Is Fixer really necessary for B&W film processing?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by jiajun_yang, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. My mate told me he never use Fixer for his processing, that means he uses water flushing the film right after the "stopping" step. And i see he does have loads of nice B&W works.
    So i m wondering if the fixer really that important?or if i use enough water flushing can replace the fixing step?
    Cheers all
  2. Yes, fixer is absolutely vital, and no, you can't use any amount of water instead.
    Fixer dissolves and washes away the undeveloped silver halide that wasn't converted to silver by the developer. For film it also removes the anti-halation backing which coats the back of the film and unless you remove it you can't pass light through the negative.
    If you don't fix your prints then they look fine to start with but the silver halides will in time photo-convert to silver after sitting in the light for long enough and the lighter areas of the print will fade to grey and then black.

    Unfixed negatives will go dark too, sooner or later. Let's hope your friend doesn't want to make any reprints in five years' time.

    You can get away without a stopbath, if you want, with no ill-effects (although most people recommend you use one for a variety of reasons) but you do need to fix.
    You should read up on basic photo-chemistry, it's not complicated.
  3. I'll second the above. Yes, it's absolutely necessary.
  4. ....and I'll third the above.
  5. Yes in most cases you will need to fix after development- water will not do. There is one exception to this rule and that is monobath developers which as their name suggests they have only one bath your friend could be using one of those, even so those baths have alkaline fixers in them so yes fixer is needed.
  6. Develop - Stop - Fix - Wash
    Your friend is without a doubt skipping the Stop step and using water instead and he just misspoke. I'm sure if you go back and talk to him about it then he will correct himself. I promise you he did not skip the Fix step, he wouldn't have loads of nice B&W negatives.
  7. SCL


    Your mate either misspoke or he is nuts. I don't understand why people keep trying to skip the proven steps. Is it intellectual laziness or creativity without knowledge?
  8. He micht also be skipping the "hypo clearing agent" step. Normally, you have to wash the daylights out of film or paper (30 minutes to an hour) to get the fixer out. Some people use an added chemical bath, the "hypo clearing agent" or "hypo killer" to neutralize residual fixer so you can cut the final wash down to 5 minutes.
    I've never trusted hypo clearing agents and have always used a long wash...
  9. haha, thank you all for the comments.
  10. i think there was been a us navy technique
    ( during the war) to use seawater. but later, I think they followed it up with a normal fix
    there was also an article abot pro's providing proof photos
    to pervent people taking the proofs and never paying the photographer
    he suggested soaking the proof prints in a strong fresh fixer solution
    and later on the prints would turn brown and fade.
  11. The technique used in the navy didn't skip the fixer at all, and the process was quite normal. Fresh water aboard ship is precious, so the initial washing (after the normal development cycle) was done with sea water. A final, and more brief, wash with fresh water finished the job by clearing the sea water from the material. I've read that the seawater was more effective than fresh water and that it acts somewhat like hypo clearing agent, but I don't know if that is true or not.
    Perhaps your friend misspoke or you misunderstood. Fixer is absolutely necessary. Film would be opaque at first from the remaining silver halide in the emulsion. This will darken relatively quickly with exposure to light. Successfully printing an unfixed negative would be close to impossible. Similarly, unfixed prints will have a lot of retained and undeveloped silver halide in the emulsion. At first, you might not notice the difference, but leave one out in room light for a few hours and it will darken considerably.
  12. Perhaps your friend meant that you can use water instead of stop bath.
  13. you are probably confused. you can use water instead of stop bath chemicals after developer, but fixing is a must.
  14. I'm with Stephen. And Robert's likely right too.
    Not using fixer would be disastrous: it dissolves/removes the opaque film backing.
  15. Everything I ever learned says fixing is a necessary step to stop the silver halide from interacting with light.
  16. Ummmmmmmm.....yeah. Watch the movie "The Killing Fields".
  17. only use fixer on negatives you want to keep. PERIOD.
  18. developer-makes image appear
    stop-neutralised developer
    fixer-makes image stay
    so yeah, don't leave out the fixer
  19. i know this sounds a bit dumb, but i just developed my first rolls of film for ten years and
    i followed the chemistry tightly, except that with 4 out of 5 films i ran the fixer through for a peiod of around 1 - 2 minutes ( other than 7.5 like i did the developer)
    im using ilford rapid fixer, and i have left the negatives still pinned up where they were drying in a well lit front room, i havnt notices a change but getting to the point:
    can i run the negatives through another wash of fixer if i only used water to rinse after the first attempt?
    Please help
  20. "can i run the negatives through another wash of fixer if i only used water to rinse after the first attempt?"​
    Yes, you can re-fix the negatives. It will do no harm and may help. Be sure to wash the negatives again after re-fixing.

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