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Zone system in Enlarging

Discussion in 'Everything Film' started by John_K, Jan 30, 2007.

  1. John_K

    John_K Well-Known Member

    I have just spent last night in the darkroom experimenting with the 'Zone'System' of gauging the correct exposure when making enlagements.
    It is so DAMN EASY, I don't know why I have never done so before after all I have know about it for years.

    Out of 8 10x8 prints used as a experimental set, 7 were perfect and the 8th acceptable.

    I took the scale of exposure times out of a book by Gene Nocon, a Canadian ethnic native and a teacher in the photographic process. I cannot get over how easy it is once you have got your mind around it, because when first looked at it isn't clear cut.

    It works for colour as well as B&W. If you haven't tried it I recommend you do.
  2. taxor

    taxor Well-Known Member

    Gene Nocon was also well known for advocating the 'F-stop' method of printing. I use to use a linear timing method myself, until I got me a RH designs stopclock pro, which measures increments of time in fractions of a stop. It becomes (after a short time) second-nature. Couple this with split-grade printing and you have an incredible degree of control over the final image.
  3. John_K

    John_K Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I spotted my deliberate mistake. Of course I meant 'F' stop method of gauging enlarhing exposure times. Call it an age thing.

    Never the less is is damn good. Going to have another go tomorrow. I have a tricky Infra Red that has never printed properly so I may have so luck with that
  4. The Circle Of Confusion

    The Circle Of Confusion Well-Known Member

    I saw a review of RH designs f-stop timer a few weeks back and it looks rather nifty. One thing I wasn't sure of from the review was whether it let's you know what the time of the exposure is actually going to be. It would handy to know how long I've got to keep my hands still if I'm dodging a burning!
  5. John_K

    John_K Well-Known Member

    The RH Designs timer has interested me before, but I didn't until now realise that the principal was the same. The price is a bit steep for what it is so I will continue to use the scales by Mr Nocon. As far as I can tell there is no provision of indicating the actual exposure time only the blind buttons which indicate the percentage of the initial exposure tests you are giving the paper.

    Thinking about it, is knowing the actual time strictly nessesary? Once you have the basic exposure, and you want to burn in a particular area, so long as the area not being exposed to is covered the actual time in seconds is largely immaterial - isn't it?
  6. John_K

    John_K Well-Known Member

    After my last posting I rang up RH designs and spoke to the owner. The timer does have the actual seconds displayed in a count down sequence. The actual 'stops are graduated from 'whole' stops down to 1/24th of a stop. The whole thing comes complete with a foot switch as well.

    This has got me very interested even though the price is steep and with living about 15mins away from the seller, I am going there on Friday to have a look and a demo. If you are interested I will give a resume when I get back.
  7. The Circle Of Confusion

    The Circle Of Confusion Well-Known Member

    Yes I would be interested to hear your thoughts once you've seen a demo. How steep is steep?
  8. taxor

    taxor Well-Known Member

    John & CoC,
    The Stopclock Pro is a timer unit. It has no means of assessing negs and determining exposure/contrast settings. It can be connected to a RH designs Zonemaster II analyser and work in tandem with it. This is my set-up. Without the analyser, you must determine exposure by trial and error, but, the big difference is that when you make a test strip (using the test strip mode), the increases in exposure (and therefore density) are evenly spaced in a way that cannot be replicated with the usual 5,10,15,20,25 second method and as a result, more predictable. The size of the increase (step size) can be altered according top your requirements. Rh Designs market an all-in-one unit, the Analyser Pro, which has most of the features that the Stopclock Pro/Zonemaster II combo. The Stopclock also has a split grade mode which I find extremely useful. You can also program an entire printing sequence into it and, if you wish to print at a different size, once you've found your new base time, it'll recalculate all the subsequent burn in times. It's my favourite bit of darkroom kit along with the Zonemaster. It's true that you don't need one to utilise F stop printing, but it makes it a lot easier, especially for complex printing. BTW, I've found Richard Ross (of RH Designs) to be a very helpful bloke and more than willing to help with any problems or questions.
  9. taxor

    taxor Well-Known Member

    Forgot to mention. There's a PDF on the Stopclock Pro on RH DEsigns website.
  10. John_K

    John_K Well-Known Member

    After I put the last entry into this post, I telephoned RH Design and made an appointment to go up later this afternoon.

    I was shown how to work the timer very briefly and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. It will be the answer to a lot of my problems especially the foot operated switch. So I bought one there and then.

    He actually makes them (assembles them) 'in house' and the one he sold me had just been completed in time for my visit. I agree with taxor that Richard is a very helpfull person and that was one point that persuaded me to buy.

    Yes the price is steep £185 but will make my work so much easier. (I hope).

    Permission has been granted by SWMO to go to the darkroom tonight and try it out. I must read and understand the instructions properly, (they are quite comprehensive) before I go to experiment
  11. Simon E.

    Simon E. Well-Known Member

    I know Richard, he is a great guy and his kit is excellent. Excellence is not cheap, but quite a few people maintain that the investment pays for itself easily.


  12. The Circle Of Confusion

    The Circle Of Confusion Well-Known Member

    Dear Santa....

  13. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Member

    I have owned on of the RH Designs Analyser pros for about a year.

    All I can say is this is an extraordinary piece of kit and well worth the £250 price tag.

    you take measurements from the projected image on the base board, and it tells you:

    The exposure time
    The grade
    EVEN what tones different areas of the neg will be - ie you can decide where you want to place skin tones etc. etc.
    It will automatically perform teststrips to absolute precision for critical printing.
    It will determine the exposure time for contact sheets
    It will even calculate burning in times.

    I shoot weddings and hand print all monochrome - suffice to say this peice of equiment means I can more than easily keep up the the digital lot when it comes to volume (obviously I'm miles ahead in terms of quality already!)

  14. taxor

    taxor Well-Known Member

    If you go for a Stopclock/Zonemaster combo or Analyser Pro, they might need calibrating to work with your particular enlarger/process. The analysers come ready calibrated for Ilford MGIV 4 RC and straight out of the box, they give good results. There are other calibrations for other papers in the instructions. They assume under lens multigrade filtration with a diffuse light source (a fairly popular set-up). If however, like me, you use a condenser enlarger, you will need to 'tweak' the calibration slightly to take account of the different optical characteristics. That said it's not hard to do a calibration and Rh Designs will even do one for you (for a price).
  15. John_K

    John_K Well-Known Member

    I have had the chance to use the kit thisafternoon and whilst |I am still learning how to use it the results are superb. I have not ploughed my way though the book yet but what I have done is relatively easy once you get the correct sequence in your mind. I am glad not to have to work the little grey cells too much to work out times.

    I don't really need to have a device to tell me what grade to use, I have a good many years under my belt with printing B&W and know my negatives and what they can produce without too many wild variations. I tend to use Tetenal or Kentmere multigrade and Kentmere graded papers as well which I find give a better black and a cleaner white. So the grading facility will be largely unused.

    Thanks for all the tips and advice.

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