Flying with film

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by joeyk49, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I'll be flying tomarrow and planning to take along a small kit (My Minolta 450si, one lens a meter, several filters and possibly my ZI Nettar). If I separate the few rolls of film that I'll be taking (probably 10-12) and carry them with me through security, will I be able to avoid having them xrayed???

    I don't have a film bag and I've heard that they're not all they're cracked up to be....
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Well, this is old news, but if you haven't flown in a while ...


    Do NOT put your film in your checked luggage.

    DO put it in your carry-on and unless it's ISO 800+, don't worry about it. If you're nice, and want to, you can ask for a hand inspection. If your film if 400 or less, just run it through with your carry-on.

    Relax and have a good trip.

    David
     
  3. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I always ask for a hand inspection, I take the film out of the canisters and carry them on, most of the time they will accomidate me, if I arrive early and don't try to get a hand inspection while everyone else is going through security, but sometimes I end up with it going through the x-ray machine, up to 400 speed film, I have never shown any ill effects, and I have been on trips where stuff has been x-rayed several times, it depends on the airport and who is in charge, but by federal law, you are suspose to be able to request a hand inspection and received it, in actual practice sometimes they will and sometimes they won't. with the state of security affairs now a days, I would plan for your film being x-rayed. Now a days, film bags seem to be a waste of money, often times if carrying your film in a bag they can't x-ray through then they get mad and will take it all out and x-ray it anyway.

    Others will have varied experiances than me..

    Dave
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Unless you are carrying high speed film, don't worry. Just put them through the x-ray machine and save yourself the hassle. On my last trip to New Zealand/Australia I ran Velvia 100 through airport x-rays 8 times, with no ill effects. If you are carrying high-speed film, tell the screening person, they are all trained for this.
     
  5. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    I flew domestic (USA) recently and asked the security to hand inspect it. They were very nice about it as long as you have the film ready in a bag for inspection. They did ask me to take them out of the little boxes. The funny thing is that most of the film I brought was bulk loaded in plastic cannisters. It would have been so easy to smuggle drugs in those cannisters because they can't open them. I wouldn't recommend doing that if you're flying overseas; you may end up in a Midnight Express-type situation.
    Ara
     
  6. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I don't ask for a hand inspection anymore either. I am curious, however, about infrared film. Do the airport x-rays have an effect on it?
     
  7. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Thanks guys.

    I don't fly that often (about once every 3-4 years) and this is the first time that I'm bringing a kit with me.

    So...my Portra, PanF and Delta400 all go in the bag and can get zapped. The couple of rolls of 3200 that I'm taking go with me and asked for hand inspection.

    Ari: You're probably right about the drug thing, but why people would risk something like that is beyond me...besides, tipping a pint has got to be so much more enjoyable and legal! Yippie!
     
  8. roteague

    roteague Member

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    One thing I do with 35mm film is to take all the film out of the boxes and place them, in clear Fuji cannisters, in clear plastic bags. The inspector can just take a quick look if they want to, and it saves weight - when you travel with LF gear even a tiny bit helps.
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    From personal experience, I can say No, infrared is unaffected. I took some Kodak HIE with me to Cambodia, and it went through the xray machines in Singapore, Cambodia, Singapore again, Amsterdam, New York, and Washington DC with no ill effects. If it can survive xraying in a third-world country with old machinery, plus all those other xrayings, not to mention the cosmic ray bombardment all film gets on the plane (which is a greater radiation exposure than all the xraying it is going to get on the ground anyway), it isn't going to be affected. If you have extremely high-speed film (800+), bring the lead bag to help with exposure at altitude, and get a hand-inspection at the airport.
     
  10. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Joey, you may have misunderstood.

    DO NOT PACK FILM IN CHECKED LUGGAGE.

    ALWAYS CARRY IT WITH YOU.

    The Porta, PanF, and Delta400 can go through the x-ray machine at the security checkpoint, the 3200 can't.

    Clear?

    Good luck, enjoy your trip,

    Dan
     
  11. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Thanks FlyingCamera. I didn't take my IR film to Venezuela last December because I was unsure of how it would be affected. That's good to know.
     
