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11-15-2021, 12:53 AM   #1
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Requesting advice / insight from users of Ilford Rapid Fixer

As I understand it, fixer can be re-used, but eventually the silver concentration reaches a point where the fixer solution requires more time to fix and eventually will not fix adequately, leading to problems with the developed film over time.

I have read of folks testing fixer with a piece of discarded film and replacing when it doesn't clear. I've heard of them using a "two bath fix", where two baths are used for half the time each, the first bath discarded when it reaches capacity and replaced with the second, and the second replaced with a new solution. I've heard of others replenishing fixer by discarding a small amount of the working solution and replacing with the same amount of new solution.

I'd be extremely grateful if any of you who routinely use Ilford Rapid Fixer could advise on your preferred approach for use, re-use / maintenance / discarding, increase of fixing times, dilution etc. and perhaps share your specific steps - as if instructing an idiot, which, in the matter of film processing, currently applies to me!

Many thanks in advance


Last edited by BigMackCam; 11-15-2021 at 03:02 AM.
11-15-2021, 02:47 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I'm using a far simpler procedure : if it smells, I use it. If it doesn't smell, I give it to the local recycling centre and mix a new can. I use the 1+4 as it lasts longer than the 1+9.
11-15-2021, 02:52 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by fs999 Quote
I'm using a far simpler procedure : if it smells, I use it. If it doesn't smell, I give it to the local recycling centre and mix a new can. I use the 1+4 as it lasts longer than the 1+9.
Thanks, that does indeed sound much simpler Can I ask, how much working solution do you mix, and roughly how many films do you get from that? Do you increase your fixing times with each use, and if so, by how much?
11-15-2021, 03:27 AM - 1 Like   #4
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It is possible to get an indicator solution that will indicate when the fixer is exhausted but those products are more than ever becoming a rarer commodity. Some people advise rinsing your film before fixing to prevent contamination of their fixer. I just use a strip of film leader to test fixer, if it takes anything over whatever your time target to clear, it's probably time to mix a new batch.

QuoteOriginally posted by fs999 Quote
I'm using a far simpler procedure : if it smells, I use it.
Sulfites are famously stinky compounds, as someone with refined sensibilities I avoid sniffing photographic chemicals - good god poly toner smelled bad.

11-15-2021, 03:36 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
I just use a strip of film leader to test fixer, if it takes anything over whatever your time target to clear, it's probably time to mix a new batch.
Thanks Do you place the strip of film leader into a small dish with a little fixer, or just place a drop of fixer onto it? Do you time how long it takes to clear and use this as the basis for your fixing time? Is it easy to judge when film has cleared? Sorry - I'm full of questions, I know
11-15-2021, 05:49 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Thanks, that does indeed sound much simpler Can I ask, how much working solution do you mix, and roughly how many films do you get from that? Do you increase your fixing times with each use, and if so, by how much?
I mix always 1 litre and I would say at least 25 films (120 and 135). I increase one minute on the last 5-8 films. But it has no importance, as you can re fix when not fixed enough...

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Sulfites are famously stinky compounds, as someone with refined sensibilities I avoid sniffing photographic chemicals - good god poly toner smelled bad.
By chance you don't have to put your nose inside the bottle
11-15-2021, 05:56 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
It is possible to get an indicator solution that will indicate when the fixer is exhausted but those products are more than ever becoming a rarer commodity.

I use Edwal Hypo-Check. Apparently it is (or was) available in UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Edwal-Hypo-Check-Chemical-Exhausted-Fixers/dp/B00009R6Z5

Chris

11-15-2021, 07:25 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Thanks Do you place the strip of film leader into a small dish with a little fixer, or just place a drop of fixer onto it? Do you time how long it takes to clear and use this as the basis for your fixing time? Is it easy to judge when film has cleared? Sorry - I'm full of questions, I know

Mike, I find the easiest is to take a piece of film leader and place a drop of fixer onto the emulsion side (matte, grey colour). The film should turn perfectly clear within 2 to 3 minutes max (much faster for fresh fixer...maybe 30 seconds to a minute). And yes, it's very easy to tell when the film is clear. Your fixing time should be double that of the clearing time. If it takes longer than, say, 3 to 4 minutes, then I would dump it and mix a fresh batch.

