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Thread: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

  1. #1

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    Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    I wanted to check with the group here and discuss the best methods for hardening the emulsion on large format B&W negatives?

    I am in the middle of a scratched film incident, so I started thinking about mitigating methods for the future.

    If you could share your technique/process for hardening the emulsion on B&W negative film, I would be grateful.

    Thank you,

    -Larry

  2. #2

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    I’ve used the various Pyrocats with x-ray film and reduced scratches.

  3. #3

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    Maybe process one sheet at a time and double check your handling of the negatives while you have them wet?
    You give no indication as to the possible source of scratches.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  4. #4

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    Modern films generally don’t need to be hardened. I suspect it’s something in your process that’s causing scratches.

  5. #5

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    Quote Originally Posted by j.e.simmons View Post
    I’ve used the various Pyrocats with x-ray film and reduced scratches.
    This is my experience as well. It's not magic bullet, but tendency to scratch while tray processing seems reduced.

    You could employ a stop bath augmented with [chrome] alum to harden up the film. I do this when reversal processing large format x-ray. Again, it doesn't confer invulnerability, but does make the emulsion more durable.

  6. #6

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    There's many hardener formulas, Kodak SB-4 hardening bath was used in the old days for "tropical" development, i.e. above 75°F, used after the developer, rinse in water then harden for 3 minutes, then fix in a hardening fixer. This bath uses potassium chrome alum, the chromium makes it hazardous waste. Other hardeners used with older color films used formaldehyde, another undesirable.
    I use good old Kodak Rapid Fixer with the hardener that comes with the fixer. Works well. Modern film indeed, shouldn't need a hardener, but it does help to harden the gelatin on film and especially on fiber base prints.

  7. #7

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFLarry View Post
    ... I am in the middle of a scratched film incident, so I started thinking about mitigating methods for the future. ...
    -Larry
    I concur with the majority opinion here: you should try to refine your handling technique before looking at chemical hardening of the emulsion.

    Yes, we've all scratched a negative or two along the way, but hardening isn't a guarantee that scratches won't happen; it doesn't turn the emulsion into steel. Any wet emulsion, hardened or not, is pretty fragile. Good handling is the best insurance.

    Doremus

  8. #8

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    Re: Methods For Hardening Film Emulsion?

    Also development is probably where I would be most likely to scratch a negative in tray development. Hardener comes after developer. I don't like trays for film, hangers work great and cheap.

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