Ilford archival sequence and selenium : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I am considering to start using the Ilford archival sequence since it makes sense to reduce the time paper is exposed to fixer, but I feel uncertain about fitting in the selenium toning bath into this sequence.

Currently my procedure for developing fibre based papers (usually Ilford MG FB) is:

1. Neutol developer 1+7 2. Acetic acid (0,7%) stop bath 3. 1st fixing bath (Tetenal Fixing salt, a conventional sodium thiosulfate fixing bath for 2 min.). 4. 2nd fixing bath (as fixing bath 1) 5. Kodak rapid selenium toner diluted 1:20 for ca. 5 min. 6. Kodak Hypo clearing agent for recommended time (3 min ?) 7. Wash for ca. 1 hour. 8. Air dry.

As far as I understand (from earlier postings)Kodak rapid selenium toner contains thiosulfate. If I start using ammonium thiosulfate fixer and fix for a total of 60 seconds according to the Ilford protocol and afterwards let the papers sit in selenium toner for several minuntes I suppose the papers still will absorb a lot of thiosulfate. Or is the concentration of thiosulfate possibly so much lower in the selenium toner than in the fixer that the time in selenium toner does not matter?

Any comments on this problem would be appreciated.


-- Per Askerlund (, February 18, 2001


I called Ilford on this matter a while back. The tech I talked to said ten minutes in hypo clearing agent and then a thirty minute wash after selenium toner. FWIW.

-- Paul Swenson (, February 18, 2001.

Just be aware as you do this that many do not feel the Ilford 60 second fix adequate for a number of papers.

-- Dan Smith (, February 18, 2001.

also the shorter the time in anything, the more possibility of error (over fixing, etc.)

-- mark lindsey (, February 19, 2001.

This is a clear disadvantage of selenium toner w/ respect to archival processing. The whole point of rapid fixing is lost, and the print is really soaked in hypo-containing solution. Also, there seems to be more and more agreement among conservationists that selenium will only have a significant stabilising effect if toning is taken to completion, or at least until there is a clear change in image tone. Old Ansel's method, toning in highly dilute selenium toner to enhance the Dmax is therefore fine for just that purpose, but it does not make your images more stable. If it's not the Dmax you're after but the archival effect, forget the selenium toner. Just apply the Ilford archival sequence involving a rapid fix, preferably in two stages, wash as prescribed, using a hypo clearing agent, and use Agfa's Sistan as final treatment. (No washing after that, please.)

I am really fed up with that allegation that rapid fixing be prone to errors. I fail to see any problem in fixing my images in two 30-second intervals. (Remeber: It's not necessary to wait for the fix to drop off the print surface before you dunk it in another fix tray. I feel that saying short times are prone to errors is equivalent to saying that you don't care enough to make sure the process instrucitons are kept to w/ sufficient precision.

Regards, Thomas Wollstein

-- Thomas Wollstein (, February 19, 2001.

Foregoing the selenium and using Sistan instead seems like a good way to save time if what you're after is an increase in print longevity rather than an increase in dmax. But isn't Sistan prone to problems also -- problems that don't show up till later? Have you had any problems with Sistan, Thomas, and can you give some pointers on its application. I've been tempted to move from selenium to Sistan for just the reasons you cited, but I hesitate...

-- Christopher Hargens (, February 20, 2001.

The application is easy: Just use the Sistan as the very last bath, NO WASHING AFTERWARDS. Sistan contains a wetting agent, so the surface water runs of easily. The only problems I have read about (I haven't experienced them myself) is that

1. you must make sure the solution is prepared as prescribed, i.e. 1+19, NOT STRONGER, for too high a concentration may cause crystals forming on the print surface. (Which, I think, is not a big problem as the potassium thiocyanate can be washed out again.)

2. you must takes notes of the numbers and sizes of prints you treated with the working solution as there is no indication or test showing that the soup is depleted.

Apart from that it seems a good thing, with the additional bonus that Sistan is much less toxic than selenium toner.

BTW: Agfa has often been blamed for not having published test results proving the effectiveness of Sistan. According to the product manager of Sistan, this owes to the fact that so far, only in-house tests were made, which means Agfa is convinced that the stuff works, but they would only publish test results proving it if these results were obtained by an independent institute. Some weeks ago, however, my contact at Agfa informed me that his management was about to allow him to have an independent institute carry out the tests. So I expect that we will see those results sooner or later.

Regards, Thomas Wollstein

-- Thomas Wollstein (, February 21, 2001.

Thanks for the information. I've also heard that you must also make sure that no drops of the Sistan wash are left on the print since these drops when dry will contain concentrations of its active incredient, which in concentrated form will eventually stain a print. I currently don't squeegee my prints -- don't like the friction -- but if I can shorten my wash time by using Sistan I may also reach for the squeege. The other issue, I guess, is Dmax -- is the increase worth the bother? Probably best to decide that issue on a case by case basis.

-- Christopher Hargens (, February 21, 2001.

Thank you for your answers. I may start using Ilford Hypam fixer instead of the Tetenal fixer I've been using up to now. I think they have discontinued the latter (the slow type, not the express fix) some time ago (I bought a few kilos at a photostore in Hamburg then).


-- Per Askerlund (, February 22, 2001.

By the way, I don't want to give up the selenium toning. Even at a high dilution like 1:20 it gives the Ilford MG FB and Galerie that extra punch.

-- Per Askerlund (, February 22, 2001.

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