film and international travel

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by chaim, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. chaim

    chaim Member

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    Hello all,
    Last year I lost a couple of rolls of film to the xray machines and I'm going abroad again, so I want to plan it right this time.
    I have one of those lead bags that are supposed to protect film.I don't pack the film in checked baggage, but have had the experience of encountering security inspectors who refuse to allow the film to stay in the bag when checking my hand-carries.
    So while I'm not entirely comfortable with it, I believe that the most conservative and possibly safest course of action is to buy my film overseas and have it developed in a lab before I return home. (Taking a risk on unknown labs).
    Where I'm going is Israel.
    Any thoughts on this matter? Thanks--
     
  2. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    I travel a lot and I've never had a problem with film up to 400ISO ( I tend not to use anything faster) just putting it on the belt. Bear in mind that in many parts of the world there is no right -or even realistic probability- of a hand-check and yet photography survives. It's hard to get a hand-check here in the UK but the pro/enthusiast markets aren't up in arms about their film being ruined every time they step on a plane. I've also seen just about all of the countless similar threads over on Photo.net since 1998, and as far as I know no-one has produced clear evidence of damage to a slow or medium-speed film from even several passes. There always seems to be other factors in play; like the film was actually in checked baggage, or the pattern of fogging pointed to another cause, or whatever. I've never been tempted to spend part of my time on a trip searching out film supplies or labs myself.
     
  3. roteague

    roteague Member

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    You may have problems with the security in Israel. But, I travel internationally quite a bit, I've always run my film through the hand check x-ray in security and never had any problems at all. The only time you will have any problem is if you are using high-speed film (400 or above). The lead lined bags are a complete waste of money. You can buy the film overseas, although it will probably be much more expensive. Don't worry, just buy your film where you usually buy it, and process it where you usually process it.
     
  4. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Either buy it there or buy it here and ship by a carrier that doesn`t x-ray and send back the same way.
     
  5. Dimitri

    Dimitri Member

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    I, also travel quite a lot and never had any problems with fogged film. I've never asked for hand checking the films and , although I have a couple, never used a lead bag for two reasons. If the machine operator sees a black thing he/she will invariably boost up the power and if he/she cannot see anything you will be pulled over for a thorough inspection of the bag. In addition if the x-ray dose is high enough the lead bag will act as an intensifier and will do more damage to the film.

    Buying film abroad is also a tricky proposition, unless you go to a good shop that keep their stock in a freezer/cooler. Once I bought film while on holiday on a Greek island and really enjoyed some amazing color shifts. (OK, it was my fault for buying from a kiosk, but it was late at night and the shops were closed)
     
  6. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Not sure about the homeward leg but I've had success by writing to the BAA and requesting a hand search based on a couple of rolls of Delta 3200 stashed in amongst all my other film. I don't know about the US situation, but I've never hand a hand search request turned down at a US airport yet (4 out of 4).
     
  7. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    In the USA, they will hand inspect your film. All you have to do is ask. You don't need to have any fancy films in the bag or anything. Just ask politley and they'll do it. The nature of inspection has changed however since the Federal Government took over airport security. Be prepared for a very thorough and time consuming inspection of every single roll. In my recent experience, it's really not worth the wasted time - unless you have very high speed film or, pass through more than four times.

    I have posted a photo from a recent trip to Ireland that was shot on Delta3200...the film went through the carry on x-ray machine twice! I have two rolls of delta 3200 from this trip that suffered this same fate - not one of the 72 exposures shows any significant effect.

    Based on this experience, I'm never going to ask for a hand inspection again. It's not worth the hassle in the US and the request most likely won't be granted abroad. Just send it through.
     
  8. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    I've done quite a bit of international travel with no problems just sending it through the scanner. HOWEVER, several factors should be taken into account:

    1)How many total trips through scanners are you anticipating? The effect on film is cumulative, and there is a threshold over which fogging will occur. So you may run it through six or seven times and be fine, but the eighth time will fog you. I've done as many as six in one trip (three airports going and coming) without damage, but I'd be wary of more than that.

    2)Not all scanners are equal. They're getting better at standardizing than they used to, but there's no way to predict unless you know someone who's had a problem somewhere.

    3)Even with a lead bag, don't send it through the checked baggage scanners which will almost certain do you in.

