Dedicated Print Fixer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by gnashings, May 2, 2005.

  1. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I asked this question on another photography forum (before I discovered APUG! Thank you, Unblinking Eye!), and no one saw fit to answer it...

    So my question is two fold:

    a) While at my local photo store, I saw a big jug of AGFA print fixer (It says dedictated paper fixer on it, I believe). I was told by the man at the store that it was for B&W and would give me "better contrast"... I tend to question what they say there...
    Has anyone used it? If so, what are the benefits/drawbacks? Most people I know use the same stuff for film and paper... so I was just wondering.

    b) is part "a" a stupid enough question (or perhaps offensive in some way :smile:) that, at last check, I got not a single reply after about 100+ views...

    Just wondering, I am a novice to the hobby, so I do ask a lot of questions...
    I thought everyone was new at some point...

    :smile:
    Peter.
     
  2. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

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    Peter, I don't think the question is stupid or offensive. You ask has anyone used it? Maybe no one has used it. I have never used it, so I can not give any input as to draw backs or benefits. Here is a link to their web site where you can get a lot of info on their products:
    http://www.agfaphoto.com/en-GB/prof...hoto-chemicals/bw-paper-processing/index.html

    I use the same fixer for everything and it seems to work OK.
     
  3. Canuck

    Canuck Member

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    Fix is fix for me. I use the Agfa fixer for both paper and film. When I couldn't get the old Agfa Universal fixer, I compared the "paper fixer" to the old Agfa universal fix. Decided that all I had to do was to change the dilution to a higher concentration for film. Didn't notice any differences other than it didn't go as long as the old universal. Should be back to the universal fixer next time as I found some in another store :smile: Unless I find a good chemical fixer I can mix myself together quickly and cheaply.
     
  4. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I use Kodal rapid fix for everything but I have three containers. Film, Fiber and RC. Never use fix on film that has fixed paper.
     
  5. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I don't buy the "better contrast" part.

    Hang around this site for a while and you'll learn a *lot* about chemistry choices. I would agree with separating your film and paper chemistry in general. The same *kind* of chemistry may be useable by both activities, but I wouldn't dual-purpose one batch.
     
  6. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    My humble guess would be :

    a. The jug had "dedicated paper fix" written on it because the dilution was not suitable for film and the clerk who told you that it would give you Better Contrast didn't know what he was talking about, or just wanted you to buy the thing. Getting better contrast by using a particular fixer is not logically possible, unless you have fogged highlights (on a print) and the fixer acts also as a mild bleach...

    b. Noone has much to say about this, because there is not enough data on the case. You don't know exactly the type of product in question and are not sure about what exactly was written on the jug... So, someone can answer only by guessing what MIGHT have happened...

    c. People on other forums are just ignorants. Long live APUG :smile:
     
  7. argus

    argus Member

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    I do. Why shouldn't I?

    G
     
  8. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    I use two different jugs of fixer. They are the same dilution and would work equally well for film or paper, but the fix in the tray picks up dust and other floaters and I don't want them to get stuck in the soft emulsion of the film.

    Fixer has NOTHING to do with contrast. Fixer removes unexposed silver halide and makes the print safe for a journey into daylight.
     
  9. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

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    Peter,
    Jay gives good counsel here. I have read considerably on the topic of fixers, and the more I read, the more I stand in awe of all the chemistry going on in this dunk. I used to think that the print was made in the developer, and the rest was just preservation. The reverse is the case. The chemistry of development, while sexy (and a staple of APUG forums), is straightforward. The stop phase is much more prosaic, especially if you use water, as more and more of us are doing.
    But the fix! Any number of compounds can be produced, depending upon how stale the fixer is, and upon how long the print is left to soak (rot?) in that brew. The old printers rule of a dunk into the stale, followed by a dunk into the fresher of two fixers is better than letting your print swim in a poisonous miasma of arygosulfates and argyrothiosulfates. A quick trip through a relatively fresh first fix followed by a longer (carefully measured) time in very fresh fix is best.
    "Print fixer" if it is marketed as such, probably is more diluted than "film fixer". Many good fixers have a dilution chart with fixing times on the label for prints vs. film. Some fixers state they are "hardening fixers" which by definition are for film, not prints. Many of us stay away from such hardeners, which often contain alum, and make negative washing more difficult, with little gain in negative durability.
    In short, Peter, the fix is not just the first holding bath where you can turn the lights on. It is a vital soup that must be handled with respect, and the respect starts at the time of purchase.
    Hope this helps, and keep posting to APUG.
     
