View Full Version : safelight question

Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2009, 13:40
Perhaps I'm dense. I'm just learning contact printing, by trial and error (mostly error). The paper I am using is Ilford MGIV and (as I recall), it says something like "use amber or brown safelight". I need a safelight, and the guy that sold me the paper said I could just use a small red bulb.

I get that the amber is preferable, but do I need it? Is it merely that you are safer longer with amber than red, or will red rapidly fog the film?

Thanks for the help. Tim

Gem Singer
9-Feb-2009, 13:54
Multigrade IV is a fast variable contrast paper. It has a (slight) sensitivity to red. Long time exposure to red light could possibly cause fogging.

Ilford recommends using a safelight that is specific for their VC paper.

If you were contact printing with a slower, less sensitive to red paper, such as AZO, it would be okay to use a red safelight.

9-Feb-2009, 14:00
Most modern paper manufacturers suggest using amber(OC) safelights. A few older style emulsions (Adox/Efke) recommend only red(1A) safelights. My understanding is that red is your safest default light. A test is easy. Simply place a piece of paper face up under the light and place a coin on the paper. After several minutes of exposure, develop the paper. If the area under the coin is lighter than the rest, the paper is not safe under the light. Even if the light is not safe to use, you can try switching to a lower wattage bulb (7.5w) and turn the light around so that it shines indirectly against the wall or ceiling. Additionally, you can move the light further away from the paper thereby lowering the amount that hits the paper. Those steps may be enough to safeguard your paper against fogging for several minutes.

Bjorn Nilsson
9-Feb-2009, 14:04
What Toyon said, but why? It's easier on the eyes to work with amber/green light than red light, as the eyes usually are a bit less sensitive to details in red light. (At least that is what they told me in the shady quarters in Amsterdam... :) )


Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2009, 14:15
Thank you. That makes sense. So, an amber safelight will work with all papers? For example, common graded papers? I'm curious because I am going to try to buy one today, and wonder if Ineed to get both a red and an amber cover.

Gem Singer
9-Feb-2009, 14:23
Look for a safelight that has an amber (OC) filter or an Ilford 902 filter.
It will work with VC or graded papers and will give you a much more comfortable light to work with in your darkroom.

Tim Meisburger
9-Feb-2009, 14:31
Thank you Gem. That's what I will do.

Best, Tim

9-Feb-2009, 15:30
I've got one of each in low wattage fixtures. Working under oc safelights is easier, but working under a red light is curiously stimulating to the senses. I turn off the amber when using older papers, like Efke and Dupont Varilux.

10-Feb-2009, 09:11
... the guy that sold me the paper said I could just use a small red bulb ... If you do use a red bulb, make sure it is a bulb specifically designed as a safelight. Other red bulbs designed as decorative lighting might let too much unwanted light from "unsafe" parts of the spectrum through.

Gene McCluney
10-Feb-2009, 23:39
Amber or OC safelight colors WILL NOT WORK with all photo papers. Consult the data sheet that comes with the paper.

Gem Singer
11-Feb-2009, 06:50
An amber colored OC filter (Ilford 902) is recommended for use with Ilford Mutigrade IV paper. That's the paper the OP states that he is using.

John Cahill
11-Feb-2009, 07:56
What about narrow-range LED lights?

11-Feb-2009, 08:34
Ther are several LED sellers on the internet and many publish the specs of the LEDs. I was able to find a red LED with an Edison base that has emissions that fall in the range of usability for both Xray film (so I can cut it to size) and my B&W developing papers (Ilford MGIV). I did the quarter & keys test on both the paper & the film and it was fine.

It took some digging but it is well worth it in the heat category as my darkroom is a very small bathroom. One small LED bulb in a simple clamp-on reflector, aimed at the cieling does the trick... I can dig up the specs if anyone is interested.