Lead lined bags to protect from X-Ray

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Ektagraphic, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Hi Guys-
    I was wondering what happens when you go through an airport with your film in one of the lead bags. When put through the machine what do the TSA see? Do they question you? Thanks
     
  2. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    They'll either hand inspect it or make you take it out of the lead bag to X-Ray it. A lead bag kind of defeats the whole purpose of the X-Ray. It may even prompt them to take a closer look at you than they otherwise might have.
     
  3. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Your film will not be damaged by carry-on x-ray machines. Thus, the question should apply to checked baggage, IMO.
     
  4. Dr David Hall

    Dr David Hall Member

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    Carried 800 film in a lead bag to Hawaii and back in Dec-jan and they took it out ofthe luggage, examined the film, put it backin and ran the bag without the lead bag. Then gave it to me still protected from the x-ray. No problem from TSA at all. Also had a lot of fiim camera equipment going through so they didn't find it odd to have protected film.
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Like they said above save your money and buy more film.

    Steve
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I tried a lead film container years ago before TSA, 911 and all the rest. Prior to using it, my bag would sail through the scanner. The one and only time I used it, my bag went in, they stopped the belt, and studied things for a couple of minutes, or so.
    30 seconds zipping through the machine, vs a couple of minutes of collecting x-rays (presumably), made it an easy decision to ditch the lead container. I don't know how much lead it takes to stop whatever the machines can produce over a few minutes, it's not an easy thing to test. OTH, I've had various rolls x-rayed in carry-ons, sometimes multiple times, off and on for 20-30 years, and have never had a problem.

    For checked bags, if there is anything they have doubt about, they'll open the bag and look. I often have varous electronics and thick manuals in my checked bags, finding the little TSA greeting card in my bag on arrival is a pretty common thing. I don't think I'd trust the foil bags to checked bag x-ray. Consider the difference between those little bags and the vest your dentist puts on you for getting tooth x-rays.
     
  7. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    to answer the original question--they do see your film very clearly, on a slightly darker background of the bag shape. a couple of times (out of a hundred perhaps, worldwide) they asked me what it was; normally it just glides through. based on shading levels, the bags offer little protection. since i have them already, since they help me organize those dozens of rolls, and since the film has never suffered any harm--i keep using them :cool: one for fresh, one for exposed

    my hama bag comes out darker on the screen than my domke bag :wink:
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Depends. There are heavier lead bags now than there were several years ago, and they do offer some protection. I often use them for 4x5" and smaller formats in my carry-on luggage. I would not put film in checked baggage, even in a lead bag. Sometimes the inspectors will ask to see the contents of the bag or run the film without the bag, but often, if they see the bag with a lot of other photo equipment and nothing else looks out of the ordinary, they'll let the film through without asking to see the bag, or they might just do an explosive swab. I figure that if I might be traveling and it cuts down on the cumulative exposure, then that's a good thing.
     
  9. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    A number of years back, for a government project, I took some 1000' rolls of P3200 through as carry-on. I packed these inside a box that was lined with 1/4" thick lead plates with the result that there was a hand "inspection," although they did not ask to open the film cans that were clearly marked with Kodak factory labels. That was one heavy box to carry! Recently I took film in a lead bag through with the same result mentioned by others--a sniffer swab and examination of the 35mm casettes but no further problems. As most of us know film has a definite odor when one opens a can containing a long roll. Evidently the aromatic film compounds are not the correct ones to give a result on the swab tests.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    These days using a lead bag will only raise suspicions and cause more vigorous checking, and European airports are far more thorough thanthose in the US, they'll open the bag then scan then through again.

    Ian
     
  11. Shan Ren

    Shan Ren Member

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    I travel with film a lot. Sometimes they look at the contents of my lead bag, or bags, most times they don't. I use it more to protect the film from the increased radiation your film gets exposed to during flight. Higher altitude, less atmosphere. Haven't flown into or out of the US since the recent incident, so don't know how the TSA people will react. Have been in and out of Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia, China (of course), New Zealand and Korea recently. The only place I got asked to show the bags contents was Hong Kong about three months ago. Having a few cameras in the bag seems to be a good indicator of what is happening. I take all the rolls out of the canisters (if 35mm) and out of the wrapping if 120. 5x4 stays in the box. Only twice have I had people insist on xraying it out of the bag, once entering New Zealand about 9-10 years ago (they are paranoid about unwanted arrivals further damaging their bio-diversity ) and once when leaving Paris.

    Also, when they stop everything to look at the screen, they are looking at the image on the screen. The contents of the scanner (your bag/film/etc.) are not being exposed to more xrays (or so I have been informed by a reliable source). They may adjust the contrast or gain on the image on the screen, but it isn't being exposed to more radiation. Personally, I think the modern machines are safe for a few passes with out to much base fog build-up, but, discretion is always the better part of valour.
     
