mar-2006, 17:02
The small round bulbs are 7W. Probably the best pick for VC paper.

Jim Ewins
19-Mar-2006, 22:43
I'm using a 300W for AZO at 4foot and have around one minute exposures. With Enlarging paper I expose thru my 4x5 enlarger at 24", f11 for 10-16 sec

Ed K.
19-Mar-2006, 23:02
Some enlarging papers are very fast, especially when compared to AZO or other papers. For normal negs with good density, my old wooden contact printer needs 5 seconds or less with AZO grade two, which is too fast to control precisely, so I use a filter to slow it up a bit. AZO seems to like UV light a bunch. Really bullet-proof negs print in 30 seconds or so without any ND. Although I really liked Kentmere for hand-toning as a contact paper, I've been enjoying AZO a bunch more for just straight prints. While you're getting your contact rig together, be sure to find some nice flat glass - it makes a huge difference.