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I'm intrigued by all the goodness I hear and see written about alkaline fixers. So I'm thinking I might try either mixing my own TF-3 according to Anchell & Troop, or buy premade stock TF-4 from the Formulary.

But which one? It seems to be a toss-up pricewise, and the TF-3 I guess I could mix as I go, keeping bulk chemicals instead of stock. But then the stock TF-4 has a pretty good shelf life, anyway. The Formulary claims TF-4 is good for "some" films... are there any current films it decidely shouldn't be used with? Any developers? I don't tray develop, I do all my 4x5 in a CombiPlan, although one of these days I will find myself a cheap jobo on ebay.

Is either one skin-friendlier to handle?

Help!
 

doughowk

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I've only used TF-4 for a few months - sheet & 35mm film in tank/can & prints in tubes. Film has been Forte 400, Agfa APX 100, Ilford Pan F & HP5. Haven't seen any problems.
 
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I think (?) the differences are minor between the two.
So, from my viewpoint, it's a matter of price/convenience.

I've been using alkali fixers and water stop mostly with Kodak films and Kodak/Ilford papers without any problems.

Jorge O
 

juan

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One cost difference may be in shipping. With TF-4, you are also paying to ship the water it is mixed in.

An alternative I have just began trying is TF-2, which uses sodium thiosulfate rather than ammonium - I have plenty of sodium thiosulfate, so using this film fixer is simply an attempt to reduce the number of chemicals I have around.
juan
 

garryl

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Well there is a third choose>

Formulary does sell Fixer 24. It is a sodium
based, non hardening,powder mix kit. FYI- haven't tried it myself.
 

CraigK

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Not having ever used TF3 or 4, I am curious as to the smell, if any, of these fixers.

Do they smell of ammonia?

If so, how much?

I've always disliked the smell of the Ilford Rapid fix I am currently using and would like to find something that is a bit less odorous.
 

garryl

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It's usually NOT the ammonia that you smell, it the acid. There are several odorless fixers. The two that come to my mind are Kodak F-6 (a mix your own from scratch) and Edwals Quick Fix. Kodak replaces part of the Boric acid content and Edwal uses citric acid instead of acetic acid.
 

CraigK

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garryl

Yes indeed, it is the acid smell that I dislike in the Rapid Fix I am using.

However I was wondering about the smell of TF4 and TF3 since they both seem to have a fair amount of ammonia in 'em.
 

Silverpixels5

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I use TF-4 and the ammonia smell really isn't that bad. I smell it just enough to know its there, and I usually have to put my head right over the tray to smell that.
 

David Vickery

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Hello, it is acetic acid and Ammonia that you smell. The trick is to keep the Ammonia from leaving the solution(I lack the correct terminology here-evaporation I guess?) and to stop using Acetic Acid. Or at least to limit it. If you are using a traditional Acetic acid stop bath you will of course smell that, and most store bought rapid fixers use acetic acid among other things, so with those you have the acetic acid plus the ammonia.
TF-4 is a proprietary formula so I don't really know what is in it and I have never used it so I can't really say much about it. TF-3, however, is what I use for fixing film. I prefer an alkaline rapid fixer and that is what this is, but it does produce an ammonia aroma, though not as strong as some rapid fixers. If you are not using a staining developer for your film then you can add about 3 grams of Citric Acid to the fix tray and you will prevent the ammonia smell. For Paper I use the TF-3 and always add the citric acid. When I built my darkroom I went to a great deal of effort to provide for fresh air intake and an exhaust right at my sinks. Then I started using the TF-3 with citric acid added for processing paper and I never even bother to turn on the exhaust system because there isn't any aroma at all.
 

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If you want something off the shelf, consider Agfa FX-Universal, a neutral (pH=7.2) ammonium thiosulphate based fixer that is primarily sold for colour processing but is ideal for B+W if you want minimal odour and reasonable price.

They are now packaging it here (Australia) with B+W dilutions for film and paper.

If you want to mix cheaply, sodium thiosulphate and sodium sulphite are all that is really necessary.

To this, you could add ammonium chloride or ammonium sulphate to make it a bit more like rapid fixer.

The other ingredients that are in most formulas are for hardening, including acids. It is acid that makes most fixers smell strongly of SO2.

Have a look at Lloyd Erlick's site for interesting articles (and photos!)
 
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Any rapid fixer has ammonia in it.

If you want the least possible smell, go the hypo-sulfite route.

