Darkroom Checklist


If you're ever thinking of making your own darkroom, you should consider this checklist and make sure that you all the basics covered in order to develop and process your own film rolls at home.

Credits: troch


Depending on the enlarger you purchase, you may need to get a 35mm negative carrier and 50mm enlarging lens (with a lens board and jam nut) separately. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to call one of our friendly sales representatives for assistance.

Some enlargers can handle both 35mm and medium format negatives, although you will need a different negative carrier and lens to accommodate this. There are also enlargers that can handle 4×5, medium format, and 35mm film. If you plan to print with 4×5 negatives in the future, you should purchase an enlarger that can accommodate them. Otherwise, a 35mm/medium format enlarger will suit your purposes just fine.
Enlarger Timer

In order to get prints which are correctly exposed, you need to control the amount of light that reaches your paper. The timer, along with the aperture on your enlarger lens, controls the exposure so that your prints are neither too light nor too dark. Timers can either be stand-alone, requiring you to turn off the enlarger manually, or they can connect to the enlarger for automatic shut-off. We recommend a timer that automatically turns the enlarger on and off.

The easel is used to hold the photographic printing paper while you are exposing it. The paper holders on the easel are used to correctly position the unexposed paper and hold it flat during the exposure. There are quick easels in a singe set format like 8×10 or 5×7, and there are bladed easels that allow you to choose your own format.

You might also consider buying a contact printing frame, which has a Plexiglas top to hold your negatives flush on the paper for contact printing.

Safelight filters come in a few different varieties. The most commonly used are OC (amber) and Red (A1). Always check the manufacturer’s instruction sheet to determine the appropriate type of safelight for your particular paper.

Red (1A) safelight filters are typically used for orthochromatic materials like litho film, certain liquid emulsions and some B&W photo papers. Never mix OC and red safelights in the darkroom — even if a paper can be used with either safelight, the combination will usually cause fogging.

The safelight should be positioned to provide the best illumination of the work area, but should be kept at least four feet from the photographic paper. See our How Safe is Your Safelight? article for more tips on safelight set-up.
Printing Tongs

These are used for moving the photographic paper through the processing solutions. You should have a set of four: one for developer, one for stop bath, one for fixer, and one for the final rinse. Label each one to avoid contaminating the chemicals.
Processing Trays

The trays hold the processing solutions. The first tray is for the developer, the second for the stop bath, the third is for the fixer and the fourth is for the wash. Label the trays and always use the same tray for each solution. It is a good idea to get trays at least one size larger than the paper you are using.

Use it to measure the temperature when mixing and using chemicals. Photographic thermometers are stainless steel or glass, and will not be damaged by the photographic chemicals.

These are used to mix and measure the processing solutions. It is best to have a variety of sizes with at least one with markings at 1oz. or 10ml intervals. Some people have one graduate for each chemical type.

These hold the mixed processing solutions. Bottles can be glass or plastic, and should be opaque brown or black. Make sure the lids are airtight. Label the bottles and always use the same bottle for each solution.

This is how you get solutions back into the bottles. Don’t try it without one.
Print Squeegee

Remove excess water from your prints after they are washed so that they’ll dry faster and more evenly.
That takes care of the equipment. All you need now are:

Processing Chemicals

The three basic chemicals are (1) Developer (2) Stop Bath and (3) Fixer. Mix these with the appropriate amount of water and store them in your bottles.
Photographic Paper

Photographic paper is sensitive to light and should be handled only in a darkroom with the correct safelight. Black and white paper is exposed under an enlarger and processed in chemicals to create a final image.
Still not sure what you need? At the end of this booklet we have a complete supply list for you that includes all the paper, chemicals and accessories you need to get started.

