Tag Archives: Germany

Disposal of consumed fixer

I have been trying to figure out what to do with used fixer chemical other than pouring it down the drain.

Some web research showed that the following is the proposed, most environmentally acceptable (silver thiosulfate is toxic in minute concentrations) method of disposal:

Chemically, the key to the process is Na2O4S2 Sodium dithionite (aka sodium hydrosulfite or sodium hydrosulphite), a white crystalline powder with a weak sulfurous odor. This substance will fall out the silver and separate it from the rest of the components, creating a benign liquid that can be poured into sewage.

This is how it is done: put the fixer into a canister and add the sodium dithionite, maybe around two table spoons per litre. Don’t close the canister. Put it in a well-ventilated location at around room temperature, perhaps out on the balcony, as it will produce some sulphur dioxide which happens to smell (similar to Japanese onsen – enjoy!). The silver will fall out as a black sludge of colloid silver and silver sulfide to the bottom and some to the wall of the canister. After a week or so, pour off the excessive liquid and filter the rest through a coffee filter. The black stuff that remains in the filter and the canister is silver; dry the cake and collect it for further processing or disposal. The liquid can go into sewage without any trouble.

In theory, you can collect the resulting silver and later take it to your next-door dental technician – a liter of exhausted fixer contains some three to six grams of silver – who then can smelt it down into a ring for your loved one every year or two if you have enough throughput. You can also use nitric acid to dissolve it and coat your own photographic plates.

Sodium dithionite must be stored dry, otherwise it will decompose and corrode the container it is stored in. Don’t inhale the dust (mask is recommended) and wear gloves, i.e. take the usual lab precautions. Obviously don’t ingest the stuff either. Wash hands after handling. One kilogram of sodium dithionite should suffice for 80 liters of fixer.

You may have also heard of the steel wool method, which also works.

The big question is where to buy sodium dithionite in Japan? I don’t have the answer to that one yet. One would have to find sellers of chemical substances. In Europe/Germany, Mikon Mineralienkontor, a dealer in minerals, sells sodium dithionite for EUR 8.81 per kg, excluding shipping. This Japanese site (Naitoh Shouten Co.) lists 450g of ハイドロサルファイトソーダ (Sodium hydrosulfite) for JPY 1260 and 15kg for JPY 11655, but I am not sure if it can be bought by consumers.

More non-trivial

Came across this illuminating story in the FT on Leitz company’s role during the NS era in Germany. Then I found the site of Jill Enfield, a member of one of the families despatched abroad by Leitz who still appears to be committed to photography.

The point of this? I suppose the point is realising that there are far too few stories in the media about how people did the right and decent thing and not even want to talk about it as opposed to someone engaging in cruel acts or acts that attempt to gain some degree of publicity.

Since this is a world based more and more on the expectation of a reward for anything you do (ideally fame and wealth), you’d wonder what value anyone sees in good deeds when growing up in such a value system.

Velvia, Provia, customs, QuickChange

Velvia 50 is back in production – in the UK at least. This is a surprise to many and we did not hear anything about it in Japan. We have some selected Velvia 50 films in stock, but do not plan to supply it in the long term, subject to Fujifilm future changes.

We have added Provia 400X in 35mm and 120 format to our selection. Be sure to try out this new high-speed reversal film stock.

We have had reports of negative experiences with customs authorities in the following countries: Canada (additional documentation for all shipping options, delays), Germany (opening of sheet film boxes, delays, charges), Italy (excessive delays). While we do our best to ensure a smooth import we remind customers that we are not responsible for all customs obligations to their authorities.

We have had confirmation that QuickChange cartridges have been phased out of production in March 2006 and supplier stocks are depleting. We have accumulated some film stock dated 12-2006 in Velvia and Provia and keep trying to offer used film holders while we have cartridges. The time of availability of the modern Grafmatics-type 4×5 film system is coming to an end and we recommend to make your purchase decision for holder or additional cartridges soon.

Fortia SP, Konica Pan, MS Mag 0.85W

Fortia SP ultra-strong colour reversal film has always been advertised as a limited edition film and stocks have finally run out. We hope you managed to try one of those out. Let’s see if there will be another re-run or even a permanent film.

To the disappointment of many, Konica-Minolta has recently withdrawn from the photography business. This means that the remaining film products will also disappear. Konica Pan in 120 format is already gone and the 35mm films will also go the same way very soon.

Saving the good news for last, we are pleased to announce that after obtaining a patent specialist’s opinion, the MS Optical 0.85W magnifier (“minifier”) for Leica M viewfinders does not infringe the existing Leica patents and can thus be offered for sale worldwide. The 1.15 and 1.35 magnifiers remain limited to all countries except Germany and the United States.

MS Optical R&D Leica viewfinder magnifiers

As a worldwide exclusive, we are extremely happy to be able to offer you unique viewfinder attachments for the Leica M rangefinder camera made by MS Optical R&D in Japan. Apart from an attractive price and great quality, these magnifiers also feature an dioptre adjustment facility. These magnifiers can turn your 0.72 viewfinder into a completely new camera without having to invest into a new body!

Please note that due to Leica patent restrictions, these products are not available to customers in Germany and the United States of America. We are sorry for any inconveniences caused by this. Legal opinion is currently sought on this matter.

From Germany #3

Metz Mecablitz Battery

I wanted to breathe another lease of life into my oldie but goldie Metz CT4-60 series flash, which I used for many years for lighting during parties and other paid jobs. Nothing sophisticated about this unit, but a strong light source which with a Sto-Fen diffuser makes a capable setup. Lately the DryFit battery block, probably 20 years old, would run out soon after recharging, but the cheapest replacements I could find were $80 or more. Managed to pick on up for €12,50 in Germany at a specialist battery webshop (search for SONNENSCHEIN dryfit A506/4,2K).

From Germany #2

A Leica is not just for Christmas

Dining table at Christmas – there is something for everyone. Oh wait, there is a another Leica! Yeah, I just could not resist when this M6 TTL came up for a good price. I had always been a little envious about the 0.58 viewfinder magnification of Higashimori’s Leica, so I jumped. Besides, since the funds generated by the webshop are all in US$, it does not present a exchange rate problem.

Took it out for a quick spin on Sunday. Very surprised to get back on the rangefinder after 2-3 months of Canon DSLR. The feel remains just exactly what I am comfortable with. I am still not sure whether I like the rangefinder properties over the SLR properties, or whether it is an issue of digital versus film. I suppose it is a combination of things.

Some observations:

  • auto-focus is not really faster than manual focus. I find myself refocussing all the time with the Kiss, and good manual focussing is at least as fast. MF on the Kiss is very difficult, however, better than the seriously maddening PowerShot G2, but still difficult
  • the Leica is a very small package indeed, although heavy
  • I cannot get used to doing black and white with digital, and have not had the patience to do it well
  • the Kiss rules for quick snaps and all family stuff
  • digital is great in low light
  • returning to disliking buttons and wheels and menus, especially for shooting parameters, preferring manual controls, or having to choose between modes like Av, Tv, P etc.
  • the flexibility of changing ISO on demand is really neat, having a 1600 film on frame 10 in bright daylight or 100 at night is problematic and probably leading to lost shots
  • the instant image review on digital is a curse and blessing at the same time, but probably detrimental to staying on
  • So there you have it, my state of mind on cameras for now.

    Oh, and the other one will probably have to go. Any takers?