Kodak T-Max 400 Fixing Query
Old 12-03-2018   #1
Russell W. Barnes
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Kodak T-Max 400 Fixing Query

Hello all,

I've just ordered five rolls of TMax 400 120 film to give it a go, and I intend developing it in Ilford ID-11, agitating and fixing the Ilford way.

I notice from the Kodak TMax datasheet that '...your fixer will be exhausted more rapidly with this film than other films...'

Why is this? How much more quickly will it be exhausted?
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Old 12-03-2018   #2
p.giannakis
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I have been using TMax 400 for some time now. I tend to use the same fixer dilution for 3 films and then discard. I have not seen any difference for 3 films but if the data sheet says so I believe it. I make a new solution after 3 films. Maybe it is me being overcautious.
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Old 12-03-2018   #3
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There's no need to discard fixer preventively, do a clearing test with a film leader (I think Roger Hicks has instructions on his website, don't listen to instructions that tell you to just throw a piece of film in, it's important to have a bit of it fixed for longer, to compare to), use twice or, for safety, three times the clearing time. I've had good luck fixing at room temperature in summer, which makes it work a bit faster, I'm thinking about warming my fix in winter as well, but thats a question of how much risk one wants to take.
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Old 12-03-2018   #4
Erik van Straten
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If the film base still has a pink tone after fixing, rinse the film in not too cold water (but not too hot!). The pink tone will disappear. But if the film is still milky just go on fixing it for a wile before washing.


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Old 12-03-2018   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell W. Barnes View Post
Hello all,

I've just ordered five rolls of TMax 400 120 film to give it a go, and I intend developing it in Ilford ID-11, agitating and fixing the Ilford way.

I notice from the Kodak TMax datasheet that '...your fixer will be exhausted more rapidly with this film than other films...'

Why is this? How much more quickly will it be exhausted?
Why does it deplete fixer faster? Beats me, but I think all tab grain films do it.

It's a good idea to test film leaders for fixing strength to establish a reasonable number of rolls to attempt before discarding your solution. Your results may be slightly different than other people, and there is no need to guess.
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Old 12-03-2018   #6
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Not sure why it depletes your fixer more rapidly but it does. I am pretty sure it involves the pink or magenta colored stain used with these films since it seems to take longer for the fixer to clear this color.

Because it is so easy to do I regularly do clip tests of fixer to establish my clearing times. When working with Kodak TMAX 400 (4x5 sheet film) I typically fix for at least 5 minutes with fresh Photoformulary TF5 fixer (which is a tad more than twice the clearing time for me.) The clearing time does slowly increase as you fix more films.

Do your own clearing tests to establish your fixing times and you will undoubtedly notice the same results, or similar ones.

Clip tests or clearing tests are so simple to do I don't know why everyone doesn't do it regularly. It is the only way to be sure you are actually completely fixing your films. As already mentioned, Roger Hicks explains the test quite nicely at this link. http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...xhaustion.html

I use an old plastic Cool Whip container to do the test which I keep on the shelf specifically for this purpose. Any small plastic container will work though. It takes me less than 5 minutes (which includes all the prep involved) to know without doubt how healthy my fixer is.
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Old 12-03-2018   #7
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I can confirm this too. From my tests Tmax400 depletes Ilford rapid fixer about 20% faster than HP5+.
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Old 12-03-2018   #8
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Thanks for all that, folks. I do test my fixer with a little bit of cut-off film every so-often in a bottle-top or jam-jar lid and double the time it takes to clear. Well, I've done it on 35mm but never factored in my 120 stuff, so I'll use the little bit of film that's left after I cut it off the backing paper.

I'll check my fix mix after I've used these five rolls of TMax up.
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Old 12-03-2018   #9
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Monosize flat (t-grain) films have a different balance of silver salts in the emulsion, including a lot more silver iodide, than is contained in traditional mixed size cubic grain films. This requires more fixer to effectively fix, and is only fixed properly by ammonium thiosulfate (rapid) fixer, not by traditional sodium thiosulfate (hypo) fixer.

Fix for twice the clearing time and discard either when the clearing time doubles:
http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...xhaustion.html
or after the fixer gets to 6g/L silver (use hypo check or silver estimating strips).

