2-Step Fixing for Black and White Film

I’ve been using a different method for fixing film for a little over a year, and thought I should share with the class. It’s a good method that uses a higher dilution and produces crystal clear emulsion on my preferred stock, Ilford HP5+.

I first read about this method some years ago while trolling through the archives on APUG.org, the reliquary for serious tech on film and paper processing. The reasoning behind the change was questionable, but the results seem to bear out the effort. Diluting the fixer to paper-processing concentration makes the fixing process longer and (presumably) more gentle on the emulsion. Either way, I’m seeing much cleaner emulsions and in the spirit of the community figured I should share.


Quality
Quality
I mix and store my Stop and Fix in 1.5L pitchers I got from the dollar store. Accept no less than Plastico premium quality. I usually run two rolls of 120 at a time, and since I haven’t mastered the arcane skill of loading both rolls on a single reel I use 1L.

Professional
Professional
The fix is mixed to paper dilution, 1+9. This will have the side benefit off stretching your bottle 50% longer. I run my fix in two 5-minute batches. When the first 5-minute run is complete, I replace the solution from the processing tank back into the 1.5L pitcher, and swish to replenish. Refill the tank again then time off another 5 minutes of normal fixing. Results don’t lie.

Clean
Clean
I rinse using the Ilford Archival Method, which uses far less water and time. Fill tank and drain, fill tank and invert (or shake) 5 times, drain, fill and invert 10 times, drain, fill and invert 20 times.

9 Replies to “2-Step Fixing for Black and White Film”

  1. Hmmm… interesting. I remember using 1/10 dilution once and the film came out nice. But I corrected my mistake and reverted to 1/5 dilution afterwards, which I stored and reused. I’ll have to give this a try. Basically, half dilution, twice time. Should work.

  2. Thanks for posting. Have you ever noticed any loss of highlight detail? Seems films are quite tolerant of increased fixing times – most of what I’ve read says you can safely increase the time quite a lot.

    1. Excessive fixing might bleach highlights in prints, but it’s the shadow detail that would suffer in negs. If anything though, I’d expect this method to be safer – with weaker solution, you’d have to extend the fixing time much further before any bleaching occurred.

  3. When my fixer needs replacing, this is my next approach. If I’m mainly developing 1 roll at a time, i guess 1 litre would be sufficient?

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