2 Questions: Neutral Odourless Fixer vs. Acid and Would I have any advantage with120?
I have a couple of things to ask the forum at large, the first one: Neutral Odourless vs. Acid fixer... Which one is the best to use in most peoples opinions? Personally I prefer Acid weather sodium or ammonium thiosulphate based... For one reason: Washing... Neutral fixer is so hard to wash out it takes such a long time... it tends to 'stick' to anything it is used on and washing is pain! Acid is much easier to wash out! Both seem to work just as well as each other but would I have an advantage longevity wise? I use a water stop so Acid probably poses an advantage for me in that respect anyway... 5 minutes is my average fixing time for prints and for film I fix for 10 - 15 minutes, under fixing in the past has proved deadly I also consider it exhausted after a film/printing session (up to 3 films them straight onto printing a few hours later)... Should I stick with a neutral odourless fixer for any other reason? Or is sticking with acid the way to go? HYPAM absolutely stinks as a concentrate but once mixed it has that lovely fixer smell rather than a strong smell of vinegar like the concentrate, which I dislike above all other smells apart from cheese.
Also, I do not think I will enlarge much bigger than 12x16 in the near future... And using ISO 100 AGFA APX or ilford FP4 I can very easily get grain-free enlargements at this size without any other problems... If I am shooting in dark conditions I usually use a flash so ISO100 is more than suitable for my needs. On the rare occasions I shoot in low light say on a dark street where a flash would be useless I would shoot in the ISO 1600 - 3200 range or push to ISO 400 from 100 with an extended shutter time... I found ilford PAN F50 plus posed no extra advantages for my needs and it seems very very delicate, squeegeeing with your fingers is enough to damage the negatives. I tend to have a lot of available light for most of my shooting conditions however it may come and I can usually enter into the higher F.Stop ranges without a problem so I get plenty of depth-of-field too.
Would I have any advantages at all by shooting 120 film or MF say 4x5? Or is 35mm still the way to go for me? If I did want to up my game with size there is the ADOX 20 option I could consider but for now most good quality ISO 100 - 125 films suit. Budget films are a no-go, grain is awful and the highlights tend to be rubbish! I do use a tripod if needed so going to lower ISOs doesn't seem to matter too much. Most fast motion I need to capture is done in daylight or in reasonable light. I only use good quality optics/lenses and a good camera so a cheap 120 holga would be a no go! I would rather an SLR type!
So in a nutshell: Acid Or Neutral Fixer and 35mm or 120/4x5
Seriously though. Stop obsessing over nothing. If you really want to know the answers, try a low odor fixer and borrow or rent a medium format (or 4x5) camera.
Everything I've read in the past has said that neutral fixer is easier to wash out of paper than acid. Certainly my own results, verified by HT-2 residual hypo test on FB paper, bear this out.
Do you recommend I use hypo clearing agents?
I have never used them before
Here's the bottom line....
Photographers all over the world has been using standard Kodak fixer (acid regular kind) for decades. Following that with HCA and regular washing, there hasn't been problems.
As to fix time, Ilford rapid fixer will fix it in 30 seconds (RC) to 60 seconds (FB) at 1:4 concentration. It washes off much easier than longer soaks. (according to "Way more than..." book) This is what I do. Two bath, HCA, and 30 minutes wash with low flow.
As to format, I mainly use 35mm and regularly print 11x14 with fine results. With crop factor, it's probably bigger than 12x16. MF will be a plus and 4x5 would be better but then again, why stop there... you could shoot 12x16 and contact print it. Bottom line is, where do YOU draw the line? Only you can tell.
Yes, do use HCA.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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Originally Posted by tkamiya
And when it comes to fix, I like to use what ever works the fastest. That's what works for me.
Wise words by commentators, so far.
Acid fixer takes more washing time/water volume than neutral and alkaline fixer and one isn't necessarily 'better' than the other.
HCA reduces wash time with fibre paper by upto a half and it isn't necessary with RC paper or film.
10-15 minutes film fix seems way too long and may, arguably, be detrimental to the image - look up over extended fixing times and washing. Far better to use a 2 bath fixing routine rather than a long soak in one bath - fixing time is dependent on the dilution of fixer and type of film - TMax and Delta take longer than FP4, for example.
If you are getting 'grain free' 35mm enlargements at 12x16, why change to MF or LF, you seem to have acheived something few others have: which developer are you using ?
Just a simplified take on some of the things you raise.
Regards, Mark Walker.
Seems my reply didn't go through :o I will opt for 2 bath fixing, fixing seems to have been where I've made the most learning curves it seems!
