Darkroom; Film, Paper, Chemistry, And Darkroom Gear Page 2

Cleaning Materials And Other Good Stuff
To keep your film clean, BKA (Brandess-Kalt-Aetna Group) has picked up the Green Clean line. This is a new company that makes a mini vacuum as well as various digital cleaning products. BKA also distributes Kinetronics antistatic brushes, which I use all the time, and I have a particularly soft spot for BKA because they were the only people at PMA who had a proper display of photographic chemicals (Heico, Liquid Light, and more) and other darkroom-related products, including the seemingly immortal Marshall's Oils. Anyone who feels the lack of Retouch Methods' products should also check BKA's catalog for alternatives.

BKA Green Clean

Heico, Liquid Light

As for Kinetronics, they also introduced an extra-long-stem version of their SpeckGRABBER. SpeckGRABBERs were originally designed to remove dust from digital camera sensors but have since found many other uses. The extra-long version is used by picture framers to catch that spot of dust that magically appears behind the glass just as you are about to stick down the last side of the backing.

Kalt, Marshall's Oils

One product I begged, because I loved its ancestor last year, was the new, bigger SPUDZ cleaning cloth. The new version is not only 10x10", with the same sort of stuff-sack protection as the baby version: it is also an 18 percent gray card. Although I do not believe in the talismanic power of gray cards, there are times when they are useful, and there are many more times when a cleaning cloth is useful, so this all makes sense.

SPUDZ cleaning cloth

Another excellent line of cleaning products comes from Leland, now handled by American Recorder. Because Leland has been concentrating more on the industrial side of things, both parties reckoned that American Recorder would improve availability. Leland makes CO2 blowers and a range of cleaning cloths and bags made of cleaning cloth.

Leland CO2 cleaner

Leland Ultra cloth

Redeslate (the "e" is red so you are supposed to read "Red-E-Slate") is marked as a digital product but it's arguably even more useful to the film photographer. It's a mini clapper board on which you can write picture details with a (supplied) wipe-off Dry Erase Marker that is stuck to the back with touch fastener-type hook-and-loop material: the hook-and-loop functions as an eraser so you can wipe and re-write quickly and easily. It's very useful if you send your films away to be processed: shoot your name and address on the first frame in case of loss.


Fridgeframe is pretty much what its name suggests, a magnetic, flexible, wipe-clean frame with cutouts for your pictures: stick it to the fridge, or fill it with the children's pictures and send it (along with them?) to their grandmother.

The Merit-Tex Print Texturing System is far from new--you run the paper between two textured rollers to create "art" surfaces--but it does have an interesting side benefit that its manufacturers were promoting at PMA. A textured print is hard to scan, so if you don't want your prints illegally copied, here's one useful solution: The scanner loses contrast, picks up lines, and adds gruesome colors.

The improbably named Purple Cows Incorporated make some of the cleverest, most affordable, and safest hobby-level paper cutters (guillotine and rolling cutters) that I have ever seen. I'm not sure they would stand up to heavy office use but normal domestic use is unlikely ever to wear them out. Many incorporate storage for paper, pens, cutting knives, and more and they can cut wavy lines as well as clean, straight ones.

Finally, some things you wouldn't expect to find in my coverage. Yes, I've been using a digital camera (Minox DC8111 8-megapixel) and as a result I looked at some of the other digital products on the Minox stand: the DC5011, its low-cost ($200) baby brother, and the DC6011, a stainless-steel fashion statement at $400. I tried the multifunction DM1 but it didn't focus close enough for product shots. The DC8111 does. It won't replace film for me, but as a very high-quality "notebook" it is unbeatable. And I wished that the Lumos X-LOUPE i6 pocket microscope attachment for Canon compacts was also available for the Minox. It's billed as a "Digital Portable Field Microscope" and even though I don't have any real use for it, it's still fun.

Manufacturers/Distributors' addresses can be found on page 174.