  12. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    Better ways

    Unfortunately, this CAN happen.
    I had one jerk not only remove HIE from the can, but pull it out as well! there was much tension that day and the police were rushing toward me... Paris... they point blank refused hand checks... or accepted it :rolleyes: with the catch that it be followed by an X-ray exam too!

    It is almost time for some civil disobedience....
    the situation is quite out of hand... a better solution is possible.

    I got those lovely TSA cards many times as well... once they opened a 20 lb bag of Gelatin (Ex-Libris Kodak).

    Funny, the cards say the TSA doesn't take any responsability for their actions... (sort of like 007, they must be Double 0's or something-?)

    I feel so safe because of those TSA monkeys... evil terrorists must tuck tail and shiver like a hungover enema, ohh la la
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Like you Ray I've had some close experiences but no film ruined yet. At Istanbul the security opened the film box then the foil wrapper on Delta 3200, and I only managed to stop them unrolling the film with a lot of verbal protestation.

    More recently I had to stop security opening a box of 100 sheets of 5x4 film, not easy when they speak no English, luckily someone who spoke the language explained my protests. Something in my baggage had shown up as suspicious in the carry-on scan,

    It's best to either carry film complete separate from other items or remove from the carryon case just for scanning. Now I put my film in my laptop case which is perfect, most airport insist on laptops being removed anyway & on few occasions booted-up. The important part is keep film away from all metal objects, wires from chargers, batteries etc while being scanned.

    Ian
     
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  15. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    My last TSA love story was when by a quirk of kindness, a last minute offer by the airline to allow me to hand carry a tripod bag onto the cabin, resulted in a bottle of Nuttela being "stolen" from me.
    (how do we know they don't resale or share the spoils of their protective police action? Disposal activites are not open to the public according to the TSA) Even the airline wasn't able to retrive the article for me... I almost cancelled that flight just to emphasize my irritation... technically, Nutella is not liquid nor a "gel" but it seems to fall under the "if coustomer complains, take it away" clause.

    As far as the bags go, they are pretty much useless... they reduce the intensity, but if they were fully opaque to X-ray, does anyone really think they would fly?

    Imagine a terrorist carring a fully shielded lead box to the gate.

    Present for yo mama ? Ok, Go right on through.
    Next!... hey you with the camera and films...everything in the machine!
     
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  16. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    I think the tricky part is that the damage can be subtle, and each TSA agent thinks his is the only machine your film is ever going to encounter.

    In addition to transfers there is also the whole return trip to consider, and different machines seem to be set to different exposure intensity levels... so while I own and use the bags, in the long run, I think they offer more psychological comfort than real physical protection....

    I should note though, that I have had more trouble outside the US... For example, Singapore even takes the added "responsibility" of making sure you have the proper visa/residence permit... (to enter Japan at least) - something I consider none of their business....
     
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  17. Shan Ren

    Shan Ren Member

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    .... as often do USA, European and other countries officials. I once had to wait about 20 minutes while an official confirmed my passport allowed me a three month visa free entrance to the country I was heading for. If you arrive and get turned back it's on the airline, and they can get fined.
     
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  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This is a very good idea, and I do this as well. When the film is in a separate bag (I usually use a canvas tote bag), it usually just goes through the X-ray once without further inquiry. The camera bag, especially if it has a lot of parts that look suspicous, might get two screenings from two different angles, so it's best to keep the film separate.

    I've also found it useful to keep a separate little bag with all the small things that seem to attract the attention of inspectors and to put it in my checked luggage, though that does create a potential for the bag not to arrive at the same time as I do. Those things are:

    Cable releases (look like syringes)
    Linhof rangefinder cams (look like blades or scissors, though it's okay to leave one cam in the camera)
    Small tools

    When I travel with my 4x5" Technika V, I have one cam and matching lens on the camera and a cable release that folds inside the camera, so that if my checked bag with my other cams and my tripod are delayed, I can still shoot handheld until it gets there. Yes, it's happened.
     
  19. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    Can you be more specific about where you actually had trouble?

    I have travelled from LA, DC, Dallas, HK, Bancock, Korea, London, Paris, Muenchen and Frankfurt but no security people have ever asked me about my legal status to stay at my destination. I have been questioned about having a valid passport by the agency that sells the air tickets, but then informed it is my responsibilty to make sure I have all of the necessary documents....

    What airline are you using whose security is required to do what is essentially your responsability?

    I am not saying you are incorrect, on the contrary, that ["If you arrive and get turned back it's on the airline, and they can get fined."] is the only reason I was able to squeeze out of an official upon my arrival after such an incident...

    However, as I said, it is rare in my experience for the airline security to nose around in, copy etc. my resident permit for my destination. Perhaps it is country or airline specific....
     
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  20. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I've never travelled much in Europe, but it's very common in Asia and the Middle East to have the airline check your documents before departure. In fact, I thought it was the norm.
     
