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I have developed 2 rolls of Kentmere 400 in Rodinal 1:50 at 20 mins and fixed with Ilford Rapid Fixer that I didn't realize have long expired and gone bad. The negatives came out very thin, even the leader, so I put them back into the same fixer solution (not realizing it's bad yet) and fixed for 10 more minutes to no avail.

The next day I went out and bought a fresh bottle of Fomafix and tried to refix a piece of leader once more to see if it darkens any further. It didn't, so I didn't proceed refixing the entire rolls.

I have 2 more rolls waiting to be developed but I would like to identify the exact cause of the problem so I don't ruin them too. Is it all the fault of expired fixer or could it be something else?

Some details:

  • The films I developed have been shot almost half a year ago and were stored in fridge.
  • The film itself is fresh and is hand rolled from a 100ft roll with which I had no issues before.
  • I made a test of expired Ilford fixer afterwards and it cleared a piece of leader in about 5-7 mins. As far as I understand, the fact that it clears the film doesn't mean it fixes it properly.
  • Rodinal I use is Fomadon R09 (with dilutions of 1:25/1:50, similar to Adox Rodinal). It have expired in 2015, but I have used it half a year ago last time with no issues.
  • The developing (20 mins in 1:50) sounds ample, but wondering, presume you confirmed developer was correct temperature (recommended 20 deg Celsius or 68 Fahrenheit). Alternatively, do you trust the accuracy of your camera lightmeter and settings ? : thin negs can also mean under-exposure. – David Barry Apr 20 '17 at 10:26
  • It's unlikely that it's underexposure if the exposed leader is also weak. – bvy Apr 20 '17 at 13:41
  • Consider replacing your developer. The Czech R09 is not as bulletproof as the old Agfa/Orwo soup. It can go bad due to old age. – Jindra Lacko Apr 20 '17 at 15:40
  • @DavidBarry I developed at 20°C. The leader is also thin, so it's not underexposure. – lightproof May 19 '17 at 22:54
  • @JindraLacko what about the durability other current Adox-Compard-R09-Adonal stuff? Will lt last long beyond expiry date? It's supposedly the same as Agfa Rodinal. – lightproof May 19 '17 at 22:56
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Sounds like your developer is bad. "Darkening" of the film is a function of the developer, not the fixer. Before developing any film, you should do a clip test. Drop a piece of undeveloped film into your developer (the film leader from a roll of 35mm will work for this). It should darken to full black after your prescribed developing time. If it does not, you should mix fresh developer and do the test again.

By the way, film that looks hazy or unclear or that retains a strong pink or blue hue are indicators that you should re-fix.

  • So, you are basically saying that my film is just underdeveloped? Will using the time from a clip test work for normal development even if developer have indeed gone bad? The Fomadon R09 (as any Rodinal) is a one-shot developer, so if it have gone bad, it would mean the whole bottle of undiluted developer is bad. Which would be strange because AFAIK Rodinal usually works fine even many years after expiry date. – lightproof May 19 '17 at 23:04
  • Possibly. If your clip test produces a black darker than anything on the film in question, then it might be okay. Proceed with caution before developing anything critical. – bvy May 20 '17 at 4:04
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You have a major misconception. Fixing doesn't darken negative film, developing does that. Fixing for longer will not make thin negatives darker.

The developer turns the exposed light-sensitive compound into something dark. The fixer removes the remaining unexposed light-sensitive compound so that it won't darken over time (it eventually does that even without being developed). Once all the unexposed material has been removed, additional fixing won't change the appearance.

Most of the fixing happens in the first few seconds or tens of seconds, with the remaining time making sure the last bit of unexposed material is really gone. Putting film back in developer after having been briefly exposed to fixer might sometimes yield slightly higher density. However, this could be splotchy due to the different amounts of time different parts of the film were exposed to the fixer as it was poured into the tank. Anything much longer than the pour time is unlikely to yield much of a result.

Basically, once the film touches the fixer, consider the developing done. In your case, it was absolutely done after the initial 20 minute fixing bath. There is nothing more you can do. Any remaining underdeveloped silver-halide is long gone. No amount of developing is going to bring it back. And certainly more fixing won't do anything useful. Eventually the hardener in the fixer will make your film too brittle, but you really have to overdo it for that to happen.

  • Well, Ilford Rapid Fixer and Fomafix are both non-hardening fixers, but your point remains: Refixing will accomplish nothing useful here. – bvy Apr 20 '17 at 13:30

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