Marty
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Old 12-03-2018   #10
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And just to reinforce "Pioneer's" remark , Photographers' Formulary specifically remarks that T-Max films take 50% to !00% longer to fix than other films !
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Old 12-03-2018   #11
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I'll echo what Moto-Uno says -- in my experience (this is my most used film), I just double my fixing time with TMax films, otherwise it comes out completely magenta.
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Old 12-03-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
Monosize flat (t-grain) films have a different balance of silver salts in the emulsion, including a lot more silver iodide, than is contained in traditional mixed size cubic grain films. This requires more fixer to effectively fix, and is only fixed properly by ammonium thiosulfate (rapid) fixer, not by traditional sodium thiosulfate (hypo) fixer.

Fix for twice the clearing time and discard either when the clearing time doubles:
http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...xhaustion.html
or after the fixer gets to 6g/L silver (use hypo check or silver estimating strips).

Marty
I'm glad Marty pointed this out. There is more to fixing film than clearing it. The fixer eventually becomes saturated with silver, after which it can't hold any more. After fixing film, I pour a little bit of the fixer, say 1/2cc, into a small graduate cylinder. I add one drop of hypo check. If the fixer is saturated, some silver will precipitate out and form a white cloud. Then it's time to throw it away. This will happen even before the fixer is no longer clearing the film.
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Old 12-03-2018   #13
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I had to go from 6 minutes to 9 minutes, so you figure the %.
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Old 12-03-2018   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
Monosize flat (t-grain) films have a different balance of silver salts in the emulsion, including a lot more silver iodide, than is contained in traditional mixed size cubic grain films. This requires more fixer to effectively fix, and is only fixed properly by ammonium thiosulfate (rapid) fixer, not by traditional sodium thiosulfate (hypo) fixer.

Fix for twice the clearing time and discard either when the clearing time doubles:
http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...xhaustion.html
or after the fixer gets to 6g/L silver (use hypo check or silver estimating strips).

Marty

Thanks for the clearer explanation Marty.
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Old 12-03-2018   #15
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I get rid of most of the magenta layer by pre-soaking the film for about 10 minutes.
Then I fix 7 instead of standard 5 minutes.
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Old 12-03-2018   #16
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Hmmm, I fixed a roll of expired T-max three weeks ago and the next time I used the fixer there was a lot of black sediment floating around in the fixer.
I thought the fixer might have oxidized because I didn't tighten the cap enough......might just be a coincidence.
The fixer was still good for fixing the next film within 5 minutes though.
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Old 12-03-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
I'm glad Marty pointed this out. There is more to fixing film than clearing it. The fixer eventually becomes saturated with silver, after which it can't hold any more. After fixing film, I pour a little bit of the fixer, say 1/2cc, into a small graduate cylinder. I add one drop of hypo check. If the fixer is saturated, some silver will precipitate out and form a white cloud. Then it's time to throw it away. This will happen even before the fixer is no longer clearing the film.
There is one extremely important thing to always remember: the fixer will keep fixing long after it is no longer fixing properly or in a way that is safe for the long-term storage of your film.

What fixer does is:
AgX + 2 S2O32− → [Ag(S2O3)2]3− + X−
AgX + 3 S2O32− → [Ag(S2O3)3]5− + X−
where X is a halide (bromide, chloride or iodide). The second reaction, which needs more thiosulfate, predominates in mono size flat emulsions like TMax films.

Having excess thiosulfate is vital for removing all the unexposed silver. Once you have finished fixing, you then need to be able to wash all the silver thiosulfate out of the film. If there is more than 6g/L of silver in the fixer enough will remain that your film is likely to deteriorate unduly over a timeframe where if you had fixed it properly it would not deteriorate.

