From experience and testing, I know that the fill & dump method can be helpful if used in conjunction with the traditional constant flow method but, if dumps are too frequent, it wastes more water. As has been pointed out, fixer rinses out by diffusion. If you dump water too soon, your are dumping water that could have taken a lot more fixer. That said, I do totally drain my print washer a couple times during the wash but I have well water and have no shortage.
Many years ago, before I had a print washer, I experimented with print washing. I found a method where I stacked trays in a waterfall configuration where prints were first placed in the bottom tray and then transferred upstream when more prints were added. What this accomplished was it reused water from the upstream tray which had cleaner prints in it. The top (last) tray was fresh water. This was a rather cumbersome setup but it worked extremely well and test proved it. In fact, this principle is (was) used in a least one commercially available print washer in which the water moved sequentially from one chamber to the next, reusing the water for prints that had more fixer on them. It's a good idea but, in practice, it could involve more print handling. For many years, I use regular print washers which are easier to use in that you load them once and that's it. There is no moving of prints around.
Two ways to greatly reduce fiber-based print washing times is to be sure to use hypo clearing agent and to give the print a good rinse before it goes into a washer. I spray them off with a hand-held sprayer before putting them in the washer.
As other's have pointed out, the Ilford method is another option. I have used it but I still prefer the traditional 2-fixer bath procedure.
For film, I use one of those fill & dump washers which wastes water but I don't have a shortage of water.
I agree with those here who say that the most efficient method of washing prints is done in a print washer with a low flow rate and a periodic dump and refill, especially near the beginning of the wash cycle. If I lived in an area where water supply was an issue and I didn't have a print washer, I would use the Ilford method and hypo clearing and then rinse the print thoroughly followed by a series of water baths where the prints were allowed to sit between dumps. Agitation is fine but there is no need for constant or violent agitation. Just make sure the prints are not sticking together. I would dump more frequently during the first soaks. Since I have a print washer, I would essentially do the same thing except that I would use the compartments of my washer instead of trays.
For film, I would do essentially the same thing. In fact, that is basically the old Kodak recommended method for washing film and prints when water is scarce.
Again, thanks to all. I do use a print washer, and will start to use the fill and dump method. Apochromatic, I too water the garden with the wash water, this just means it won't get as much as it used too.
A Favorite Quote. One From Fred Picker.
Quote: "No running water No agitation! Archival washing
requires time, clean water, and print separation"
Read all or some more about it. I'm with Fred. Dan
Hypo clear reduces the amount of water needed to wash film and/or prints.
Most people forget that you have to wash out the hypo clear and that takes time and water as well.
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Thanks Simon, I usually wash RC prints for 4 minutes, so I will remember that next time. I use Ilford`s rapid non-hardening fixer as recommended at the 1+4 dilution.
Originally Posted by Simon R Galley
Film is easier to wash than fibre papers. I just let the film sit in water for 5 minutes, dump, add water and another 5 minute sit, dump...and then two more times. Before I do all of this, the film gets a run through HCA.
TMY-2, Jobo 3010 tank, four washes
I just calibrated my washing method. I tested with Photographers' Formulary Residual Hypo Test (cat. no. 03-0150). The test method is to wash your film however you want to, then soak a piece of clear film (that's completed your process of course) in the Residual Hypo Test solution for three minutes. The less stain in the test sample after three minutes, the better the wash.
My process: 5x4 TMY-2, Jobo CPP-2, Jobo 3010 tank, 30 rpm, 20C. Ten sheets at a time in one liter of XTOL 1:3, dilute Kodak Indicator Stop (because I have a ton of it laying around), Kodak Rapid Fixer (no hardener), then washing:
Four washes in the 3010 tank on the Jobo at 30 rpm reversing every 2+ revolutions like normal. Washes of 500ml distilled water, for 1, 1, 2, and 4 minutes. NO HYPO CLEAR used. Just those four washes.
For testing in my last film run I ran an unexposed sheet. I cut a corner off this processed sheet for the Residual Hypo Test.
Test results: No stain detected (best result possible). I placed the cut corner on top of the rest of the sheet and still couldn't detect any stain. Even when looking at it on a light table.
My conclusion is that the "Ilford wash method" works very well indeed for my workflow. Total wash water for 10 sheets of 5x4 film is just two liters of (distilled) water, or 200ml per 5x4 sheet. Pretty efficient I think.
My secondary conclusion is that every workflow is different, and the only way to really know if you are washing your film (or paper) sufficiently is to test your process.
I remember reading an earlier thread that recommenced two test, not just one. Made sense for me.
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson
"And, the use of the silver nitrate test for hypo and silver sulfide for silver is a good pairing of tests to check the quality of the wash."
Reduced print washing times are one thing and one's time
Originally Posted by ZoneIII
spent in seeing to a thorough wash is another. As for myself
the prints can take all day as long as I have not expended
but little time in seeing to their being clean. The following
workflow requirers only two trays and some thin
polyester batting or similar material.
Prints from a very dilute one-shot fix are placed into a hold/soak
tray; each print bottom and top with separator. So far I've spent
no time washing the prints. The most is made of the hold/soak
water. The water is drained into a second tray and stirred.
The prints and separators from the first hold/soak tray
are transferred to the second. The transfer of water
and prints takes only a few minutes.
One or two additional fresh water transfers are made. Each
transfer being doubled so as to make the very most of the
least amount of water. Weather one or two the last soak
is overnight. The last transfer is made early in the day
with a short last soak following.
I call it the Alternate Two Tray Still Water Diffusion Method.
THE LEAST water way to wash. See my just previous post
this thread. Fred Picker endorsed. Dan