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  1. #1

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    Just how bad is blix vs bleach & fixer?

    I hear and read comments about how icky chemicals are that use the single blix formulation instead of separate bleach and fixer. I understand the arguments, or the logic of using separate chemicals, but is it documented that films are not archival when using a blix formulation?

    One of the things that has spurred my thinking, I've been going through some of my 30yr old films, and some are faded badly and some are pristine, even though they've all been stored identically. I'm assuming maybe the processing is the variable in this.

    I guess what I'm asking is, is there any documentation that shows films as being unstable when processed with blix, or are we just assuming? Or, do you have anecdotal evidence of films being unstable that were processed using blix formulations? Another reason I'm asking, I've been using the so-called '3 step' chemistry kits and am getting very satisfactory results, but am I just wasting film using this 'blix' chemistry?

    Your thoughts are appreciated, thanks.

    Jack O'Brien

  2. #2
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Jack;

    There is no connection between archival quality and the use of blix or bleach-fix. The argument is removal of silver from color films which affects grain, sharpness and color repronduction. In E6 films, it can also affect whites.

    So, your question misses the true problem.

    A post development treatment of color film (any type) must remove all silver metal and all silver halides. The fix part of a blix or a bleach-fix does remove all silver halides present, but the bleach part may not allow removal of the silver metal completely and that is the problem. It does not affect image stability though.

    PE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    Jack;

    There is no connection between archival quality and the use of blix or bleach-fix. The argument is removal of silver from color films which affects grain, sharpness and color repronduction. In E6 films, it can also affect whites.

    So, your question misses the true problem.

    A post development treatment of color film (any type) must remove all silver metal and all silver halides. The fix part of a blix or a bleach-fix does remove all silver halides present, but the bleach part may not allow removal of the silver metal completely and that is the problem. It does not affect image stability though.

    PE
    Wow, thanks so much. So, my real concern would have to be image quality, not so much stability. You said "the bleach may not allow removal of the silver metal completely", does that mean that sometimes it *may*?

    Can you guys *see* the difference in films that have been processed in blix vs bleach and fixer chemicals?

    Thanks,

    Jack

  4. #4
    dwdmguy's Avatar
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    I've used both in my Jobo. The Blix solution shows me no difference either way and I'm really quite happy with it. (3 bath)

  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    As Tom says the Blix baths are fine, with one proviso that you stick to the manufacturers staed capacity. I'd also go further and say I only use two reputable manufacturers Photocolor & Tetenal, their Blix's are extremely good but other's not so reliable. (The Photocolor/Paterson line went when Champion moved production from UK to Spain).

    No there's no difference between the good 3 bath kits & the ones using Bleach and Fixer. That's from long experience of using Chrome 6 and the Tetenal kit.

    Ian

  6. #6
    Athiril's Avatar
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    Ive got on order 5 litres of Agfa bleach, and for fix? Might mix my own up, depending on the price of sodium thiosulphate at the pool supply store, or whether its cheaper to get universal fix, or whether my current fix works on colour films (doesnt state active igredient on bottle).

  7. #7
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    Well, I can see the difference between a bleach - fix and a blix. Sorry, but then whatever makes you happy is ok.

    As for using powdered kits - don't. The films need ammonium thiosulfate to fix out the silver salts properly and in a reasonable time.

    I say the blix "may" work because the reaction goes to completion (sometimes) and a long blix can remove most all silver in some cases. Fast films are harder to blix than slow films for example, or high iodide films are hard to blix. The argument comes from addenda and iodide in films that prevent blixing from going efficiently. In some films, the color droplets surround silver metal and protect them from blix but the bleach can get through more easily.

    PE

  8. #8
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Strangely I was mainly processing faster E6 films, initially 400 ISO then when introduced the specialist P800/1600 films from Kodak & Fuji. These were optimised for push processing and I found it better to process my own than send them to a lab in the nearest city.

    I started using the Photocolor Chrome 6 kits very soon after their release and they had been vigorously tested. There were concerns not long after because the Blix's in some competitors kits being imported from the US were found to be inefficient in magazine tests, it didn't need a chemist to spot this either.

    I know that Ilford had tested the Photocolor C41 & E6 products and had found no problems, at the time they were selling re-badged colour films under the Ilford brand name, I still have an unprocessed roll of Ilfochrome (E6). Silver retention is one key issue they'd have tested for.

    While I agree with Ron that a Blix may not be theoretically ideal, some better designed Blix's are quite different and work extremely well. I have seen the difference between poorly blixed film C41 & E6 and a well blixed or/bleached then fixed film and can spot the difference. I've also seen comparative tests done using a Chrome 6 kit & a Commercial (high quality) E6 lab and no-one could spot the differences.

    In answer to Jack's question regarding fading, I've only seen it with slides that have been very extensively projected. I've not noticed any fading in E4 or E6 films both commercially and self processed and many are over 30 years old. I started processing E4 films around 1972 (E3 type kits).

    However without a reference to compare to slight fading might go unnoticed. Harrods store in London had backlit photographs (Duratrans or similar) alongside the lifts on each floor, even after a day if they changed one image in a set they had to change them all as the fading was already just noticeable. Leave a slide in a projector for 6 hours and it will be quite significantly faded.

    Ian

  9. #9
    Jeff L's Avatar
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    This is a great thread. I can see that I'll need to be doing my own C41 soon. Thanks guys.
    Jeff

  10. #10
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    I say use what works for you (or what appears to work in this case).

    I ask a question though....

    Don't you think that Fuji, Kodak and Agfa would have come out with a blix for films if it were possible in a reliable fashion? It would be a big selling point, eliminating one step and a few extra bottles. But, they have not. There must be some reason, right? Well, there you are. I know the reasons and I know how to get around them. All I can do is suggest that you see the patent on this subject. I've referred to it and given the # so many times I should remember it, but I do not. That gives as much explanation as is usual in a patent.

    PE

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