  21. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Last time I traveled, the machine had a label that said anything that was uder ISO 800 or was not intended to be push processed could go through...I'll try telling them it is ISO 800 and/or it will be pushed processed....If it is 4X5 in holders, they will never actually be able to tell the ISO easily :D
     
  22. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    Yes, Years ago there was more interface perhaps... but recently they have been going toward a more DIY self check in I think.

    Documents as far as passports and tickets yes, but not I think so much for visas.... of course, the places I travel may have visa free arrangements and that might be affecting my idea of what is "normal". But anyway, the case I had issue with is a country where such an arrangement existed... but security people... not CAs requested/demanded to see & copy my residence permit.

    Thinking more on this, perhaps I underestimated what the airline staff do when they take my passport at check in, or perhaps some people over estimate their actions, in either case a residence permit that is external (seperate) to a passport seems out of bounds in my mind.

    Unless things have changed, I estimate the "resolution" is somewhere between a chest x-ray and a cat (ct) scan. Fuzzy, but sometimes quite distinct.

    Questions depend on what unacceptable item(s) they think they are seeing...
    Usually... "Would you please open your bag."
     
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  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Lead lined bags for film during air travel in today's world is a WOMBAT.





    Waste
    O
    f
    Money
    Brains
    And
    Time

    Steve
     
  24. Shan Ren

    Shan Ren Member

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    Ray, I think that in most cases people fly from their home country to one destination, then back. At check in the staff will know, from experience, if a visa is required or not. If required, a quick check is made, often without you knowing. Because I travel a lot, and I mean a lot, I am often flying from my none home country, or place of residence, to another, separate destination. Made even more complicated by having residency in a place that is not my country of origin...... So, examples, flying from, say, New York/LA, or Paris/Frankfurt/London to Hong Kong, (which I do a lot), I have to show my Hong Kong residents card and my visa. Even though I get by rights, on the passport I travel on, 3 months stay. Same if I am going to China, India etc. So I often have to explain, or wait while the person checks. Probably one in ten, one in twenty flights. Varies.

    Can be interesting watching the expression on peoples faces as they go through my passport looking at all the pages full of visas .......... and the "oh, I have always wanted to to visit ......, what is it like?" comments.

    And, not speaking from personal experience, but I think I would like to know before I get on a plane if I actually need a visa for a place rather than getting an "entry refused" stamp in my passport.
     
  25. Ray Rogers

    Ray Rogers Member

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    Shan Ren,
    Not sure I followed you, but I take it that this "one in ten, one in twenty flights." means that it is infrequent even in your experience.... if this is the right interpretation then, well that is just my point.

    I agree, not any fun to be refused entry! Speaking from personal experience, The only places that tried to refuse me entry was Singapore, where I fought and got a special 12 hour visa... and Egypt, where I refused a government sponsored forced currency conversion scam in order not to lose 30 USD per vacation day. I was held (without officially being provided food or water) for 4 days in a holding cell, with terrorists. I got away with some photographs however, after security felt sure they took the film out of my camera.... :wink:

    Always expect the unexpected!
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    As far as I know, the more recent scanners are variable intensity and if they encounter something like a lead bag, they will either crank up the intensity or flag the operator for a hand check. So it's probably not worth the bother.

    However, if you are putting a lot of high-altitude miles on the film and it's fast/IR film, the exposure at high altitude might warrant a lead bag. If I remember correctly, a few transits across the atlantic at 35,000 ft gives roughly the same dose as a chest xray. For something like HIE it really might be a concern.

    Recently, at MEX airport (a big, international airport...) I had all kinds of trouble getting my IR film through a hand check. They *insisted* on putting it through the machine and I declined and asked for a hand check. To make matters worse, the 120 Rollei superpan that I had shot in abundance has no indicators once it's shot and wrapped, all you see is Rollei, and they have to take your word that it's IR film. Fortunately I also had some delta 3200 on me and was able to convince them that they were similar. I also found a "do not xray" label in Spanish on some boxes in my bag. I also kept saying muy sensitivo; and I have no clue if that is even good spanish but hey it worked. But... even after they had agreed not to put it through the scanner, they still didn't succeed in getting a qualified person to come down and do a hand check. What they had to do was take each and every roll out, individually, and hold it up to the ceiling camera for someone to inspect remotely. They had no sniffers (which I find really unacceptable at an international port of entry, frankly, but I was in no position to protest). The whole thing took ~40 mins for 6 rolsl of IR film and it was damn lucky that I had the wisdom to go to the airport very early. The other funny thing was that there was this lady with a chihuahua that they also wanted to put through the machine!!! She was sobbing uncontrollably. She kind of broke them down for me, between the two of us, who had brought two security lines to a screeching halt, I think several of those inspectors wanted to find other lines of work. In the end, neither the dog nor my IR film went through the scanner. I kept a sincerely apologetic smile on my face throughout and everyone was civil.

    Anyway... when I got to the US the inspections took seconds and we even had a good laugh about how sinister the 120 rolls look to someone who hasn't seen one.