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Thread: Fixer Confusion

  1. #1
    Leon's Avatar
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    Fixer Confusion

    I am a little confused about fixers and benefits of different types (ie Acid vs Alkalii)

    I am currently using TF-4 fix with film partly because of its reputation as helping the pyrocat stain and also because I understand it is easier to wash out therefore assisting in archival matters and conservation of water (an increasingly important matter in the south of England). Am i right so far?

    I've been out of printing for a while ... I used to use Hypam (which I understand to be an Acid fix ?) after an acid stop bath when printing. Is there any gain to be had by using TF-4 instead? Is the archival matter improved this way? Obviously I would have to not use a stop bath, should I use a waterbath instead? I have also heard that an Alkaline Fix improves the paper emulsion's response to after-treatments like toning - is this correct?

    thanks in advance for yor help.

  2. #2
    Ole
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    The answers are: Yes, (yes,) yes, not directly, yes, and no...

    Yes, alkaline fixer washes out more easily.
    (You are right so far).
    I believe Hypam is acidic, but I don't really know. I've never used it.
    The gain is in the faster washing.
    The faster washing makes it easier to make archival prints - no more overnight washes.
    A water bath is generally recommended between developer or fix, or between stop bath and alkaline fix. Sometimes I don't bother, especially when the fix is nearing the end of its life. I just drop the print in the fixer straight from the developer.
    There is no reason alkaline or acidic fix should influence toning - but since the alkaline fix washes out faster, it's easier to get even tones in the print.
    Last edited by Ole; 06-07-2004 at 06:24 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Forgot one "yes"...
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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    Les McLean's Avatar
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    I always use Hypam fixer and have no problems although I have no experience with pyrocat so I would take advice from those who have. I have used Hypam with other Pyro devs and was perfectly happy with the results but again, I have little experience and have not made any comparisions with other pyro/fixer combinations. There are so many apugers who have lots of experience with pyro that I'm sure you will get more reliable advice.

    From the point of view of washing might I suggest that you use the Ilford method that I have been using for at least 15 years. It involves 5 or 6 changes of water and a series of inversions as follows: pour away fixer and fill tank with water at 20 degrees and invert 5 times, pour away the water pour in fresh water and invert 10 times, pour away and with fresh water invert 20, followed by fresh water and 30 inversions, then 20 and I do 10 and 5 to complete the cycle. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes and uses very little water compared to leaving the tap running for 20 minutes or more.

    I've carried out this method for the past 15 or so years and have never had a negative stain or deteriorate on me. The farm where I live has a spring water supply so it is essential that we conserve it, in a dry summer we have to import water in a bowser and that puts an end to the darkroom until it rains.

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    Leon's Avatar
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    Thanks Ole and Les - you've put my mind at rest ... although I missed one question out (doh!). I was using Ilford wash aid to cut archival washing times down - is this still relevant when using an alkaline fix?
    Last edited by Leon; 06-07-2004 at 08:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leon
    Thanks Ole - you've put my mind at rest ... although I missed one question out (doh!). I was using Ilford wash aid to cut archival washing times down - is this still relevant when using an alkaline fix?
    Washaid or HCA still have a slight effect, but then you have to wash that out. On the whole I think you can get by without it. I certainly do...

    I can't remember if the Washaid is a sulfite mix or a surfactant! If it's the latter, it's still a good idea. The question is whether it's supposed to speed washing, or speed drying? I use Agfa Agepon whenever the water wants to cling, which isn't very often where I live. I'm still on my first bottle, bought around 1985.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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  6. #6
    Jorge Oliveira's Avatar
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    Acording to Bill Troop, the alkali fixer evangelist, an alkali fixer washes so fast that an wash aid (basically sodium sulfite) is not really necessary.

    Note: I'm not aware of any large brand ready made alkali fixer.

    Jorge O
    Curitiba - nice place to live, if you don't care about the weather...

  7. #7
    FrankB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Les McLean
    From the point of view of washing might I suggest that you use the Ilford method that I have been using for at least 15 years. It involves 5 or 6 changes of water and a series of inversions as follows: pour away fixer and fill tank with water at 20 degrees and invert 5 times, pour away the water pour in fresh water and invert 10 times, pour away and with fresh water invert 20, followed by fresh water and 30 inversions, then 20 and I do 10 and 5 to complete the cycle. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes and uses very little water compared to leaving the tap running for 20 minutes or more.
    Les, I've been using Ilford's method direct from their PDF datasheets on their website and it says 5 inversions, change water, 10 inversions, change water and 20 inversions... ...and then it stops. (I do an extra change and 20 more inversions through sheer paranoia!)

    Do you know whether Ilford have changed the washing pattern since you adopted the method or are the additional washes in your system the result of experience (in which case I've got a few hundred rolls which are probably deteriorating in their sleeves as I type this...! )?

    Regards,

    Frank

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    Les,

    Is that procedure with the use of HCA first? Also, I've heard this sequence is often cited without the key ingredient of letting the film sit for 5 minutes after each set of inversions -- that's not true?

    I'm hoping the answer to at least the first question is "no" because my wash routine is pretty much the same as yours, except I do let the film sit for a few minutes in between water changes.

    Thanks.

  9. #9
    ann
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    I can't speak for Les, but Ilford indicates their film does not need HCA before washing.
    This comes for David Carper at Ilford.

  10. #10
    Jorge Oliveira's Avatar
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    AFAIK the biggest benefit of HCA is with fiber paper (fiber absorbs fixer); films and RC paper do not.

    Jorge O
    Curitiba - nice place to live, if you don't care about the weather...

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