    4)Buy your film here, but allow for the possibility of getting it processed there, depending on what you're shooting. Not B&W of course, because you'll want to do that yourself, but C-41 or E-6 can usually be done quite satisfactorily elsewhere by a reasonably decent consumer-oriented lab. C-41's can be done very quickly, but E-6's will often take 4-6 days, depending on the lab.

    One addendum: It used to be here in the US that when you asked for a hand-inspection, they preferred to see the film still sealed in its original container (film box). They would only inspect each individual roll if the box had been opened. No more--at least in some airports. In Boston recently, on my way to Germany, I asked for a hand inspection of my film (a dozen or so 120-size rolls of Delta 400 plus another dozen 35mm Fujicolor all in unopened film boxes). The inspector graciously complied, but opened every box individually, including the foil packets of the 120 rolls, and it cost me an additional 20 minutes in the security line. After that, I sent it all through the scanner, and even after five exposures, none was fogged. I don't know whether all airports do that or whether it's a blanket practice post 9/11.
    Larry
     
  9. panchromatic

    panchromatic Member

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    Found this:

    "Title 49 Transportation, Subtitle B: Other Regulations Relating to Transportation, Volume 7, Chapter XII Transportation Security Administration, Department of Transportation, Subchapter C: Civil Aviation Security, Part 1544 Aircraft Operator Security: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators, Subpart C Operations, Section 211 Use of X-ray systems, Paragraph (e) Subparagraph (4) of the Code of Federal Regulations states that, 'If requested by individuals, their photographic equipment and film packages must be inspected without exposure to an X-ray system.'"

    With that stated, you do not have this right in other countries.
     
  10. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Forgot to mention, a friend put some film through a scanner in a lead bag. The security guard saw an opaque square on the screen and freaked. Much consternation (and cocking of automatic weapons!) followed, my friend was required to remove the films from the bag and have them rescanned and he also received a fairly thorough pat-down search.

    Not hearsay, I was there (and neither of us have used a lead bag since!).
     
  11. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Freaking out is the second thing the average scanner operator does. Generally the first is to crank-up the x-ray power to max, and try and fry their way into your film bag.
     
  12. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    I've asked a number of supervisors about the operator cranking up the x-ray machine and they said it can't be done with the one used for handbags. They told me there is only one setting. They also said the normal x-ray machines can see through the average lead bags enough to ID metal objects. If all that is true then I feel the lead bags reduce the level of exposure better than no bag at all.

    I shoot 4x5, and lately I have only two choices, open each box or send it through the machines. So, far, there hasn't been any fogging of Tri-X. Once, I sent film from England to the US through Fed-X. While Fed-X won't x-ray or open the film boxes, US customs can. That was the last time I did that. Now, the film never leaves my sight.
     
  13. Annemarieke

    Annemarieke Member

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    Recently I have had trouble at Luton Airport (London), because I carry an old fashioned Mamiya 645 (1000S) in my camera backpack. The first thing that happens is that the bag stays in the machine for ages and ages, and the operater enlarges the image, only to see a square metal 'box' in my bag.

    Next thing that happens is that they make me unpack the bag, all of it (it is amazing how much gear a bag can hold!), and the camera's and lenses are put in a plastic box and passed through de machines again! Also they make me take the front and back lens hoods off and they want to look through the lenses.

    Luckily, I never have film in my backpack when I travel to Scotland (via Luton), I just have one of the British firms send film out to Scotland. I guess my film would have been badly damaged, had I had any in the bag.

    Anne Marieke
     
  14. Wally H

    Wally H Member

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    I generally ask for and get hand checks of my film, worldwide. The few times my request has been denied I've never had any film damage (albeit I've never checked any film).

    Knowing that I'm a pain in the a## as far as security personal are concerned, I do try to make it easier:

    ---If I have a lot of film I try to pass thru security when there is not a lot of people in order to make it a bit easier on the security personnel.

    ---I try to make it easier for them to see the film. For 120 roll film, I place the pro-packs in a clear baggies. For 35mm film I replace all opaque canisters with clear canisters I have collected over the years and place those in clear plastic baggies. For 4x5 film I just put the box in clear baggies and pray they don't want to open it. Same for Polaroid films.

    ---I have all the film out and ready before I get to the machines so I'm not standing there unpacking everything and holding up the line.

