View Full Version : My moving container got X-rayed

Lars Åke Vinberg
28-Dec-2005, 20:59
Some days you just can't win...

I just moved from Sweden to San Francisco, and of course I did not take my 8x10 film supply with me on the flight but shipped it with my household goods instead.

The other day I got a bill from the U.S. Customs for inspection including X-Ray. Apparently somewhere along the way the information that the shipment contained undeveloped film got lost. Or perhaps they didn't care. I had about $5000 worth of film in the shipment.

There is a possibility that the container X-rays the the U.S. customs uses are low-power - they are after all very modern. Does anybody know? I'm just wondering if I should send a sheet in for E-6 development or just give up on it.

Happy holidays,


chris jordan
28-Dec-2005, 21:08
Lars, welcome to the US! You'll have to get used to slightly less enlightened leadership than you might be accustomed to where you come from...

If they x-rayed the entire container (and I presume you're talking about a shipping container that's as big as a truck), then it's likely that they used a low-power x-ray, so your film might be fine. The new super powerful x-ray machines that destroy film are small, and work only for airline-sized bags. But maybe there's some machine I don't know about, too. I think it definitely would be worth opening a few boxes of film and developing some sheets to see what's there-- maybe you got lucky.

cheers and Happy New Year,


Victor Samou Wong
28-Dec-2005, 22:03
Maybe someone knowledgeable could write a faq on how to transport film by air overseas so that there's relatively little danger of getting it fried. Seems suitable in this day and age.


adrian tyler
29-Dec-2005, 01:07
hi lars

yes definetly develop a sheet, i had an "x-ray inspected" sticker on a fed-ex package full of exposed film and like you thought the worst, but it turned out that the film was unharmed.

still from now on anything i send that has undeveloped film in it get covered in labels saying "undeveloped film no x-ray".

good luck...


Wilbur Wong
29-Dec-2005, 10:13
Sorry about the X-Ray, welcome to the Bay area! A few of us LF folks get together occasionally to shoot or talk and share prints. Contact me off line if you are interested. BTW, are you heading for Zion next week?

29-Dec-2005, 10:55
Welcome to San Francisco. If you see a tall redheaded guy shooting urban decay and freeway ramps with an 8x10, it's me.

Try a sheet of your fastest film; if it is ok, it's probably all ok, right?

Lars Åke Vinberg
29-Dec-2005, 11:39

Thanks for the welcome note! Yep, 20 foot container. Hopefully I will make it up to Seattle again this spring, would love to chat as a followup to our discussion two years ago re artistic vision.

Wilbur, CXC,

I'm in Palo Alto working for Light Crafts, a startup making a photo editing software LightZone that really is a new paradigm (shameless plug, I know). Our office is a block from Keeble & Shuchat. I'll keep my eyes open for tall redheads in SF shooting 8x10 - can't be that many :)


I noticed that the Australian customs uses low-power container x-rays, there can't be that many manufacturers. I'll send off a roll of ISO 400 MF film for development for a start. Thank you all for your encouraging comments!

Neal Shields
29-Dec-2005, 14:21
There was a TV program on the history channel recently about Hong Kong where every container is scanned. Right through the steel walls. This particular program was faulting the US for not having such facilities.

I used to travel a lot to Sweden and every spring they would be all up in arms about the Russian submarines running aground off their coast stealing their defence secrets.

I finaly pointed out to them the the common factor was SPRING and they didn't have any more secrets in the spring than any other time. What they did have in the spring was a coast line covered with beautiful topless blond women.

Point is nobody flies planes into buildings in Sweden.

Sorry about the film but I suspect if they used what I saw on that TV program in may be fried.

Donald Qualls
29-Dec-2005, 14:41
The steel container walls are in the range of 1.5 mm thick, if not heavier still, and there are at least two layers of that steel. The simple fact is that any beam with enough power in it to still register on a sensor after penetrating the second wall *had to have* more than enough power inside the container to completely fry any film inside.

This is done for Homeland Security, of course -- and is completely ineffective for some of the nastier things that might be inside the container.

Sorry about the film -- by all means, yes, get some of the faster materials processed to see how it fared, but I'd start planning to replace it all. :(