Film Developing – How long does fixer last?

Film Photography: How long does fixer last?

This is the first of a series of short posts to dispel some of the myths I have come across when teaching myself film photography and more specifically developing black and white film.

Question:  How long will fixer keep for once it has been diluted?

(I will use Kodak T-max fixer as an example, diluted 1:4 with water, as this is the fixer I use).  I’ve read many different answers to this question but the most common one appears to be dump the developer after each roll of film developed.  I develop my own black and white film partly because it is more economical.  If I was to dump my fixer after every roll of film home developing would soon prove expensive.

Answer: Longer than you think..

(Based on my own experience)

I made up a diluted batch of 1.5L of diluted T-max fixer 4 months ago and have stored it in a dark cupboard in a clear soft drinks bottle.  The bottle is not full to the top so air is in the bottle.  Since making the batch of fixer I think I have developed roughly 25 rolls of B&W film (mostly 120 film but the occasional 135 also).  I tend to leave the film in the fixer for a longer period than suggested to be safe (20 minutes) but I have not observed any problems so far.

Here is an example from the last roll of film developed:

Fashion on FILM

Yulya, Ukraine with ARAX-CM medium format camera & Kodak T-max 400

*I have read that diluted fixer can be used for as long as six months but so far I have not reached that stage.

Fixer shelf life – Conclusion

Even if you want to play it safe and make up a new batch of fixer every month it will still be much cheaper than making a new batch after each roll.

More film myth breakers coming soon..

How to tell if fixer is still good? Quick test.

A quick test to see if your fixer is still good is to put a piece of undeveloped film into the fixer dilution.  Swill the fixer solution around with the piece of film in and the film should go transparent within a few seconds.  If the film stays opaque then the fixer needs replacing.

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Contax 645 Bridal Photography on Film

Bridal Photography on Film
Photo by MatthewOsbornePhotography_ on Flickr.

Shot with Contax 645 for the The Bridal Room, Broadway on Fuji Neopan.

More B&W Film Bridal Photography examples from the day –
Film Photography - Bridal Shoot
B&W Film Photography - Bridal Shoot
Bridal Photography on Film (2)
Film Photography - Bridal Shoot (4)

I’m looking forward to my first B&W wedding photography wedding in July shooting medium format film and B&W digital with the D800. See website for more details –

ARAX-CM + Kodak T-Max 400 Fashion

Fashion on FILM
Photo by MatthewOsbornePhotography_ on Flickr.

ARAX-CM, Mir 38V, Yulya, Ukraine
Kodak T-Max 400 film stand developed in rodinal + xtol & scanned with v600

More Examples with Yulya:
Model Photographer - Film Photography
Fashion on Film
Kodak T-Max 400
And more examples with Yulia (confusing!):
ARAX-CM  Portrait
Yuliya with ARAX-CM
Yuliya, UKraine with ARAX

I shoot both digital photography and film photography as a Model Photographer and Wedding Photographer. My passion is B&W film photography the top 2 photos are some of my favourites so far. They were even spotted by the nice people at Kodak who got in touch with me! 🙂

Digital Bridal Photography

Bridal Photography – Sneak preview from a series taken yesterday in Broadway for ‘The Bridal Room’ shop.  This shot was taken with a Nikon D800 & Lensbaby Edge 80.

Here are some more Nikon D800 Bridal Photography examples:

Bridal Photography (6)

Bridal Photography (2)

A Polaroid Wedding

Bridal Photography (3)

Bridal Photography (4)

Bridal Photography (5)

Full Bridal Photography blog post with film photographs to follow once the negatives have been hand developed.  I covered the shoot using colour 120 Kodak Portra 400 film in the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and in B&W using 120 Kodak T-Max 400 in my Contax 645 medium format film cameras.