As for chimney finders question... I use Kodak D76 stock 1+0 usually... Rodinal if i want higher contrast, but i have not tried to enlarge one bigger than 8x10 with rodinal yet.Shoot only at box speed and add say 20 to 30 seconds to the development time... Ilford PAN and kentmere 100 and other cheaper ones will NOT be grain-free even at 8x10 and i find they will probably 'fall apart' as you get bigger they have so much grain i find they suit artistic use for that purpose but nothing serious... the best results were with AGFAPHOTO / AGFA APX 100 / rollei RPX 100 or ilford FP4 125... I stick to them two exclusively usually... I have tried others but haven't acheved the same result haven't tried the ADOX stuff which is rumoured to have very little grain... I haven't tried Kodak TMAX seriously either, only in a camera with a faulty shutter and overexposed every single photo on the roll ( sunlight, outdoors, the film was given to me) but good results might be achievable with that one too from reviews I have read, this is all ISO 100 stuff these results have been acheved with, overdevelopment with PAN F plus 50 blew out my highlights and resulted in a not-very-pleasing poor contrast image even by 30 seconds.I do wish to try TMAX though... I learned on the AGFA and FP4 stuff with a lot of trial and error to produce pleasing results to my eye, D76 I like because it seems a very good all rounder and rodinal, microphen is good too if you wish to push a bit but I am looking to try diafine, and perceptol (I will loose some speed with perceptol but to see what happens with grain)
If it makes a difference, I use a water stop. The way I do the process gives grain-free images at that size with a reasonable amount of contrast. Well you can just see it if you have your nose to the paper... But my boyfriend couldn't see it nor could one of my housemates even with their noses to the paper.
I prefer 645 for printing onto 12x16, because that way I frame the image in camera as I want it on paper, and I do not have to be aware of where I am going to crop. I would think 6x7 is a good format to use for 8x10 and 11x14. 35mm is the odd size that fits onto nothing except 4x6 postcards. As for ADOX 20 - I do not think the film is the only thing to worry about: There is also your camera's optics, the enlarger's optics, and your handling of both. It would take superb optics and technique to get more than what something like Acros 100 or TMax 100 can give for fairly little trouble. Then I'd rather just get a Pentax 6x7 with TMax 400 or whatever other film suits you. If I had the money I'd get a Mamiya 7 II rangefinder - there is nothing better in medium format, but the lenses are very expensive and the variety limited. I'll take the MF lenses any time of the day over the 35mm ones, to be honest. Only you can figure out what you do most, whether it requires you to be inconspicuous, whether you want to travel light, etc. Large format is a different ballgame. It is suited to studio and landscape where you have time to set up, focus, insert the film holder, remove dark slide, and so on, but very difficult to use for any action etc. Six frames would be a good trip. The ability to tilt and shift is a massive advantage for landscapers, though. Also, individual frame development can be useful in some cases. Per shot, it is five times more expensive than 6x7, and very time consuming, but the quality can be breathtaking. Is it quality or convenience or compromise that you want?
Yes, do use hypoclear. As for fixer, rapid fixer is fine unless you have a problem with the odour. My literature (multiple sources) states that neutral or alkaline fixer requires less washing than acid fixer, and I doubt that is based on hearsay alone. Even so, using hypoclear reduces the washing issue to a rather trivial one. If you can, use a two-bath fix and avoid over-fixing as that makes it more difficult to get the stuff out of the paper and may actually cause a slight amount of image degradation too. That said, not all can afford the space for a six tray wet train for 12x16 paper - I certainly can't and I have to adapt my workflow accordingly.
Quality is what I want, most of all, but i cant carry too much stuff, about what a medium sized rucksack can handle. My best lenses were given to me by my uncle who bought them in the 80s. including a sigma wide angle (miniwide II) and a 200mm zoom one. Plus a strange x2 magnifier which sits between camera and lens, but this seems to degrade image quality. and to my eye they give lovley results, the miniwide II being my favourite, it is also good for macro use and gives pleasing results in a party setting too. Whereas some of the others I have give less pleasing results. If it came to size of equipment 4x6 would be the biggest, I do not own a car at 17 and tend to use public transport to get to locations. I have a Pentax zoom lens and a Pentax wide angle lens too. I also have a couple of Helios ones the standard ones but they are less pleasing to my eyes.
I am willing to spend a reasonable amount on kit.
I have enough darkroom space for 12 x 16 trays but three would be my limit!
I am going to also order some HCA.