To harden or not to harden....

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by gnashings, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I have been told, that I should always use hardener fixers for Kodak B&W products. Problem is, I really like my Ilford Rapidfix, which does not harden, and I don't like the additional cleaning bath required after the hardening fix (mainly because I am lazy...:wink:).

    My question is: what ill effect will I see with a roll of tmax or trix developed in lets say Rodinal, stopped with water and fixed with Ilford Rapidfix, then washed thoroughly with water? Is the hardener really something I should concern myself with too much?

    I have been sticking to the recommended methods tot he letter, not wanting to ruin my kodak negatives, but if I can safely treat them like all the other film I use, it would be great.

    Thanks for all your help in advance,

    Peter.
     
  2. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Fix

    Gnashings-not to worry about the fixer you are using. I would reccommend the use of a hypoclearing solution though. It only takes 1 minute and will contribute to the longevity of your negatives.
    Regards, Peter
     
  3. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    And treating in hypoclear cuts down on the wash time and water consumption.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Hardener in the fixer protects the emulsion when wet. If you're not washing sheet film in a rotary drum washer (probably not a good idea to begin with), I don't think you need a hardener. I haven't used hardening fixer for film for some years.
     
  5. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Modern emulsions are prehardened and do not need a hardening fixer. Conventional emulsions, the so called "silver rich" or "old technology" films, may require hardening. If one is experiencing damage then in this case it is probably better to use a chrome alum stop bath rather than a hardening fix. Chrome alum provides far more hardening then the alum used in fixers.
     
  6. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I don't use hardening fixer with either film or paper - haven't for many years.

    Hardeners make film and print washing to archival standards more difficult and water consumptive. Hardening fixers also are not appropriate for any prints that you intend to tone (Selenium, Gold, etc).

    Wash aids are a good idea. They are basically solutions of sodium sulfite and some include calcium chelating agents (sodium citrate, sodium hexametaphosphate, etc.). A good mix-it-yourself wash aid is 20 to 30 grams of sodium sulfite dissolved in a liter of water.
     
  7. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Peter,

    Good news! While this has been a matter of far more debate than it's worth, a great many people process and print Kodak film successfully without using a hardening fixer.

    Neal Wydra
     
  8. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I very recently started using Hardener in Kodak Rapid Fix because I have heard that the Efke films that I have been using lately have softer emulsions that the modern films. I also theorize that it would help prevent minor grain clumping from post-fixer temperature variations (wash, wetting agent, drying)
     
  9. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I ordinarily do not use hardening fixer for prints unless the paper being used show benefits from its use. Some papers and water supplies will make physical damage to prints much harder to prevent than others. Also the type of toning process used may make a hardener worthwhile.

    For negatives, although modern film is pretty hardy while dry and better than 30 years ago while wet may benefit from the use of hardener. It is primarily determined, in my opinion, on the enlarging light source being used. If you use a diffusion source for enlarging small defects will be much less evident. If you use an opal bulb with condensers small defects will show with more prominence. If you print with a point light source any little defect will be presented in all of its ugly glory. Then also to be considered is the degree of enlargement. If you like to make 11x14 or 16x20 prints from 35mm negatives then defects or damage become more visible. If you use processes like bleach and redevelop in pyro or other intensification or reduction additional protection using hardening fixer is additional insurance.

    Therefore I am of the opinion that hardening negatives is a good choice for ME..you have to decide if it is a good choice for you. 2% sodium sulfite or hypo clear is a good idea. In any case film is easily washed. To be on the safe side give additional washing. If you use a dump and refill method of film washing I am of the opinion that leaving the negative in agigtated water a few extra seconds that have been hardened will give some minor additional assurance of clean negatives. Filling your tank with just enough water to cover your film and agigtating it for 10 seconds and dumping and refilling it thru 15 cycles will provide very well washed film according to the retained fixer tests that I have run....I have in line 5 micron filters for my water. If you are washing a 35mm 36 exposure film 250cc will cover the film 15 cycles of dumping and refilling will use about 1 gallon of water and take about 8 minutes. For a 120 roll 2 gallons and very similar times.
     
  10. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I use Efke 100 and Efke 25 as my two low speed films (35mm, 120 rollfilm and sheet film thru 8x10). My developer is Pyrocat-HD - which is a proportionally staining and tanning developer.

    I fix all of my film in a non-hardening rapid fixer.

    I carefully control all of my processing temperatures.

    I have experienced no problems with scratches or any other types of emulsion damage (reticulation, etc.) with these Efke films.

    BTW my processing philosophy assumes that I am going to use my negatives to make high magnification enlargements. As a consequence, I take special care with solution and drying filtration, etc. to ensure that my negatives are clean and defect free. Extending this philosophy to 8x10, it means that I do not need to spot my Azo contact prints.
     
  11. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Scratches

    I'll second what Tom said and I have also used the PL100 in Xtol 1:1 with no scratch problems although the pyrocat will harden the negative a bit on its own. If the Efke used to sratch alot I haven't seen it in recent batches.
    Best, Peter
     
  12. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    You every washed your film in 90+ degree running cold water?

    I use hardener in all my film fixes.
     
  13. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Lee, If I had to do high temperature film processing, I would probably do the same as you.
     
  14. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Thank you allfor the information - I have learned a lot and reallyappreciate the input.
    I live in southern Ontario, Canada - even in the summer, tap water is no more than 22, 23 degrees Celsius - so that is not an issue.
    I see now that its not as simple a matter as "with this manufacturer you use this, with that the other..." - so I will have to give this issue a bit more thought. Being a realtive beginner to the darkroom, I do try to use the KISS principle - minimize the variables so that my mistakes are easier to track...so simplicity has been something I have tried to keep in my processes (mainly for that reason alone).
    I'm just glad to know that I can develop some Trix in Rodinal and fix it with Ilford Rapid fix and not have any inclement results.
    Thanks again,

    Peter.