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Thread: LF and Traveling Overseas

  1. #1

    LF and Traveling Overseas

    Considered taking the 4x5 with me on an upcoming European trip and made several contacts with Fed Ex and DHL concerning sending myself film overseas to avoid the airport hassle that has been discussed here ad nausium. What I found out rather set me back a bit. First it is very expensive. Two boxes of 4x5 sheet film (100 sheet box of FP4+ and a 50 sheet box of Velvia) would run about $80 for a three day delivery and about $72 for a week delivery (Colorado to Germany). Second, it is completely up to customs of the country you are sending it to as to the control of the screening that could take place. In other words, you take your chances with no guarantees on the receiving end.

    Domestically, Fed Ex can tell you straight faced that they do not X Ray packages but it is out of everyone's hands in Europe. Labels on the outside or not it is a crap shoot at best. At least they are being straight about it.

    My options as I see them are to suck it up and let them X Ray it at the airport and hope for the best, try to acquire film at my destination without getting killed on the price or purchase post cards and focus (no pun intended) on schnitzel and beer (not necessarily in that order). I do not see the courier options as viable and I have no expectations that I can talk my way through the airport with a hand check. Been there and tried that.

    Any of you jet setters with LF cameras have any recommendations?

    Bottoms Up!

  2. #2

    LF and Traveling Overseas

    Why couldn't you have an internet saavy Euro supplier, like Robert White or Calumet, have it waiting for you at your hotel? What's that big German place - Man-something-which?

  3. #3
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    LF and Traveling Overseas

    Germany is a civilized country where they sell LF film, so maybe if you say what cities you are visiting, some locals can recommend the best places to purchase film, and process it if you don't want to carry unprocessed film back.

    I just don't worry about X-rays too much. I carry the film on board and let it go through the machine with no ill effects. Sometimes I put it in a lead bag as an extra precaution, and I haven't had any trouble doing that. I usually shoot Tri-X and haven't had any sheets ruined. You're shooting FP4+ and Velvia, so it's even less of a danger.

  4. #4
    the Docter is in Arne Croell's Avatar
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    LF and Traveling Overseas

    I had my film (TMAX 100) X-rayed in my carry-on going from the US to Germany and vice versa without any problems so far. But buying in Germany is an option if you're in one of the bigger cities (Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Stuttgart etc.) that have a sizable number of professional photographers. There are also mail order stores, Calumet has a German branch, for instance. I would inquire ahead about availability, e.g. getting Ilfords products was bit dicey for a while due to their reorganisation after coming out of receivership. Where in Germany are you going?

  5. #5

    LF and Traveling Overseas

    David:

    I purchased a Domke heavy lead shield bag that I could use. Did the screeners let it go through without taking it out of the lead bag? If so, that would not only save me a bunch of money and at the same time give me some hope that I could keep the risk manageable. I remember Michael Smith said that he used a large changing bag and let the screener run his hand over the edge of the film and that met their security criteria. He shipped his loaded Range Rover overseas and he took the changing bag with him as a normal part of his routine. ZMy preference would be to avoid this option if possible.

    One way or another it will work out!

    Thanks

  6. #6

    LF and Traveling Overseas

    We are flying into Frankfurt and staying near Nurnberg and commuting from there.

    Thanks a bunch!

  7. #7

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    LF and Traveling Overseas

    I travel internationally a lot and often I will take my LF gear with me. I ALWAYS let them xray my film (carry-on) and have never had any problems whatsoever. Most of the times the film will be xrayed up to 8 times before I am back home and can develop it - never had any fogging. I think the fogging concerns are exagerated. Hand inspection carries more risks in my opinion than the xray machines.
    Juergen

  8. #8

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    LF and Traveling Overseas

    Michael, here is my approach, which has worked so far at every airport I've been through except Dublin and Seattle (the security guys in Dublin being just clueless and those in Seattle being right-wing nazi subhuman turds-for-brains, as discussed in detail in a previous thread). Bring the film in your carry-on, and ask for hand inspection. When they say the box has to be opened, tell them it is professional film that will be destroyed if they open it. They will put up a fuss, then get the supervisor, who will argue a bit, and if you hang in there they will finally satisfy themselves with using one of those swabbing machines that doesn't subject the film to any x-ray exposure. If you are going through four airports, this ought to work for about three of them; the other one will force you to x-ray the film. Although this approach is kind of stressful, it does help to diminish any kind of cumulative effect from x-rays.

  9. #9

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    LF and Traveling Overseas

    Hi Michael,

    Over the years I have developed an aversion to carrying anything I didn’t absolutely have to (just my passport and credit card) on an airplane and through the airports. Such a bother. And I’m getting less and less athletic as the decades roll by.

    I took a month-long trip to England in 1984 and again in 1986. Only luggage for a thirty-day stay with my wife was a small shoulder bag each.

    The first thing everybody does when preparing for a holiday trip is to purchase new clothes and toiletries. We purchased everything in London at Selfridges and Marks & Sparks, instead of here at JC Penney. Why drag skivvies, chinos and toothpaste to London?

    All personal effects except the clothes on our backs were mailed back to the USA on the last day of our trip. The London post office had regulation corrugated cardboard cartons for a pound apiece. We marked them “Personal goods returning. Excess airline baggage” and paid no duty. Took six weeks to get home, but the cost was minimal.

    Our shoulder bags were full of souvenirs (in order to pay the import duty at Customs) and, of course, the camera and film.

    To make film inspection more simple, we shot on 6x9 120, which is almost LF. Inspectors don’t seem to have a clue about sheet film, but sort of recognize roll film as film.

    The camera was a folding Plaubel rangefinder, but a Fuji RF would work as well. Some of the color negative we had processed at a pro lab in London, just to be sure.

  10. #10
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    LF and Traveling Overseas

    I usually put it through in a heavy lead bag and I haven't been asked to remove it for X-ray without the bag. They see all the camera stuff and just seem pleased that I'm not making too much trouble. Things I take out and put in my checked luggage are

    --little tools like screwdrivers

    --Linhof cams (they look like scissors or blades in the X-ray) except for the one in the camera

    --Cable releases (which I've had taken for syringes on the X-ray)

    And since I've started doing that, I get fewer hand inspactions. I'm a little more worried about security types pawing through my bag than I am about X-ray damage to film.

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