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  1. #1

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    B&W Fix Substitute for C-41 Fix?

    Does anyone know if you can successfully substitute a regular B&W fixer such as Kodak Rapid or TF-5 for example for the regular C-41 fix when processing color negative film?
    Also, how can you tell if the stock C-41 fix is bad? I’m down to less than 1/5 of the 25-Gal jug that I first opened in January, 2011 but was actually manufactured a year or more earlier.
    Thanks,

    Thomas
    Thomas

    No art passes our conscience in the way that film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
    — Ingmar Bergman

  2. #2

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    I assume we are talking about bleach fix, not just the fixing part of it. If you are talking about the bleach fix it wont work, you must have the bleach side as well. The fixer if it is on its own and not combined with the bleach it shouldn't 'go off', it will just get slower to work properly. I use separate bleach and fix and allow approx 6 x 35mm films per 1/2 litre then dump both. I could get more out of half a litre if I used a stop bath but the chemicals are cheap when compared with film and that irreplaceable shot that may be ruined.

  3. #3
    polyglot's Avatar
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    I dimly recall PE saying something about there being a difference in buffering and therefore pH wherein B&W fix is (IIRC) stronger, more acidic and faster-acting. C41 film has less silver in it and also some delicate dyes, therefore the fixer used with it is weaker, slower and less acidic: note the 6:30 nominal fix time instead of about 3:00. You might damage the colour image a little with B&W fixer, or it might work fine if run slightly more-dilute, I'm not sure and haven't tried it.

    I'm also pretty sure that (in bulk), C41 fixer is cheaper than B&W fixer per litre of working solution. As it should be considering the quantities that pro labs inhale and that it actually has less thiosulfate. Since you have 5gal left, that ought to be plenty of time to buy a new jug! Hell, the largest size B&W fixer I can buy retail here (5L Hypam) only makes 25L of film-strength fix which is a hair more than 6gal.

  4. #4
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    It is my understanding that you can substitute both ways. I don't know what the dilutions or changes in time are specifically.

    What I do understand is that once you start using a working batch for color film then you wouldn't want to use that same batch for black and white film, and vice versa.

    C 41 fix is less expensive than typical black-and-white fixers so if I were going to go with just one type of fix I would stick with the C 41.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  5. #5
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Oh you can test the effectiveness of your fixer by just clipping an inch or two of film and then dunking that in the working fixer and seeing how long it takes to clear.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  6. #6
    mts
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    added comment to life of fix

    NO! Do not use b&w fixer for a substitute C41. You must balance pH for color, and adjust strength as well. PM your email to me and I will send some alternative formulae. Generally bleach and fixer formulated as alternatives do not affect color balance or dye stability unless of course you do something like using K-Ferricyanide bleach. Separate bleach and fixers are much preferable to blix for both C41 and E6.

    Fixer and bleach can be considered exhausted if the time to clear (fix) or the activity (bleach) is greater than half the specified process time. Of course you can in a pinch extend the times for both because these work to completion and are not time-critical.
    By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    If I remember correctly the TF5 the OP asked about is close enough to the C 41. Been a while back but I believe that info came from PE. Other Black and white fixers I don't know, mts is probably right there.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8

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    Thanks for the responses everyone.

    I'm back at home from work and I see that its actually a 5 Gal jug instead of the 25 Gal that I had posted this afternoon and also that I had first opened it on 5/10/2009(Mfg date 0814) instead of January 2011 as originally posted. It was the Kodak 5 Gal C-41 Developer Kit that I opened in January of 2011 which also is almost exhausted. So I haven't been processing much C-41 in the past couple of years

    Lately, though, I have been back shooting color negative and so far seemingly processing successfully with the above outdated chemistry - including 2 rolls last night. The negatives look good and the color of the developer components agree with what they are supposed to look like according to the Kodak Pub. But I am leery about the fixer and had placed an order for Kodak C-41 Fixer with Calumet at least 2 or more months back. I called their corporate office in Chicago this morning before posting and left a voice mail for the buyer but I haven't received a reply back as of yet.

    I have, what for me, is a lifetime supply of Kodak C-41 bleach having purchased the 12.5 Gallon bladder of Part A & B about the same time that I purchased the fixer. The 5-Gal developer kits are priced reasonable and seem to have a long shelf life as the fixer, at least I hope so, but it would be nice to a have formulas that you can mix from scratch instead of depending on commercial producers. So I am gladly contacting mts for whatever help he is able to render me.

    Thomas
    Thomas

    No art passes our conscience in the way that film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.
    — Ingmar Bergman

  9. #9
    RPC
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    If your fixer is clear and shows no sign of cloudiness (sulfurization) then it is probably good. I have some bleach and fixer concentrates in the same large sizes as you that I got from the lab I work for when they quit processing film that is about the same age as yours, and the fixer is still good but the bleach part B seems to have gone bad. It has formed an ugly sediment in the bottom of the glass containers I store it in that won't re-dissolve. I suggest you check yours. I have decided to switch to a ferricyanide bleach which, being in powdered form, will last longer and is easier to get than Kodak bleach.

    The Kodak C-41 fixer is quite inexpensive and works for b&w film and paper as well. But there are several mix-your-own fixer formulas on this site for C-41. Check the archives.

  10. #10
    mts
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    I need to clarify my previous posting; ferricyanide bleach while it will work is not really compatible with C41 dyes. You should really be using one of the Fe-EDTA bleach formulae. PE may wish to elaborate since he is the former Kodak bleach King. You should also be using a bisulfite/acetic acid stop and rinse after development and a good rinse after bleach before fixing.
    By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo

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