View Full Version : Using Hypo Clearing Agent in Jobo Expert Drum

4-Jan-2009, 11:57
Hi all,

Over the weekend I did my first B&W using a Jobo 3010 Expert Drum on a CPA2. Up to now all my B&W processing was by the 'hand immersion' method in either 2500 or 1500 series drums.

The hand immersion procedure that I have been using calls for a 2 minute wash aid such as Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent immediately after the fixer with continuous agitation for the first minute and allowing it to stand for the remaining minute. But the Jobo processing instruction for B&W is silent about using a wash aid and, of course, there is no way to allow the drum to stand for one minute without rotation unless you removed it from the processor and then filled it up to the top.

I was a little perplexed when I came to that step. Since I have been taught to use a clearing agent step and, upon reflection, consider it highly beneficial if not downright necessary in removing the hypo from the film, I added it to the drum and let it rotate for the 2 minutes. Unlike a wetting agent such as PhotoFlo, I did not think that Hypo Clear would harm either the processor or the drum.

My questions are:

1. Why does Jobo skip the Hypo Clear step? Jobo calls for the normal 5 minute wash using the same amount or slightly more water as the developer.

2. Does using a wash agent pose any potential problems for the processor or drum? Is it necessary for the wash agent to remain motionless for the last minute?

3. Is a 5 minute wash by itself is sufficient to remove all the fix from the negative?

Incidentally, the negatives (36) turned out superb - so much so that I am considering doing most of my B&W processing with the Expert Drum.

Thanks for your input and Happy New Year,


Eric Woodbury
4-Jan-2009, 12:33
I cannot answer your questions, but I can pose another. Wash agent treats both sides of the film: all of the film, whereas developer, stop, fix, and the like are treating only the emulsion. I don't know that I trust the wash agent to get under the film (between tank and film) to clear the fix.

Gem Singer
4-Jan-2009, 12:59
HCA (hypo clearing agent) is sodium, or ammonium, sulfite.

Since it is an alkaline solution, it is useful for neutralizing the acidity of the fixer (hypo). HCA is mostly used for neutralizing acidity from fiber based paper. Film and RC paper are non-absorbent. Therefore, rinsing in HCA is not really necessary.

I haven't used HCA for film since I began using alkaline TF-4 fixer, instead of an acidic fixer.

However, I still use it for FB paper after toning, since Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner contains an acidic fixer.

4-Jan-2009, 13:45
Thanks for your enlighting post Gem Singer. It motivated me to get out Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary. I took general chemistry in college but except for the mathematics of dimensional analysis that I learned in the courses, haven't used it much.

I learned to process film here in California where there is a perennial shortage of water and using HCA makes environmental sense. The method taught was 5 changes of water over a five minute period. Jobo has 10 changes of water over the same time period. Looking again at the Jobo manual, it does state that HCA or hypo-eliminator products may be used to reduce rinse times.


4-Jan-2009, 13:49
The only black and white film related chemical JOBO specifically recommended you avoid using in the drums is PhotoFlo like solutions which apparently leave some residue in the drum.

Gem Singer
4-Jan-2009, 14:23

All you need to do is switch to an alkaline fixer, such as Photographer's Formulary TF-4 and forget about using HCA for film.

An alkaline fixer washes out of film in a few minutes, using ordinary water. Saves time, water, and money, in the long run.

Robert A. Zeichner
4-Jan-2009, 15:37
I cannot answer your questions, but I can pose another. Wash agent treats both sides of the film: all of the film, whereas developer, stop, fix, and the like are treating only the emulsion. I don't know that I trust the wash agent to get under the film (between tank and film) to clear the fix.

Actually, the design of the Expert Drum allows chemistry to reach the back of the film. If you sight down the dividing rib in a cylinder of a 3010 for instance, you would see it is slightly curved. Is this important? Yes, very much so. While logic dictates that it is the emulsion that gets developed and fixed, there are dyes that are used in manufacture of certain films that need to be dissolved off the base in processing. Take T-max for example. I process a lot of it in an Expert Drum and unless the pre-soak and later, fresh fixer reaches the backing of the film, I would end up with negs that have a profound magenta cast.

As far as HCA, I use it as the last step in processing. 4 minute fix, 1 minute rinse, 1 minute Heico wash aid. I then "rinse" the system with several (3 or 4) 1/2 minute water rinses of 500ml each. This, to clean out the plumbing of the system. I then pop open the drum and move the sheets to my Gravity Works film washer where I give a 5 minute wash with one change per minute.

Bruce Watson
4-Jan-2009, 15:48
This tread (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/55643-washing-film-best-environmentally-friendly-way-do.html) on APUG addresses washing. Lots to read, lots to debate. Enough for a good sized headache.

The bottom line is, you don't really need a wash aid. But to be safe, you should calibrate your process, just like you calibrate developing to find your personal EI and your personal N development time.

What you need to find out if you've washed enough is a hypo test kit. Kodak doesn't make theirs anymore, but Photographer's Formulary still makes such a kit. (http://www.photoformulary.com/DesktopModules/StoreProductDetails.aspx?productID=152&tabid=9&tabindex=2&categoryid=37&selection=0&langId=0)

Nathan Potter
4-Jan-2009, 17:33
Most of your questions answered above. Film does not necessarily need a hypo clear step but some workers like to be fanatic about clean processing. An issue can be residual drum contamination. With drum processing it may be necessary to use multiple rinses to achieve an adequate degree of chemistry removal using the successive dilution technique. Really depends on how the film sits in the drum and how thoroughly the previous chemistry can be flushed from tight spaces within the drum (read between drum and film back surface among other nitches). When I use a drum for film I remove the film before or after fix and finish the processing in SS film hangers including final photoflo.

