Issues developing black & white film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by sebg, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. I developed a new roll this morning.

    I tried some of the changes suggested.

    1) Up and down firmer agitation for 20 seconds every minute this time (instead of 10)
    2) Fixer was for 7 min instead of the previous 5

    I'm attaching an image of the new negatives. They look more contrasty and generally better.

    But I'm afraid the halo or foginess between the images and near the sprokets still remains. Can't see any effect on the actual frames, but will know for sure when I have a new scanner.
  2. It's not clear from that what dilution you're using for the fixer, or what type of fixer it is.

    If you're using Ilford rapid fixer, Ilford's instructions are: "For all film fixing applications ILFORD RAPID FIXER is diluted 1+4 with water."

    The temperature and agitation regime should be just as strict for fixing as for developing BTW.

    The developer isn't really in question, but 20 seconds agitation per minute is a bit too much. A couple of tank inversions every minute are plenty... provided they're done properly.

    The negatives look useable, but I still think they're slightly overdeveloped from the high density of those white shirts. And a little underexposed too.

    But let's concentrate (no pun intended) on the fixer. What are you using, and at what dilution, temperature and time?

    P.S. Plustek's film scanners don't impress me. If you can get a Primefilm/Pacific Image scanner, I think you'll get better results. They have an automatic film advance for a start, which is a big time-saver.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  3. I'm using Rapid Fixer at 1+4 for 7 minutes now, before was 5 minutes. At 20 degrees C

    Ok then, I will try again with 10 seconds now that I think Im agitating correctly. I hear something about the more agitation the more "contrasty" they get. But thats another topic.

    Thanks again.
  4. HP5+ should only need 2-4 minutes at 1:4 in fresh Ilford rapid fix. Are you agitating when the fixer is in as well? It should be agitated pretty much the same as with the developer.
  5. Yep, I was doing 5 minute of fixing but people suggested that the negatives were underfixed, and because I wasnt too worried about overfixing I increased the time.

    Yes, I'm agitating the same as with the developer.
  6. That should be fine then. So why the apparent milkiness and 'fog'?

    Try putting the film back in fixer for another 5 or more minutes @ 20 C. If the milkiness clears and the fog goes away, that definitely confirms that the fixing was bad. In which case you need to buy another batch of fixer.

    Having bought the fixer 'fresh' is no guarantee that it isn't old stock, or even a faulty batch from the factory.

    Stale fixer has a sulphurous 'bad eggs' smell to it, and fresh fixer hardly smells at all. Stale fixer sometimes also throws a yellow sediment in the bottle. That would be another test.
  7. Oh man, you nailed!
    Tried what you suggested. 5 more minutes with fresh fixer at 20C.

    I think it completely fixed the fog/ milkiness. (right strip was with the extra fixing)


    As you can see the purple tone of the negatives disappeared. The haze around the sprockets is gone too. And when you invert the colors the images look more contrasty and richer. Both strips of negatives were together before and the change is more than obvious.

    So gooood. :))

    The question now is why that happened? I was reusing the fixer before but just around 5 rolls, don't think it's that much, people were suggesting even 10 rolls before preparing a new batch... The reused fixer had a slight yellow tone, no residue and a quemical smell but not bad or "egg like", and you had to get really close to smell it.

    The thing is that on my first batch obviously I used fresh fixer and the fogginess was there. So I'm wandering if the solution is leaving the fixer for 10 minutes?¿ or maybe fix for 5 minutes as indicated, empty the tank and 5 more minutes with new fixer? I will have to do some tests.

    Anyway, thanks a lot! Really appreciate it.
  8. Glad we could help solve the 'mystery' and rescue your negs.

    For future reference. Fixer will get much less efficient if it's contaminated by developer. You need at least to use a water rinse (say 2 minutes, two changes of water) between developer and fixer. A stop bath of 2% acetic acid or citric acid (or 5% white vinegar at a pinch) will preserve the activity of your fixer even better.

    Even then a part-used fixing bath will need to have its time extended with use.

