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Thread: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

  1. #1

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    Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    As I am currently planning a trip to Europe with many flights and connections, I am lucky enough to have a friend working in airport security that has helped alleviate some of my concerns. After much research on the internet, no one seemed to have a definitive answer to the age old question: will the carry-on scanner at airport security ruin my film? We all know that a few times through the scanner won't harm most film, but as I will be going through a minimum of 8 scans - coupled with the rumours that effects are cumulative - I wanted to be sure.

    As this is clearly a major concern, I asked my willing and able friend to scan a couple of Kodak 160NC rolls 12 times through the airport scanner. I just processed and scanned it in and there is no problem whatsoever.

    While scientific method would have me scan multiple rolls in multiple airports, I am happy to say that I am pleased with the result and hope this information will be helpful to others.

    Mark

  2. #2

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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    Thanks for sharing. I've always considered such a test but I never got around to it.

    Enjoy your trip!

  3. #3
    Scott Walker's Avatar
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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    Good to know, thanks

  4. #4

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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    good, now if only other foreign airports have the same up-to-date scanners.

  5. #5
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    There is greater chance of problems occurring from the radiation that hits the film during the flight.

    I read somewhere quite a while ago that the University of Melbourne tested films and found that they start to get affected after around 60 passes through the x-ray machine (asa dependent), but a long haul flight (Melbourne to London, for example) will show some fogging due to radiation at altitude.

    As to whether this is true, cumulative and/or visible, I have no idea (galactic and solar radiations are not in doubt). However, I would think that your greater risk is from excessive heat on the film whilst traveling.
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  6. #6
    photobymike's Avatar
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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    I use film shield lead bags for radiation protection. The security people usually dont mind manual searching my carry on camera bag

  7. #7
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    Quote Originally Posted by vinny View Post
    good, now if only other foreign airports have the same up-to-date scanners.
    Where's there any evidence that a) this scanner was "up-to-date", and b) that "foreign airports" don't have them?

    Seems like a statement of nationalistic, chest-beating crap to me, or are you just trolling?
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  8. #8
    Is that a Hassleblad? Brian Vuillemenot's Avatar
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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    Just make sure you have no film in your pockets or down your pants when you go through one of the new whole body scanners!
    Brian Vuillemenot

  9. #9
    Is that a Hassleblad? Brian Vuillemenot's Avatar
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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lachlan 717 View Post
    Where's there any evidence that a) this scanner was "up-to-date", and b) that "foreign airports" don't have them?

    Seems like a statement of nationalistic, chest-beating crap to me, or are you just trolling?
    I think Vinny was just getting at the fact that not all scanners are created equal. The OP had his buddy run the film 12 times through the same scanner. Great, we know that scanner doesn't affect the film. What about the 12 million or so other scanners out there? We all know that the vast majority of them have no effect (I've put film through countless times), but there's always the possibility that a few of them will emit far more radiation that could have an effect. It's the same deal with the whole body scanners, which have quite a few ethical issues associated with them as well.
    Brian Vuillemenot

  10. #10

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    Re: Airport Scanners - the age old question (finally somewhat settled)

    Yes, it's the Wild West in some foreign countries.

    I recall that I was required to get a full chest X-Ray done to work in my field (geology) in an African Country. At the 1950's era-like hospital the tech asked me if they could "shoot a few more", a strange question considering the potentially dangerous effects of multiple chest X-Rays. But as far as they were concerned it was just a photograph and didn't hurt you, because you obviously walked away all right. They probably sold them on the side to medical schools for beer money. Again, it's like the Wild West, there's little understanding of what's really happening and pretty much anything goes depending on the people in charge.

    Same thing at airport security lines. Some years ago (1991) at the Istanbul airport the official wanted me to demonstrate shooting a picture to prove that the camera was not a gun. So I shot off a frame of Velvia. Of course he was not paying attention and so I had to waste a second shot while he was watching. That was a long time ago (I remember how annoyed I was) and I'm sure it's much worse now.

    A question that I have is, can Rollei Infrared 400 be run through the X-Ray machine? Is there anything about infrared film that makes it more risky to X-Ray? Obviously it's much easier to fog in general.
    Just wondering, flying later this week. Thanks for any suggestions.

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