Should i process film in China or wait until i get back?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by BuddhaBelly, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    Hi, i will be in China and i'm wondering shall i process my film out there or shall i wait until i get back. I'm not sure if a) the chemistry i use in a photo lab may not process/fix the film properly... and b) whether the latent image will be damaged by x-ray machines at airport.

    Any help is appreciated. Sorry if question has already been addressed on here.

    Best wishes.
     
  2. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    it's colour film...
     
  3. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    ...likely depends where you get it done in China. I heard of some very good shops there, but if you ask me the name or location, I'd be drawing and blank. I would do that over risking it. I've had too many negatives destroyed by xrays at the airport to chance that one again. I'm only going to buy/ship film to my destination, then process there or mail back from now on.
     
  4. jm94

    jm94 Member

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    Don't mailed items get sent through X-ray as well? If it is i guess it wouldn't be as powerful... I have ordered films from abroad with little problems.
     
  5. amsp

    amsp Member

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    If you can find a reputable pro-lab do it there, if you can't put the film in a clear plastic bag and ask them to hand check it at the airport.
     
  6. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I would think that C41 in China and C41 in North America should give the same results, after all film photographers in China get it done there all the time :D
     
  7. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    RattyMouse's thread (link) about film processing in China may be relevant to you.
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    If your film is slower than ISO 800, going through CARRY-ON x-ray twice or even four times (assuming you have a connecting flight) will do it no harm. How do I know this? I flew from Washington DC to Cambodia with I forget how many rolls of film - some black-and-white, some color, some Kodak T400CN (black-and-white that you process in C-41 color chemistry), and even a few rolls of Kodak HIE 35mm infrared. On the way TO Cambodia, I flew from DC to New York, changed planes, then went from New York to Amsterdam, had a layover, then on to Singapore. Two days in Singapore, then Singapore to Cambodia (Siem Reap). Five days in Cambodia, then from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh to Singapore, half a day in Singapore, then Singapore to Amsterdam, layover in Amsterdam, Amsterdam to New York, and then New York to DC. On the way to Singapore, I had the film hand-checked at every stop (even though we never left the departure area in Amsterdam, there was still a baggage scan when re-boarding the flight). On the way to Cambodia from Singapore, the security boy couldn't grasp the idea of a hand-check for my film, so I let it go through instead of fighting with him and missing my flight. I had the same thing in Cambodia when returning to Singapore. The X-ray machines in Singapore are ultra-modern, so I wasn't too worried, but the X-ray machine in Cambodia was positively ancient. I figured if anything would dose my film to ruin, it would be the Cambodian X-ray machine, and any subsequent exposure wouldn't make a bad situation any worse so I let it go through all the remaining checkpoints without a hand inspection. So on the return, it got dosed twice in Cambodia, once in Singapore, once in Amsterdam and once in New York. Nothing got fogged or damaged, not even the HIE. Your film gets more radiation exposure while in flight at 35,000 feet than it does going through five X-ray passes.

    Frankly, I would be more worried about getting film processed in China than X-ray fogging. I've had terrific experiences with getting C-41 processed locally in Bangkok, and not-so-great experiences in Buenos Aires (at a Kodak franchise lab no less). I'd do some online research and see if you can find a pro-quality lab in one of the major cities in China that you're visiting. I can ask a friend of mine who is a photographer in Beijing and see if he knows a good lab to recommend.

    If you make the mistake of putting your film in checked baggage, a single pass is sufficient to cause damage. How do I know this? I made the mistake of leaving some 4x5 film holders loaded when I checked them in my suitcase. The sheets of film that were closest to the CT-Scan emitter had horrible fogging, with the sheets that were further away were less fogged.
     
  9. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    When I lived in China from '96 to '01 I had C-41 developed all the time there with no issues per se. But like anywhere some labs are better than others particularly on the handling of the negs post development. Go in the place you are considering and if anyone is seen doing the pull the negs to tighten the size of the roll thing then walk right out. Or ask how they would return your negs uncut and if they point to a plastic film canister again walk out. Or buy some neg sleeve pages and see if they will cut and return them in the pages. Best would be if they returned them in the glassine long sleeves.
     
  10. rhcgn

    rhcgn Member

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    Ahh.. Your Username suddenly makes a lot of sense :wink:
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Well, actually, the name came from a now-failed business venture, doing adventure tours to interesting places for photographers. Just as we were getting off the ground (pardon the pun), my business partner developed a neurological condition that could best be described as extreme vertigo combined with extreme motion sickness - she could not ride in an airplane, could no longer drive, and even had a hard time riding in a car lying down so she could not see out the windows. On bad days she even had a hard time remaining on her feet for more than an hour at a stretch. Not a good combination for someone leading hiking tours of the desert southwest. But in part the trip to Cambodia was an inspiration for the business.
     
