Meter Calibration

Getting the best from your Analyser or ZoneMaster

As shipped from the factory, the Analyser and ZoneMaster are set up for Ilford Multigrade IV Resin-Coated variable contrast paper, used with a standard diffusion-type halogen-illuminated enlarger and Ilford under-lens filters. This is the most popular configuration here in the UK, and if you use it you should get good results “out of the box”. The information on these pages is intended to help you set your meter up for best results with other materials and equipment.

It's important to calibrate your meter to match your own methods and materials to get the best out of it, but the process can look a bit daunting at first. The calibration procedure is fully described in the new Calibration Manual which accompanies the Calibration Kit, or in the Users Manual for older products. Full calibration is based on the simple fact that when making prints, the highlights are controlled by exposure and the shadows by paper grade (contrast). If you complete the full calibration procedure you should find that your prints match the meter’s grey-scale indications very closely, and you will gain maximum advantage from the system and minimise the number of test strips you need in the future.

If you are using a paper and/or enlarger for which we don’t yet have calibration figures please consider contributing the data to our User Calibrations page and share the information with other users.

Video Presentations

Watch these QuickTime videos to learn more about Calibration. They will open in a new pop-up window so please disable any pop-up blockers. Alternatively, visit Beyond Monochrome to see videos about all our products and explanatory notes.

Please note that the video recording process causes the display to appear to flicker. This is NOT visible to the naked eye.

Calibration Kit
The Calibration Kit is now shipped with all Analyser and ZoneMaster products except the Analyser 500 (which uses a factory calibration). It is available to buy for existing customers.

Alternative Papers
A list of popular papers we’ve tested with the “standard” enlarging set-up. Use this data as a starting point if you’re not using Ilford Multigrade RC. Choose your paper type from the table and then enter the figures for exposure offset and contrast into your chosen PAP channel. Don't forget that the meters can store the characteristics of up to eight papers so you can enter all your favourites.

Colour Enlargers, filter settings for dual filtration (Y plus M)
A list of filter settings for colour enlargers which allow you to mimic the characteristics of Ilford Multigrade under-lens filters. Use this data if you have a colour enlarger and prefer to use its built-in filters rather than the Ilford ones.

Colour enlargers, calibration using single filtration (Y or M)
Many colour enlarger users prefer to control contrast with single filters, to reduce exposure times and make it easier to choose “in-between” grades. Use this data as a starting point if you use single filters.

Alternative Calibration Instructions (for users without our Calibration Kit)
We're indebted to customer Andrew Smallman for writing an alternative set of instructions based on his own experiences as a new user of the Analyser prior to the introduction of the Calibration Kit. Andrew's talent for clear and concise writing has demystified the process admirably and he has generously made his article available to all. It is available in PDF format so it can easily be printed out for reference.

Alternative Calibration method using a Step-Wedge
If you have access to a step wedge and, if possible, a densitometer this procedure is a little more advanced than that described in the Calibration Manual, and may be of interest to the more technically minded.

“Quick and dirty” calibration!
If you have a negative which you know prints well on a certain grade and at a certain exposure, take measurements from it and compare the meter’s results with what you know to be correct. The contrast shouldn’t normally be out by very much, but you may find the exposure is too long or too short. Adjust the exposure time until it reads the known correct value (or as close to it as possible - use 1/12th stop step size) and note by how much you changed the exposure (e.g. a half stop shorter). This value can then be entered into the PAP channel for that grade of paper. Repeat for the remaining grades, keeping the highlight densities constant (ignore the mid-tones and shadows). This will give you exposure compensations for the remaining grades.

User Calibrations
This page contains calibration data submitted by our customers and provides a forum to share information with other users. This is your page - please feel free to contribute!

Calibration Table Memo
A downloadable PDF file which you can print, fill out and use as a handy reference for all your calibration data.

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