  12. roteague

    roteague Member

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    YES!!!!! Those of us talking about x-ray are talking about the carry-on x-ray at the security station, not the luggage x-ray - that will destroy your film.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Yes- the luggage xray for checked bags will wreck even slow speed films- I put my film holders for my 4x5 in my checked suitcase, and forgot that I had four sheets of Fuji NPS 160 loaded in them. After shooting and processing, I found the sheets that were on the bottom of the suitcase closest to the xray emitter were significantly fogged. Lucky for me, it was only 4 sheets. Unlucky, they were some great photos of a nude in the landscape.
     
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  15. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Link to the Transportation Security Administration Policy:

    http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?content=090005198004a860&print=yes

    This is what it says:

    Transporting Film
    WARNING: Equipment used for screening checked baggage will damage your undeveloped film.

    Traveling with Film

    Never place undeveloped film in your checked baggage.
    Place film in your carry-on baggage* or request a hand inspection.
    * Carry-on screening equipment might also damage certain film if the film passes through more than 5 times.

    None of the screening equipment - neither the machines used for checked baggage nor those used for carry-on baggage - will affect digital camera images or film that has already been processed, slides, videos, photo compact discs, or picture discs.

    General use film **

    You should remove all film from your checked baggage and place it in your carry-on baggage. The X-ray machine that screens your carry-on baggage at the passenger security checkpoint will not affect undeveloped film under ASA/ISO 800.

    If the same roll of film is exposed to X-ray inspections more than 5 times before it is developed, however, damage may occur. Protect your film by requesting a hand-inspection for your film if it has already passed through the carry-on baggage screening equipment (X-ray) more than 5 times.

    Specialty film **

    Specialty film is defined as film with an ASA/ISO 800 or higher and typically used by professionals.

    At the passenger security checkpoint, you should remove the following types of film from your carry-on baggage and ask for a hand inspection:

    Film with an ASA/ISO 800 or higher
    Highly sensitive X-ray or scientific films
    Film of any speed which is subjected to X-ray surveillance more than 5 times (the effect of X-ray screening is cumulative)
    Film that is or will be underexposed
    Film that you intend to 'push process'
    Sheet film
    Large format film
    Medical film
    Scientific film
    Motion picture film
    Professional grade film
    Other Tips and Precautions:

    If you plan to request a hand inspection of your film, you should consider carrying your film in clear canisters, or taking the film out of solid colored canisters and putting it into clear plastic bags, to expedite the screening process.
    If you are going to be traveling through multiple X-ray examinations with the same rolls of undeveloped film, you may want to request a hand-inspection of your film. However, non-U.S. airports may not honor this request.
    If you plan to hand-carry undeveloped film on an airplane at an international airport, contact the airport security office at that airport to request a manual inspection.
    Consider having your exposed film processed locally before passing through airport security on your return trip.
    We recommend that you do not place your film in lead-lined bags since the lead bag will have to be hand-inspected. If you have concerns about the impact of the X-ray machine on your undeveloped film, you can request a hand inspection.
    You may still consider bringing a lead-lined bag if you are traveling through airports in other countries as their policies may vary. Check with your airline or travel agent for more information on foreign airports.
     
  16. Markauf

    Markauf Member

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    I always ask for a hand check. They say the carry-on x-ray machines are safe, but I'm not so sure there isn't a cumulitive effect.

    My routine includes taking all my film (35mm and 120) out of the packages and into a large plastic zip lock bag. I ALWAYS carry ISO 3200 with me (if only as a "prop") to insure that my request for a hand sheck is honored. It's always worked for me with the exceptions of airports in Paris and Amsterdam.

    Mark
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    FWIW I took 3200 to the Isle of Man for the TT races. No problems. Unless U.K. x ray machines are different from the U.S. then I'd assume no problem there either.

    Pentaxuser
     
  18. esanford

    esanford Member

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    Joey,

    Here is what I pulled off of an old Fred Picker news letter on the subject:

    "It seems to me that what is of the greatest difficulty for the teacher to convey and of the greatest importance for the student to learn is the fact that what a photographer faces are conditions, not theory. For example, there have been a half-dozen magazine articles regarding the theoretical effect or lack of effect on films from the security X-rays that they are subjected to before almost all flights. Everyone has a theory; why doesn't anyone know? Determined to find out, I put all my film in lead foil bags - except one roll - before a recent trip to Europe. When I got home I developed that roll with the others and checked the base density against the base density of the lead-protected film. The protected rolls showed a normal .08 base density but the unprotected film showed a base density of 1.4. X-rays fog unprotected film. That's not a theory; it's a condition. Lead foil bags are a must for airline travel. They hold 20 rolls of 120 or 35mm film or one 100-sheet box of 4x5, ........."
     
