Ilford washing technique

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by rmolson, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. rmolson

    rmolson Member

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    Ilford washing technique


    Recently I had the pleasure of getting the Film Developer Cookbook. I’ve been a working photographer and technician for over 60 years and I am still learning! One thing I found was on washing film ,the author makes a note on the Ilford techniques of 5,10,15 ,20 refills and dumps. He states that an error was made when the technique was published. There should be a five minute soak between cycles. I can easily believe this .As a DuPont tech rep once told me, DuPont tried for years to get photographers to use 72° degrees as a standard instead of 68. On the premise that many thermometers were not that accurate and hydroquinone in a formula lost activity quickly below 68° . Using 72° degrees would act as insurance against this and the difference was not enough to affect other chemical changes But every time they sent the data sheets to the printers they would change it back to 68° assuming it was a typo!.
    I have used a70 or 72 degrees for years as my standard and never encountered any problems ,The developing time was compensated of course for the difference .Any comments on the Ilford technique?
     
  2. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    It makes sense to allow a standing period between fills to allow more time for the contaminants to leach out of the emulsion, however many have used the Ilford method for many years without problems. Your description is slightly at variance with Ilfords by the way. Ilford say, and I quote: "After fixing, fill the spiral tank with water at the same temperature, +/– 5ºC (9ºF), as the processing solutions and invert it five times. Drain the water away and refill. Invert the tank ten times. Once more drain the water away and refill.
    Finally, invert the tank twenty times and drain the water away." Not so many refill/dumps as your describe.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2008
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    There is a long thread on this subject. One of Ilfords photo engineers publsihed a book in which he essentially repudiated this method to achieve the best wash.

    PE
     
  4. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I'm puzzled by that. I have always used the Ilford method and never had a problem. So if the Ilford engineer said this method was no good, what method did he recommend?
     
  5. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Continuous washing, according to Ron in earlier threads.:confused:
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Yes, according to Bill Troop and others, the Ilford proposal was made as a stop-gap during a water shortage in Britain a few decades back, but Mason, of Ilford gave the math to show that the 'Ilford' method does not achieve true arhcival quality. I'm not going back to rehash the math again here. Suffice it to say, Mason has refuted that methodology and Ilford has never revised the method so there it stands.

    What is worse is that there are several interpretations of the method going around that vary in detail, and this confuses the issue even more.

    PE
     
  7. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    1. Use the method that makes you happy.
    2. If you want the best longevity which has been tested by experts, use Ron's method.

    I use sort of a hybrid approach and wash for 20 - 30 minutes with changes of water every 5 minutes and agitation, but I don't use continuously running water. But I won't know how well the method works for another 100 years or so.
     
  8. Jon King

    Jon King Member

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  9. Photo Engineer

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    Well, I go by Mason's article which applies to film, RC paper, and FB paper. The article that Jon references above has only been tested on film. You do note that in the graph the hypo level never reaches zero and this is normal as stated by Mason and as found by Ctein. You need a little hypo left for good stability. You can overwash.

    PE
     
  10. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I've used the Ilford method for at least 20 years with my own modification, instead of 3 changes of water I use 5 changes and 5-10-20-10-5 inversions. The water is at 68f and the negatives I made all those years ago remain in pristine condition. I've also discussed this method with Ilford technical staff and the afforementioned Bill Troop and they all agreed that it was a perfectly sound method of washing negatives.
     
  12. Brian Jeffery

    Brian Jeffery Member

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    Hi Les, is there are reason why you've added 10-5 inversions onto the Ilford method?

    I ask because I, like many people, also use a modified Ilford wash sequence. I use 5-5-10-10-20-20. The reason I chose this was two fold:

    1: The water will only be able to absorb so much fixer etc and there will be more chemicals earlier in the wash sequence, so it makes sense to change the water more frequently at the beginning of the wash.

    2: If I miss a set of inversions out for any reason (I'm easily distracted), then it doesn't matter as I've got it covered by doing two of each.


    Brian
     
  13. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Hi Brian, just a belt and braces job. As I said in my post I spoke to people in the industry that I know and trust but being a former accountant :smile: I guess I added the extra inversions to be absolutely certain.
     
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  15. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

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    No error, no need for extra soaking, don't why he imagines there was one (or why he knows better than Ilford about it...) but there is published testing showing the Ilford method works (i.e. takes thiosulphate down to suitably low levels).
    One point: the method is designed for use after fixing with a non-hardening fix such as Ilford Rapid Fixer, if you use a hardening fixer it will not be suficient.
    As someone else has pointed out the Ilford method is not as you posted, check their data sheets for details.
     
  16. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

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    They may be going around but Ilford only seem to have one "interpretation" so by simply referring to their info there should be no confusion. You may be thinking of other methods entirely they indicate can be used (there are two other wash sequences I know of that they publish) but they are obviously different processes.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Dave;

    The data I report is from Mason of Ilford in his text! Next, I refer you to the talk by Beveridge of Ilford in Canada in 1985 or thereabouts on washing and image stability. These two, taken together, represent a complete repudiation of the method. In particular, note that the article referenced above refers only to film, not to FB paper which is MUCH harder to wash free of hypo. In fact, the front and back of FB paper should probably be tested to be sure.