Jorge O
 
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Well, you all certainly didn't make the choice any easier! Thanks for that Agfa curveball! :blink: I think I'll try TF-3 and see how it goes... :smile:
 

Ole

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OF-1 (Ole's Fix numero uno)

About 1½ cup sodium thiosulfate
about two spoonfuls (heaped) of sodium sulfite
a dollop of sodium bicarbonate
three teaspoons ammonium chloride

in one liter water - or two.

Faster than TF-3, less smelly than TF-4, lots cheaper than both.

Exact measurements still to be determined.
 
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I got all I need for TF-3 from the Formulary...

I'm wondering if I should recycle the bottle I used to keep working Ilford Rapid Fix. Other than washing it out real well, is there anything else I should do?

Any thoughts on how long working solution TF-3 can be expected to keep? I guess I'll find out, but it would be nice to have some basic idea...
 

Ole

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Jan Brittenson said:
I'm wondering if I should recycle the bottle I used to keep working Ilford Rapid Fix. Other than washing it out real well, is there anything else I should do?

I use two bottles for fix: one for film, one for paper. When the fixer is getting old I discard it, rinse the bottle, and mix new. No problem at all - unless your fixer has gone bad enough to leave a deposit of sulfur or silver compounds in the bottom. Which shouldn't happen...
 
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Thanks Ole! I rinsed the bottle a few times, then filled it up and let it sit for a few hours just in case.

Looks pretty good... Cleared 400TX leaders in about 45 seconds. I rinsed the test leaders in a cup for about a minute (just for testing), photo-flo'ed them as usual, wiped off excess water, then stuck a paper pH litmus strip to the emulsion to draw out whatever is in there during drying. Perfectly neutral, even with my use of plain filtered tap water. So with 3-5 minutes fix and even the Ilford water-saver rinse routine, this stuff should be real good. Haven't tested it on paper yet (I rent darkroom time by the hour, not sure it will be practical there).

I noticed a little ammonia smell during mixing and pouring, but nothing much really. Probably less in quantity than the acid smell of Ilford RF, but a little more noticable -- perhaps because it's different. Smells like Salmiak candy for thoise who are familiar with that.
 

sanking

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Did anyone mention that Troop and Anchell published errata pages for the Film Developing Cookbook, and the formula for TF-3 was changed?

The original formula called for 800ml of ammonium thiosulfate 57-60%, 50g of sodium sulfite, and 20g of sodium metaborate, per liter of stock solution.

The errata sheet calls for 800ml of ammonium thiosulfate 57-60%, 60g of sodium sulfite, and 5g of sodium metaborate.

From my expereince both formula appear to have worked equally well, but the original one had a much nastier odor.

Sandy
 
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I've been using for film a formula similar to OF-1, but replacing ammonium chloride with ammonium sulfate, and adding some sodium metabissulfite so it's close to neutral.

As Ole said, works like a charm.

Jorge O
 
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I just used TF-3 for real. Real interesting results! I developed two rolls of 120 Delta100 in Microdol-X 1:1 (12min), and fixed them in TF-3. Clearing time for 35mm Delta100 was 50sec, so I fixed 2.5 minutes for a little margin. (I didn't have any extra 120 to test on. Didn't think of it when I loaded the tank, and didn't want to to go back after the fact and snip a piece off.)

Side by side on the light table, next to 120 Delta100 developed exactly the same, but given an acid stop and Ilford Rapid Fix (4 min) there are some very obvious differences. First, IRF never got rid of all the pink dye on this film, while TF-3 cleared it completely. Not a trace. And second, and more interestingly, the TF-3 fixed film has a distinctly warm hue, kind of brownish in color! Is Microdol-X supposed to leave a stain, or is it the fixer? Subjectively, I'd say unexposed base is a little clearer, but it's hard to tell if it's just the lack of pink dye.

Looks like a keeper to me!
 

Black Dog

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Is OF 1 used undiluted or diluted? If so what dilution?
 
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I have this theory of mine that sulfite (or metabissulfite, or both together) have a lot to do with clearing up the pink base tone.

My experience with fixers are a close parallel to Jan's.

Jorge O
 

Ole

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First of all - most developers are staining to some degree. Large sulfite concentrations tend to diminish the strain, as do acid baths. Hydrochinon is very similar to pyrocatechin chemically speaking, and also gives a good stain under the right circumstances.

The pink dye of some films washes out faster in alkaline solution, I don't think it has anything to do with alkalinity.

I use my fixer (OF-1) undiluted, but have tried it diluted 1:1 just to get more volume. Works just as well, but a bit slower.

The bicarbonate can be replaced with metaborate. I used bicarbonate since I wanted as much as possible to be available off the supermarket shelves. The pH will be similar; about 8.5 which is what I wanted: alkaline enough to get the benefits of that, while being low enough to stop most developers.
 
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