Darkroom – dust, dust, dust

I´m really trying to keep my workflow clean.

But the everlasting problem in an analog workflow seems to be the dust.

my darkroom is my workshop, too, a small problem 😉

Here the tips and tricks which accumulated over the years :

Kepp your camera inside / back inside clean.

Dry your negatives in an clean environment, best seems to be an bathroom after taking a shower (the shower takes the dust out of the air)

Put the negatives in sleeves

Keep your scanner/enlarger  clean, use moist wipes, antistatic wipes, an airblower.

Be careful with compressed air, it may contain chemicals and it stirs up the dust.

On the negatives use antistatic brushes (e.g. Kinetronics)

If needed use moist wipes (careful !) to clean the negatives

Learn photoshop / lightroom dust removal techniques and patience

And most valuable :
Learn to live with this imperfections

In my poll, I got lots of tips, here are the most valuable remarks :

  • Rodolfo Cardarelli I try to keep everything as clean as possible but it’s just impossible. I do not use ICE or other automatic technologies first of all because increase the length of the scanning and secondly because I want to keep control during the whole process.
    I am afraid repairing by hand on photoshop is the only viable solution, IMHO.

Warren Lilford Scan as soon as your negative is dry, blow the negs down once in the holder, blow down the flatbed top and bottom. a lot of it can be dust sticking to neg while drying or dirty developer to, 90% of stuff on my negs is from developing

Warren Lilford I think over time you learn what works, when i started my own developing the amount of crud on my scans was hideous but its got a lot better.

Andreas Cloos As Rodolfo wrote – try to keep everything as clean as possible (antistatic brush, compressed air) and the rest you gotta remove in Lightroom or Photoshop. Advantage is: the bigger the negative, the less difficult it is to remove the dust,

Carl Hall Hoover or blow the camera out every so often so that you don’t get dust stuck to the film right at the start. When you leave the film to hang do it in a room where there is less dust (ie in the bathroom after the showers been on).

Patryk Burchard I dry my films in „cabinet“ (made from carboard, shower curtain and some other stuff). Before hanging the film I put bowl with boiling water for 3-5 minute for steam to catch dust

Andreas Cloos I dry my film in a bthorrm where we also put our cat’s toilets – which means there is always some dust/hair. Never have it on the negatives, but everytime you open the flatbed scannre you can basically see the dust which is finding it’s place on the scanner glas. So that is where „my dust“ comes from.

Jonathan Gazeley Compressed air or a blower to get the dust off, and then light cloning in PS to remove the bits I missed.

Phil Marshall I use a large garment bag with a light bulb on the bottom. Turn the bulb on and unzip the top of the bag a little. The warm air rises up and takes the dust out with it. Warm it up for ten minutes or so, before putting wet film in. Looks crazy, but works great !

Tips & Tricks – Developing in the field

Soon I will be on a short trip with one or two of my film cameras.

Because I´d love to develop some films while travelling, here´s my checklist what to take with me

Cameras and film, of course. I´ll take b&w.

Changing bag
Hama Film Fix (To get 35mm film out of the canister if winded completely in)
Small scissors  (To cut of the end of the film and round the edges)
Jobo Tank, Spools

—- The film should be in the Jobo now

Developer and Fixer (Working solution), Flow(Working solution)

Measuring cup for the developer (depending on tank size)


—- The cemistry should be ready now

Clothespins to dry the film

Sleeves for the negatives

Clock and Devchart is on my cellphone,

—- done 😉

Cameras – repair & manuals

Here are some links to manual pages for our old cameras :






Not so much manuals 😉 :








Cameras – Compur synchro repair

On the agfa isoletta I already had to repair an compur shutter, following this very good article :


Now I got my new 150mm Schneider objective 4×5 for the -soon to come- intrepid camera.

+  I got it cheap
–   The compur synchro shutter was stuck

So first I needed some info´s :




and of course :


Than I took the linhof technika board of, easy. It got cleaned and some repaint.

Next was the front element fo the lens, using my trusted part of rubber tire it came of, the tubus also.
The back element followed.
Both lenses I cleaned with compressed air, a few spots I had to wipe careful with isopropanol or benzin (naphta).

The shutter did work after bathing in isopropanol and lots of dirt came of, but twice after drying – stuck.

So of came three very small screws, the front plate of, turning the „half screw of compur“ and away with the holding plate/ring.
Now you could pry of the time ring, but careful – no more firing the shutter now !

Cleaning all the parts so far removed, visual insprection, naphta bath. Than I put some acid free oil (I prefer Ballistol) with a q-tip on the sensible small mechanics, a few minutes later – a perfect working compur shutter.

I put it together again – and have a splendid working 150 mm 4×5 lens.

So far my new intrepid camera did not arrive, but I got another compur synchro with a nice 210mm lens.
I hate guys who put the screws seemingly with powerwrenches on the fine treads, but with drops of oil, waiting,waiting longer, using a wrench with rubber protectors and an lens wrench I got the lens board plate screw of.

Than my usual taking of the lenses, they are put away for a careful cleaning if needed. Some paint flakes went away with the air blower, small specks at the front element went of with isopropanol. A small cratch is remaining.

Disassembly of the compur, bathing the components in Isopropanol, I even put the very dirty mechanism in an ultrasound cleaning bath, than applying small amounts of an lubricant seems to have got the shutter working very well.

Tips & Tricks – Matting and framing

I´m developing and I´m scanning and I´m wetprinting.

But still I did not put enough energy in presenting my pictures.

I think its a problem lots of us amateurs face.

We take great shots, but what happens with them ?

They are presented on facebook, instagram, flickr, they are shown on a mobile device or screen, sometimes they are printed in a photobook (now, thats great).

