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windpointphoto
29-Jan-2007, 13:23
I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit this fall and early winter. I decided to answer for myself once and forever the question of film being at risk during travel. I carried on the following, two EXPOSED sheets of each: Ilford FP4, Fuji Astia 100F and Fuji pro160S. I went from Milwaukee to Denver, Milwaukee to Albuquerque, Milwaukee to Orlando and Chicago to Paris, France, all round trip. The film holders were just put in my camera bag with no further protection. I let them go through the machines, no hand inspections. In a couple of cases the examiner left it in the machine a while looking at all the metal of the 4x5 and lenses. I processed the Ilford myself using my normal times and developer. The color went to the lab. I should also add that this film was fresh from B&H in September but was not kept any cooler then my basement at 70 degrees. I had the film with me while traveling in all the locations for 1 to 2 weeks in each place. In other words I didn't worry about keeping it cool. ALL film showed absolutely NO adverse effects in any way shape or form. I am no longer going to worry about these issues. If I have to carry film on the plane that's ok. As a side note I always find it funny when people make a big issue out of keeping film cool. I worked in a camera store back in the 80's. Film woulld arrive from Kodak, Fuji, Ilford etc. in a UPS truck in the middle of summer. It was in a hot truck for 2 to 10 days. We put it in a cooler because that's what the "pros" expected to see. There was never any complaints of film being bad.

jackies
29-Jan-2007, 13:47
Here is my experience -

I just developed 4x5 sheet film of TriX 100 that had been through the security line xrays @4X with some prolonged exposure due to their need to look at everything for a prolonged period of time. . . . It is fogged :(

However, the 4x5 sheet film - Provia 100F that was in the same bag did not have fogging.

I will ask to have mine handchecked from now on.

Jackie

darr
29-Jan-2007, 14:00
Thanks Leonard for sharing your experience with us. I travel some, but have resorted to taking my digital camera recently. With two cross-county trips coming up in March & April, I think I'll take my 4x5" just for grins. :)

Kirk Gittings
29-Jan-2007, 14:12
I took asa 100 Acros to England last fall. It was scanned both ways and was indistinguishable (with a densitometer) from duplicate images from film bought in England and fed exed back.

roteague
29-Jan-2007, 14:58
I've taken color film through as many as 10 different flights, during a single trip, with no ill effects. During my last trip, I even had some film go through (accidentally) the luggage xray with no problems - in Australia.

jnantz
29-Jan-2007, 15:12
i took 800 asa fuji press film back and forth to france in december.
it was in my carry on, which was xrayed and xrayed and xrayed -
we went boston-heathrow-basel (round trip ) and they made sure to
stick our stuff through the xray machines i would say 6 times (at least)
didn't have a problem ...

GPS
29-Jan-2007, 15:30
Here is my experience -

I just developed 4x5 sheet film of TriX 100 that had been through the security line xrays @4X with some prolonged exposure due to their need to look at everything for a prolonged period of time. . . . It is fogged :(

However, the 4x5 sheet film - Provia 100F that was in the same bag did not have fogging.

I will ask to have mine handchecked from now on.

Jackie

Don't be na´ve - the machine doesn't x-ray the items continuously when the belt is stopped. The image is simply electronically stopped and they look at a non live picture. The belt only stops so that the operating stuff could have enough time to check what they need and don't loose the other items x-rays pics.
The fact that your other film was ok suggests that the fogging was not caused by the machine. The machines are safe.

eddie
29-Jan-2007, 18:18
i TRY not to x ray my film or keep it in a very hot climate if possible. i use expired film. film is tough stuff....BUT i do try and be careful most of the time just in case. when i ask for a hand inspection i always add..." i promise to go digital next year" (i usually travel with a 100 rolls or more....)

eddie

jackies
29-Jan-2007, 18:21
Thanks for the feedback. I will try some more tests.

Jackie

Ron Marshall
29-Jan-2007, 19:19
I've taken 35mm Fuji Sensia (Astia) through 20 carry-on x-ray scans with no visible ill effects.

riooso
29-Jan-2007, 20:11
You run a greater risk that the film box of 4x5 film will be opened by the hand check.
The inspections are done differently at each airport. I recently went on a trip to Dallas from Sacramento, CA. I had two different people try to open my box of film that was not factory sealed. I was told that if it was factory sealed then hand checking was ok! Next airport, "you know you could have just put those seals on yourself, we can not hand check this". Go figure. Please tell me what government agency can do anything and not eventually screw it up.

Richard

darr
29-Jan-2007, 20:33
You run a greater risk that the film box of 4x5 film will be opened by the hand check.

