negatives becoming more purple each time I develop, fixer deteriorating?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Aerial, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. Aerial

    Aerial Member

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    I recently developed my first roll of 120 fp4 in years. Straight away I noticed that the film base has a strong purple cast. At first I thought it might had to do with the different format although that doesn’t seem likely because as far as I know 120 and sheet film are exactly the same, right? (Have used fp4 in 4x5 until now)

    However, while browsing through my negatives I noticed that my fp4 4x5 negatives also have developed a slight purple hue over time, that is, older negatives are neutral and more recent negatives are more and more purplish.

    I’m using a 5 litre bottle of Amaloco x89 extrafix (with at least 3 litres left). Previously I used Ilfor Rapid Fix and never ran into any problems. I guess this means that my fix concentrate is deteriorating and that I should throw it away? I fixed the 120 film for about 1:30 min with the clearing time being aprox 30 sec. (I checked this afterwards to make sure I didn’t underfix the film). I haven't changed my washing method.

    Will the purple cast cause problems in the future considering that I fixed the negatives long enough? Should I slightly re-fix them in another fixer (and risk overfixing)?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. dosilverhalide

    dosilverhalide Member

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    The only time I had purple negatives, new fixer cured it.
     
  3. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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  4. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Fixer does go bad eventually, but the stock solutions are usually very long lived. The working solutions last a fair amount of time (maybe 2 weeks and 60 4X5 sheets per liter).8 If you don't develop often, a good policy is to too out the fixer after each session. Another possibility is stain, either from contamination or something in the water.
     
  5. peteyj10

    peteyj10 Member

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    I notice I get that problem in 4x5 sometimes if I don't do a presoak. A lot of the anti halation layer comes off with the pre soak, and it turns the water a dark purple. Some of that layer may be left over and that could be what you see.
     
  6. momus

    momus Member

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    I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you will need to refix the negs, assuming fixing is the issue, for the full amount of recommended time after doing a clip test or using fresh fixer. One thing you didn't mention is how long you washed the negs. I shoot Tri-X mostly, which is known for the purple color, and one thing I noticed is that when I wash them for 30-35 minutes in my tank w/ a hose that goes to the bottom they're usually fine, but in winter when the tap water is colder I have to wash them longer to get the purple out. In Kodak Rapid Fixer I fix for 5 minutes.
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I'd say that a 1:30 min fixing is too short. It might be OK if the fixer is totally fresh i.e. the first film through it but not for subsequent films. I'd fix for 5 mins with Ilford films and maybe at least 50% longer for TMax. You have to fix for a long time to overfix. Absolutely no problem for up to 10 mins.

    pentaxuser
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    There is a relationship between fixing and a purple stain, but under-fixing isn't the only possible cause.

    It may well be true that 90 seconds may be enough time to fully fix the film, while not long enough to allow the dies or other causes of the purple to diffuse out of the gelatin.

    I use Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent as a wash aid to cut down on my wash times. As I understand it, the HCA also aids in eliminating the possibility of a purple stain.

    If the film is fully fixed, the purple tinge doesn't hurt anything.
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Matt it sounds as if his problem is the increasingly purple hue which isn't present in his earlier negs when I infer his fixer was fresher. I agree that a purple hue immediately after processing which remains as a steady hue isn't a worry but if his later films of presumably the same type exhibit a coloured hue that wasn't present in his earlier processed films then he might have something to worry about in terms of adequate fixing.

    pentaxuser
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You need to fix much longer. Refix, wash and dry all of your film, otherwise it will start to fade.

    Your fixer is also weakening.
     
  11. Aerial

    Aerial Member

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    Thanks for all the answers. The fix manufacturer advises 1-2 minutes in the fix. I fixed for slightly more than three times the clearing time (as suggested by Anchell&Troop) so I believe the film should be properly fixed.
    However, upon a closer reading of the Amaloco guidelines I remembered that the use of a stop bath is mandatory for x89 fixer. Since it had been a while since I developed film I automatically reverted to my old procedure with a running water stop bath. I guess that might have to do something with the purple cast, although it doesn’t explain the gradual increase in tint for my older negatives (for which I did use a stop bath).

    I guess I’ll get some new fix and refix the negs and give them run through some hypo as well. Strange though, since my current bottle isn’t that old.
     
  12. Colin DeWolfe

    Colin DeWolfe Member

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    I suspect that the recommended 1-2 minutes for fix that they recommend is directed to fixing paper.
     
  13. Aerial

    Aerial Member

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    These are the times:
    [TABLE="width: 500"]

    dillution

    film

    RC

    Fibre


    1+4

    1-2 min

    0,5-1 min

    1-2 min


    1+7

    3-5 min

    1-1,5 min

    2-3 min


    1+9

    -

    1,5-2 min

    3-5 min

    [/TABLE]

    from (sorry, this is in dutch):
    http://amaloco.nl/amal_nl_x55_x89.htm
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The efficiency of the fixer might relate to the pH of the gelatin. If so, the lack of an acidic stop bath might be a part of the issue. And if the fixer isn't well buffered, its pH might be changing due to the minor amounts of developer carry-over that inevitably come with a plain water rinse instead of a stop bath.
     
  16. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Fixer is the same thing as hypo. Hypo is an old fashioned term for fixer.

    Hypo Clearing Agent is a Washing aid that helps to remove fixer or hypo.
     
