120mm film and X-ray (and London issues)

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Assaf, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. Assaf

    Assaf Member

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    Good morning friends,
    next week I'm going to London for a few days. I intend to take my Rolleiflex and shoot mainly MF. Last time I was abroad I had a pretty bad experience with color 120mm film and Xray scanners. A few shots got wierdly beaten by the Xray.
    What should I do to prevent it? I have an X-ray bag, but I heard that the security guys might ask me to scan its content or might boost the Xray and fry the film.
    I heard so many different and contradicting opinions/suggestions that I really don't know what to do. Asking them not to scan the film can be nice, but it doesn't always help.

    Besides that, if there are city residents here, that know where MF film can be bought in London and the prices, that can really help me

    (and information about labs, used gear stores, galleries, photo oriented used bookstores, and other photography and non-photography related links in the city)
     
  2. Marcust101

    Marcust101 Member

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    Assaf,

    You should be able to buy what ever film you need while there, just let the folk here know which area you're staying in a I'm sure someone will be able to direct you to a local camera shop. Then just post the film home again when you're finished.

    Enjoy the trip

    Marcus
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As long as your film is in your hand luggage there's no problems. They will insist on scanning your film possibly twice, but these scanners use a combination of techniques and are safe for films. My 120 films were scanned at least 20 times with no problems last year on a trip to South America.

    Ian
     
  4. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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    Shouldn't be a problem in your hand luggage, I'm not sure but if you smile and ask for a hand search you should be fine.
    I think the hand luggage machines are lower dose than the baggage hold.
    The Photographers gallery on Gt Newport St is one place to visit:
    http://www.photonet.org.uk/
    Its about 5 mins walk from Leicester square tube.
    Mark
     
  5. WRSchmalfuss

    WRSchmalfuss Member

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    120 roll film and x-ray checks

    Ask for hand checks, or buy your films in London at SILVERPRINT!

    Cheers
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Mark, haven't you noticed the operators don't wear radiation dose badges, which everyone working with X-rays and radiation is required to do :D

    If you smile and ask nicely I can tell you from experience you might get a hand check at Heathrow & Gatwick, they will pass a metal detector over your films, then they put it through the scanner as well, usually with no exceptions.

    2 years ago I queried this at Gatwick and ended up talking to an official from BAA who sat on a committee with people from Kodak, Ilford, Fuji etc which liased with airport security to ensure the safety of films and airport scanners. In fact the BAA employee also represented the RPS, and was photographer himself, he was extremely helpful and produced a printed leaflet which gave ample reassurance that multiple passes through modern hand-baggage scanners had no damaging effects on B&W and Colour films, even the highest speed versions.

    Ian
     
  7. delphine

    delphine Member

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    During my recent travels (multi-leg trip to America, flying from London), I hand carried my film.
    I packed in a very orderly manner all my rolls in a see-throw bag, it was a tight and neat, to facilitate my case when asking for hand inspection at airports.
    Because of the bulk, the film was x-rayed once on my transatlantic outbound leg. But thenafter, while travelling in the US, it was never a problem to have a hand check after asking for it courteously. Even better, at JFK for my inbound leg, there was a notice board asking people carrying film to ask for hand inspection.
    I did not find that the one x-ray exposure of the film had any effect on the film that I was carrying (and there was some 3200 iso in the lot!).

    I was glad I had my film with me, I found it was more expensive in the US.

    As for buying film while in London, have a look at BobF's post in this thread. He summarised pretty well where are the best places to get the film.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum52/46690-buying-film-london.html

    I hope this helps. Enjoy your travel in London !

    Dee
     
  8. Assaf

    Assaf Member

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    Thanks a lot!
    Well, I'm concerned with xray for the following reason: I never had a problem with xray and 135mm and thought that it was the same with 120mm, so I used no protection. It was scanned in numerous airports in
    South America, and also in some places in Madrid. I got the following results

    http://www.pbase.com/assafbe/image/95348844
    (look at the magenta stripe)

    http://www.pbase.com/assafbe/image/95349284
    (way underexposed due to a slow speed problem but what is it?)

    http://www.pbase.com/assafbe/image/95344840
    (underexposed, but xray or light leak?)

