I've begun to realize lately that home darkroom work is a drag. Not the accomplishments -- the monotonous routine. Setting the timer, starting the timer, resetting the timer, restarting the timer, ad nauseam.

Finally, someone has made this job a little less boring. That someone is Ilford, with its brand-new digital touch timer and card reader.

The digital touch timer is a little electronic gadget that takes the "dark" out of darkroom. Among other things, it can automatically control printing light timing as well as monitor an unlimited number of photo-processing procedures.

At its most basic, the digital touch timer is like any timer, except that it's digital and requires only the slightest touch to set and activate: no keys, dials or levers to fumble with.

And except that its display panel is adjustable from faintest to brightest red numerals.

And except that it features a built-in (and cancelable) audible timer warning while the enlarger countdown takes place.

And except that it has a modeswitch key that lets you enter up to 10 timing steps for black-and-white or color film or print processing without upsetting the enlarging timer.

And except that its cancelable memory provides for infinite repeatability (with repeatable timed accuracy).

The timer can handle exposures up to 99.9 seconds in the enlarging mode and 99 minutes, 9 seconds in the processing mode -- more than enough for most home darkroom needs.

With a unique plug-in card-reader (included), the photographer can quickly and simply punch a program of up to 10 timed steps into a stiff, durable plastic card (the punch is included). Then the card can be run through the reader, and the timed steps are automatically entered into the timer.

You can punch and store a card for the timed steps involved in processing color slide film, black-and-white film, color prints from slides, black-and-white prints from negatives or any other darkroom process you can think of. As you move from one job to the next, simply run the appropriate programed card through the reader and voila!

The new Ilford digital touch timer and card reader comes complete with two program cards, card punch, reader, timer and simple operating instructions. The practically indestructible cards are also available in packs of five for $3.90. Suggested list price is $160.