Photographic fixer

From Academic Kids

Photographic fixer is a chemical used in the final step in the photographic processing of film or paper. Fixer is used for processing all commonly used films including black and white films, colour negative films (C41), colour reversal films E6 and chromogenic films .

Most fixers are based on the thiosulophate ion especially Ammonium thiosulphate. Up until the 1970s, Sodium thiosulphate or Hypo was the commonly used fixer. Both fixers work best in acid conditions and this is usually created using small quantities of Acetic acid. The fixer removes the unexposed silver halide remaining on the negative or photographic paper leaving behind the reduced metallic silver. By removing the unexposed silver halide, the fixer prevents any further reaction of the silver salts and ensures a permanent image. The negative or paper can be exposed to light after fixing.

In the case of colour films, the elemental silver left behind after development must be subsequently removed by solution in a chemical cocktail called a Blix or bleach-fix. This contains a mixture of ammonium thiosulphate and Ferrous EDTA, a powerful chelating agent.

One disdvantage of the use of thiosluphate as fixers is their ability to dissolve elemental silver at a very slow rate. If films or papers are inadequately washed after fixing, any residual fixer can slowly bleach or stain the photgraphic image. For prints on high grade fibre papers, a period of continuous washing in clean cold water for up to 40 minutes may be required. For modern plastic coated papers, washing for as little as 2 minutes in warm water can be sufficient to eliminate residual fixer.

See Also: film developingnl:Fixeer

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