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Thread: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

  1. #1

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    Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    From what I've heard, around here most folks might say "Fresh Rapid Fix!" or of course, if alt-process that needs a fixer, perhaps "Hypo Crystals!".

    There are a couple of manufacturers who tout Alkaline fixer as the key to miraculously short wash times, less curling ( acid process tends to harden and cause curling ) and of course, true archival results. Even without using the companion wash aid, wash times are quite rapid.

    Here's one of the products that's on sale:Silvergrain Fix and Wash

    It sounds really great. Of course, when reading advertising or claims, who knows what is really great and what is not? Is this fact, fiction or ?

    Some of you experts out there might be able to explain possible or known benefits to using alkaline fixer. Does anybody around here use it, swear by it, or know better?

  2. #2
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    I've been using TF-4 for a few years now. There is plenty of info on the net about it. It really does offer short fix times and short wash times for archival results. It seems to last a long time in deep tanks. It also reduces toning times. I have no plans to go back to an acid fixer.

  3. #3

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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    I use one because it's more or less oderless.

  4. #4
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    I tried TF-4 and didn't like the smell. So I made my own fixer recipe. It works, it's cheap, and it's odourless.

    And it's also (slightly) alkaline.

    I won't use acid rapid fixer for anything, except bleaching the highlights of POP prints.

  5. #5

    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    Alkaline fixer do indeed offer shorter washing times (not miraculously short, but roughly equal to acid fixers followed by wash aid), but I don't believe that they offer shorter fixing times.

  6. #6

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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    I use the TF4 and it smells like rotten eggs. I'm going to give that other fixer a shot on my next order. Maybe it'll be better. But I've found that prints tone better after a non-hardening fixer. I doubt that pH has anything to do with it though.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  7. #7
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Graves
    I use the TF4 and it smells like rotten eggs.
    TF4 should reek of ammonia, not rotten eggs!

    "Rotten eggs" is hydrogen sulfide, and is one of the many nasty smells from aging overly acidic fixers. Ammonia is the smell of a slightly too alkaline (IMO) rapid fixer...

  8. #8

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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    So where did this idea of alkaline fix come from?

    I have seen people state that acid fixers affect highlight detail in B+W prints. However, I have also seen statements that giving a little extra exposure puts the detail back and since you judge your print by how it looks you don't have to worry about it since regardless of which you use, you will adjust contrast and time to get the detail you want.

    Alkaline fix has been recommended for use with staining developers because it increases stain. However, I have seen no explanation to support this. Alkaline fix for colour work is rquired because acid destroys the dyes in colour materials.
    In black and white acid can have a bleaching affect but again that is compensated for by exposure and development time as part of your normal testing procedure.

    I think its largely paranoia. Someone once said acid is bad and now lots of people fear it. If alkaline was better, the manufacturers would have used it since they always tried to get the best results out of their materials.

    If it worries you, then get some AGFA(A&O) FX Universal which is a very mildly akaline fixer which is designed for use in colour mini labs but works fine on B+W. It is also very cheap.

  9. #9

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    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    Quote Originally Posted by robc
    So where did this idea of alkaline fix come from?

    I have seen people state that acid fixers affect highlight detail in B+W prints. However, I have also seen statements that giving a little extra exposure puts the detail back and since you judge your print by how it looks you don't have to worry about it since regardless of which you use, you will adjust contrast and time to get the detail you want.

    Alkaline fix has been recommended for use with staining developers because it increases stain. However, I have seen no explanation to support this. Alkaline fix for colour work is rquired because acid destroys the dyes in colour materials.
    In black and white acid can have a bleaching affect but again that is compensated for by exposure and development time as part of your normal testing procedure.

    I think its largely paranoia. Someone once said acid is bad and now lots of people fear it. If alkaline was better, the manufacturers would have used it since they always tried to get the best results out of their materials.

    If it worries you, then get some AGFA(A&O) FX Universal which is a very mildly akaline fixer which is designed for use in colour mini labs but works fine on B+W. It is also very cheap.
    Adam's pushed it in one of his books -) He just used plain hypo and water for his final bath.

  10. #10

    Re: Alkaline Fixer - Myths or Reality?

    EdK - TF4 (w/pmk) last 7 years. Smell not an issue for me. I'm comfortable with a normal fix time (lower risk of overfixing w/ alkaline) and a vigorous-but-shortened wash time.

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