This is the misleading part: fixer will keep clearing film and making it look like it is fixed after the thiosulfate concentration has dropped to a point where it is not fixing the silver halides efficiently and where it contains too much silver to be effectively washed out. So, either time, or measure. Dump when the clearing time doubles or the silver concentrations reaches 6 g/L.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
Hmmm, I fixed a roll of expired T-max three weeks ago and the next time I used the fixer there was a lot of black sediment floating around in the fixer.
I thought the fixer might have oxidized because I didn't tighten the cap enough......might just be a coincidence.
The fixer was still good for fixing the next film within 5 minutes though.
If fixer goes off it is a reduction reaction, rather than oxidation. The reduction and sulfur precipitation can occur with age, irrespective of use. Thiosulfates are stable only in neutral or alkaline solutions, but not in acidic solutions, due to decomposition to sulfite and sulfur, the sulfite eventually being dehydrated to sulfur dioxide:
S2O32− (aq) + 2 H+ (aq) → SO2 (g) + S (s) + H2O
The sediment will be white or pale yellow - it is amorphous sulfur (S) and it usually smells a bit like rotten eggs because the process also produces sulfur dioxide (rotten egg gas). This occurs spontaneously over time, but is accelerated by use. Silver will never precipitate out of your fixer without a serious chemical nudge.

The black stuff in your fixer after you fixed TMax film is a mixture of the antihalation and anti friction/static layers. The pink stuff is one of the sensitization dyes, and if your film is properly fixed but still pink, can be removed with a little sunlight exposure. But don't overdo it, or the sun might damage your negatives.

Now, go take some photos. And later, when you develop the film, time clearing or measure the silver in the fixer, and forget all this. Kodak worked this out a long time ago. All you need to do is run with it.


On Plus-X (sniff) fixed with Fomafix liquid 1+5 (as recommended by Foma) for 5 minutes (2x the clearing time).

Marty
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Old 12-03-2018   #18
Erik van Straten
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Beautiful shot, Marty!

Also many thanks for your chemical explanations. They can be useful!

Erik.
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Old 12-04-2018   #19
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Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
[...]

This is the misleading part: fixer will keep clearing film and making it look like it is fixed after the thiosulfate concentration has dropped to a point where it is not fixing the silver halides efficiently and where it contains too much silver to be effectively washed out. So, either time, or measure. Dump when the clearing time doubles or the silver concentrations reaches 6 g/L.


[...]
The sediment will be white or pale yellow - it is amorphous sulfur (S) and it usually smells a bit like rotten eggs because the process also produces sulfur dioxide (rotten egg gas). This occurs spontaneously over time, but is accelerated by use. Silver will never precipitate out of your fixer without a serious chemical nudge.
[...]

Marty

1. Thanks, important reminder.


2. I've had a lot of silver coat the inside of my bottle, looked neat (Tetenal fixer). Started after only a few rolls, and still worked very quickly, so I kept using it a while. Do I need to worry?
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Old 12-04-2018   #20
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Marty, have you been using Fomafix for fixing FB papers as well? I'm asking because the only dilution Foma gives is 1+5 (and 1+4 for macine processing) so I wonder if their fixer is perhaps weaker (containing less ammonium thiosulfate) in comparison to say Hypam. I tend to fix FB papers in two baths of Hypam/Ilford Rapid Fix at 1+9, each for 1'.

BTW, 2-bath fixing works very well for T-MAX films.
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Old 12-04-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
1. Thanks, important reminder.


2. I've had a lot of silver coat the inside of my bottle, looked neat (Tetenal fixer). Started after only a few rolls, and still worked very quickly, so I kept using it a while. Do I need to worry?
Blue-black or metallic looking silver?

Marty
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Old 12-04-2018   #22
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Originally Posted by miha View Post
Marty, have you been using Fomafix for fixing FB papers as well? I'm asking because the only dilution Foma gives is 1+5 (and 1+4 for macine processing) so I wonder if their fixer is perhaps weaker (containing less ammonium thiosulfate) in comparison to say Hypam. I tend to fix FB papers in two baths of Hypam/Ilford Rapid Fix at 1+9, each for 1'.

BTW, 2-bath fixing works very well for T-MAX films.
Yes, Iíve used Fomafix for FB paper. I used 1+5 for about 1.5 min based on a fixation test. 1+5 suggests it is slightly stronger than Hypam. Ammonium thiosulfate comes as standard as a ~60% solution in water, so I doubt itís really much different, but it might be. If Foma donít recommend higher dilutions there could be a reason, or they may just have not put that on the label. I tend to do rather than think with film these days.

I have also used two-bath fixation for film, but generally donít anymore. I just save up films, use chemsitry and carry on. If I was working professionally and had to consider material costs Iíd consider working that way to save some running costs.

Marty
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Old 12-04-2018   #23
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Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Beautiful shot, Marty!