  10. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Thank you so much for all the input - I am quite proud that a lot of it goes along the lines of what I suspected (better contrast?) - it was the first photo forum that I found, and while it does have some great people willing to help, I find that, like in the rest of the world, film/chemistry people are treated as a nuisance to some extent.
    A lot of the folks here took the time to say :"hey, I'm not sure" - which is great, and so much more than I got there.

    The reason I was looking around is that I suspect that the batch of Kodak fixer I mixed from powder has gone bad, or is not as potent as it should. Reason for that is, my prints started going pink (even after fanatical washing), and leaving in fresh fixer (never re-used) for at least the long end of manufac. recomendations...

    So I started looking around for reasons, remedies - I wanted to not know where my mistakes were to be found...

    Thanks again for all the input - 99 % of the time I log on and do not post, just read, read, read, read... So much knowledge here! Its wonderful!
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    It was said above. Fixer is fixer.

    It is always a good idea to use one fixer for film and another for paper. The reasons are several.

    1. Film has different chemicals in it, and it may affect the rate of fixing of paper, and the final image quality.

    2. Film has more silver halide and therefore needs a more concentrated fix solution.

    3. Paper has less silver haldide and if you use film fix for paper you are over fixing and just wasting fix and requiring more efficient wash than you should.

    Therefore, the same fix chemistry is good for film and paper, but at different dilutions. So, the same fix should generally not be used for film and paper for that reason and the others listed above.

    It should not hurt or affect image quality to mix film and paper in the same fix if you adjust fix and wash times accordingly and keep track of the exhaustion level of the fix based on throughput of all materials.

    PE
     
  12. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    It's a good idea to get some Edwal Hypo Check, or similar. Just a drop in the fixer and it will turn milky white when the fix is exhausted. You can also go a cheap route; take the leader from the film ( you cut it off anyway) and throw it in the fix. Give it a good swish and it should clear in about 1 minute. This mean your fix is still good.
     
  13. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    You should always use separate batches of fixer. Mix up one batch for film and another for paper. This is especially critical with ammonium thiosulfate based (rapid) fixers. Here's why:

    Modern films contain a substantial amount of silver iodide. Of the silver halides, iodide is the most difficult to remove from an emulsion. For this reason, fixers used with film tend to exhaust faster. So if a fixer that has been used for film is then used on paper, the prints may not be completely fixed.

    Complete fixation for prints is particularly important as the silver filaments that make up the image tend to be much smaller in a print than in a film. They are thus more prone to being attacked by atmospheric pollutants such as sulfur, which may cause image deterioration.
     
  14. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    DOH! :surprised:
    Glad I read this post. Looks like I'll have to mix up some more (at a greater dilution) when printing next.
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Correct.

    The main concern is the sensitising and antihalation dyes, which may make a delayed appearance in the prints. It's generally worse to get paper fibers in the film emulsion.
    No. All film is not alike, nor is all paper. Some papers contain significantly more silver than some films.
    See above. There is also some silver iodide in most papers, which takes a lot more fixing than bromide. Most films contain a little, the "T-grain" films are said to contain more, and Bergger Art Contact paper contains even more iodide than that.
    I use the same mix at the same dilution for both film and paper, but I'm careful about not using the same bottle. At least most of the time.
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ole, I would like to add a few comments.

    I have never seen a camera film with less silver than any photographic paper product. Transmission based products require a lot more silver to get a maximum density of about 3.0 than reflection based products need to get to about 2.0.

