To Harden or Not to Harden. That....

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Deckled Edge, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

    Messages:
    446
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Location:
    Manhattan Be
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    For the last few years I have been buying liquid fixer and using it successfully for sheet film, big sheet film, and for paper. Last week, while gazing reflectively at the shelf in the camera store, I spied a bottle of hardener for the fixer. Knowing I would soon be making a crop of interpositives and enlarged negatives, I impulsively bought the bottle and came home and dumped the required amount into the fresh fixer for that day's work--film only. The results? I don't know.
    Are my interpositives and negatives now bullet proof, scratch proof, and archival, or have I just added a little sulfuric placebo to my recipe?
    Anyone convinced that hardener is a worthwhile addition to film fixing?
    [Specifically I'm using Efke PL25 in trays developed one at a time. Washed in an archival washer vertically. The fixer is Lauder 874 acid fixer and their hardener.]
     
  2. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

    Messages:
    3,221
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    S.E. New Yor
    I'm curious about this too. I never used hardener with modern films, Ilford and Kodak but I have been experimenting with traditional emulsions like Efke and Classic and I'm wondering if I would benefit from adding hardener for these films. Thanks for bringing it up Glenn.
     
  3. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

    Messages:
    1,723
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Colorfull, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I continue to use hardner, have suffered no ill efects from using it. Do at times wonder why so many feel that it is a waste of time. I have done no tests on the subject, but find no reason not to continue it's use.

    Respectfully,
    C Webb
     
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Member

    Messages:
    960
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2004
    Location:
    Pittsburgh,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is my understanding (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) that the main advantage to hardener is to make the film tougher when the film is wet. Once the film is dry, I find that all of my film (Efke included) is plenty tough.

    The one reason that I don't keep hardening fixer around is that a print that has been through a hardening fixer is much more difficult to tone than one that was fixed without hardener. My nephew and I were playing around with some toners in my kitchen the other day. I love the look of Selenium toner on B&W prints, and I popped a contact print I'd made the day before into the toner for about five minutes. The Dmax increase and the "glow" imparted into the print were obvious and very attractive. As my print was washing, he popped a print he'd made at his school lab (where hardening fixer is the only thing availalbe) into the Selenium. After 20 minutes we realized that nothing was going to happen. (We know it wasn't the toner, because I used it thereafter for other non-hardened prints.)

    If hardener is working for you, I see no down-side to continuing to use it. Personally I don't bother with it; I'm just extra-careful with soft films like Efke when they're wet. I did once scratch an Efke PL100 8x10 negative as I was retrieving it for the wash...hardener might have saved me a lost shot that day.
     
  5. Deckled Edge

    Deckled Edge Member

    Messages:
    446
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2004
    Location:
    Manhattan Be
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    In order to answer my own question, I went to the mountain. Ansel Adams' The Negative states that hardener is especially useful to protect fragile emulsion at higher temperatures. He stated that he uses 2/3 less hardener in his fixer than called for, as his temperatures rarely exceeded 70F. The downside of some hardeners, notably those using potassium alum, make washing more difficult. As we all dread the underwashed negative, this alone would make me hesitant to use much.

    Do you heavy users of Efke or J&C find that the emulsions are fragile enough that use of a hardener is justified? Are we adding an expense and risking muck on dried negatives for nothing?
     
  6. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,702
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Evening,

    I know that this will be a little tangential to the original aim in this thread, but I'd like to hear from others about a related matter.

    I normally used a hardening fixer for film, although I know it may not be essential. I have also, on a few occasions, used a fairly strong KRST solution to intensify a negative. I did this without actually thinking about my negatives being fixed with hardener. I got some useful intensification with the KRST, but I wonder if the effect would have been greater had the film been fixed without the hardener.

    Anyone with experience on this??

    Konical
     
  7. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I consider myself a heavy user of Efke 100, Efke 25 and J&C Classic 400. I use these films in 120 Roll, 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 sheet sizes. My primary developer is Pyrocat-HD. I also use the PC TEA and Metol C TEA film developers. I use water as my stop bath and I use a non-hardening alkaline fixer. I do not have problems with scratches or other damage to my emulsion.

    I see no evidence that these films require an emulsion hardener.
     
  8. Nigel Harley

    Nigel Harley Member

    Messages:
    41
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Location:
    Havant, Hamp
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi all..... what is hardening fixer? I often read articals about ensuring using non-hardening fixer.... but I do not know the difference.

    I currently use Ilford's Hypam fixer - is this non-hardening?

    Nigel
     
  9. djklmnop

    djklmnop Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Yeah, but for film, chemicals don't absorb into the base like they do with fiber print. So there isn't much to wash off as there is on a print. I use hardener for neggies, but I'm still undecided for prints.