Also many thanks for your chemical explanations. They can be useful.
Thanks Erik, on both counts. I enjoy the consistency of the images you post here very much; it speaks volumes about control of the process you use.

Marty
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Old 12-04-2018   #24
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Now, go take some photos. And later, when you develop the film, time clearing or measure the silver in the fixing, and forget all this. Kodak worked this out a long time ago. All you need to do is run with it.


On Plus-X (sniff) fixed with Fomafix liquid 1+5 (as recommended by Foma) for 5 minutes (2x the clearing time).

Marty
Thanks for all the info Marty and I enjoyed the Plus-X pic. One quirk of the image is that it the background reminds me of a melting emulsion look...
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Old 12-04-2018   #25
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Yes, I’ve used Fomafix for FB paper. I used 1+5 for about 1.5 min based on a fixation test. 1+5 suggests it is slightly stronger than Hypam. Ammonium thiosulfate comes as standard as a ~60% solution in water, so I doubt it’s really much different, but it might be. If Foma don’t recommend higher dilutions there could be a reason, or they may just have not put that on the label. I tend to do rather than think with film these days.

I have also used two-bath fixation for film, but generally don’t anymore. I just save up films, use chemsitry and carry on. If I was working professionally and had to consider material costs I’d consider working that way to save some running costs.

Marty
Thaks Marty. Single bath with FB for 1.5 min, correct?
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Old 12-04-2018   #26
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Thanks for all the info Marty and I enjoyed the Plus-X pic. One quirk of the image is that it the background reminds me of a melting emulsion look...
John Mc
Thanks John. Taken in Hradčany, Prague, in what seems like the dim past. Iíve been back recently but didnít walk past here; the wall is probably repaired and painted now.

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Old 12-04-2018   #27
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Originally Posted by p.giannakis View Post
I have been using TMax 400 for some time now. I tend to use the same fixer dilution for 3 films and then discard. I have not seen any difference for 3 films but if the data sheet says so I believe it. I make a new solution after 3 films. Maybe it is me being overcautious.

Wow...that's crazy. I typically fix up to 16 rolls of TMAX 400 film per batch of Ilford Rapid fixer. Have done so for almost 10 years. Never a problem.
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Old 12-04-2018   #28
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Thaks Marty. Single bath with FB for 1.5 min, correct?
Yes, but test for proper fixation, it worked for me with Foma FB paper, but the time for others may vary.

Marty
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Old 12-04-2018   #29
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Here: https://scholarworks.rit.edu/cgi/vie...context=theses is a thesis on fixing. It explains everything.

Marty
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Old 12-04-2018   #30
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Wow...that's crazy. I typically fix up to 16 rolls of TMAX 400 film per batch of Ilford Rapid fixer. Have done so for almost 10 years. Never a problem.
What is a "batch"? 500ml? 1L? A gallon? When I fix 120 I mix 500ml and would not fix 16 rolls with it.

I agree that fixing only three rolls seems overly cautious, and testing is easy enough to do.
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Old 12-04-2018   #31
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Blue-black or metallic looking silver?

Marty
Rather metallic, more so from the outside, through the bottle, darker than e.g. silver tableware though.
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Old 12-04-2018   #32
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Wow...that's crazy. I typically fix up to 16 rolls of TMAX 400 film per batch of Ilford Rapid fixer. Have done so for almost 10 years. Never a problem.
That's typical for me, too. I get about 20 rolls per liter with Tri-X or Kentmere 400 or HP5.

Of course, I do the clearing test before every roll when the roll count is getting up there.
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Old 12-04-2018   #33
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I typically fix up to 16 rolls of TMAX 400 film per batch of Ilford Rapid fixer. Have done so for almost 10 years. Never a problem.
That's good to know, Ted: Thanks. I do two films at a time so that'll be three fixes for my five TMax films. But I'll keep my eye on things. I also use Ilford rapid fixer.
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Old 12-04-2018   #34
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Marty great picture, and great fixer explanation. I liked the last part just do what Kodak tells you to do.
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Old 12-04-2018   #35
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What is a "batch"? 500ml? 1L? A gallon? When I fix 120 I mix 500ml and would not fix 16 rolls with it.