Does anybody think using Quickloads would make hand checking any safer?

roteague
29-Jan-2007, 22:30
Does anybody think using Quickloads would make hand checking any safer?

I've asked for hand check with QuickLoads in the past, and didn't have any problems. However, I quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn't necessary and haven't done it since.

Ron Marshall
29-Jan-2007, 22:57
Does anybody think using Quickloads would make hand checking any safer?

I asked for a hand-check of quickloads recently in San Jose. The agent whisked them off to a nearby table while I was packing up my gear and was just about to open one when I caught up to him. He then explained that either he had to open each individual quickload or I could x-ray them.

roteague
29-Jan-2007, 23:46
I asked for a hand-check of quickloads recently in San Jose. The agent whisked them off to a nearby table while I was packing up my gear and was just about to open one when I caught up to him. He then explained that either he had to open each individual quickload or I could x-ray them.

That's one of the reasons I quit asking for hand inspection. However, I've started carrying a "spare" QuickLoad that I can sacrifice to show anyone what is inside.

But, I think the reality is that travelling by air is becoming much more difficult these days, so you need to have several different options. For example, I now carry both QuickLoad and cut sheet film, 35mm film and carry labels for sending film back via FedEx (including customs declarations).

stompyq
30-Jan-2007, 06:52
I am curious if anybody has travelled with expired film? and how multiple xray passes would impact that. I shoot mostly expired 4x5 velvia and provia (expired not more than 1-2 years). I have a transatlantic trip coming up and would like to take some of the batches of film in the freezer. By the way thanks for this thread. It really helps to know others experiances carriny film

gregstidham
30-Jan-2007, 08:31
In my experience, the x-ray machines work great when calibrated. I've had no trouble ever the few times I have had stuff pass through. TSA reg. say they will hand inspect sheet film, so I am glad to let them. I think they like to use the little swabs anyhow.

Michael Kadillak
31-Jan-2007, 19:21
There are literally tens of thousands of X Ray security machines all over the world from a myriad of manufacturers with variable X Ray intensity. As a traveler passing throught these devices with photographic film you are incurring a risk that is difficult if not impossible to quantify. One would assume that passing through security in major cities domestically this risk is mitigated to a large degree but it is still a risk.

The one time that you get burned with excessive fog on your prized sheet film you find out first hand that there is no more hollow feeling in the world for a photographer than ruined exposures.

My feeling is that if you are making images for yourself this risk is probably worth taking as you do not have clients that are compensating you for the results you are responsible for producing. If however you are a professional in some way shape or form then you need to take this risk out of the equation and pay for the insurance (Fed Ex) as the risk is simply not worth taking.

Welcome to the Brave New World!

sanking
31-Jan-2007, 19:59
There are literally tens of thousands of X Ray security machines all over the world from a myriad of manufacturers with variable X Ray intensity. As a traveler passing throught these devices with photographic film you are incurring a risk that is difficult if not impossible to quantify. One would assume that passing through security in major cities domestically this risk is mitigated to a large degree but it is still a risk.



My own take on this is that the risks of damage from X-Ray security machines is greatly exagerated. I have been making from 4-5 trips a year abroad, and more in the US, for the past ten years, always with film, and have never seen any damage from security checks.

My greatest fear is that someone is going to want to hand check my film, and insist on opening a box of unexposed or exposed but not developed sheet film. If that happens you will probably see me thrown in jail, especially if it is exposed film that I have worked hard to get, because I will probably lose it. In any event, my advice is to try to pass through security with as little attention to yourself as possible, and asking for a hand check would be in my opinion an insanely dumb thing to do, because the only purpose served will be to focus attention on yourself which may result in a much more extensive search than normal, and when that happens common sense is out the door.

Some advance the case that one would be better off mailing film via a mail service such as UPS or FedEx, but in addition to the complications what assurances do you have that the package will not be X-Rayed? And if that were to happen it would be much worse than sending it through the low dose you get with carry on luggage.

Sandy King

David A. Goldfarb
31-Jan-2007, 20:09
My experience is the same as Sandy's. I'd rather not have an inspector handling my film and equipment. I let the film and gear go through the carry-on X-ray machines, and I've never had any adverse effects. I have a little case for all the things that seem to attract the attention of the X-ray inspectors--small tools, spanners, cable releases, Linhof rangefinder cams, and such--and I put it in my checked luggage. Most of the time now my camera goes through the X-ray with no further inpsection.

claudiocambon
31-Jan-2007, 22:49
I have these heavy lead bags that are pretty opaque; they are called xpf20 or something. They go through, and I then get the hand, vapor swipe inspection I would have had to negotiate for. I did notice that European x-ray machines now see into those bags though, so maybe they are now not as effective.