    If you want to see better and non messed up pictures look in my pbase and flickr :smile:

    http://www.pbase.com/assafbe/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/25967298@N02/
     
  9. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Well if you are worried, then buy it in London and have it processed there too. It's not like you are going to some third world country where you can't buy the films and have them processed before you leave.
     
  10. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    There is no inherent reason why 120 should be susceptible airport scanners while 35mm is not. As others have noted, film can go thru airport scanners (carry on baggage) numerous times and never have a problem. Just because your film went thru a scanner doesn't mean the scanner caused the problems you're seeing.
     
  11. Assaf

    Assaf Member

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    well, 35mm has a case which (I think) protects it from Xray. Anyway, from my experience, I never had problems with 35mm film, while I did have with 120mm film.

    If anyone can explain the wierd things I saw on these 120 shots I'd be happy to hear. I hope they were not caused by xray (I never had them on films that were't scanned)
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Assaf, Tim's right, it looks as if there's some other problem with your films

    Back in October/November while I was shooting B&W 120's my wife was shooting Colour. We had no problems at all.

    The films passed through scanners at:
    2x Izmir
    1x Istanbul
    1x Zurich
    1x Santiago
    1x Lima (on arrival)
    1x Lima (departure)
    1x Cusco
    1x Lima (departure)
    2x Santiago
    2x San Paulo
    1x Zurich
    1x Istanbul

    My B&W film had previously been scanned twice at Gatwick on my way to Turkey.

    That's missing at least 5 or 6 scans, often there's a scan as you arrive at the airport and a second before boarding the plane. In addition in some countries there are scans as you enter shopping centres, or important national museums etc. (This is common in Turkey).

    Only one of those Airports - San Paulo, offered hand-checking of films and that was specifically for specialist scientific films, ie Infra Red films etc. Their notice stated that their scanner was safe for all other films including High speed emulsions.

    It's interesting that no-one has ever made a post on this forum about airport damage of films through carry-on hand baggage scanners.

    In contrast there are posts from people who have lost film through the X-rays used on hold luggage.

    Ian
     
  13. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    What's interesting Brian is that it contradicts the far more up to date tests carried out in the UK.

    A few other points need to be noted, only one make of machine is tested, the X-ray radiation levels are significant enough to register on a dose meter, and the data is quite old, even though the copyright says 2008.

    It's also worth mentioning that many US airports may still be using older machines, while most International airports are using the latest newer technology machinery. I've stated before that the only older technology machines I've seen in years was at Philadelphia Airport.

    There is no doubt that in the US there's recognition that certain machines can damage films, which is why hand checks are offered. The problem is that in other countries the airport authorities are equally confident that their modern machinery causes no problems even with multiple passes, so won't even consider allowing allowing hand searches instead of scans.

    I've always tried to have my film hand checked, but so far this has never been allowed. Despite the high number of scans our films were perfectly OK, contradicting the report you cite, so it's a Catch 22 situation.

    Ian
     
  16. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Yes, this data is a bit old. I have no idea why they slapped a 2008 date on it. Do you know where the more up-to-date British studies are documented?

    I gave up, years ago, even asking to have film handchecked... and have never had any film damage. I surely wouldn't chance film in a CTX, but that is only for checked baggage here in the US.
     
  17. Antje

    Antje Member

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    Frankly, if the little box the 35mm film is in would protect the film from x-ray, you'd have to open the can and un-spool the film... I don't think you'd be able to go on board an aircraft with dozens of little metal cans the security guys can't see through.

    You can see through metal with x-ray, it's just a matter of how hard you look... :D

    Oh, and the images look like you have a light leak. At least, they look just like the ones that came out of my Billy Record with its pinholed bellows...

    Antje
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As far as I can tell the UK data hasn't been published. I did a lot of checking about 2 years ago because there was a ban on all carry on hand luggage in force when I booked a flight to Turkey and I intended carrying film. Luckily the ban was partially lifted 2 days before I flew.

    The scanners at BAA (UK) airports have been updated this year, all I've found is comments hat tests have shown that ISO 800 + films show the first signs of the effect of the scanners after 8 scans, but that there is no visible effect until after 32 scans.

    Interestingly BAA and the manufacturers claim that the new machines are very much safer than the CT machines used to check hand baggage in US airports. They go on to say that the same manufacturers scanners for checked in/hold luggage are safe for 20 scans before the effects become visible, but that this baggage is scanned with a combination of machines from different manufactures, implying that it's not safe to assume your film wouldn't be fogged.