    ---I never ask for my camera bags to be hand checked, although due to the amount of electronic items I generally take it gets more attention than the film.

    In the USA, generally, there has been no problems except for the Polaroid materials. On some trips I take a lot Polaroid material and in Seattle once they opened every film pack, swiped it with some sort of pad and then put the pad in some sort of machine that I assume was checking for explosives properties. It took a rather long time, but they were not at all put out and were most accommodating.
     
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  15. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I had a similar experience happen to me in Honolulu in 1998. I thought it was odd that they had to look through the lenses in this way. I think they were checking to make sure there wasn't anything (like contraband) inside them.
     
  16. Annemarieke

    Annemarieke Member

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    I think they look for something more dangerous than contraband these days.
    :tongue:

    The people at the airport were all very apologetic about making me unpack everything, and they did not touch my cameras and lenses. They made me handle them, which is very considerate.

    What I found really interesting is that they are not at all bothered by my spotmeter (which sort of resembles a gun), but they all go for my Mamiya straight away!

    The other non-camera related thing they make me do is take off my walking boots, and then they proceed to put them through the x-ray machine. It feels rather odd walking around in stockinged feet in the security area of an airport. :smile:
     
  17. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I do exactly the same thing as Wally. It takes a little time, but if you plan for the extra time you won't be nearly as stressed about it. And if you decide to just run it through the xray machine at first, and then have it hand inspected later (to avoid fogging from too many exposures) you are all set up for it. I think the inspectors like the clear plastic - it shows you have a glimmer of an understanding of their mission.

    In my opinion, the lead bag is a waste of money, and it just makes your bags heavier. In another era it might have made sense, but not in the post 9-11 world.
     
  18. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    I think this depends on where you are travelling to/from.

    I frequently travel from Sydney Australia to Singapore and Hong Kong. All three of those international airports certainly have the ability to turn up the power when scanning hand (carry-on) luggage. I've watched them do it on several occasions when they've seen something questionable in my wifes luggage :smile:

    Hand check of film is certainly performed in Sydney on request, but they normally will ask you what speed film you are carrying when you ask. If I'm worried (due to being on a long trip with multiple stops) I will tell them 3200ASA and they normally don't check the speed but hand check anyway. If they check the speed (not happened yet) I'm going to explain that even though rated at 400 (HP5) I plan to expose and process for 3200ASA.

    Hand check involves opening all the boxes, normally they leave the sealed foil intact for all but one from each box, then they run a test on each open box in a machine that I assume can smell explosives.

    It's quite time consuming.


    Graham.
     
  19. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Imagine the day that film will be banned and only digital cameras would be accepted in a plane because of security reasons, or that the laziness of security personal stop being cordial to film camera users because of digital...
     
  20. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    Far-fetched at first, but upon reflection it's possible given a long enough time frame.

    Easily solved! We just offer our darkrooms to each other in an international darkroom exchange program. You arrive in Australia with an empty camera. I give you HP5, you shoot it, then come back and develop it. Take the processed film home for printing :smile:

    Problem solved :smile:


    Graham.
     
  21. arigram

    arigram Member

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    I wonder how I am going to get any film in the island of Crete if film is banned from airplanes Graham.
     
  22. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    I was tempted to make a frivilous reply, until I realised I didn't know enough about Crete to make a comment that wouldn't make me appear as an idiot if the foundations of the comment were wrong. I was worried that Crete had no sea access.

    I think Crete would get film by sea :smile:


    Regards
    Graham.
     
  23. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Indeed Crete could get film by the sea if its economically viable.
    But then we stirred away too much from the subject at hand.
     
  24. b.raimondo

    b.raimondo Member

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    I've travelled to Cuba and they flatly refuse to hand inspect film or cameras. They x ray your carry on bags going into the country. So my 400 film was xrayed going in and comiing out and not a problem at all. I was pleasantly surprised. I would think Israel has better equipment than Cuba.
     
  25. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I presume you are joking. Even the bureaucrats would have to establish the nature of risk that film imposes. It would create more work to ban it if you think about it. Film is a record, and it is unlikely a traveler would forego their film at the checkpoint. Rather, they would have to turn around a check it.

    I could imagine them deciding not to do hand inspections, though, in which case you'd have to make a difficult decision about whether you should pass it through or not.

    Does UPS, Fed Ex, etc. xray? Perhaps you could ship your film separately to your destination.