I agree that fixing only three rolls seems overly cautious, and testing is easy enough to do.
Good question. Answer: 1 liter.
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Old 12-04-2018   #36
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Rather metallic, more so from the outside, through the bottle, darker than e.g. silver tableware though.
So is the bottle transparent glass or plastic?

What usually precipitates in heavily used fixer is the silver-thiosulfate complex. It looks black but can look metallic if it is smooth. I have only ever seen it in machine processors or where fixer was contaminated with developer.

Flecks that are white or yellowish are sulfure.

Flecks that are other colours are antihalation / antistatic layers and dyes used for sensitization.

The reaction constants push very heavily towards the silver-thiosulfate complex. If metallic silver is precipitating from your fixer something very odd is going on. From a practical perspective, however, if the clearing time is less than 2x that of fresh fixer, and/or the silver content is under 6g/L, you should be fine. So no need to worry.

Checking exactly what is going on is too much trouble to worry about. It involves a lot of technically invested (or expensive) testing.

Edit! Do you use stop bath, or rinse, or put your film straight from the developer into the fix? There is nothing wrong with that, in the sense that your negatives will be fine, although your fixer will need discarding more frequently due to the alkali and silver from the developer. Your fixer may be receiving residual silver from the developer.

Marty
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Old 12-04-2018   #37
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Yup, translucent plastic bottle.
Thank you for the help, I think it's harmless then. Still weird that it happened so quickly and yes,
I always give the film a thorough rinse before it goes in the fix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
So is the bottle transparent glass or plastic?

What usually precipitates in heavily used fixer is the silver-thiosulfate complex. It looks black but can look metallic if it is smooth. I have only ever seen it in machine processors or where fixer was contaminated with developer.

Flecks that are white or yellowish are sulfure.

Flecks that are other colours are antihalation / antistatic layers and dyes used for sensitization.

The reaction constants push very heavily towards the silver-thiosulfate complex. If metallic silver is precipitating from your fixer something very odd is going on. From a practical perspective, however, if the clearing time is less than 2x that of fresh fixer, and/or the silver content is under 6g/L, you should be fine. So no need to worry.

Checking exactly what is going on is too much trouble to worry about. It involves a lot of technically invested (or expensive) testing.

Edit! Do you use stop bath, or rinse, or put your film straight from the developer into the fix? There is nothing wrong with that, in the sense that your negatives will be fine, although your fixer will need discarding more frequently due to the alkali and silver from the developer. Your fixer may be receiving residual silver from the developer.

Marty
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Old 12-05-2018   #38
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Here: https://scholarworks.rit.edu/cgi/vie...context=theses is a thesis on fixing. It explains everything.

Marty
Good paper. Except for the Hypo elimination part (amonia) which is not recommended any more.

What caught my attention is the fact that the paper recommends the use of the second bath or a washaid in order to either prevent the formation of double and triple silver thiosulfate complexes (second fixing bath) or to promote removing them from the emulsion by swelling the gelatine allowing the large complexes to diffuse out into the wash water (washaid).

The above is in-line with the Ilford Processing and Finishing Ilford PB papers document.
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Old 12-05-2018   #39
Freakscene
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miha View Post
Good paper. Except for the Hypo elimination part (amonia) which is not recommended any more.

What caught my attention is that fact that the paper recommends the use of the second bath or a washaid in order to either prevent the formation of double and triple silver thiosulfate complexes (second fixing bath) or to promote removing them from the emulsion by swelling the gelatine allowing the large complexes to diffuse out into the wash water (washaid).

The above is in-line with the Ilford Processing and Finishing Ilford PB papers document.
Indeed, the basic approach has been understood for a long time.

Ammonia works, but later work showed that exposure to it was bad for archival stability of film and paper.

Marty
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Old 12-05-2018   #40
leicapixie
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[quote=retinax;2852407]1.
Thanks,

important reminder
The silver on side of bottles is not embedded!
That silver can migrate onto films being fixed and make white spots..
Filter all your chemicals: use new bottles at each new stop bath, fixers.
I use 2 fixers always, paper or film.
It is only a few minutes more.
I stopped using T-Max due to longer fixing times and uncertainty.
I also don't like the "digital" look., plus Kodak's "Shirley Temple " curls..

Last edited by leicapixie : 12-05-2018 at 04:24. Reason: left out a few lines..
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