B&W Fix Substitute for C-41 Fix?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Tom Taylor, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Tom Taylor

    Tom Taylor Member

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    Does anyone know if you can successfully substitute a regular B&W fixer such as Kodak Rapid or TF-5 for example for the regular C-41 fix when processing color negative film?
    Also, how can you tell if the stock C-41 fix is bad? I’m down to less than 1/5 of the 25-Gal jug that I first opened in January, 2011 but was actually manufactured a year or more earlier.
    Thanks,

    Thomas
     
  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I assume we are talking about bleach fix, not just the fixing part of it. If you are talking about the bleach fix it wont work, you must have the bleach side as well. The fixer if it is on its own and not combined with the bleach it shouldn't 'go off', it will just get slower to work properly. I use separate bleach and fix and allow approx 6 x 35mm films per 1/2 litre then dump both. I could get more out of half a litre if I used a stop bath but the chemicals are cheap when compared with film and that irreplaceable shot that may be ruined.
     
  3. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I dimly recall PE saying something about there being a difference in buffering and therefore pH wherein B&W fix is (IIRC) stronger, more acidic and faster-acting. C41 film has less silver in it and also some delicate dyes, therefore the fixer used with it is weaker, slower and less acidic: note the 6:30 nominal fix time instead of about 3:00. You might damage the colour image a little with B&W fixer, or it might work fine if run slightly more-dilute, I'm not sure and haven't tried it.

    I'm also pretty sure that (in bulk), C41 fixer is cheaper than B&W fixer per litre of working solution. As it should be considering the quantities that pro labs inhale and that it actually has less thiosulfate. Since you have 5gal left, that ought to be plenty of time to buy a new jug! Hell, the largest size B&W fixer I can buy retail here (5L Hypam) only makes 25L of film-strength fix which is a hair more than 6gal.
     
  4. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    It is my understanding that you can substitute both ways. I don't know what the dilutions or changes in time are specifically.

    What I do understand is that once you start using a working batch for color film then you wouldn't want to use that same batch for black and white film, and vice versa.

    C 41 fix is less expensive than typical black-and-white fixers so if I were going to go with just one type of fix I would stick with the C 41.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Oh you can test the effectiveness of your fixer by just clipping an inch or two of film and then dunking that in the working fixer and seeing how long it takes to clear.
     
  6. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    added comment to life of fix

    NO! Do not use b&w fixer for a substitute C41. You must balance pH for color, and adjust strength as well. PM your email to me and I will send some alternative formulae. Generally bleach and fixer formulated as alternatives do not affect color balance or dye stability unless of course you do something like using K-Ferricyanide bleach. Separate bleach and fixers are much preferable to blix for both C41 and E6.

    Fixer and bleach can be considered exhausted if the time to clear (fix) or the activity (bleach) is greater than half the specified process time. Of course you can in a pinch extend the times for both because these work to completion and are not time-critical.
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    If I remember correctly the TF5 the OP asked about is close enough to the C 41. Been a while back but I believe that info came from PE. Other Black and white fixers I don't know, mts is probably right there.
     
  8. Tom Taylor

    Tom Taylor Member

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    Thanks for the responses everyone.

    I'm back at home from work and I see that its actually a 5 Gal jug instead of the 25 Gal that I had posted this afternoon and also that I had first opened it on 5/10/2009(Mfg date 0814) instead of January 2011 as originally posted. It was the Kodak 5 Gal C-41 Developer Kit that I opened in January of 2011 which also is almost exhausted. So I haven't been processing much C-41 in the past couple of years :smile:

    Lately, though, I have been back shooting color negative and so far seemingly processing successfully with the above outdated chemistry - including 2 rolls last night. The negatives look good and the color of the developer components agree with what they are supposed to look like according to the Kodak Pub. But I am leery about the fixer and had placed an order for Kodak C-41 Fixer with Calumet at least 2 or more months back. I called their corporate office in Chicago this morning before posting and left a voice mail for the buyer but I haven't received a reply back as of yet.

    I have, what for me, is a lifetime supply of Kodak C-41 bleach having purchased the 12.5 Gallon bladder of Part A & B about the same time that I purchased the fixer. The 5-Gal developer kits are priced reasonable and seem to have a long shelf life as the fixer, at least I hope so, but it would be nice to a have formulas that you can mix from scratch instead of depending on commercial producers. So I am gladly contacting mts for whatever help he is able to render me.

    Thomas
     
  9. RPC

    RPC Member

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    If your fixer is clear and shows no sign of cloudiness (sulfurization) then it is probably good. I have some bleach and fixer concentrates in the same large sizes as you that I got from the lab I work for when they quit processing film that is about the same age as yours, and the fixer is still good but the bleach part B seems to have gone bad. It has formed an ugly sediment in the bottom of the glass containers I store it in that won't re-dissolve. I suggest you check yours. I have decided to switch to a ferricyanide bleach which, being in powdered form, will last longer and is easier to get than Kodak bleach.