  17. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Ariel,

    Your answers are all in the discussion linked to above. This is an ongoing topic and has been dealt with a lot.

    If I might summarize and edit the whole discussion according to my understanding:

    First, consensus is that the pink cast in many films exhibit even after seemingly adequate processing come from sensitizing dyes that are difficult to wash out. A very slight pink/purple cast can be ignored if you are sure your processing is good. However, more than just a little or increasing discoloration is a sign of inadequate fixation and you should re-fix and rewash any negatives that exhibit more pink/purple than benchmark negatives processed more than long enough in fresh fixer.

    Most of us have a strategy for dealing with the pink cast that includes longer fixing times, use of a wash aid and extended wash times in some combination.

    Fixing for longer will not damage negatives and is likely the most effective way to get rid of the pink. Since film is coated on a waterproof base, fixing times can be safely extended to 2-3 times the manufacturer's recommended maximum with no ill effects. Yes, fixing too long will begin to bleach film, but this effect shows up only after really long times; I've fixed film in rapid fixer for 15 minutes with no noticeable bleaching. FWIW, I fix Tri-X and T-Max negatives for 6 minutes in fresh rapid fixer using two-bath fixing (3 minutes in each bath). Your 90 seconds of fixing likely isn't doing the job.

    Wash-aid helps too, but don't use it if you use a staining developer (pyro, PMK, Pyrocat, etc.) since it will remove the stain.

    I wash for a minimum of 30 minutes (but I don't use a wash-aid since I use a staining developer; if I did, 20 minutes would likely do the job).

    Some observations on fixing and fixer exhaustion in general:
    Yes, do your clip tests! And do them before each batch to arrive at a minimum fixing time. Some think that one clip test gives them the time for the entire capacity of the fixer. Wrong! Check the clearing time before every batch to be sure.

    Most importantly, a clip test is useful to see if your fixer is exhausted. Discard the fixer when the clearing time is double that in freshly-mixed fix.

    I think that three-times the clearing time is the absolute minimum fixing time. After reading lots, especially work by Michael Gudzinowicz (who has a rather erudite discussion of extending fixing times for film that is really convincing), I have decided that extended fixing of film is the best way to go to both ensure adequate fixing and deal with the pink. Even though my films all clear in well under 60 seconds (usually 35-45 seconds) in rapid fix, I still give a total of 6 minutes fixing time (divided between two baths; another practice gleaned from the work of Gudzinowicz). This is more than twice as long as the "minimum" time, but not long enough to do any damage and it gets rid of the pink.

    Using an acid stop bath with acid fixers (especially if you are storing the fixer for later re-use) is best practice and ensures optimum longevity of the fixer. Even the alkaline fixers TF-4 and TF-5 were designed to be used with an acid stop. If you are carrying over a lot of developer to your fixer, you are likely changing its pH and its effectiveness (although a clip test should show this).

    Fixer has a lifespan as well as a capacity. Keep track of how long you store your fixer. Concentrated in full bottles last a long time; working solutions in half-full bottles not nearly as long.

    Finally, Fixer Is Cheap: When in doubt, mix fresh.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus
     
  18. Lamar

    Lamar Member

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    Since I took the advice from knowledgeable members here and started clip testing before each fix I've seen how fix time changes after each use. I mixed up a fresh batch of Kodak Fixer about two months ago. The 1 liter working bottle I use has had 6 rolls of 135-36 Tri-X through it. The first roll clip test had a 3.5 min clearing time. The last roll I did this weekend had a 5.75 minute clearing time. Definitely do a clip test!
     
  19. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Doremus,

    Where did you hear that wash aid / hypo clear removes stain? It's the first time I've come across that information. I'm surprised by it. Thanks.
     
  20. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    The Book of Pyro by Gordon Hutchins is my source for this, but I don't have my copy at hand to give you a page numger.

    Anchell's The Darkroom Cookbook, 3rd ed. also mentions that sodium sulfite inhibits image-forming stain in staining developers. On page 62 in the discussion on pyro developers it says, "In any event, avoid using hypo clearing agent (HCA) when using pyro developers as the high concentration of sulfite in them will remove the stain." It also recommends using fixers with a low sulfite content for the same reason.

    I believe it to be common knowledge as well.

    And I know first-hand that selenium toning a pyro negative to try to increase contrast will strip all the stain from it, thus negating any effect from the attempted intensification.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  21. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I will second this comment. Acidic stop baths are really good at stopping development, and preventing problems that may occur if you don't properly neutralize all of the developer before it goes into the fixer.
     
  22. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    Thanks, Doremus.

    I've got the book of pyro somewhere down in the darkroom - I'll have to look through it. It does come as a surprise, because I know Sandy King used a 1% sodium sulphite solution as part of his washing protocol, and wrote specifically that neither that nor prolonged washing influenced the stain. I suppose I should see for myself though - I've got a lot of film to process right now so it's as good a time as any.

    Sorry for derailing the thread.
     
  23. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    A presoak, fesh fixer, longer fixing time and a longer wash should give you clear negatives.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    +1
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    +2

    You can also run replenished fixer regime, which basically keep the fixer at the same activity forever.
     
  26. effae

    effae Member

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    What do you guys consider a longer wash to be? I've gone by the instructions, and thus wash my kodak films for 30min and ilfords for 10mins. I rinse both in distilled water for an additional 5min to avoid stains. My tri-x films are still rather purple, but I recon they're within normal limits.