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Thread: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

  1. #1

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    Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    Even though it's supposed to be a dark room, we sometimes need to turn on the lights !

    I'm in the process of improving my darkroom ceiling lighting and would like to have any thoughts regarding color temperature considerations.

    Most likely I would be using newer type LED lamps which are commonly available in color temperatures anywhere from 2700K up to 6500K.

    What have you found is the best lighting and color temperature for general darkroom use, evaluating wet prints, etc.

    Thanks for any thoughts and practical experience.
    I know just enough to be dangerous !

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    I wouldn't rely on LED lighting for any critical judgement about color per se - color prints or precise toning of B&W. For that kind of purpose I use a set of light options, which can be selectively switched on depending on actual display lighting. I have very high quality German 5000K color-matching bulbs (CRI 98) at both my retouching station and in my lightbox for critical lab work. But for personal display I like to use a mid-point between tungsten and daylight, namely 4000 K.

  3. #3

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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I wouldn't rely on LED lighting for any critical judgement about color per se - color prints or precise toning of B&W. For that kind of purpose I use a set of light options, which can be selectively switched on depending on actual display lighting. I have very high quality German 5000K color-matching bulbs (CRI 98) at both my retouching station and in my lightbox for critical lab work. But for personal display I like to use a mid-point between tungsten and daylight, namely 4000 K.
    I'm in total agreement with Drew here. I try to recreate what I consider to be "normal" gallery lighting in my darkroom. I don't do color prints, so I don't worry to much about getting a daylight reference close to 5000K, rather, I'm concerned with how the toning of the prints will come across under the usual display lighting, which is often a mix of halogen (from the gallery track lighting) and daylight (from the windows/skylights). Therefore, I have a display area in my darkroom where I can hang up my prints for viewing that is lit by a mix of 3400K halogens and one or two daylight floods. This I use for evaluating dry prints for contrast and toning hue. For viewing in the fix, I simply have a 40W halogen bulb in a reflector on the ceiling over the fixer tray.

    I wouldn't use LEDs for critical viewing purposes simply because the don't emit a continuous spectrum and can do funny things with colors/toning hues.

    Best,

    Doremus

  4. #4
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    I won't use Fluorescent tubes of any kind in a darkroom.

    They fluoresce way too long, up to 20 minutes, and can ruin your session.

    I use LED for general cleanup and incandescent for use during sessions.

    I want to try these. http://lightbulb.aerolights.com/view...ctrum-lighting

  5. #5

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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    I agree with all the above. The darkroom is the one place I put the highest "quality" light.

    Which, for me, is a single 100W Halogen GE Reveal clear bulb.

    It's not how much light, it's that you can trust the spectral quality when looking at a print in the fixer or wash.

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    Neodymium bulbs truncate the yellow to give cleaner blues. Don't trust em for anything critical in terms of hue repro. At the pricing your link shows, I predict import junk. Good bulbs age going to run around five times the price. Reveal is junk too in terms of longevity - it's from their home center rather than pro division of lighting, but OK for short term use . GE's entire bulb division is closing. Their main business has always been tax evasion, anyway.

  7. #7
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    Don't worry Drew, I won't be buying any CFL Neodymium lamps as they are fluorescent! I hate those things and they are dangerous HazMat.

    However, 9 0f the 13 Neodymium lamps Aero-Tech offers are USA made incandescent 20,000 hour with EU glass. I may buy the minimum $25 soon, http://lightbulb.aerolights.com/item.../100a19-fs-20k

    I would love to know what exact bulb you are using in your Darkroom, per your post here #2 you wrote, "I have very high quality German 5000K color-matching bulbs (CRI 98) at both my retouching station and in my lightbox for critical lab work. But for personal display I like to use a mid-point between tungsten and daylight, namely 4000 K."

    What are they? Who made them? Are they fading?

    One reason I am so interested in Color Grade is my recent cataract surgery has opened my right eye to natural lighting outdoors with blue sky. My left will be cut this Friday, but right now I can compare blue sky and yellow filter blue sky. Right eye, left eye. This week I sit in my rocking chair, gazing at the sky switching eyes. Fascinating!

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    Gosh Randy, I bought a case of those bulbs decades ago, both for personal use and for the color matching stations at my old workplace. I'd have to see if they're still made. They are small fluorescent tubes for swinging high-end desk lamp or inside a lightbox, not for general darkroom lighting. MacBeath probably still sells their Prooflite series, for their own color stations. My 4000 K's are GE Commercial fluorescents. The afterglow drops off very quickly, unlike cheap fluorescents. I also installed them in the office of the company owner, who had eye problems including cataracts and couldn't tolerate conventional
    fluorescents.

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    One case of bulbs cannot last decades unless you never use them.

    They fade rather quickly.

    I have replaced miles of them.

  10. #10

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    Re: Darkroom Lighting Color Temp considerations

    In response to the original poster's question it depends on how the how the darkroom is organized. If it has an area in which you are making critical evaluations of images then color temp matters and I would trust incandescent more than I would trust LED or CFL because of color fidelity issues, both LED and CFL have poor CRI ratings compared to incandescent.

    On a related topic the safelight I prefer for B&W work is yellow (Ilford amber). Some praise the red LED types however I find that red light is disturbing whereas amber seems OK.

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