    PE
     
  18. Photo Engineer

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    Well, see my last post. Mason and Beveridge give different interpretations as did our work at Kodak. Sorry.

    PE
     
  19. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

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    The OP was asking about film not FB paper. Not sure who mason & Beveridge are or what they have to say on the subject but obviously Ilford themselves have some confidence in the method (they seem to have been using it for over 20 years!) and there are independent tests showing it works - with non-hardening fixer only. EDIT: And this is probably where the confusion comes in. If you use a hardening fixer more washing is required, e.g. you mention Kodak, they recommend EDIT: rinse, wash aid treatment then 5 min continuous washing or 10 fill and dump cycles (in their data sheet "Processing KODAK PROFESSIONAL Black-And-White Films • ED-BWF", i.e. more washing than Ilford) but this is using a hardening fix. Any discussion of washing has to include what you are washing out! Kodak film data sheets seem to list a number of different fixers which all seem to be hardening types so I would expect them to recommend more washing.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2008
  20. Photo Engineer

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    Dave;

    See the other lengthy thread on this subject some months back. I give the differential equations developed by Mason, one of Ilford's research photo engineers on the subject of washing phot materials. It covers both film and paper.

    As you point out, Kodak suggests longer washing times, but actually these are for all fixes, as Kodak Rapid Liquid fix can be mixed with and without hardener. In any event, having spent years working on fixing and washing, I can say that the Ilford method asymptotically approaches the sweet spot described by Ctein but whether it reaches it is a fuzzy thing disagreed on by many. The Mason and Beveridge reports seem to think that the Ilford method falls just a bit short.

    Mason is L. F. A. Mason, Director of processing chemistry research at Ilford. He is author of the book "Photographic Processing Chemistry". Beveridge is one of his successors. I think their work is rather definitive and has been backed up by Haist and Mees and James. All of the photographic engineering textbooks tend to disagree to some extent with the Ilford method as published. It is at the low end of being satisfactory. That is my opinion as well.

    PE
     
  21. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

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    Thanks for that - and for the info on the Kodak materials, I am not a regular user of anything except D76 from them so don't know all their products. Well I guess if people want to add a few minutes to their wash times in the hope of adding a few years to the life of their negs they can - kind of like going to church to be on the safe side even if you're not really convinced - may not do any good but won't do any harm either :smile:
     
  22. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I basically do what Les does but I use time instead of inversions. 30 seconds,30seconds,30seconds,60,60.

    Isn't the whole point of the Ilford method that you have two choices with washing. Continous in which case very little fixer gets into the water at any time. Or batch. Trying to get the most fixer into the least amount of water. I always thought of batch washing like two step fixing. Step one does most of the job. Each remaining step has less work to do. At some point you hit a wall that the gain isn't worth doing more steps.
     
  23. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    For film, the Ilford method is backed up by Jobo which state to wash for 30 sec, dump and refill and wash for 30 sec and repeat 4 times.
    This is confirmed in France by conservation specialist which had written a book (unfortunatelly only in French) gathering all scientific evidence on conservation and conservation technique of photographic materials.
    For paper, the story is quite different and depend upon the base. On RC we are facing quite a film situation but on FB, washing out fixer by-products from the paper base is difficult.
    This is why Ilford, and it seems Agfa, recomended not to put too much by-product by reducing fixing times (using film strength concentrated fixer) and wash for a fex cycles on new water. (the fill and dump method). I once followed a workshop on darkroom practice given by a highly reputed printer in Paris (making a lot of prints for museum or exhibition) which had his washing technique scientifically backed by measuring the remaining fixer by-products in the prints (this destroys the print IRC) and he told us that one need to put the prints in 20°C water (clean ...) rotate them a few cycles and then squeegee them to remove as much water as possible and put them in another tray with clean water, and cycle for about 30 minutes to an hour depending on size and number of prints in the batch . This method involve a great deal of manpower to fill/empty trays, cycle prints, etc... so it is best for a huge darkroom with young fellows to train ;-)
    The Ilford method for washing film is not new, when I learned darkroom work in the earlies seventies, it was practiced into my camera club, and the negatives from that time are perfect... So it may be not so bad, isn't it ?
    Also, look at the processing sequence film goes through in minilab processing machines during C41 or E6 processing, given that color dyes are more fragile than metal silver....
     
  24. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Member

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    g'day all

    i can't believe that for all these years Ilford allowed the wrong info due to a possible "typo" or other misunderstanding

    i do the Ilford 5/10/20 thing then running water for at least 10 minutes, no problems in 20 years

    anyway, compare washing RC paper to washing film, RC only needs 2 minutes and surely it absorbs more chems than film which is totally plastic

    Ray
     
  25. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Ray, why the final running water for 10 minutes.:surprised: Don't you trust Ilford either?:sad:
     
  26. catem

    catem Member

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    I do the Ilford wash sequence with sometimes - not always - a little bit extra thrown in depending on mood & time, maybe a few inversions, maybe a little running water, and mainly because of threads like this which always unnerve me :sad::smile: