Diluting Kodak Fixer?
A friend of mine who has a lot of experience (and thus my respect) recently suggested that I try diluting Kodak Fixer, the powder stuff (not rapid fixer, KODAFIX or Polymax; just the regular powder fixer), at a 1:1 dilution and fix for 10 minutes, but not re-use it as much. As he stores a gallon in many smaller bottles, this keeps mixing the used fixer with the unused fixer and stores almost all of it in fully filled bottles, ostensibly increasing the shelf life of the solution. He usually knows his business so I figured I'd give it a try. I did and the negs appear to have come out fine, but the one thing that I can't tell from a quick little test is whether this would have effects on the archival quality of the film. Theoretically, I was thinking that it ought to work, because there ought to still be enough reactants in the solution to fix the film, but what do you think? How would doing this affect the long-term stability of the developed film?
I'm assuming you'll get a bunch of "skimping on chemistry is false economy" responses, so let me be the first to agree with them
You are best off following Kodak's instructions to the letter. While your method may (or may not) work optimally, you need to do proper testing to determine that. Did your friend give you data on this with respect to revised fixing capacities, storage life, washing times etc?
Fixation is a fairly complex process, and it impacts washing times too. Simply extending time in a diluted fixer is not necessarily producing the same result even if the film comes out initially looking fine - especially if you are reusing the fixer. This is even more critical when it comes to fixing and washing prints.
Commercial fixers from Kodak and Ilford are scientifically formulated/tested, properly balanced formulas. Use as directed.
My two cents.
If all else fails, Read the Instructions!
Kodak Fixer is strictly as-is. Great stuff, but use it like it says.
If you can't afford kodak, buy something cheaper or make your own (not fun and I don't recommend it).
I know what I want but I just don't know how to go about gettin' it.-Hendrix
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A bit of advice -- never ask your friend for advice.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Well he's a friend that I've known my entire life, and he actually has more experience than I do. He's older than I am and he's always been a mentor to me -- he was the one who got me into film in the first place, so that's why I was considering his method. But yeah, I guess it's pretty solid just to follow the instructions. I'll let him do his thing, and I'll go back to the book. That'd probably be the safest. Thanks again guys.
Last edited by dhkirby; 05-21-2013 at 11:41 AM. Click to view previous post history.
My binder full of spectacularly screwed up negatives were all sponsored by dramatically modifying the manufacturer's directions. Let's see there was the uneven development with stand developing. Then there was uneven developing because of using a water stop bath. There was inadequate development because the water was too cold. There was the air bells because I bought and mixed up my own chemistry from Photographers Formulary and didn't realize without adding in a surfactant I would be in for air bell city. The list goes on and on.
Interestingly my colleague who had no interest in fiddling with different chemistries, developing techniques, exotic films, etc has a binder full of negatives they developed perfectly in lowly D-76 in a school darkroom robotically following directions on the wall and never bothering to understand or question them.
There are a lot of methods that people follow that may not be "best practice", but they are the way they've always done things. The rub is that other details of the workflow that have been adapted to the non-standard practice may get left out in the retelling.
As long as it is fixed sufficiently, film doesn't suffer much from extended time in fix, but most people like to keep fiber paper in fix for the minimum possible time to limit the fix by-products that end up in the paper fibers. So by using more dilution you are theoretically making it more difficult to wash your prints adequately, even though the film would probably be just fine. Fixer lasts until it has taken up its limit in silver, so diluting it doesn't really buy you anything. But, if you want to depart from the label recommendations you should also do tests for retained silver and retained fix, only with that testing will you know what works and have the information you need to determine what the possible benefit might be.
Your friend's method may work and in fact, may work very well. I just don't know and there isn't any data to support one way or the other.
BUT... for what purpose would you want to modify what Kodak says? They researched and tested it in their professional lab by chemists that do this kind of thing. Mixed as instructed, a gallon of fixer processes 100 regular rolls of films. Instruction says 2 months but it actually works far longer than that, like 6 months+.
Do you need more capacity than THAT?
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?