Do I need a wetting agent?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by andrew.roos, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    I'm new to analog photography - I've been developing and printing my own film for a little less than a year. In this time I've developed about 20 films without using photo-flo or similar, since I originally decided to use the simplest process I could get away with while finding out whether I would enjoy analog photography. I rinse using tap water and hang the negs at about a 45 degree angle to dry and have never had a problem with drying marks.

    Now I'm about to place an order for paper and chemicals for the next six months and am wondering: should I include Ilfotol (which is the only wetting agent available from the local distributor I'm ordering from)? On the one hand it seems to me that my process is working as it is, so why change it? On the other hand, it may be that I've just been lucky so far and I may be taking an unnecessary risk. On the third hand (!) some users report that adding a wetting agent to the process appears to cause problems...

    Yes I've read lots of threads on wetting agents. No they haven't really helped me to make up my mind!

    In case other aspects of my process are important, I'm developing 120 format Delta 100 in ID-11 (1+1) using a Paterson tank. I print mostly on MG4 RC paper but have also recently starting using Ilford MG Art 300 FB paper. I use HCA when printing on FB paper.

    Thanks
    Andrew
     
  2. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    If the proces is working then indeed why change it. I use the Ilford equivalent of Photo-flo - Ilfotol, in the final rinse just because I live in an area where the water has a medium density of lime. That helps to stop marks and rings on the negatives. Ilfotol I find will work out a lot cheaper than Photo-flo for doing the same job.
     
  3. mablo

    mablo Member

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    In my view wetting agent is not a must have but it can really make a big difference in your negatives. It sure did with mine. Also consider using a stop bath. I myself ignored stop bath for many years. Then a good friend gave me a bottle of it (one bottle lasts a lifetime) When I compare my old no-wetting agent, no-stop bath negs to my current negs I can see a big difference.
     
  4. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    I am currently using a stop bath for both film and print development.

    Thanks
    Andrew
     
  5. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I don't use it anymore but only because the water here is good and my negatives dry without spotting. It's not an expensive purchase so you can try it out and see and it lasts quite awhile. Just be careful as too much will make your negatives sticky when they dry requiring a rewash.
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    You can get by with using distilled water for the final rinse for reducing spots with film, but a wetting a agent almost guarantees spot free drying. I've been using Edwal LFN for years with nearly perfect results. My formula for final rinse is: 500ml distilled water, one (1) drop LFN, one capfull of 91%isopropyl alcohol. This is reusable and lasts for several months. LFN is also usefull if you have any problems with developer foaming, and reduces bubbles by adding one drop to the dev.
     
  7. Canelas

    Canelas Member

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    You can, and should, not cave in to long lasting commercial/marketing myths. Just use one or two drops of common dishwasher liquid soap! It does precisely what we need. No problem whatsoever.
    Just enough to create a few bubbles with vigorous agitation. Using a lot is also not a big problem, you might just get too much bubbles and not enough liquid on the film surface. Again, vigorous agitation. Distiled water woud be nice, but again, in most places tap will be equivalent. Yours sure seems like it.

    Best regards!
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Dish detergent contains fragrances and amino acids to help disolve fats, and shouldn't be used on film.
     
  9. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I am with Rick on this one . I find LFN much better than Kodak's version.
     
  10. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    Unfortunately Edwal products are not available in South Africa. In any case, I would like to order everything from one source to minimize the shipping costs (about US$ 20 per order). Since I'm using all Ilford products, and the only wetting agent the distributor stocks is Ilfotol, that pretty much determines my choice if I decide to use a wetting agent....

    Thanks
    Andrew
     
  11. Ricus.stormfire

    Ricus.stormfire Member

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    Hey Andrew

    Depends on the water I'd say, the water we had in the North West had no problems regarding drying, but here in the Freestate, it is a different matter. Are you ordering from Midsouth?

    regards
    Ricus
     
  12. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    Thanks Ricus. Yes, from Midsouth.

    Cheers
    Andrew
     
  13. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    There are some very informative comments on this forum by Photo Engineer on why you should use a wetting agent and why you shouldn't use dish soap. A search will find them for you.

    The stuff is cheap and well worth the minimal cost and small effort to use it.
     
  14. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I use photo-flow myself but I don't use stop bath for film develoment.

    Jeff
     
  15. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    Thanks to everyone for your insights.

    After reading and considering all your comments, I've come to the conclusion that as it will only increase the cost per processed and printed film by about 0.2%, I should just get some and give it a try.

    Thanks again
    Andrew
     
  16. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I use commercial wetting agents at half strength and dump them after use. I like the idea about adding a bit of isopropyl alcohol to the working solution as a preservative, thereby not having to discard it, providing it remains clean. That means a bit less chemistry going down the drain. I always use HCA with film. It seems to help clear the antihalation backing form the more stubborn films. I have read somewhere, that wetting agents for film also contain anti fungal agents. if true that may be another reason for using them.
     
  17. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    My last purchase of LFN lasted about five years, but now it is done and there is no longer a local supplier for it. We have moderately hard water here, and without a wetting agent, I have to deal with spots before I print my films. Is there a home grown solution?
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Kodak Photo-flo, if you consider Champion in Rochester, New York, "home grown" :smile:
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Yes, you will avoid future problems. Kodak PhotoFlo is cheap and lasts forever.
     
  20. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    Use it. Period.
     
  21. Chris Nielsen

    Chris Nielsen Member

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    I imported a bottle of genuine photo flo and I would not be without it
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Unless you have a really small bottle, it will probably come close to outlasting you anyways. :whistling:
     
  23. Chris Nielsen

    Chris Nielsen Member

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    Yep. Bought it 2 years ago and still 4/5 full. And I don't use it sparingly.