Maya is “the only darkroom timer you’ll ever need”

Feb 21, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Maya is “the only darkroom timer you’ll ever need”

Feb 21, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One of the biggest issues in the darkroom is keeping track of time. Whether it’s for developing your rolls of film or exposing negatives onto paper in the enlarger, there’s just very little out there these days to assist with that, and using a phone can be tricky, especially if you’ve got wet chemicals on your hands.

But it seems there’s a new, modern solution to this particular problem; Maya. Billing itself as “The only darkroom timer you’ll ever need”, it has countdown timers, f-stop adjustments, a test strip mode, room light control (what?!?), and it’s modular so you can add more features to it in the future.

Maya’s currently funding through Kickstarter. It’s already passed its goal, and it’s got a pretty neat set of features, as you can see from the video above. The one thing that’s particularly useful, as it’s the one thing you’ll probably be doing the most often if you’re shooting film and then developing and printing it yourself. No matter how much you want to print, there are always more rolls to develop. You simply select your film and developer settings from the list, and away you go. You can even add custom ones if you want to do anything a little different, like stand development.

One future module that they’re working on to interact with the the Film Developer mode is a temperature probe. This will monitor your chemicals and then automatically calculate and compensate developing time based on the actual temperature of the chemicals throughout the process.

Other features include…

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • F-Stop based everything for easy exposure compensation
  • Test strip mode with EV steps
  • F-Stop based dodge & burn timers
  • Split grade channels (split grading is very cool – google it if you’ve never heard of it before!)
  • Smart resizing with aperture compensation
  • Paper developer timer

Various power bars are also available, into which you can plug your lights and other devices to automatically turn them on and off in accordance with the timer’s settings.

Various other accessories are available, too, including several button modules, hand trigger and foot pedal. That last one should be very handy in the darkroom when both of your hands are full and you can’t see what you’re doing.

The Maya Darkroom Timer is currently on Kickstarter, having surpassed its goal with 23 days left, and you can back it for as low as $119 to get your own unit. Delivery is expected to begin in July 2019.

A few years ago when I started getting back into shooting film, I decided to do it properly this time around and build a complete darkroom. Timing things was my biggest problem, and I did often resort to just using my phone. I thought about making something from an Arduino, but never got around to it before I’d packed up my darkroom to move to Scotland. I wish something like this had been available then.

I might have to get one whenever I decide to build the darkroom back up.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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