    The Kodak C-41 fixer is quite inexpensive and works for b&w film and paper as well. But there are several mix-your-own fixer formulas on this site for C-41. Check the archives.
     
  10. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    I need to clarify my previous posting; ferricyanide bleach while it will work is not really compatible with C41 dyes. You should really be using one of the Fe-EDTA bleach formulae. PE may wish to elaborate since he is the former Kodak bleach King. You should also be using a bisulfite/acetic acid stop and rinse after development and a good rinse after bleach before fixing.
     
  11. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Myself I use the stop bath, as it is required, and rinse. I believe PE has said the ferricyanide bleach has not been tested with C-41 dyes so its actual long term effects are uncertain. With regular bleach getting harder to get though, I have elected to take my chances. If anyone knows of any actual harm caused by the use of ferricyanide bleach on C-41 dyes, please advise.
     
  12. Tom Taylor

    Tom Taylor Member

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    Interesting. I've been following Kodak's and Jobo's processing instructions and neither call for a stop and rinse after the developer but go straight to the bleach. Kodak doesn't call for a rinse after the bleach but Jobo does (3-minutes with 6 changes of water) which I do. Why do you think both leave out the stop step?

    Also I took a close look and smell of the fixer when I got home this afternoon. It's clear as a bell and has a somewhat strong odor but not like rotten eggs.

    Thomas
     
  13. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    It should smell pungently sulfurous and vinegary. Rotten eggs (H2S) indicates that it's starting to sulfate, but it is still perfectly good even to the point where it starts to precipitate, though capacity reduces at that point.
     
  14. RPC

    RPC Member

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    The stop and rinse is only required if a ferricyanide bleach is used, not the standard bleach.
     
  15. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    tetenal also calls for stop bath in certain cases with their 2 bath kit.

    You can get just the fixer part of our C-41 kit, it makes 3.6 liters of working solution from a 900ml stock container (can be used at least 3 times), if this makes it easier for you. shelve life is at least 24 months, and 6-8 months for mixed working solution. OP, or any other interested party can PM me for more info.
     
  16. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    You can always test a fixer by checking the time it takes to clear a small piece of film, like part of the leader of a roll. You can use either black and white or color film.

    Color film fixers are generally non-hardening rapid fixers. They are about the same strength as regular rapid fixers, but the pH is higher, generally around 6.5. C-41 fixer contains EDTA, but ECN-2 fixer does not. This may have something to do with the dyes, which must be considered with color fixers. Regular rapid fix is too acid. TF-5 is the right pH, but it may have ingredients that affect the dyes. It is easy to mix up F-34, which is the ECN-2 fixer.

    C-41 fixer
    This was listed as the “semi-official” formula for the Kodak C-41 process.

    Water 800 ml
    Ammonium thiosulfate (58%) 162 ml
    Ethylenediamine tetracetic acid disodium salt 1.25g
    Sodium bisulfite 12.4 g
    Sodium sulfite 2.4 g
    Water to make 1 l
    pH at 80F = 6.5

    Ref: Dignan Photographic Newsletter, July 1974
     
  17. Tom Taylor

    Tom Taylor Member

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    Thanks a lot for the reply’s everyone – just getting back from Friday “tapas!”

    Yes, it does have a pronounced vinegary smell, polyglot, and what is truly surprising to me is that it is still good after all these years (since May, 2009) in a partially filled container. The developer also surprised me but the color matched what Kodak said would be good chemistry.

    Thanks a lot for your informative post CatLabs and I will definitely keep that in mind for the future. But since I still have some remaining and have an order in with Calumet from whom I have purchased color chemistry for several years now and have also gotten good deals from in the past on other merchandise (e.g., they sold me brand new Fidelity Elite 8x10 holders (2 pack) for $68 each a couple of years back when I moved into 8x10), I'm going to keep my order with them in place for now.

    A double thank you nworth for that formula! Except for the Ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid disodium salt (I have Bostick & Sullivan's EDTA tetrasodium EDTA and I assume that your formula calls for the EDTA disodium salt (http://stores.photoformulary.com/-strse-431/Edta-Disodium-Salt/Detail.bok), I have all the chemistry listed. Until TF5 came out I mixed my own TF4 and still have ~ 400mL of 60% Ammonium Thiosulfate remaining. I also assume that your formula is for mixing the stock solution. If so, does it call for mixing 200mL of stock with 800mL of water to make 1000mL of working solution?

    Again, thanks to all who took the time to respond.

    Thomas