If you want something off the shelf, consider Agfa FX-Universal, a neutral (pH=7.2) ammonium thiosulphate based fixer that is primarily sold for colour processing but is ideal for B+W if you want minimal odour and reasonable price.
They are now packaging it here (Australia) with B+W dilutions for film and paper.
If you want to mix cheaply, sodium thiosulphate and sodium sulphite are all that is really necessary.
To this, you could add ammonium chloride or ammonium sulphate to make it a bit more like rapid fixer.
The other ingredients that are in most formulas are for hardening, including acids. It is acid that makes most fixers smell strongly of SO2.
Have a look at Lloyd Erlick's site for interesting articles (and photos!)
Any rapid fixer has ammonia in it.
If you want the least possible smell, go the hypo-sulfite route.
Well, you all certainly didn't make the choice any easier! Thanks for that Agfa curveball! I think I'll try TF-3 and see how it goes...
OF-1 (Ole's Fix numero uno)
About 1½ cup sodium thiosulfate
about two spoonfuls (heaped) of sodium sulfite
a dollop of sodium bicarbonate
three teaspoons ammonium chloride
in one liter water - or two.
Faster than TF-3, less smelly than TF-4, lots cheaper than both.
Exact measurements still to be determined.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I got all I need for TF-3 from the Formulary...
I'm wondering if I should recycle the bottle I used to keep working Ilford Rapid Fix. Other than washing it out real well, is there anything else I should do?
Any thoughts on how long working solution TF-3 can be expected to keep? I guess I'll find out, but it would be nice to have some basic idea...
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I use two bottles for fix: one for film, one for paper. When the fixer is getting old I discard it, rinse the bottle, and mix new. No problem at all - unless your fixer has gone bad enough to leave a deposit of sulfur or silver compounds in the bottom. Which shouldn't happen...
Originally Posted by Jan Brittenson
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Thanks Ole! I rinsed the bottle a few times, then filled it up and let it sit for a few hours just in case.
Looks pretty good... Cleared 400TX leaders in about 45 seconds. I rinsed the test leaders in a cup for about a minute (just for testing), photo-flo'ed them as usual, wiped off excess water, then stuck a paper pH litmus strip to the emulsion to draw out whatever is in there during drying. Perfectly neutral, even with my use of plain filtered tap water. So with 3-5 minutes fix and even the Ilford water-saver rinse routine, this stuff should be real good. Haven't tested it on paper yet (I rent darkroom time by the hour, not sure it will be practical there).
I noticed a little ammonia smell during mixing and pouring, but nothing much really. Probably less in quantity than the acid smell of Ilford RF, but a little more noticable -- perhaps because it's different. Smells like Salmiak candy for thoise who are familiar with that.
Did anyone mention that Troop and Anchell published errata pages for the Film Developing Cookbook, and the formula for TF-3 was changed?
The original formula called for 800ml of ammonium thiosulfate 57-60%, 50g of sodium sulfite, and 20g of sodium metaborate, per liter of stock solution.
The errata sheet calls for 800ml of ammonium thiosulfate 57-60%, 60g of sodium sulfite, and 5g of sodium metaborate.
From my expereince both formula appear to have worked equally well, but the original one had a much nastier odor.
I've been using for film a formula similar to OF-1, but replacing ammonium chloride with ammonium sulfate, and adding some sodium metabissulfite so it's close to neutral.
As Ole said, works like a charm.
I just used TF-3 for real. Real interesting results! I developed two rolls of 120 Delta100 in Microdol-X 1:1 (12min), and fixed them in TF-3. Clearing time for 35mm Delta100 was 50sec, so I fixed 2.5 minutes for a little margin. (I didn't have any extra 120 to test on. Didn't think of it when I loaded the tank, and didn't want to to go back after the fact and snip a piece off.)
Side by side on the light table, next to 120 Delta100 developed exactly the same, but given an acid stop and Ilford Rapid Fix (4 min) there are some very obvious differences. First, IRF never got rid of all the pink dye on this film, while TF-3 cleared it completely. Not a trace. And second, and more interestingly, the TF-3 fixed film has a distinctly warm hue, kind of brownish in color! Is Microdol-X supposed to leave a stain, or is it the fixer? Subjectively, I'd say unexposed base is a little clearer, but it's hard to tell if it's just the lack of pink dye.
Looks like a keeper to me!