Request info on GRALAB 505 timer

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Bogdan Karasek, May 13, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    I recently acquired a GRALAB 505 digital timer and 560 foot switch to
    replace my GRALAB 300 analog timer. The reason I switched was that I
    wanted to have the use of a foot switch (my third hand) when I am doing
    dodging ot burning. I can set up my burning/dodging equipement in my
    two hands and set the timer off with the foot switch something that I
    could not do with my analog 300. In short, a foot switch seemed like a
    good idea to solve a difficulty. Unfortunately, this has created a
    nuisance. On my analog 300, I could switch from focus mode (enlarger
    light on) to safelight mode with the use of the one toggle switch in the
    upper right hand corner. One switch and I could go from one mode to the

    With the digital 505, I find that I have to use two switches to go from
    one mode to the other. In the upper right hand corner, there are two

    Safelight on ----- OFF----- Timer

    Enlarger on ------ OFF----- Timer

    If I want to focus, I first have to turn the Safelight OFF, then I have
    to turn the the Enlarger on. And of course, once I have finished my
    focusing, I have to set the Enlarger switch to Timer and use the other
    switch to turn on the Safelight so that I can place my paper etc, Then I
    have to set the Safelight to Timer and then use the foot switch if I am

    Compared to the 300 with the one toggle switch for focus/safelights and
    push button on top to start the timer (and at the same time shutting off
    the safelights), the 505 seems to be overly complicated; too many
    switches to move around.

    The question is, am I doing something wrong with the 505 and creating
    needless actions or is there a simpler way of doing this on the 505
    which would be comparable to the analog 300. I don't have a manual for
    the 505.

    If I am doing something wrong, could some kind soul set me straight and
    explain the correct procedure for the 505?

    Thanks for any help.


    Bogdan Karasek
    Montréal, Québec

    "I photograph my reality"
    Bogdan Karasek, May 13, 2007
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  2. If, instead, you had purchased a Darkroom Automation f-Stop
    timer you could go from focus mode to expose mode with just
    the footswitch:

    Tap switch: start exposure
    Tap switch while exposing: pause exposure, enlarger off/safelight on
    Tap switch while paused: resume exposure
    Hold switch down while exposing or paused: cancel exposure

    Hold switch down: focus mode, turn enlarger on
    Tap switch while focusing: end focusing

    And, you would have:
    o f-stop timing, exposure control that makes sense
    o dodging, including multiple dodges - like dodging one area
    for 1 stop and another for 1.5 stops
    o burning in stops, as many as you want
    o progressive burning - unlimited burns within burns
    o burns and dodges track changes in base exposure:
    dodges and burns are always +/- stops over/under the
    base exposure
    o Automatic test strip timing with any starting
    exposure and increment per strip.

    For a lot less money than you spent on the 505 & footswitch:

    $159 for the timer, $29 for the footswitch.

    And then there's the enlarging meter, and how it works with the
    timer, but that would take pages and pages of explanation.
    Gralab timers are designed for general industrial use. You are
    controlling your enlarger with a timer that's really designed
    for controlling a baking oven. They put a different decal on
    it and presto: now it's an enlarging timer. Of course
    it doesn't work the way you want.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, May 13, 2007
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  3. Bogdan Karasek


    Feb 6, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I realize that this is an old thread but I stumbled across it and thought I would add my own opinion for the benefit of someone who may find it in the future.

    Unfortunately, the answer you received did not answer your question but rather tried to sell you on a different timer and system. I have been printing for over 40 years and I have tried that system and found it to be a gimmick, with all due respect the person who posted that response. It's one of those things that sounds fine until you actually try it and then it makes very little sense. I don't have space to go into why that is xo here.

    But, to your question: The Beseler 505 Timer which I am familiar with but do not use is not the ideal enlarger timer but it will do the job well. I would suggest that you simply forget about the safelight switch. In fact, I don't know anyone who uses it with any timer. When I print, I leave my safelights on all the time and my room lights are turned on by a string above my head. The string runs horizontally so I just swing my hand up and I can't miss it. I have a similar setup over my darkroom sink. There is no need to turn your safelights on and off when printing. Keep it simple.

    My advice is to forget about any so-called F-stop systems or timers. In any case, you SHOULD NOT adjust exposure by adjusting your enlarger lens f-stop unless you have to. Focus can shift and you won't be using your optimum aperture if you use such a system.
    Your lens will have an aperture which produces the sharpest possible print. That is generally about two stops down from wide open but it can easily be determined. I try to always use that f'-fstop and I use the traditional method of adjusting exposure time. If I must use a smaller f-stop, I add neutral density filtration. Simply buy a sheet of .3 (1 stop) ND filter material used for lighting and cut it up. Mine are in 6x6" pieces and I put them in the VC filter drawer. My filters are above the negative so they are not in the image path and therefore don't need to be optical grade. I don't use below-the-lens filters. Of course, your setup may be different but the idea is the same.

    Just don't worry about shutting off the safelight when you expose the print. In fact, I don't know why anyone would want to do that.
    ZoneIII, Feb 6, 2010
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