But lots of them are just waiting to be presented in some public place. And – lots of places would love to present them – if you do not want to charge them money.
Ask at your doctors office, the small shops with blank walls, and others you will see.
Maybe you get some sells or – even better- some shooting offers from them.

I decided to frame more of my prints. A new world is there, lots to learn – and it is fun to present them physically on some wall.

Sources for my learning :



Tips & Tricks – flashlight/strobe

I struggle with using a strobe with my large format cameras. Here a few info´s I try to remember:

The aperture values define that the amount of light passing the lens is always cut in half from value to value.
The aperture opening decreases with the factor 1/√(2)

f1 f1.4 f2 f2.8 f4 f5.6 f8 f11 f16 f22 f32

 Flashlights can usually be used with the values for output :

1/1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 1/64 1/128

 Every step reduces the output by half.

Example : Flash – Aperture when metering aperture 16 :

Power Flash  1/1 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16
Aperture 16 11 8 5,6 4

You need 1 aperture value more light and your flash is on full power :

Buy one more flashlight !

You need 3  aperture steps more light  

 Buy eight more flashlights !

Doubling the distance to the model means the flashlight has only 1/4 of its power.

flash on full power and distance :

                                 1m  —  1/1
                                 2m  —  1/4
                                 3m  —  1/16
                                 4m  —  1/64


The ISO setting can be used also.
Doubling the ISO gains 1 aperture step, here an example :

100 200 400 800
power flash            1/1 F8 F11 F16 F22
1/2 F5.6 F8 F11 F16
1/4 F4 F5.6 F8 F11
1/8 F2.8 F4 F5.6 F8
1/16 F2.8 F2.8 F4 F5.6
1/32 F1.4 F2.8 F2.8 F4

Summary :

The picture is dark, underexposed :

Step up the ISO, or
open up the aperture, or
lessen the distance to the object, or
step up the flash power

Tools – groundglass diy

My 8×10 groundglas broke.

Searching ebay, the prices were way too high.

But I found :


So I bought siliziumkarbid, fine grain (lifelong lasting 1000g) 600 and 800,

the local glass shop cut me a 2mm glassplate the right size, tested it in camera

and went to work for about 40 minutes.

I used a second smaller glass plate, put a sucking grip on it.

Than I put the 600 powder on the new ground glass, added some water and began to grind. Hard work for my hands . About 10 min later I switched to the 800 powder, water of course and another 15 mins later I had my glass ready.

The result : a good groundglass, but not so bright as I hoped.

A few tips I got as feed back:

The general rule is that a coarse-ground screen will be brighter, but a finely ground one will be easier to focus.

Use WD40 instead of water, its going much more easy.

Use aluminium oxide powder.

Add a fresnell screen.

Broken and grounding – comparison

For working I put an vacuum holder (from and old car something device) on a 9×12 glass plate I would have used for ambrotype. A spoonful siliziumkarbide and a few drops water, and a few drops sweat…

20 minutes later the new groundglass in my international 8×10 back :

Tools – Lensboard large format specs

Here is an overwiev of lensboard parameters as far as I got the infos :
Please correct and submit infos !


Sinar boards are quite complex. They are 139 mm square, outer rim is 4 mm thick (front to back) and 2 mm wide, recess is then 1 mm down from that, center area is 5 mm thick, recess is 3.5 mm wide. #1 hole is 35 mm, #3 is 60 mm.

140×140 mm, 3,5 mm thickness, a lighttrap on the inside


138x142mm bei 7 mm thickness (similar to the Stella von Herbst and Firl Görlitz)

Plaubel Peco Profia

166x166mm with rounded edges, the newer onees need a lighttrap on the inside

Plaubel Profia Z 13×18/5×7 : Adapterplatte auf die Technikaplatten, die gibts fertig bei Plaubel. Es gibt auch noch baugleiche 96×99 Platten von Toyo


74×81 mm : Baby Linhof Technika 6×9

96×99 mm, thickness 1.7mm : Linhof Technika 9×12 and Linhof Color & Kardan Color 9×12 ( plus Toyo, Wista, Tachihara, Shen-Hao, usw..).

129×129 mm : Linhof Technika 13×18

162×162 mm : Linhof Kardan, Kardan Super-Color

220 x220 mm : Linhof Kardan 13×18 u. 18×24

ca 200 x 200 mm : Linhof Kardan Color 13×18 u. 18×24

162×162 mm : Linhof Kardan from 1967 (Kardan Bi and later)

Arca Swiss

6×9, „Field“-4×5 and Misura : 110×110 mm

9×12 – 4×5″, 13×18-5×7″, 18×24 – 8×10″ „new“ 141×141 mm

9×12 – 4×5″, 13×18-5×7″, 18×24 – 8×10″ „old“ Oschwald (vor 1984), F-line 4×5 (1984 to ~2005) and Discovery : 171×171 mm

TOYO 4×5 C

158x158mm, 5mm thickness

Cambo SF,SC

162x162mm, rounded edges, lighttrap, 3,5 mm thick, 2,5 mm thick at the lens bore


Outer dimension of 3.64 x 3.7 inches (92.5 x 94mm),

Compur und Copal have the same dimensions 0, 1 and 3

0 = 34,5mm
1 = 41,5mm
3 = 65,0mm

The Compur 2 has 3 different possibilities.

The pneumatic Compound shutters:

Compound III: 62mm
Compound IV: 92mm
Compound V: 95mm

MILLIMETERS#0#1#3 #00**
A (Hole Dia.)34.741.865.026.6
B (Thread Dia.)32.5396225.5
C (Lock pin)*17.822.039.213.8
Thinnest board0.831.21.21.1
Thickest board3.753.758.752.7

A very good reference :