There's no need to get too precise about measuring the clearing time and subsequently timing a fixing bath -- you won't overfix and damage your film if it's in the fixer for 5 or 6 minutes.

Remember not to put the drop on the shiny side

I do this test as a matter of routine with almost every batch of film, and it takes no time at all - it just sits there while I prep all the other crip-crap for the session...beakers, funnels, etc. Likewise the developer clip test - it sits in the bath during the prep time.

Last edited by Viking42; 11-15-2021 at 07:31 AM.
11-15-2021, 07:29 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Do you place the strip of film leader into a small dish with a little fixer
yes, though I use a spare film canister and make sure the lid is on tightly and give it a little shake every minute or so to ensure adequate agitation. These days I tend to use slow working standing developers so I don't agitate all that much as a rule, but when I do agitate: I tend to follow the same pattern for all my solutions I find it helps with the consistency of my results. Also Ilford rapid is a non-hardening fixer, this can be problematic as it is possible to damage to the emulsion layer with aggressive agitation - so keep that in mind. Films often contain Silver iodide, this often slows down fixer and Kodak T-Grain films often contain a lot of silver iodide, so they will take longer to fix* than commonly available development charts will indicate.

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Do you time how long it takes to clear and use this as the basis for your fixing time?
In Ilford's guide to using their hypam fixer, they state: " Fixer should be discarded when the clearing time in used fixer exceeds twice the clearing time in fresh fixer" - I'd say that is a good rule of the thumb to follow.

* the reduction in efficiency can be mitigated by using a two-bath fixing method as silver iodide is quite soluble.

Last edited by Digitalis; 11-15-2021 at 07:46 AM.
11-15-2021, 07:37 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by fs999 Quote
I mix always 1 litre and I would say at least 25 films (120 and 135). I increase one minute on the last 5-8 films. But it has no importance, as you can re fix when not fixed enough...
Good to know. Thank you!

QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I use Edwal Hypo-Check. Apparently it is (or was) available in UK
Thanks, Chris. I've searched online, but so far I've been unable to find a UK supplier that currently stocks it. Is it still manufactured, do you know?

QuoteOriginally posted by Viking42 Quote
I find the easiest is to take a piece of film leader and place a drop of fixer onto the emulsion side (matte, grey colour). The film should turn perfectly clear within 2 to 3 minutes max (much faster for fresh fixer...maybe 30 seconds to a minute). And yes, it's very easy to tell when the film is clear. Your fixing time should be double that of the clearing time. If it takes longer than, say, 3 to 4 minutes, then I would dump it and mix a fresh batch.

There's no need to get too precise about measuring the clearing time and subsequently timing a fixing bath -- you won't overfix and damage your film if it's in the fixer for 5 or 6 minutes.

Remember not to put the drop on the shiny side

I do this test as a matter of routine with almost every batch of film, and it takes no time at all - it just sits there while I prep all the other crip-crap for the session...beakers, funnels, etc. Likewise the developer clip test - it sits in the bath during the prep time.
Thank you, Svend I'll admit, I like the certainty of testing the fixer for each session and working out the fixing time from that. I'll be happier trusting that than my own estimation or olfactory skills

QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
yes, though I use a spare film canister and make sure the lid is on tightly and give it a little shake every minute or so to ensure adequate agitation. These days I tend to use slow working standing developers so I don't agitate all that much as a rule, but when I do agitate: I tend to follow the same pattern for all my solutions I find it helps with the consistency of my results. Also Ilford rapid is a non-hardening fixer, this can be problematic as it is possible to damage to the emulsion layer with aggressive agitation - so keep that in mind.

