darkroom fumes

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Hi all,

I would like to have your opinions on storing things such as cameras, lenses and photopapers in the darkroom. Is there any risk that the chemical fumes will harm those items? My gears are in ziplock and papers in original black plastic bags and boxes. I drain all the chemical when the darkroom is not in use. The longest period I left the trays filled with chemicals is one night. I hope that my question will benefit other people with tight storage space. Thanks in advance.

-- dan nguyen (dan@egmail.com), June 28, 2000


Dan while I would be careful with regards to camera equipment stored in the darkroom(although the ziplocks should protect them) I store paper in their original packing in a cupboard, and have done so for years with no ill effects. Film I tend to store certainly long term in the fridge/freezer. Opened packs of Polaroid are stored just in a cupboard under the wet bench and they seem ok. The enlarger lens I dismount if it is not going to be used for a week or so and store it in its original plastic container. I have one enlarger lens which seems to have some form of fungal growth inside it probably caused by the high humidity, but it still performs well. Regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), June 28, 2000.

I'm going to answer this with a rambling anecdote I'm afraid. (Oh no, not again!)

About 15 years ago I saw an expensive Nikkor lens advertised in the local paper for a ridiculously cheap price. I telephoned, and went to see the lens. The optics were perfect, but both the aperture and focussing ring were gritty and rough to move. I quizzed the seller about it, and eventually he confessed that the lens had met with an accident in the darkroom, and ended up lying in a pool of fixer. A repairer had told him that the lens was practically a write-off. The price being asked was so low that I thought I'd risk it anyway. I stripped the aperture mechanism down and cleaned and re-greased the detent mechanism, but the metal had already been eaten into, and the "feel" of the lens is gone for good. The focus ring had faired a bit better and after a superficial cleaning it seemed OK. 15 years later I'm still wiping the occasional crystal of Hypo from round the focus ring as it works its way out of the mechanism, and I have to keep that lens in a stout polythene bag when not in use, to prevent it contaminating the rest of my gear.

Precision equipment and chemicals don't mix well!

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), June 29, 2000.

I think I would put my camera equipment in my bedroom closet before I were to put it in the darkroom. If your ventilation is good, it shouldn't that much of a concern but be careful of splashes and drips. I know you stated that your stuff was in ziplocks but one splash gets on the bag, then you open the bag a few days later and you transfer chemicals to your equipment without even knowing it... I'm just real protective of the equipment I make my living at that's all. Cheers, Scott

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), June 29, 2000.

Dan: I agree. Keep cameras and lenses out of the darkroom. I would keep cameras and camera lenses away from darkrooms and kitchens. A bedroom closet or maybe a box under the bed would be a lot safer. Even in plastic bags, there is too much risk of fumes or the chemicals themselves getting into shutters and rusting springs or steel parts. Some of the fixers on the market can even erode stainless steel. As for film and papers, I store opened 25 sheet boxes of sheet film in the darkroom with no apparent ill effects. For opened boxes of 100 sheets, I keep the unopened packets in the freezer and place the opened packets in a film box and keep it in the darkroom. May not be the very best idea, but I have not had any problems. Paper I leave in the darkroom. Good shooting.

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), June 29, 2000.

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