Bobf
1-Feb-2007, 19:43
Thanks for the feedback. I will try some more tests.

JackieGo to Kodak's site. Last time I looked it had examples of what x-ray damage looks like.

jackies
2-Feb-2007, 08:15
Thanks Bob. Mine don't have the lines or waves. Hmmm. More testing to do. I sent the film to be developed at a pro lab as I did not have time to do it myself.

Interesting,
Jackie

Brian K
2-Feb-2007, 08:35
I have done some testing regarding the carry on security x-raying of tmax100 film. I have had tmax100 x-rayed 4 times and, using a densitometer, have not found any fog. My procedure now is to use film that has been x-rayed 3-4 times only on trips in which they will not encounter any more x-rays. Also note that if you do fly often with the same film, regardless of whether they are x rayed, they will still get a much higher dosage of cosmic and solar radiation while they, and you, are in the plane due to the time spent at high altitude in far thinner atmosphere. So if you plan to fly very long distances and go through many security x-ray machines, you can increase the possibility of some fog.

eric black
5-Feb-2007, 15:07
I personally use the lead lined bags which gets me an automatic invitation to the hand check line. I have found that every airport is different but that so far none have tried to take apart my quickloads. I did have an experience in Denver prior to my lead bag use where I requested a hand check and the result was them individually scanning each quickload for explosives which took about 40 minutes and nearly made me miss my plane- that was a thrill.

bobc
7-Feb-2007, 15:55
FWIW,

I travel quite a bit, too (Internationally) and will routinely have my film (no high ISO) x-rayed 6-8 times. 3-4 times unexposed and the same coming home (exposed) with no ill effects.

In many parts of the world, it can't be hand checked and has to go through the machines. I agree that these machines are all probably pretty variable but since we have no control, worrying about it does absolutely nothing.

After experiences outside of the US, including small, little rinky dink airports in far flung places, I have no concerns at all within where it is more likely that the machines are calibrated/inspected. Like others, I'd rather not have unknowing people handle my film and equipment.

Cheers,

roteague
7-Feb-2007, 16:09
I agree that these machines are all probably pretty variable but since we have no control, worrying about it does absolutely nothing.

I don't think there is as much variablity as people think. The IATA airport has developed airport standards, which most countries observe.

jackies
7-Feb-2007, 20:51
For my next trip in 2 weeks I am going to invest in cargo pants with big pockets and try to carry the film on that way. Has anyone tried that? I know 120 film can be carried on that way

Jackie

roteague
7-Feb-2007, 21:43
For my next trip in 2 weeks I am going to invest in cargo pants with big pockets and try to carry the film on that way. Has anyone tried that? I know 120 film can be carried on that way

Jackie

Yes, I do it almost everytime I travel. I can fit 20 rolls of 35mm into each pocket - that clears up space in my carryon for the sheet film.

Frank Petronio
7-Feb-2007, 22:05
When I did annual reports with 35mm I had to travel with 100 rolls -- I would take them out of the cases and put 20 rolls at a time into a Rubbermaid sandwich tub, which was a perfect fit. Easy to manage and they would still fit into a large coat pocket. Saved about 50% of the volume.

I too agree that shipping your film by USPS, UPS, FedEx exposes it to just as much fogging risk as the airport might impart. But at least at the airport you know if some crazy security guard tries to open your film.

A good idea is to bring not only a sample negative, but also business cards, printed pieces, a small mini-portfolio or something. Anything to help prove you are a real photographer and legit.

Robert Hall
9-Feb-2007, 15:56
I have just gotten back from China, via Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Macau, and Shenzhen. I had my film x-rayed both ways. This was film that I had taken to India last year, via Salt Lake City, New York, Paris, Chennai, and back. All told I have had it x-rayed 18 times.

Results: 400 speed 120 and 35mm films: HP5, FP4, Delta 400, Trix 400, tmax 400. Not a mark on them.

I have run my 8x10 back and forth to China as well. No problems in 300 sheets. (including ir films)

Larry Kalajainen
22-Feb-2007, 18:49
My own take on this is that the risks of damage from X-Ray security machines is greatly exagerated. I have been making from 4-5 trips a year abroad, and more in the US, for the past ten years, always with film, and have never seen any damage from security checks.

My greatest fear is that someone is going to want to hand check my film, and insist on opening a box of unexposed or exposed but not developed sheet film. If that happens you will probably see me thrown in jail, especially if it is exposed film that I have worked hard to get, because I will probably lose it. In any event, my advice is to try to pass through security with as little attention to yourself as possible, and asking for a hand check would be in my opinion an insanely dumb thing to do, because the only purpose served will be to focus attention on yourself which may result in a much more extensive search than normal, and when that happens common sense is out the door.

