I have been using incandescent light bulbs in the darkroom for over 30 years to make contact prints. I was motivated to explore the viability of using an LED light bulb because I am building an off the grid darkroom that is powered by solar and wind and I will be using both 12V LED lights and also the A/C versions to help reduce my power consumption.
LED lights use significantly less power than incandescents and they have the added benefit of lasting for decades. I wasn't really sure what to expect, so I set up a test and made a test contact print.
I laid one of my light meters on the work surface and switched it to EV mode. I turned on the 15W incandescent bulb and measured a light value of 2.9.
I then switched out the LED light and I knew that I would have to reduce the output of the lamp because the smallest LED light that I could find was a 40W equivalent. On a side note, the LED lamp only consumes about 4W, which is a big savings for me over time. I metered the light from the LED light without and dimming and it was 4.1, which was way too high. I used the special dimmer that is made to work with LED, CFL, and Incandescent until I got the value to match at 2.9.
Then I ran a 3-second test strip increment from a print that I just tested earlier today and they were effectively identical. This simple test confirmed that I can use LED lights in my darkroom for contact printing now.
I look forward to your thoughts and comments.
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