    FWIW; according to Ilford 1 litre of their rapid fixer will fix 120 x 36exp rolls of 35mm film. That's 24 rolls in 1 litre of diluted ready-to-use solution, or about 8 rolls in an average 350ml tankful of diluted fixer. Now I find that capacity a bit unbelievable to start with, but in any case the fixing time will need to be extended as the fixer gets used. I estimate that doubling the time after 5 rolls per tankful would be about right, and with using a stop bath. That is, adding about 20% extra time per roll, on the basis that over-fixing won't hurt.

    I suspect that Ilford's capacity figures can only be met by using 'split fixing' - i.e. you give half the fixing time in part-used fixer, and the other half in fresh(er) fixer; swapping the baths after the alloted quantity of film has passed through the first bath. You then discard the first, most used fixer and replace it with the 2nd bath. In turn replacing that with freshly made up fixer.

    Tedious and a bit complicated, but probably the only way to meet Ilford's rather optimistic capacity figures.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
    bethe_fisher and pablo_escobar like this.
  9. Noted.
    Yeah, sounds a bit tedius to be honest.

    Interesting what you say about the contamination of the fixer.
    I use ILFOSTOP for 30 seconds between the developer and the fixer.

    I dont' rinse with water between chemicals. Maybe I should give it a rinse between the stopper and the Fixer?¿

    I refixed a couple more rolls that I had with the fog. The color of the fixer is much more clear than the one with around 6 rolls on it.

    Maybe the fastest easiest, and more expensive thing to do would be just reuse it for 2-4 rolls tops and see how it goes.

    Because its quite a pain in the ass to refix it to be honest haha. I already had the foggy rolls cut in strips and on folders. So now I have to replace them on the spindle in pieces haha

    Will see, maybe I try what you propose about the half half fixer.

    Well, anyway, thanks again. At least you managed to find the solution to the problem. Cheers to everyone for the help.
  10. Suspect fixer can be tested by snipping off a bit of film from the leader and dump it in some of the fixer in a TV dinner tray. Agitate now and then and time how long it takes the film piece to go clear. If it completely clears within a few minutes, it's good. If it's still trying to clear the film piece after 6 minutes, it's on it's way out, time for new mix
    bethe_fisher likes this.
  11. Thanks!
  12. Sounds like you've got a handle on it now. The first batch of fixer must either have been defective or something caused it to go bad.
  13. Try adjusting levels (black and white points) during the scan or in post processing if you scan flat. I'm assuming the negatives are OK.
  14. Yeah, at least we got for sure what cause the fog.

    I can't imagine what could have caused the first batch to go bad... I was keeping the chemicals on the fridge but couldn't find any contraindications for that.

    Yeah, once I have the new scanner, which is probably gonna be a new Plustek I will have to spend some time researching how to properly scan. Presents and how to adjust the levels etc. But that's another topic.

    Thanks again ;)
  15. Nothing wrong with storing them cold, although I wouldn’t want it sitting next to my food. Oxidation is what kills developers, and that will be slower cold.

    I will add the caveat that I MIGHT be concerned about some of the components of D76 dropping out of solution at low temperatures, but I don’t know whether or not that would happen without checking solibilities, and if it does can be remedied by redissolving once back to RT.
  16. There should be no need for a water rinse and a stop bath. I just thought that maybe you were contaminating the fixer with developer and reducing its effectiveness.

    Which brings us back to why the film was under-fixed in the first place?

    Possible over dilution by mistake?
    A bad batch of fixer as bought?

    Both testable by carefully measuring and making up a new batch, and timing the clearing time as Kmac suggested.

    It probably wouldn't hurt to buy another bottle of fixer from a different supplier anyway.

    Only other thing to mention is that fast films like HP5+ usually need a bit more fixing time than slower films, but this should be accounted for in Ilford's recommended fixing times.
  17. Ilford recommends pH values for their fixer. It can change due to remaining developer, and also evaporation of acetic acid in the fixer.

    As well as I know, the pH goes up with age from evaporating acetic acid, instead of down from evaporating ammonia.

    Some day I will get a pH meter, so I can test it.

    Otherwise, I have found that Ilford rapid fixer is good at silver plating my bottles, way before the capacity
    values indicated.

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