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Build a digital darkroom

Traditional darkrooms? They’re all wet. Here’s the gear you need to create beautiful digital images–and stay dry.

Three years ago, I sold all of my traditional darkroom equipment, lock, stock, and tongs. After having it sit untouched in the basement of my new home, I decided it had to go. I loaded the enlarger, lenses, carriers, and trays into my car, and took them to a local photo show, where practitioners of silver halide reproduction bought them for a song. Why? Many years before my fire sale, I happily made the transition to the digital darkroom. I haven’t looked back.

Assembling your own digital darkroom isn’t complicated or expensive. Much as you would assemble a traditional camera system, you can tailor the equipment to your specific applications and budget. You can build a system for under $1,500, or spend more than the cost of a shiny new Infiniti G20t; it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, and the size of your budget. How? Read on for a guided tour.

The box you keep it all in

Budget-minded digital imagers can start with the least expensive iMac or Windows computer they can find. As I write this, you can purchase a new iMac DV from the Apple Store www.apple.com/store for $999. The iMac DV gives you a 400MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64MB of RAM, a 10GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, and a built-in 15-inch monitor. The Gateway Essentials 800, a similarly inexpensive box from Gateway www.gateway.com

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