  12. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Was that 4x5 film, 120, or was it 35mm? I ask because I would expect 35mm film to be a lot more resistant to fogging due to the metal container.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    That was all 35mm. But I've also flown with 5x7 sheet film (not nearly as many stops, but still... DC to Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls, Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires, and then there was the ferry crossing from BsAs to Colonia in Uruguay and back which had security checkpoints, and the return from BsAs to DC). No negative (pardon the pun) impact on the film. And that was both color and black-and-white 5x7 sheet film.
     
  14. BuddhaBelly

    BuddhaBelly Member

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    Thanks a lot everyone :smile:

    Hmm, so TheFlyingCamera, it's safe to take on the plane as hand-lugagge as opposed to the suitcase which goes off elsewhere on the plane as the x-rays are less severe, is that right? Thanks.

    And do you know, once a film has been exposed do the latent images stay there forever until processed (ie. could i wait a few months until i return before i process the film?)

    Thanks again for all your help.
     
  15. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Kodak has a public statement that film emulsions up to ISO 400 can take modest multiple passes, thru the X-ray screening machine at Security, without fear of fogging. But Kodak advises that one should ask for hand inspection in the case of multiple passes (more than 5 times). They advise to NOT CHECK film because the CT scanners will damage unprocessed film. Statement applies to ALL FORMATS.

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/tib/tib5201.shtml
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2012
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    As others have also confirmed, yes, within limitations, hand carry-on luggage is generally safe. The x-ray machines for carry-on luggage will give your film far less radiation exposure than the 12+ hours of sustained flight at 35,000 feet. At that altitude, the atmosphere does little to block cosmic rays which are far more energetic from striking your film, and neither does the airplane. Again, this applies to slower films - below 800 speed. If you are going to take faster films (1000/1600/3200), then a lead bag and a hand inspection are a good idea. NEVER put film in checked baggage. It WILL be ruined.

    The lifespan of latent images will vary from film to film, but color negative film has (generally speaking) excellent latent image retention. Without specific knowlege of the film(s) you are taking, I can't make any guarantees, but you should not experience significant or even readily perceptible degradation of image quality in just a few months. This of course depends entirely on storage and handling conditions. I will give you one personal anecdote and derive from it what you will: I was getting ready to move out of this house I had been living in up in Baltimore. The house was an 1850s vintage rowhouse, three stories tall, no A/C. In a desk drawer in a room on the top floor without even a window unit, I found a roll of Kodak HIE (the b/w version) that had been shot several years previously and put in the drawer. It went through at least two summer/winter cycles with temperatures cold enough to cause your breath to fog in winter, and 95+ degrees in the summer. I processed that roll, expecting to get god knows what, but very little of it useable regardless. It came out looking just fine, and I could not detect any obvious heat or cold damage.

    When I worked at the minilab, we would get rolls on a regular basis that showed 2-3 years worth of events (birthdays, christmases, thanksgivings, family vacations to the beach) on a single roll. They were not always great pictures, for a variety of reasons (giveaway film from some drugstore, cheap giveaway camera with three apertures, two shutter speeds, and a built-in flash too close to the lens, camera stored in the glove box of the car, etc), but they were almost always printable. And then we'd even have people roll in with the odd roll of C-22 35mm film (this was back in the mid-late 1990s, so even then C-22 was OLD) that we would send out and they'd get it back with pictures on it.

    The long and the short of it - a month or two? no major worries about latent image retention. You'll get your images, and probably have no perceptible or even actual image quality loss. For best results? the less time between exposure and processing, the better.
     
  17. MonkeyBrain

    MonkeyBrain Member

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    I also repeated this bit of wisdom for many years, convinced of its veracity though without any first-hand experience, until an assistant who was flying out to meet me on a job (and had never heard this bit of info before) put all the film in checked baggage.

    Buy you know what, it was all completely fine.

    I have since checked my film on several other occasions without any mishap whatsoever.

    However, it still makes me very nervous and I only do it when there just isnt room to fit it all in carry-on.

    As I think will be the case when I travel in about a week's time...

    Carry-on is absolutely no problem at all. And yes, as someone pointed out above, Chinese photographers get their film developed in China all the time. I know a couple, and they've never complained of ruined film.
     
  18. bwfans

    bwfans Member

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    Directly copied from Kodak's website:

    "Have your exposed film processed locally before passing through airport security on your return trip."