Kodak Flexicolor C-41 Fixer
At the recommendation of an APUG member (was it fschifano?), I have been using Flexicolor C-41 fixer for b/w deep tank processing in 3-1/2 gallon tanks. About $10 worth of fixer has allowed me to process 48 rolls so far (using a dual fixing baths, so twice as much chemical as needed), and I imagine I will not even use the fixer to capacity before it goes bad. I have some questions about doing this, however:
1. Capacity. Is it the same as it is for color film, i.e. 120 rolls of 35mm per gallon?
2. Life. Same as with C-41? Eight weeks?
3. Hardener. Is this a hardening or a non-hardening fixer? (The APUG guy said non hardening, I believe, but want to verify this.)
4. Working temperature. Will this chemical cause any problems when used at normal b/w processing temps? (I am usually processing at 22 - 24 C.)
5. Quality. Will a "proper" b/w fixer fix the film any better than the color fixer? What is it about C-41 fixer that makes it different than b/w fixer? Any additional or missing chemicals, and if so, what do they do in a b/w process? Any additional steps or precautions I should take?
As I said, I have seven gallons mixed. The first bath and the second bath are at normal strength. I wanted to use each bath at half strength, but was not feeling adventurous the day I was setting up the batch. Could I do that in the future to save even more money? I have been doing five minutes in each bath, with a quick running water rinse between. Then a quick rinse under running water, a ten minute wash, ten minutes in hypo clear with constant agitation every other minute (five minutes standing and five minutes agitation total), another quick rinse, and another ten minute wash.
Thanks in advance.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-24-2010 at 10:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
The first paragraph says "bleach". If you still have time, you may want to edit it if it is incorrect.
The C41 fix can have up to 2.5x the capacity of this fixer when used for B&W films instead of color films.
The fixer is non-hardening.
The quality is identical to most B&W fixers provided enough time is used for fixation and washing.
The lifetime is either to exhaustion or until it spoils by becoming cloudy.
It can be used for B&W at 68F provided the film is fixed properly by tests.
I'm the guy. Being the cheapskate that I am, I couldn't resist trying the stuff when I saw how inexpensive it was. Let me address your concerns as listed.
Capacity: Can't really tell you, but I do believe that you'll get at least as much life out of it as you would if you were using it for C-41 films. Truth is, you'll probably be able to run more B&W film through it than you would C-41. With C-41 films you're removing ALL the silver from 3 silver bearing layers. With B&W you're only removing the undeveloped silver from 1 layer. That's why I use it at 1/2 strength, and can push at least 15 rolls of film (a mix of conventional and TMax films) through 1L at 1+9 dilution before it starts to slow down. But be aware that once it starts to slow down, it's pretty well shot. It goes from good to exhausted in a heartbeat. If you replenish simply by topping off what gets carried out with fresh fixer, it lasts even longer.
Shelf life: I don't use it in a deep tank and I bottle it back up between uses, so I can't make a valid claim. I do keep some mixed up at the recommended dilution (1+4) and unused, it keeps well in a closed container longer than 8 weeks. I treat that as a stock solution and dilute it to my working strength as needed.
Hardener: There is none and the normal pH is around 6.5. If you use an indicating stop bath, any of the indicating dye that gets carried over to the fixer will turn blue/violet because the pH isn't low enough. Not a big deal, and it shows that the buffering capacity of the fixer is still within spec. I usually rinse my films with clear water after the stop to prevent carrying too much acid over, and this seems to work. The fixer remains at more or less the proper pH until it's almost exhausted. It's not practical for me to do this with prints, and over time the fixer will start to go yellow as the pH drops from the carried over acid and dye. Not a big deal, the fixer continues to work, though I'm fairly sure that it's shelf life is degraded somewhat with the additional acid.
Temperature: Absolutely no problems using at at B&W processing temperatures. None.
Quality: I don't know if there's anything special about Kodak's Flexicolor fixer that makes it radically different from any other rapid fixer. I think it's stronger simply because it works so quickly. A snip of Foma (a film known to fix out very quickly) film will clear in 30-40 seconds in a 1/2 strength fresh bath. Tri-X clears at about 1 minute. TMax films take a little longer. I've been using it on film and for prints for more than a few years now and have never had a problem. I use it exactly as I would any other "proper" B&W non-hardening rapid fixer.
The only recommendation I'd make is to wash the stop bath off before the first fix to eliminate as much acid carry over as possible. The fixer is buffered well enough to tolerate the carry over, but my reasoning says that its working life might be enhanced a bit if you minimize the acid carry over as much as is practical.
Your wash cycle is very conservative. My wash cycle uses a few changes of processing temperature water with agitation to start. Then, I fill the tank once more with processing temperature water and insert a hose straight from the cold tap and set to just a trickle for 10-15 minutes. Been doing that with films for more years than I care to count, a lot of them with the supposedly hard to wash out acid hardening fixers. I printed up some 40 year old negatives that were handled that way just a few months ago. They're fine.
Feel free to PM me if you have any more questions.
On a side note...
can you use the iodine type "Hypo Check" to test exhaustion for this Flexicolor C41 fix when running it with C41 materials?
I usually do a leader test but the iodine is a bit more convenient.
I realize iodine test isn't the best but...
Kodak E6 fixer is also pretty damn cheap and works well for me... after I run through that I have several bottles of flexicolor fixer and bleach floating around
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The Iodide test can be used but is so qualitative in all cases that you must gain some degree of experience with each fix before you can truly make a judgment. I use the leader test myself to be sure.
Yes, I hardly EVER will fully trust the "Hypo Check" I just kind of use it as a gauge to tell how tired the fix is getting.
I can see how viscous the iodine stuff gets when I add it.
If it goes into solution REAL quick then I'm good for awhile,
if it goes viscous/oily looking I know I'm getting near thin ground and will monitor much more closely but I don't ALWAYS run a leader through it unless I have reservations about how tired the fix is.
Once again, thank you PE for your valuable guidance.
It should be based on the yellowish cloud that forms.