In Ilford's guide to using their hypam fixer, they state: " Fixer should be discarded when the clearing time in used fixer exceeds twice the clearing time in fresh fixer" - I'd say that is a good rule of the thumb to follow.
Excellent. Thank you!
11-15-2021, 08:18 AM - 1 Like   #11
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The old method was to replace when the clearing time was double that of fresh solution. Fixer loads up with silver, so at some point the fixing time just gets longer due to less active fixer. (Note: the silver can be extracted to prevent it going down the drain by using powdered zinc, but fixer so processed shouldn't be reused.)

An issue which shows up is that film is in the fixer longer and absorbs more of it, so the wash times become longer as well. Hypo wash testers will tell you if you have any residual fixer in your washed film but they don't tell you when the fixer is exhausted. Just note clearing times when you have a fresh batch and when it doubles (testing on a small piece of film), replace.

Of course, this is just a recommendation and you can push it further but then the film will have to sit in the fixer longer and longer and the wash times get longer and longer. Eventually, the fixer will not fix the film entirely. That usually results in the film yellowing with time and the image deteriorating. The idea is to keep the fixer in that range where you know it is doing its job.

Last edited by Bob 256; 11-15-2021 at 12:40 PM.
11-15-2021, 08:51 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob 256 Quote
The old method was to replace when the clearing time was double that of fresh solution. Fixer loads up with silver, so at some point the fixing time just gets longer due to less active fixer. (Note: the silver can be extracted to prevent it going down the drain by using powdered zinc, but fixer so processed shouldn't be reused.)

An issue which shows up is that film is in the fixer longer and absorbs more of it, so the wash times become longer as well. Hypo wash testers will tell you if you have any residual fixer in your washed film but they don't tell you when the fixer is exhausted. Just note clearing times when you have a fresh batch and when it doubles (testing on a small piece of film), replace.

Of course, this is just a recommendation and you can push it further but then the film will have to sit in the fixer longer and longer and the wash times get longer and longer. Eventually, the fixer will not fix the film entirely. That usually results in the film yellowing with time and the image deteriorating. The idea is to keep the fixer in that range where you know it is doing its job.
Thank you, Bob - much appreciated!
11-15-2021, 12:14 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Edwal Hypo Check

QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
I've searched online, but so far I've been unable to find a UK supplier that currently stocks it. Is it still manufactured, do you know?

It is currently available from numerous US photo suppliers. The manufacturer
Edwal Scientific Products in Chicago Illinois doesn't seem to have a website.

Chris
11-15-2021, 12:42 PM - 1 Like   #14
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https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=hypo%20check&N=0...6399f6bcf19251

My old reference also says you can do this:

Distilled Water 180 cc
Potassium Permanganate 0.3 gm
Sodium Hydroxide 0.6 gm
Distilled Water to Make 250 cc

Add 1cc of this to 250cc of distilled water. Take your film or prints from the final wash and allow water to drip for 30 seconds into this mixture. If the violet color changes to orange (or even yellow - worse) there is residual hypo in the wash which calls for additional wash time or changes.

Tap water can contain materials which will produce a false positive. You can test your water by dropping it into the test solution without it having been used for washing film and if it turns the test solution orange or yellow, this test will be inconclusive using tap water for a wash (some photographers use a final distilled water rinse and that rinse should produce a valid test).

Last edited by Bob 256; 11-15-2021 at 12:55 PM.
11-15-2021, 01:46 PM - 1 Like   #15
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I played this game. I know of many people and even some now defunct, retired or transitioned businesses that did too. Most all photochemicals have recommendations printed on the packaging.

There are sources of small notebooks to keep processing data organized-neatness is on the user. Such notebooks are indispensable. That is my best advice!

Obviously, if you are being paid, the manufacturer's recommendations are the way to do things. It's less clear-cut if you spend your own money. Or is it? I suppose it depends on your tolerance for frustration and failure. In my case, that tolerance disappeared with age. That age thing makes doing something over both unappealing on (often) impossible. Your mileage may vary.
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