Extra enlarger bulbs

Household bottle opener to open the film canisters

Developing trays or tanks

(separate trays for developer, fixer, and the stop bath)

Plastic or stainless steel washing tank

Wire or plastic rod for retrieving reels from the water tank

Chemicals (developer, stop bath and fixer)

Storage bottles for mixed chemicals

Large-faced timer

Safe light

Plastic or cardboard holders for slide film

Graduated measuring flask

Plastic or stainless steel developing tanks (single reel or multiple reel)
Plastic or stainless steel film reels

Bottled distilled water

Bottled spring water (without salt)

Plastic gloves for mixing chemicals

Goggles or safety glasses for mixing chemicals

plastic hose for wash tank

Optional items for developing:

“Safe bag” for loading and unloading film from the canister

Light box to view negatives and slides (with extra bulbs)

Can of pressurized air

Small sable brushes to clean lenses and equipment

Magnifying glass

Sharp scissors for cutting the film

Storage boxes (metal, plastic or acid-free cardboard)

Electric extension cords

Computer negative analyzer

Developing color film and prints requires additional items:


Small refrigerator for chemicals and developer

Color paper

Color chemicals for film and paper

Printing Equipment:

Enlarger with base for enlarger

Lens (multiple for various size developing)

Slide carriers (35 mm, 4 X 6, passport size)

12 X 12 piece of glass plate for contact printing


Plastic or wooden “safe box” for the photographic paper

Separate safe boxes for each type of photographic paper

Cotton gloves

Tongs (either bamboo, plastic or stainless steel)

Pressurized can of air

Lens cleaner with soft cloths

Photographic papers (boxes or envelope)

Goggles and safety glasses (face shield)

Optional Printing Accessories:

Antique-style cabinet cards

Silver, wet plate, platinum or palladium developing chemicals

1950s-style ruffled edge trimmer

Pens and pencils for retouching negatives

Watercolors or oil paints for hand tinting

Storage boxes (acid-free paper or plastic)

Photo albums (acid-free paper or plastic)

Large bed paper cutter

Plastic or cotton-coated apron or lab coat

Equipment for Drying Film and Prints:

Tongs (stainless steel, plastic or bamboo)

Small tabletop print dryer (optional)

Film coater (foam or fabric)

Plastic or steel line for hanging film or prints

Hang clips (stainless, bamboo or plastic)

written by ilkadj on 2012-10-01 in #gear #tipster #film-processing #things #stuff #darkroom #list #checklist #equipments #development

One Comment

  1. weaver
    weaver ·

    wow thank you, i'm going to keep this in mind for when I create my darkroom this spring!

More Interesting Articles

  • Handmade Cameras by Cedric Chatterley

    written by cheeo on 2014-12-05 in #lifestyle
    Handmade Cameras by Cedric Chatterley

    Shooting with film can be considered a labor of love. From carefully loading the film and adjusting for lighting conditions to the darkroom process, it’s a laborious process but certainly a fulfilling experience. What more if you created your own cameras?

  • Film Experiments: In The Dark - The True Analogue Experiment

    written by mikekumagai on 2014-08-05 in #gear #tipster
    Film Experiments: In The Dark - The True Analogue Experiment

    Throwing chemicals, fire, and scratching emulsion are just a few ways of experimenting with film. But there's another process that completely destroys it (or, if you're lucky, creates something amazing), that is as spastic as a drunken man staggering his way home after a night at the pub - literally. And it all comes down to darkness.

  • October Walks and Workshops

    written by hannah_brown on 2014-09-22 in #events
    October Walks and Workshops

    Lomography Gallery Store Soho has all the workshops you could ever want this October. Learn the basics of the Diana F+, shoot autumn colours with the Lubitel 166+, make your own redscale film, shoot creepy portraits with the Petzval lens and visit our One Must Dash Pop up store. Read on for a full line- up of events and details.

  • Shop News

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Whatever kind of film development you're after, you'll find it here! Now you can confidently shoot from the hip without having to worry where to develop those film rolls!

  • Introducing The Brand New LC-A 120 - The Most Compact & Magical Fully Automatic 120 Film Camera Ever!

    written by shhquiet on 2014-09-08 in #news
    Introducing The Brand New LC-A 120 - The Most Compact & Magical Fully Automatic 120 Film Camera Ever!

    Get ready to think fast and shoot faster! Today, we are thrilled share with you news of the brand new LC-A 120 Camera. Load it with any 120 film roll and experience the thrill of medium format photography. You’re sure to soak up all the action in every square shot with its fantastic 38mm f/4.5 wide-angle lens (equivalent to a 21mm lens on a 35mm film camera). It's available for Pre-Order: Extremely limited first batch stock of only 500 cameras!