Some advance the case that one would be better off mailing film via a mail service such as UPS or FedEx, but in addition to the complications what assurances do you have that the package will not be X-Rayed? And if that were to happen it would be much worse than sending it through the low dose you get with carry on luggage.

Sandy King


Agreed on the hassle of hand-inspections. I went to Berlin from Boston two years ago and took about 20 rolls of 120 Delta 400 and about 10 rolls of Provia 100 with me in unopened, factory sealed boxes. I asked for hand inspection in Boston and the man made me open each box and then tear open the foil packet inside. Almost caused me to miss my plane.

I've only ever had one problem with X-rays. Last June, went from Portland, ME to JFK to Accra to Paris to JFK and finally back to Portland. Had Delta 400 and Fuji Superia 200. Had to pass the film through the scanner twice in Accra. Total of seven scans in five scanners. Two frames and the corner of a third of one of the color rolls was fogged. Otherwise, everything OK. So I don't worry about scanning anymore.

Larry

docholliday_sc001
25-Feb-2007, 15:29
A few years ago, I traveled from Indianapolis to Boston Logan...had all of my film hand inspected except for 10 rolls of PanF that I forgot and left in my camera backpack. They were all fogged and had diagonal lines through it.

I just refuse to fly now. I drive everywhere that I can. Otherwise, I ship my film to destination and ship back via FedEx.

Funniest part is that they missed my swiss army knife, two xacto knives, and a screwdriver kit in my Pelican case that was scanned as carry-on also. Didn't even realize this until I got home and went to clean out my case!

dbriannelson
25-Feb-2007, 22:50
For the most part I travel with Ilford Delta 3200 rollfilm specifically so security won't argue about hand checking. I've only had two problems:

At Heathrow in the connecting flight security re-check they really, really want to x-ray everything and I've had to convince a supervisor that the alert her equipment sounded during swabbing was an equipment or human error. Despite procedures that call for a mandatory x-ray of anything that sets the bells off, she agreed to re-swab...and got a negative reading. That was a money shoot and I was determined that the film exposed at ASA1600 not go through.

The second problem was in Miami, where they really wanted to open every rollfilm envelope. They did, so I tossed the unexposed stuff into the trash as soon as they cleared it. OK, it only made me feel better to do that and wasn't really necessary, but film is cheap enough and my photo shoots valuable enough that I wouldn't risk using film from open envelopes.

-D

roteague
25-Feb-2007, 22:54
I've taken to carrying some processed transparencies to show the security people - they haven't asked yet, but I still bring it. In addition, I will consider using FedEx to send the exposed film home, if I have any doubts.

JBrunner
25-Feb-2007, 23:31
Just for the record, for those that advocate fed ex as a way to avoid xray- Fed Ex randomly xrays packages with the big baggage xrays. I have had extremely valuable film destroyed by them twice when I used to use them on a regular basis. The odds are in your favor, but if your number comes up, your film is toast. Both times the packages were clearly marked "do not xray"

I have never had a problem with film sent to me by UPS or USPS, but that doesn't mean anything other than that I have never had a problem. During the anthrax hysteria they were setting up to pretty much melt the mail, but called it off when the problem receded. I have never had damage from carry on xray. If lines are short I ask for a hand inspection, but I pretty much don't sweat it anymore. I worry much more about shipped or mailed film.

Dawid
26-Feb-2007, 09:27
Does anyone have any experience travelling with printing paper ie. ilford IV MG etc. I know its probably not a good idea putting it in the checked luggage due to higher intensity Xray scanning and so taking it onboard is safer. Travelling from the UK though the restrictions is unbearable with only one pece of hand luggage allowed even for bussiness class ! Obviously this limits one to size and quantity and thats why I'm asking whether anyone out there has any personal experience with paper going into the hold.

Cheers

docholliday_sc001
27-Feb-2007, 05:01
I spent 20 minutes arguing with some idiot TSA moron that said "only one carry-on". Well, I *did* have only one carry-on...the other was my "purse". Hey, if women can carry a purse as well as their carry-on, then I guess my laptop and other stuff is going in a purse. I just got really, really loud, and attracted the attention of the supervisor. What's the worse they can do? Arrest me? Ha!

tim atherton
27-Feb-2007, 09:01
I spent 20 minutes arguing with some idiot TSA moron that said "only one carry-on". Well, I *did* have only one carry-on...the other was my "purse". Hey, if women can carry a purse as well as their carry-on, then I guess my laptop and other stuff is going in a purse. I just got really, really loud, and attracted the attention of the supervisor. What's the worse they can do? Arrest me? Ha!

Hold you at the airport for several days and then send you to Syria for 'questioning"