Fixer Confusion

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Leon, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I am a little confused about fixers and benefits of different types (ie Acid vs Alkalii)

    I am currently using TF-4 fix with film partly because of its reputation as helping the pyrocat stain and also because I understand it is easier to wash out therefore assisting in archival matters and conservation of water (an increasingly important matter in the south of England). Am i right so far?

    I've been out of printing for a while ... I used to use Hypam (which I understand to be an Acid fix ?) after an acid stop bath when printing. Is there any gain to be had by using TF-4 instead? Is the archival matter improved this way? Obviously I would have to not use a stop bath, should I use a waterbath instead? I have also heard that an Alkaline Fix improves the paper emulsion's response to after-treatments like toning - is this correct?

    thanks in advance for yor help.
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The answers are: Yes, (yes,) yes, not directly, yes, and no...

    Yes, alkaline fixer washes out more easily.
    (You are right so far).
    I believe Hypam is acidic, but I don't really know. I've never used it.
    The gain is in the faster washing.
    The faster washing makes it easier to make archival prints - no more overnight washes.
    A water bath is generally recommended between developer or fix, or between stop bath and alkaline fix. Sometimes I don't bother, especially when the fix is nearing the end of its life. I just drop the print in the fixer straight from the developer.
    There is no reason alkaline or acidic fix should influence toning - but since the alkaline fix washes out faster, it's easier to get even tones in the print.
     
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  3. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I always use Hypam fixer and have no problems although I have no experience with pyrocat so I would take advice from those who have. I have used Hypam with other Pyro devs and was perfectly happy with the results but again, I have little experience and have not made any comparisions with other pyro/fixer combinations. There are so many apugers who have lots of experience with pyro that I'm sure you will get more reliable advice.

    From the point of view of washing might I suggest that you use the Ilford method that I have been using for at least 15 years. It involves 5 or 6 changes of water and a series of inversions as follows: pour away fixer and fill tank with water at 20 degrees and invert 5 times, pour away the water pour in fresh water and invert 10 times, pour away and with fresh water invert 20, followed by fresh water and 30 inversions, then 20 and I do 10 and 5 to complete the cycle. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes and uses very little water compared to leaving the tap running for 20 minutes or more.

    I've carried out this method for the past 15 or so years and have never had a negative stain or deteriorate on me. The farm where I live has a spring water supply so it is essential that we conserve it, in a dry summer we have to import water in a bowser and that puts an end to the darkroom until it rains.
     
  4. Leon

    Leon Member

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    Thanks Ole and Les - you've put my mind at rest ... although I missed one question out (doh!). I was using Ilford wash aid to cut archival washing times down - is this still relevant when using an alkaline fix?
     
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  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Washaid or HCA still have a slight effect, but then you have to wash that out. On the whole I think you can get by without it. I certainly do...

    I can't remember if the Washaid is a sulfite mix or a surfactant! If it's the latter, it's still a good idea. The question is whether it's supposed to speed washing, or speed drying? I use Agfa Agepon whenever the water wants to cling, which isn't very often where I live. I'm still on my first bottle, bought around 1985.
     
  6. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Acording to Bill Troop, the alkali fixer evangelist, an alkali fixer washes so fast that an wash aid (basically sodium sulfite) is not really necessary.

    Note: I'm not aware of any large brand ready made alkali fixer.

    Jorge O
     
  7. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Les, I've been using Ilford's method direct from their PDF datasheets on their website and it says 5 inversions, change water, 10 inversions, change water and 20 inversions... ...and then it stops. (I do an extra change and 20 more inversions through sheer paranoia!)

    Do you know whether Ilford have changed the washing pattern since you adopted the method or are the additional washes in your system the result of experience (in which case I've got a few hundred rolls which are probably deteriorating in their sleeves as I type this...! :sad: )?

    Regards,

    Frank
     
  8. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Les,

    Is that procedure with the use of HCA first? Also, I've heard this sequence is often cited without the key ingredient of letting the film sit for 5 minutes after each set of inversions -- that's not true?

    I'm hoping the answer to at least the first question is "no" because my wash routine is pretty much the same as yours, except I do let the film sit for a few minutes in between water changes.

    Thanks.
     
  9. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I can't speak for Les, but Ilford indicates their film does not need HCA before washing.
    This comes for David Carper at Ilford.
     
  10. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    AFAIK the biggest benefit of HCA is with fiber paper (fiber absorbs fixer); films and RC paper do not.

    Jorge O
     
  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Leon
    I've never used washaid and as I said in my first post I've never had a film go off on me since I started using the Ilford method.