    Ian
     
  19. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Well that sounds like a 2X improvement or more over the older equipment. I stopped paying attention to that technology about 6 or 8 years ago. Back then the radiation dosages were about the same and it was the post-processing capabilities that were changing fast. It sounds like maybe they are "doing more with less (radiation)". That's good news! I sure wish the UK data were published, though.
     
  20. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Just for clarification, Ian... CT is not used to check HAND CARRIED baggage in US for domestic flights... only checked (hold) baggage. Perhaps that is different for international flights, but I haven't traveled internationally for more than a decade now so I can't say.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2008
  21. Antje

    Antje Member

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    No, I travel internationally almost every week, and I've never seen a CT for carry on luggage.

    Antje
     
  22. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    I've carried 120 film in and out of the UK countless times without any visible problems at all. Clearly bringing the film in and having it processed at a place you trust will save you time and remove one area of concern at the possible expense of concern over X ray damage- which I don't share.

    In common with many other markets its easier to buy 120 film in the UK from "out of town" outlets and bought by phone or internet. In general these outlets carry more stock and a bigger range than retailers or trade counters, and they are often notably cheaper. Try

    www.speedgraphic.co.uk

    www.discountfilmsdirect.co.uk

    www.mailshots.co.uk

    Many photographic retailers, even in London , carry little in the way of 120 film either in terms of range or quantity. It would be best to call a selected retailer before you travel. Silverprint are OK, but they are in a rather gloomy area southeast of Waterloo Station that I wouldn't expect to be on most tourist routes, and it is a bit of a gloomy place when you get there.

    If it were me I'd check my prices locally vs those from the dealers above and decide whether to carry it in or buy here, and similarly with processing. I wouldn't personally let X ray issues drive the decision.
     
  23. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Silverprint Gloomy; like Aladdin’s Cave was gloomy. Martin will be distraught to think his emporium could be described as “gloomy”; in fact cut to the quick I should think. By the way Silverprint is about 200 yards from the Old Vic, if that’s not on the tourist trail I don’t know what is.
     
  24. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    Shop Local!

    'Silverprint are OK, but they are in a rather gloomy area southeast of Waterloo Station that I wouldn't expect to be on most tourist routes, and it is a bit of a gloomy place when you get there.'

    Silverprint in my opinion is in an excellent location in London and a few minutes walk to the South Bank and Borough with all their delights. Some nice pubs nearby too but they are hidden away so best to ask the not gloomy at all staff for directions! I'm a big one for not shopping online if possible and the selection of film available in Silverprint and Process Supplies, (www.process-supplies.co.uk - another great London institution near Clerkenwell) is competitively priced, available over the counter and they have a far better choice of stock than these internet places which have Kodak, Ilford and maybe Fuji. I appreciate that we are lucky in London in that we have such good suppliers of photographic materials compared to other parts of the country so I do feel it is important to use them. Have a great time in London, it has a lot to offer photographers.
     
  25. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I too have had 120 scanned many times through xrays (mainly due to language and time restraints) with no apparent effects.

    However, when I'm in the UK I have always politely asked at Heathrow for hand checks, they have seen "Professional" in the branding and have been happy to check by hand. I'm always polite and to add more fuel to a legitimate hand-search, I always say it has been rated at 6400 ASA. The machines state the highest range they are safe for (3200ASA if memory is correct) and this falls way over that range.

    You can of course as others have said, simply buy your film in London and ship it home. Of course there is always the possibilty your favorite brand isn't available or the exchange rate is crazy!

    - Nanette
     
  26. Zvonimir Ervacic

    Zvonimir Ervacic Member

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    Hi.

    I'm too die-hard for not shopping online. However, two weeks ago I get back from Scotland and while on holiday I was also looking to fill up my fridge since the film prices in Croatia. I was at Jessops shop in Glasgow and the guy that works there said that Jessops don't offer discount on 10 pack rolls any more. Price of Ilford film at Jessops shop is something like 3.30 pound/pc and 10 pack ordered online is around 17 pound. I just had to buy it online but didn't buy anything off list. When I'm in store colorful bags on shelfs are too attractive not to buy something off list, resistance is futile. :smile: This year I bough only stuff from the list.

    Pozdrav,
    Zvonimir