  19. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I've had Pan F fried ( Halifax or Toronto ).

    I've had NPS toasted ( NEWARK ).

    The policy has always been that if a traveler asks, it will be hand checked. In many airports, before TSA, the private security firms just made up all the rules, and did what they wanted. All is different now. Just be sure to arrive early, go through Security in a lull, and expect to unpack everything. Pack, in other words, to be able to unpack. Don't use your dirty underwear to pad your Dagors.

    Sheet film is a bit of a problem. Mainly because the guards are trained to look for the out of the ordinary. 11x14 holders are out of the ordinary. So are 4x5. The concept of SHEETS of film is foreign to the life of a normal person.

    One difficulty I've had in Canada is that it is easy to be separated from the "shoulder bag" and the "under the seat bag". While the camera and lenses are being sorted out ( and left in chaos 10 feet from me at the bottome of a conveyer ) I've had to beg for the guard to not open the 100 sheet boxes of 4x5 to look for something even more unusual than a photographer having an aneurism.

    I knew I was in trouble when she switched from french to english when i switched from english to french. And back again, when i switched back. It wasn't until I saw here nametag and said her surname was my grandmother's name. A lie, but a good distraction. And thank God for the Mountie that came over to count my Leica lens caps.

    Always an adventure to fly. And remember the words of the great Canadian, Mary Walsh, who said, " Toronto is proof that Hell is full, and the dead do walk upon the earth."

    .
     
  20. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Perhaps, I never checked the base density of my developed film, but I have never had a reason to do so. It is impossible for me to travel more than 50 miles from where I live without getting on an airplane. Since I have lived here (8 years), I have traveled to Australia (6 times), New Zealand (2 times), Jordan, England, Germany, Maui, Hawaii Island (3 times), Kauai (2 times), California (3 times). I have always put my film through the security x-ray, and never once had any problem.
     
  21. esanford

    esanford Member

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    Hey, what works for you works for you... I was just sharing information in the spirit of trying to help.... BTW I have 3 leaded bags and don't take a chance...
     
  22. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I wonder when Fred wrote that.

    Today, the machine just turns up the juice until it sees into the lead bag.

    So, the point of the bag is defeated. The point of the machine is to see what's in the bag.

    Make sense ?

    /
     
  23. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser

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    Recently when I returned from overseas, I was flagged at my home airport in customs for further checking. I put my carry-on bag with 60 rolls of exposed Tri-X 120 on the table for them to check thinking they were going to hand check it all. I bend down to get another bag and when I go to put it on the table too, I see an agent putting my film bag onto a conveyer and it being whisked into one of those BIG baggage x-ray machines. Needless to say, I thought a week's worth of work was ruined. I was happy to get home, process the film and find that there was no damage at all.

    Beware of this happening to you as I had never seen this method of customs before.

    Bill
     
  24. esanford

    esanford Member

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    Well Fred wrote that in the late 80s early 90s; However in the spirit of Fred, he would have said you should not guess, you should know. So, you put the bulk of your film in the lead bag, and leave one out. When you return home, develop the all the film and test the rolls for density. If they are the same then you are ok... If not deal with it accordingly.

    My experience with a very nice lead bag that I have is that nearly 100% of the time the x-ray in the security area normally only sees a blob and I automatically get a hand check... which is my goal. So, if I am going to travel with film, I get to the airport early and expect a full security check...
     
  25. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    Wow! I didn't expect all of this info....this is terrific!

    I may have failed to explain my planned proceedure:

    I'll be carrying my kit with me. I started the thread to find out if the carry on xray damaged film.

    I was going to keep the 2-3 rolls of 3200 on my person and let the film go with the camera bag on the belt. But after additional thought, it really won't be that hard to put the film in a plastic bag and keep it with me and request a hand inspection. Do they require you to open the foil wrappers (120)?

    Perhaps I'll do a little test of my own. Put a couple of rolls inthe bag and see what happens to them.

    Thanks guys. You've been very helpful. Now let's hope I get the chance to expose as much film as possible! Business is business, but hey! we're talkin photography here! The mountains of Carolina are very picturesque.


    Joe
     
  26. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Do not put film in checked in luggage, it get higher rads.
    Just run the film through with your carry on.