    Also, print paper emulsions are generally chlorobromides, chlorobromoiodides, or chloroiodides. Films are almost always bromoiodides with the iodide generally being above 1% and sometimes up to 5%, with the level being higher in high speed films. Papers, if they have iodide, generally contain it at less than 2%. Fix can be dependant on iodide content. Papers sometimes contain toning chemicals to adjust the tone of the silver image and this can affect fixing rate.

    I hesitated to get so technical, but thought it might be useful to expand on my previous post in light of your excellent comments.

    I especially liked the comment you made about paper fibres getting into the fixer. I never considered that in my work, but then I use separate fixers anyhow so never saw the problem.

    Also, the dyes in film. Another good comment. I always prewet my films, and that rinses out a lot of them, but there are always some that can get into the fix. Very good point.

    PE
     
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    PE, I assume you don't use Bergger's more "esoteric" papers. I sometimes do, and they are way out of the ordinary when it comes to composition and halide content :smile:

    The Art Classic Contact especially is a chloroiodide paper which really kills the fixer faster than film.
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ole, no, I don't use Bergger's papers. I suspect that the Kodak Polycontrast IV is a chloroiodide as well. It fixes more slowly than most other papers.

    You can control speed and contrast in a pure chloride emulsion by use of iodide, at the expense of fix rate and development rate, not to say what it does to the maxium achievable density.

    If you can get a copy, read the article by Dorsey Dickerson in the latest Photographic Techniques magazine regarding the maximum density in papers, and silver rich papers. It is quite interesting.

    Bergger is probably doing something fancy to get the tone they want. If it exhausts the fix that fast, then I would prefer not to use it. I use Ilford and Luminos papers.

    PE
     
  19. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    According to my reading (Ilford recommendations amongst others) you are better using the paper fix at film strength, thereby allowing the paper to be in the fixer for a shorter time, resulting in less fixer being absorbed into the paper's fibres.

    As a general note, Tetenal produce test papers that measure the silver content and ph of the fixer on each strip - I use one of these at the start of each session and discard the fixer as necessary. Worth using for peace of mind...

    I did read somewhere that the old "see how long it takes to clear a piece of film and dump the fixer when the time doubles (or when it reaches 50% increase to be extra safe)" test is not reliable; something about chemical buildup in the fixer causing a problem even though the clearing time seems OK, but I can't remember the details. Any one got any facts or did I dream it? ...

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Bob;

    I find it easy to determine clearing time with film, but rather hard to do with paper. I find this method of judging fixer quality relatively good for film as a result but nearly useless for paper. I use the silver sulfide test for judging retained silver in papers. I use the silver nitrate test for retained hypo. Both have problems, but are moderately useful.

    There is a test solution of potassium iodide which is used to determine if your fixer is exhausted. A drop of this should stay clear or slightly cloudy when added to the fixer if it is good, but it will form a heavy yellow precipitate in exhausted fix. I find this test is only fair and depends on the type of fix.

    As far as using concentrated fix to prevent penetration into the fibres from less fix time, consider that the concentration gradient is higher with the concentrated fix. Therefore, you might end up chasing your tail, I really don't know. I wonder, do they offer any proofs that this works?

    PE
     
  21. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Wow, I didnt expect to learn that much - I am glad my question sparked this dicussion, very informative.
     
  22. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    I just take this fixer concentrate, dilute it 1+6 with water, then use it for anything from negative film to paper. The time for B/W films is about 3-4 minutes under some agitation, and about the same for all RC papers. It always worked perfectly, though I always use a 2% acetic acid stop bath to keep the fixer fresher.

    Good luck,
    Zhenya
     
  23. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    In Way Beyond Monochrome, the authors describe a method of testing the clearing time for paper. I prefer the Tetenal test strips for peace of mind.

    The use of film strength fixer is part of the Ilford archival method that they describe in their documentation. I assume they have done the necessary testing to prove the method works, as they presumably have for their reduced water use method for washing that many people have adopted.


    Cheers, Bob.