35mm Film and Airport X-Rays...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Ara Ghajanian, Feb 11, 2005.

  1. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Not sure if this relates to the 35mm forum, but it has to do with a 35mm camera and 35mm film.So...

    I'm starting to plan a trip to Lebanon for this summer to visit family I've never met. Obviously, the Nikon F3 is going with me. I want to take film with me (mostly because I'm not sure what is available there) and I want to bring it back home so that I can process it myself. I'm very concerned about x-rays and nosey customs officers. I may shoot TMAX3200 and I'm concerned about lead bags not being able to protect the film. I'm also concerned about regular film being affected. What have been your experiences going overseas?

    I was thinking of keeping the film in a separate lead bag and letting them hand inspect it, but I'm not sure they'll go for it. They're fine with that procedure on domestic flights, but once again this is overseas. Also, even though I'm an American citizen (born and raised here) I have a strange name and I'm wondering if that will draw attention to me.

    I'd like to hear about any experiences you have had bad or good. Also, your personal recommendations would be very helpful.
    Thanks in advance,
    Ara
     
  2. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    Lead bags are a waste of time & money. take the film out of the canistersand pack in clear plastic bags, ask for a hand inspection. Had no problem at the Toronto and New Orleans airports. Officials were more than happy to oblige.
    There have been several threads and an article (I think) about this.
    http://www.apug.org/forums/article.php?a=93
     
  3. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I've traveled internationaly quite a bit the past few years, primarily Australia and Europe - although I went to Jordon in 2000. I've never had any problems with hand inspection of 35mm films. My suggestion is just to take them out of the box and place the film, in clear canisters, in a plastic bag. As for hand inspection. As rogueish pointed out, lead bags are a waste of money; they won't work for checked baggage and are ignored for hand inspections.
     
  4. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Just curious, why do you think that the lead bags are a waste of money?
     
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Could be because they don't work. Lead bags are useless against luggage scanners, and may set off a signal for the hand-carried x-ray, requiring a hand-search. Why not just ask for a hand-search in the first place? FWIW, one of the advantages I see of a hand-search is that your camera equipment is being watched and handled by the security people, you need not worry about it being out of your sight.
     
  6. cwheeler

    cwheeler Member

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    I fly to the Middle East from the U.S. (through Amsterdam) and back a couple of times a year, and always do what rogueish and roteague suggest--film in canisters in a ziploc bag and ask for a handcheck. This seems to work flying in both directions. Once in awhile one of the checkers will act impatient (the most film I've had handchecked is probably about 25 rolls), but I've never had anyone refuse to handcheck my film, AS LONG AS at least some of the film in my collection is rated 1600 or 3200. They always ask what the film is rated--if you've just got 800 speed or lower, they'll want to put it through the x-ray machine, but as long as I have even a few rolls of 3200 in my ziplock, they'll handcheck the whole package. They prefer the film out of the canisters, but I try to keep it in the canisters so I don't have to worry about dust going through my camera. I've also put 400 speed film through the x-ray before (once in the U.S., and again in Europe) and haven't had any ill effect, but I don't know how it would fare going through the x-ray two more times on the way home. Enjoy your trip!
     
  7. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Normally film with an EI of 400 or less can go through the carry-on X-Ray with no problem. I've had my black and white film through up to 6 X-rays with no problem. EI 3200 film is a different story and should be hand-checked. Although I did inadvertantly put some through the carry-on X-Ray once with no problem.
    I travel a lot, including a couple of trips to the middle east (not to Lebanon though) and I've never been refused a hand check. Keep the film in clear plastic bags that are easy to pull out and put back in your carry-on luggage so you don't hold up the lineup though.
    Whatever you do, don't put film in the checked luggage. Those X-rays are really powerful
     
  8. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    Wasted money:
    When the lead bag goes through the x-ray (checked luggage) and they can't see inside, they crank the machine up as high as it will go. These machines are quite powerfull. They can see inside then and these is a good chance it will cause some fogging on any film.
    Wasted time:
    If it is in the carry-on luggage, they will stop you and make you open the bag to show them whats in it.
     
  9. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    I did EXACTLY what has been mentioned above... Flying from YYZ (Toronto) to CDG (Paris) and back in the summer of 2003. I had the clear ziplocks, I had the film ready, I was polite and patient, I had a few rolls of TMZ in the bag just to pursuade the checkers to hand inspect.

    Toronto granted the request - although I had to plead my case a bit... Paris made me take out the few rolls of TMZ and the rest had to go through (including ISO 800 colour neg) - no exceptions. No film was damaged though. Best thing you can do is try to minimize any hassles by following the above, but more importantly be as friendly as you can with the request.

    Have a wonderful trip,

    joe
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I wasn't aware that the lead bags triggered a "hand search" at the carry on inspection. I guess it makes sense but, I've never used one. On domestic flights in the US, I have always asked for all of my film to be hand inspected using the exact procedure outlined above (film out of box and handed to inspector in clear plastic zip lock bags with a very simple "please do not x-ray my film"). Never had any problems -- even with nothing faster than 400ISO in the bag. But, that was all roll film on domestic flights (and never in Las Vegas :D ).
     
  11. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Lead bags are NOT a waste.

    Xray exposure is cumulative, so while one machine may be film safe, send your film through it enough times and you will see fogging. Your trip from RI to Beirut is going to involve one if not more connections, so you're going to go through about 6 machines at a very minimum.

    European and Middle Eastern security checks don't give two rats about TSA guidelines. If they say you aren't going to get a hand check and their machine is film safe, you aren't going to get a hand check - at least not by asking. And if you insist, you will miss your plane.

    This is where the lead bag comes into the picture. Keep your film in it, and pass it in the hand luggage machine. One of two things will happen: it comes out the other end and you walk away (99% of the time), or the operator sees a lead bag and is then required by his regulations to hand check it.

    I've been using the bag for two years and about 30 round trips, and have had one, and only one security machine operator say "hey, there's a lead bag in there".
    Another little anecdote: I have had Delta 3200 roll film go through 8 machines and display no fogging. It does help that the f+b of Delta 3200 is already very high, but I now do believe that the machines are quite safe, and the fear we have is quite exagerated.
     
  12. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    For what it's worth (YMMV), this has been my experience, too. Last year we did Germany via England. I only got a hand inspection after the Xray on the return trip through Gatwick. The lady took every lens cap off and looked through the lenses, but didn't open the film bag. :rolleyes:

    Since I already own 3 of those bags of various sizes, I'll probably keep using them.

    Cheers.

    David
     
  13. roteague

    roteague Member

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    In 2000, I flew round trip from Hawaii to Amman, Jordan. I changed planes in Los Angeles, New York and London. Each time I had my film, Fuji Velvia 50 (40 rolls), run through the x-ray machine with no problems.