    Poco
    I don't let my films sit in between changes of water, as far as I'm concerned it's just a waste of time that prolongs the process that I hate most in my photography.

    Frank B
    The method I posted is my own modification. I'm a former accountant who believes nothing that anyone says and have an unhealthy paranoia about making sure that my films are archival. I was told by a photographer at the beginning of my interest in photography to put a "slurp" of dilute hydrogen peroxide in the developing tank with the first water rinse after the film had been fixed to speed up the washing to a couple of minutes. Needless to say a few months later my films began to stain and were ruined. I learned a hard but good lesson with that experience.
     
  12. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Les's washing technic sounds interesting. I've not been aware of it at all. The conventional wisdom as i understood it was that one needed to leave the film washing until 12 full changes had occured....often 30 minutes or more. i've just cut to the chase and filled the tank (i use a daylight tank for 4x5 film just for washing after tray developing), sloshed the film, and emptied the tank 12 times. takes less than ten minutes and i've never had a problem. i like the idea of inversions though, however it won't work for my 4x5 negs.
     
  13. Leon

    Leon Member

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    thanks Les, although I was asking about prints rather than film - not sure how we got on to film... :smile:
     
  14. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Leon;
    somewhere in one of these thread there was a discussion about soaking and dumping prints. Bruce Barnbaum uses a method were he rinses each print then places in a tray for 10 minutes and then changes to a new tray with fresh water and then repeats for the third time. If i remember correctly he talks about that in his book "the art of photography an approach to personal expression". ALso , i do believe Aggie had a workshop with him and may speak up with more personal experince.

    I also know that Jonathan Bailey uses a soaking approach. Perhaps many others do but i can only speak to these for sure.
     
  15. Leon

    Leon Member

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    thanks for that Ann - it is very interesting and something I will look into more closely as I am always looking at ways in which we can make less impact on the environment.

    What i really wanted to ask was, in Archival washing of prints which are to be toned in eithe selenium or indirect sepia (FB in particular) is there any point using an HCA with an Alkaline fix like tf3 or tf4?
     
  16. lee

    lee Member

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    I don't know if this applies but I fix and then rinse the prints before I selenium tone and then I use sodium sulfite as a hypo clear and then in to the wash. No staining or longevity issues that I have ever seen. With alkaline fixers it surely won't hurt to run them thru HCA. Since I don't use alklaline fixers I can not say if it is really necessary.

    lee\c

    edited by lee\c to add more info that may not be revelant.

    lee
     
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  17. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    It has been a long time since i used T4 fixer as i hate to pay shipping on water. When i did, i didn't use HCA as I follwed the Formulary recommendations; and i was using their product.
    Now i use Ilford's Rapid fixer and I do use HCA before and after toning. I believe Ilford has standize the name to hypan but it is the same stuff.

    Don't know if this helps you are not. When I used T4 i did run some hypo check test and it tested just fine and i did follow the directions provided by PF which was not to use HCA.
     
  18. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    With both prints and film, the intial water rinse gets rid of most of the fixer on the surface. After that, removing the remaining fixer is primarily a diffusion process, so soaking in several water changes with occasional agitation works very well.

    As others have said, a non-hardening alkaline fixer will be easiest to remove. A slightly acidic non-hardening fixer will also wash out easily.

    A residual fixer test can be perfomed to verify that your washing process is archival for the film or paper you are processing.
    See: http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Archival/archival.html
     
  19. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Thanks for that, Les, but what's unhealthy about paranoia?! :wink:

    I'll add a couple more cycles to my own regime, although I live in a hard-water area and filtering sufficient water for a process run through a jug filter is a major pain! If I ever defect to the digital camp (not likely anytime soon) it'll be film processing that does for me!

    Thanks again,

    Frank
     
  20. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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  21. Andy Tymon

    Andy Tymon Member

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    [
    What i really wanted to ask was, in Archival washing of prints which are to be toned in eithe selenium or indirect sepia (FB in particular) is there any point using an HCA with an Alkaline fix like tf3 or tf4?[/QUOTE]


    Leon,
    no you don't have to use an hca with an alkaline fixer,in fact an alkaline fixer is better if you want to selenium tone your prints as this toner prefers an alkaline enviroment. I would recomend using a hca after selenium toning as selenium toner has a small amount of hypo in it.
    hope this helps
     
  22. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    Would Agfa qualify as "large brand"? If so, their FX-Universal Fixer (pH=about 7.5 when diluted for B+W film and paper) is reasonably priced and very good. I use it for everything.

    And, since it is made primarily for colour work, is probably going to stay on the market even if Agfa get rid of their B+W products.