You can build a fine basic darkroom for under $200.00 – especially if you take the time to shop. I find Amazon has a selection of Darkroom Accessories and you’ll find everything you need. FIRST: Please go to the camera store and get a good book on film and paper processing! You simply gotta get in the habit of “reading the directions” FIRST!
If you are short of funds and/or space you will find that your average bathroom makes for a natural darkroom!! The bathtub will hold three developing trays (11X14), the seat is the perfect place to put the enlarger. and it is easy to seal out the light. All your bottled chemicals should be placed in the bathtub also…. if they drip they will not affect the porcelain tub!
My Darkroom Setup
Enlargers can run from about $75 (used) to thousands (new).
The most important factor is the enlarging lens. If you buy one used, be sure and get a money back guarantee so you can test if for sharpness and color purity. Lenses run from about $20 to hundreds.
You will also need a developing tank and reels.
This equipment allows you to develop film in a light-tight environment. Once the film is loaded on the reels and placed inside the Nikkor tanks, put the top on and you can turn on the lights and pour chemicals in and out without any light getting to the film. If you want to go fancy you might want a timer as well.
Finally, I urge you to use print tongs (see below). Those chemicals can cause you a lot of problems if you insist on dipping your hands in and out. You’ll also need a thermometer and a safe light. To dry the film, after it has been properly washed it, I use rubbing alcohol and a hair dryer. Immerse the film into a tank full of alcohol for 15-20 seconds, remove it, and – using your fingers as a squeegee, gently wipe the liquid away.
If you are in a rush, blast the film with a hairdryer…. but don’t get the heat too close. I would suggest you do not rush the film-drying process. The alcohol will evaporate rapidly so just slowly close the door and wait 5-10 minutes.