View Full Version : Mailing film -- X-Ray problems?

chris jordan
28-Oct-2005, 13:55
Hi guys, I need to mail a box of unexposed 8x10 film across the country next week, and wonder if anyone has had problems with any of the carriers X-raying film and damaging it? I have heard that FedEx is safe, but I would welcome the benefit of anyone's experience.


William Blunt
28-Oct-2005, 14:40
Last month I used Fedex to ship a box of fp4+ from Missouri to California and the exposed film back. I just wrote on the Fedex box "photo film, do not xray" and it worked. No extra density in the film. The holders in my checked luggage with film got fried, which I expected.

Bruce Watson
28-Oct-2005, 14:49
I've done this several times this year. Neither FedEx nor UPS caused me any problems. I picked them because both of them are used by companies like Badger Graphic and Calumet to ship film to customers.

Steve Baggett
28-Oct-2005, 16:50
This sort of question comes up all the time and I laugh when I see it. Without getting on too big a soapbox, this is a classic case of "innumeracy". Let's look at the numbers, class. (Man, that *was* condescending!)

The probability of *ANY* of the millions of packages that go through USPS, Fedex, and the other common carriers is very remote. Only if there is some reasonable suspicion that the package contains drugs, explosives, or undeclared hazardous materials would there be grounds for closer inspection. Each of the carriers "vets" its packages in different ways, all of which are confidential (for obvious reasons.) Unless one is using one of the new high-tech x-ray (VERY expensive and slow) devices planned for airline luggage (which can measure density accurately), an x-ray of a package would only be useful if a human views the actual x-ray and makes a determination on the contents' need for opening and inspecting. This is why drug and explosive sniffing dogs (and "sniffer" devices) are the best method for vetting packages en masse. Where/how/who the package is shipped is obviously the first means to "tag" a package for closer inspection. Otherwise, mass inspection of packages has to be done in a faster, cheaper means, e.g. dog and electronic sniffers. I work for Fedex and we ship 6,000,000 packages every 24-hours, with the actual sort taking about 6-8 hours. Assuming a human could take only 5-seconds to view an x-ray of a package, that would require 30,000,000 man-seconds (or woman-seconds) to view every package during every 8-hour sort. There are 25,200 seconds in a 7-hour shift (allowing 1 hour of non-work per 8-hour shift.) This would require a *MINIMUM* of 1,190 workers each examining a package every 5 seconds for Fedex alone to x-ray and visually inspect the x-ray of each package. (With necessary over staffing required, the real minimum is probably around 1,500 people.) I assure you Fedex does not have this many people in their security infrastructure at the sorting hubs. (Although, due to their shipment of valuables their security infrastructure is quite substantial.) UPS ships 4-5 times the Fedex volume every night. The postal service does even more than UPS. So do the arithmetic. Unless your package has something about it that triggers a "diversion for inspection", you are probably more likely to be killed in an automobile accident before it gets delivered. Just ship film. If you don't ship drugs, explosives, agricultural items, and hazardous materials, the odds are MUCH greater that the package will be simply "lost" rather than subjected to film-destroying x-raying.

OK, I'm sorry about the lecture, but it had to be done.

ronald moravec
28-Oct-2005, 17:12
Vetting packages is done automaticly from "known shippers". That would be Kodak, Calumet etc.

You do not fall into that catagory and may therefore be suspicious. I learned this when the anthrax problem was at it`s height and I was on a slow vacation with all kinds of time to see CNN.

Brian Ellis
28-Oct-2005, 17:13
"The probability of *ANY* of the millions of packages that go through USPS, Fedex, and the other common carriers is very remote."

Can't argue with that.

Steve Baggett
28-Oct-2005, 17:17
ROTFL!!!!! Brian. Sorry for the sentence missing some words. Our motto: "When it absolutely, positively." Forgot the rest.

Tom Westbrook
28-Oct-2005, 19:16
Probably best to call the carrier and ask if they x-ray packages. It's been over a year but last time I UPS'd some exposed film they said they did not x-ray packages.

I just now called UPS and they said that they do not send packages through x-rays at all, just laser scanning of the shipping label.

adrian tyler
29-Oct-2005, 05:11

the courier services here in europe seem to be x-raying frequently. my wife was sending a package of mine by ups last week and was asked by the driver doing a pick up if she would mind opening the package for him to inspect the contents (negs, contacts and prints), as the package was sealed and protectively prepared she refused and gave him verbal assurances, the package was then delayed due to "x-ray checking".

now, it is very difficult to get any serious information about what type of machines that they all use. i just about had a heart attack when i received the fed-ex package containing my entire summers exposed film stock with an "x-ray checked" sticker on it, this was on a friday night, you can imagine my weekend, phoning asking for information from fed-ex to no avail, until the lab opend on monday, however they must have used the "airport" type machines because the film was thankfully ok.

so in my experience what i would do is label the package very clearly "undeveloped photographic film" "film safe x-ray only" or "hand inspection".