densitometer. : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've visited a photoschool, a professional lab and others. And I'm very disappointed.They are not very cooperative in letting me use their transmission densitometer; belief me that is an understatement. They probably think I want to steal something.By the way I also told them that a reasonable fee would be acceptable. Nevertheless I heard that you can measure the negs using a spot meter. If that's trough how does it work. Where can I find information about alternative measuring methods instead of using a densitometer.

-- peter koning (, October 17, 2001


Check ebay. I picked up an old MacBeth that works just fine. Not that all old MacBeths are going to work well.

Another possibility is to keep checking. You are bound to eventually run into an organization that has a customer focus.

-- neil poulsen (, October 17, 2001.

yeah, I just got me an x rite for 150 bucks, but you have to make sure the seller will guarantee the item, previoulsy I bought an Eseco supposedly in "excellent" condition and working, when I got it it would not zero and it would not make the same reading from one time to the next, of course the seller tried to tell me I broke it, and that I did not know what I was doing because he "knew" it was working when he sold it to me.....anyways to make a long soty short, after numerous fraud complaints to various gov. agencies I got my money back...but it was a hassle. So let my experience help you, there are good deals on E bay, but just make sure you can get your money back in case you are not happy.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, October 17, 2001.

If I rember correctly, Phil Davis describes a method for using a spot meter as a densitometer in his book "Beyond the Zone System". You might also consider getting a density step wedge, which would allow you to estimate density by either visual comparison or by contact printing side by side with your film. Zone VI Studios used to do film density measurements for a nominal fee. When Calumet originally took them over, I think they still offered the service- I don't know if they still do. I also recall an article in View Camera by Joe Englander called the "Tone System" that controls negative and print density using a step wedge rather than a densitometer.

-- David Rose (, October 17, 2001.

Oh sorry, to answer your question, if you get the "New platimum print" by Sullivan & Weese, there is a chapter on visually assesing densities using a calibrated step wedge.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, October 17, 2001.

Here's an article by Jon Fishback that may help: The Ultimate Monochrome Print. You'll be spending some time in your darkroom, though.

-- Bong Munoz (, October 17, 2001.

what do you want measured.

-- Kevin Kolosky (, October 17, 2001.


I bought an X-Rite densitometer on eBay for about half price. It was used but well cared for, and it works very well. Yes, there are ways to use a spot meter instead, but it's not nearly as exacting as a real densitometer. You are still going to be approximating real density measurements, so you might as well get a step wedge and make visual estimates of comparison prints.

If you are doing extensive film development tests, as I have spent the last two months doing, a real densitometer is indispensable. I could never have finished my testing if I had waited for chances to use someone else's machine. It's not cheap, but it can certainly be worth it in time savings.

-- Don Welch (, October 25, 2001.

Peter, I put myself through college working at a photo lab, many times techs are reluctant to let people they don't know use the densitometer because it is an expensive piece of equipment and more importantly THEIR process depends heavily on corrrect measurements. If you by mistake change a calibration and/or a zero setting it can cause a big headache for them, you need to develop a relationship with them and show them you know what you are talking about before they will let you use their densitometer. On the other hand when people walked into my lab and asked to use the densitometer and I did not know them I offered to read the negatives for them at no charge. Most people were happy with that.

As to a densitometer from E bay this is a good idea, I got me an X rite form e bay for about 150 bucks, is all beat up but it takes consistent readings so I am happy. This is the key, make sure the seller will let you return the item if you are not happy. If that is the case then go for it, there are some good deals to be had at e bay.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, October 26, 2001.

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