  • Shooting Squares with the LC-A 120

    written by pripri2000 on 2015-04-22 in #gear #news
    Shooting Squares with the LC-A 120

    Capture the world and all its contours in vibrant, wide-angled photographs any time, any where! The LC-A 120 is an adventure of its own with lots of exciting functions to experiment with, like seamless long exposures or full ISO control. It's also super-fast and ultra-compact - perfect for your everyday. If you're worried about the Medium Format film, don't be! You are free to use any 120 Film you want and there are plenty to choose from. In fact, that's what makes this camera so versatile! Scroll through this gallery for a little taste of the glorious shots this nifty invention is capable of.

  • LC-Wide : Three Frames, One Film!

    written by alexintheskywithdiamonds on 2014-11-11 in #gear #tipster
    LC-Wide : Three Frames, One Film!

    If you're the happy owner of a Lomo LC-Wide, you are probably overwhelmed and frustrated at not being able to use your three different frames on one film. But this tipster will let you make magic happen!

  • Shop News

    Fisheye No. 2 Gold

    Fisheye No. 2 Gold

    Snap dazzling 35mm fisheye shots at the push of a button with this shimmery blue lightweight beauty.

  • Turn Your Lomographs Into Beautiful Analogue Prints — Handmade By Lomography

    written by shhquiet on 2015-03-24 in #gear #news
    Turn Your Lomographs Into Beautiful Analogue Prints — Handmade By Lomography

    You've shot tons of really fantastic film photos — why not turn them into analogue prints that you can proudly showcase in your home, studio or office? If you're not sure where to have them printed, try Analogue Prints — the perfect print service for analogue photographers. Lomographers in Austria, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain can take advantage of this awesome service right now!

  • Snap Up This Incredible Invention: Introducing The Brand New Lomochrome Turquoise Film!

    written by shhquiet on 2014-10-20 in #news
    Snap Up This Incredible Invention: Introducing The Brand New Lomochrome Turquoise Film!

    We are very excited to present you with our new film, Lomography LomoChrome Turquoise XR 100-400! This emulsion develops in C-41 in 35mm and 120 formats. Limited stock of 5,000 rolls for pre-order are available, so reserve your rolls now; delivery of first stock estimated for April 2015.

  • Bright and Fiery DIY Redscale Photos Taken with the Konstruktor

    written by chooolss on 2014-08-27 in #lifestyle
    Bright and Fiery DIY Redscale Photos Taken with the Konstruktor

    Are you up for a cool Lomographic experiment? Load a roll of your very own DIY redscale film into that Konstruktor you've just built and snap away!

  • Shop News

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Standard Photo Development Services

    Done shooting and want your films to be processed? We can process your colour and black & white 35mm, 120 or 110 films! Development, prints and scans are also included. (Service availability depends on your markets)

  • The Analogue Quiz: What B&W Film are you?

    written by andie_sollmer on 2014-10-20 in #news
    The Analogue Quiz: What B&W Film are you?

    Did you ever think about the myth that we actually dream in Black & White? No colors, maybe no truth behind it anyways. But we know for a fact that you can create the most dreamy photographs with an analogue camera. And for that you need the right film. Scroll down and find out which B&W film is the film of your dreams!

  • The Rescued Film Project

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-02-10 in #world #lifestyle
    The Rescued Film Project

    The Rescued Film Project collects, develops and archives undeveloped or unwanted film from all over the world. Recently, the group acquired 31 rolls at an auction in Ohio, which, as it turns out, were from World War 1 and featured some amazing photographic footage of that time. Founder and film technician Levi Bettwieser talks about this exciting project.

  • Pushing Boundaries: So I Heard You Like Multiple Exposures

    written by Amber Valentine on 2015-04-11 in #world #tipster
    Pushing Boundaries: So I Heard You Like Multiple Exposures

    My name is Amber Valentine and I have a confession to make: I’m not really a photographer. I have a website full of photographs, a bookshelf full of cameras, film waiting to be developed, and a wall full of framed pictures I’ve taken. Even so, I don’t really consider myself a photographer per se. I think that Lomography is more about the experimentation and the fun of film than it is about the photography, and that experimentation is part of the reason I have embraced Lomography so.