If I did only a final wash in the drum I'd do 5 changes over 10 minutes or so to be really safe.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

5-Jan-2009, 19:50
Everybody's got their own method of madness. I stopped using HCA in favor of Permawash. I just run the drum for the recommended time on the bottle (1 minute) and then proceed to wash for 5 minutes with 10 changes. I haven't had a bad negative yet. :)

23-Nov-2010, 05:09
I realize that this thread is old but I came across it and decided to add my comments for the possible benefit of someone who may read it in the future. I was surprised to see so much concern and confusion about the use of HCA.

It sounds like you may be too concerned about when and how to use HCA. The procedure does not need to be as precise as you seem to assume. There is, for example, no need to let the film sit still for one minute in HCA and there is no reason for timing the step with such precision. HCA treatment has no effect on the image at all. I simply agitate the film in HCA for about three or four minutes regardless of the process I'm using, i.e., trays, tanks, or Jobo processing. It is not a precise step that you should worry about, like the development step. All you need to do is treat the film in HCA for a sufficient amount of time to let it do it's job. You can't over-do HCA treatment and you really can't under-do it either because it is simply a step to reduce wash times. It helps break down the fixer for faster washing, that's all. It's the wash step that is most important and you should always give that sufficient time. HCA just allows you to reduce that time a bit and nothing more.

You mentioned that you go directly from the fixer to HCA. That is not advisable. You should rinse the film after fixing and before HCA treatment. The reason is obvious; the rinse gets rid of the bulk of the fixer so the HCA can do its job easier. Also, if you are re-using your HCA, it will last longer if you rinse the film first. The principle is the same as when you process fiber-based papers. You seem to be concerned about wasting water but you will be wasting chemicals and water if you don't rinse your film after fixing it and before HCA treatment. Just a quick rinse does the job. That allows HCA to work much more efficiently and it allows you to use the HCA for far more film before discarding it.

As for the comment by another person here who expressed concern about the HCA getting on the back of the film: He states that developer and fixer ONLY treat the front (emulsion) side of the film but he is concerned that HCA treats both sides. I am puzzled by such a comment. Does he think there is a way to treat only one side of the film with HCA? :) I would love to seem him do that! It's true that the developer and fixer only act on the emulsion but both sides are immersed in developer and fixer, of course. HCA acts on the fixer and there is fixer on both sides of the film although there is more soaked into the emulsion. But, in any case, there is no way to treat only one side of the film! I suspect that the person who made that comment never developed film. I had to read his comment twice because I thought I must have read it wrong the first time. :D

That said, there is no need to use HCA with film at all, as someone else pointed out. Unlike fiber-based papers that become saturated with fixer deep into their fibers, film holds very little fixer and it is easily washed off. I do use HCA for film myself but I would not be concerned at all if I ran out of it and couldn't use it. I would simply extend the wash time a bit. Just as RC papers need no HCA treatment, film doesn't either. It's just a nice little optional step to reduce washing times a bit, that's all. It has no effect on the image itself. There is no reason at all to worry about precise times or letting the film sit in HCA still for one minute, etc. It's analogous to the pre-wash step you may have seen at do-it-yourself car washes. That step helps soften and loosen dirt so the wash step goes faster but it certainly isn't necessary.

You certainly can use HCA in your Jobo tanks but, as always, it's best to rinse the film first.

I wash my film in a fill & dump film washer for ten or fifteen minutes. All that is necessary is that you give sufficient wash times. Again, there is no need to fuss over precision. HCA is not a step to be all concerned about and to worry about precision when doing. If you are very concerned about wasting water, go ahead and do a hypo check and then wash your film for slightly longer than you hypo check indicates to give you a margin of safety. But I see little reason to go to the trouble involved. There are far more important things to be concerned about when processing film. It does, however, pay off to do hypo tests to determine wash times for fiber-based papers because a lot more water is involved.

As you know, Jobo does not recommend using stabilzers (for color) or Photoflo in Jobo tanks or with the film on Jobo reels. I don't know about that. I know people who have done those steps in Jobo tanks for many years with no problem at all. I have done it myself and not experienced any problems at all although I generally follow Jobo's advice and I rinse the tanks and reels thoroughly if I do do the stabilizer or Photoflo step with film in Jobo tanks and/or on Jobo reels. I don't like takiing roll film off the spool to treat it in stabilizer or Photoflo because it is easily damaged when doing that. Wet film should be treated with care.

23-Nov-2010, 06:10
For LF film in Jobo expert and 2800 drums I use:

1min water wash
1min Permawash (rotating, like the rest of the sequence)
1min water wash
2min water wash
3min water wash
Remove negatives from drum
Individual rinse in a tray of water 15-30 seconds (to make sure no residue is on back of negative)
Dip in tray of PhotoFlow
Hang to dry.

23-Nov-2010, 11:09
At my college, where we use the Jobo drums for 4x5, they just have us drain the fixer, then fill+rotate with fresh water for one minute, repeat 5x. They have their own test chemistry there, and can verify that this approach is archival-quality. Frankly, considering how Jobo tanks are so chemistry-efficient, I don't see all the fuss using a hypo clear when all it will save you is a couple of one-minute rinse cycles.

24-Nov-2010, 12:01
Jobo especifically recomends not to use estabilizers...

Note 4: Stabilizer should always be used outside of the processor to avoid contaminating tanks and reels. Use a separate container for stabilizing film and remove the film from the reel before stabilizing. Stabilizer is very difficult to remove entirely from reels and tanks. If it is carried over into the next process, developing can be affected.