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Is it wishful thinking to buy up darkroom equipment
Old 04-28-2008   #1
RFBob
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Is it wishful thinking to buy up darkroom equipment

In the last few days I have brought a Leica Valoy II enlarger for $25.00, a Rollie 6x7 for $69.00 and numberous odds and ends for pennies. Literally .99 cents for new Kodak safe light. I am using a Foctomat now. I am just wondering if the products will still be avaible. The local photo store shut down all on site processing.
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Old 04-28-2008   #2
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wishful thinking or brilliant foresight. Time will tell.

Nice score on the the Rollei.
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Old 04-28-2008   #3
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I think chemicals will be available for a long time yet. Not necessarily as many as now, but some certainly.
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Old 04-28-2008   #4
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Darkroom chemicals and even film will be available for decades to come.
mostly bought online from world wide sources.
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Old 04-28-2008   #5
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I wouldn't worry about chemicals - you have to remember that most commonly used formulas are published and you can always mix them as needed using the raw chemicals. It is pure speculation but I would assume that film (especially B&W) will be around for decades (at least). Printing paper will probably be the first "raw material" to vanish - but I'm sure it will be around for a long time. I would imagine that the selection of film and paper will become thinner and prices will go up, but as long as there is a market somebody will make it.

As far as buying up darkroom equipment is concerned - if you plan on printing, now is the time. The darkroom equipment industry has crashed due to the fact that there is so much second hand equipment available (the result of a digital world) for so little money. Buyers of new/expensive equipment (enlargers, easels, print washers, etc.) are few and far between - Just look at how sparse the selection of new equipment is compared to 10 years ago. Everybody who plans on going digital has probably already dumped (or is the process of dumping) their darkroom equipment so selection is never going to be better (ie. now is the time to buy).
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Old 04-28-2008   #6
Al Patterson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RFBob View Post
In the last few days I have brought a Leica Valoy II enlarger for $25.00, a Rollie 6x7 for $69.00 and numberous odds and ends for pennies. Literally .99 cents for new Kodak safe light. I am using a Foctomat now. I am just wondering if the products will still be avaible. The local photo store shut down all on site processing.
If you are thinking of using it, why not. I wouldn't call it an investment though.
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Old 04-28-2008   #7
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use it now, don't plan on hundred years from now.
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Old 04-28-2008   #8
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I pretty much got everything I have for $20. I have a lot of stuff now.. I paid it forward and gave away a bunch of duplicates.
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Old 04-28-2008   #9
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If I do not have a use for it I don't buy. Prices are dropping on all film equipment. Brought a R8 Leica for $600. with 50mm 3 cam cron...still pinching myself. Near mint condition. Yet I hear people are wandering back to film. I like both forms. I have older Nikon glass that is just irreplaceable. All the classic lens I have used for 30 years. On the D200 it makes an outstanding combo. 85mm 1.4 just outstanding, I thought my God I have got something here. It is a whole new wonderful world of photography. Astro photos I am still using the "tank" F2 DE 1 prism. Same thing is happening with telescopes. Equipment built and meant to last a life time for pennies on the dollar.
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Old 04-28-2008   #10
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I suspect you'll get many more years of use out of your darkroom gear.

Around here I can buy film cameras for pennies on the dollar however people still want hundreds of dollars for cheap enlargers and $50-$100 for trays etc..
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Old 04-29-2008   #11
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It's very cheap at the moment.
As a new member in my local photographic club, I bucked the trend and went to Monochrome (wet) working. (Working with PC's all day made me reluctant to spend most of my leisure time in front of one too). When it become known that I was looking for darkroom gear, some members offered their unused gear for peanuts or for free rather that face dumping their old and sometimes very good gear.
I did end up buying the enlarger that I use now (~$100), but have a free Durst L1200 and M670 stored in the loft which I may get to use one day (if the 5x4 bug bites hard).
Enjoy your gear and the craft.

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Old 04-29-2008   #12
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I have an old medium format enlarger in my garage at home gathering dust. It was put there by the former president of my photography club, who tried to sell it, then tried to give it away, and then asked me if I could just warehouse it for awhile. No one wants it.

The local camera store, before it shut down, was selling everything down to the walls. They also failed to even give away their darkroom equipment, other than film processing tanks and the like.

The local city council tried to get me to restart the city photography club, and offered me a complete working commercial style lab - complete with seven or eight medium format enlargers, all the equipment, dryers, timers, trays, racks, safetlights, everything. I could not get anyone interested - even for free.

No one wants that stuff anymore. Anyone wants a free enlarger, its sitting in my garage. Help yourself.
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Old 04-29-2008   #13
David Goldfarb
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If you want to do your own work, then yes, take advantage of the low prices on equipment now and work on learning the craft. Processing chemicals you'll always be able to make from bulk chemicals, even if manufactured chemistry disappeared from the market.

I'd also recommend experimenting with some alternative processes, both because they are interesting in their own right and so you'll have some options if paper becomes hard to find. Handcoated silver gelatin is another option, but it would be good to have some familiarity with some of the easier handcoated processes first. You may even find that you prefer a handcoated print to prints on manufactured paper.

Most alternative processes require contact printing. You can make enlarged negatives from smaller ones either digitally or conventionally, or you might look into getting a large format camera (there are lots of cheap ones out there), if you don't already have one, so that you can have original negatives to contact print.
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