Traveling with film.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dave Krueger, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    This may not be the right place to post this, but I was wondering what people are doing these days to protect film from x-ray damage by the TSA. Basically, I have stopped taking a film camera when I go on trips just to avoid the hassle, but now my daughter has invited me to join her on a trip to India. I would probably just take 35mm equipment and would expect to carry the quipment on the plane (it fits under the seat), but what about film? I assume I would need to hand carry it as well and have it hand inspected? I would rather not have to develop it there, but that's not out of the question.

    -Dave
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Lets see, on my last trip, I hand carried a 4x5 camera, 3 4x5 lenses, a 35mm camera (Nikon F5) with lens, 4 boxes of Velvia QuickLoads, 25 rolls of 35mm, 3 50-sheet boxes of film, plus a box of 120. The point is, you can often carry a lot of equipment and film if you are creative about it how you do it. I carried the 35mm film in pockets on my pants, 2 4x5 lenses in a fanny pack, and the F5 around my neck. Yes, it is a pain, but worth it to carry what I needed. Keep in mind, that you are allowed a bit more hand-carry in terms of weight, with most airlines, for international flights.

    FWIW, hand carrying film is not a problem, unless you are carrying high-speed film, you won't have any problems with the hand check x-ray.
     
  3. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Wow! LOL! You need to post a picture of you all dressed up for a trip. By that standard, I should have it pretty easy.

    I did just check out the TSA website and they do say that their x-ray machines won't damage hand carried luggage, although I've never trusted statements like that in the past. Back before 9/11 I used the lead-lined bags to put film in checked baggage but I've heard that now they just turn up the juice on those x-ray machines until they can see right through the lead lining.

    I suppose the answer is to put a bunch of cassettes in a clear plastic bag so they can see them. I load my own, so I don't like the idea of having them bouncing around loose in a bag where they might pop open if they're handled too roughly.
     
  4. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I had film go through as many as 10 x-ray sessions on a trip, without any noticeable difference - mostly US, Australia and New Zealand airports. I can't tell you about the Indian ones. Lead lined bags are really a waste of money, mainy because they really don't work. Yes they do turn up the juice on x-ray machines, but it isn't what you think - they just change the gain, not the power. Think of it as changing the ISO in a digital camera, you still get the picture, just with more noise.
     
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    My carryone was actually 4lbs over, but I asked if they would waive it and the lady at the check in said yes.
     
  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    There has been a lot of credible scientific research on the effect of carry-on x-rays on film. The bottom line is the machines used in the US will not cause a detectable effect on film provided the film is ordinary stuff (ie, EI 400 or below) and provided it is not exposed too many times. I don't know if the exposure threshold has actually been quantified, but there are lots of reports of 6-8 exposures with no apparent effect.

    The bit about "turning up the juice" on the x-ray machine is pure urban legend. The inspectors have no control at all on the intensity of the x-ray exposure - if they did, there would be serious safety concerns! Instead, all they can control is the intensity of the image on their monitor..

    I used to use lead bags, but gave up on them entirely a few years ago. Today, I just put my film in a clear plastic bag. Yes, I know they suggest taking it out of the plastic canister, but I bulk-load my 35mm film, and am also concerned about cassettes popping open. Also, I use a strip of colored plastic ape on the outside of the canister to separate exposed from unexposed film - if the tape goes over the edge onto the canister top, the film is unexposed. When I repackage the film after exposure, I switch the tape to simply wrap around the outside of the canister.

    But my experience is that if I simply let my bag go through the x-ray without making a big deal about the contents, the inspectors rarely bother to look inside so the fact that the film is still in the canisters is usually not an issue.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The bottom line is there are two different airport systems:

    1. Baggage (Luggage) - this goes in the hold the X-ray equipment is quite powerful, Kodak & Ilford don't recommend your film goes through this.

    2. Hand held carry-on luggage. Supposedly safe for films, and generally fine, in practice usually causes no problems at all. Have you noticed the staff don't wear radiation badges to check their dosage ! Actually this should be safe at most airports now.

    I queried this at a London airport 2 months ago, and by chance I'd asked a member of staff (a photographer) who was on a committee with Ilford & Kodak technical experts concered with the safety of films passing through aiport X-ray machines.

    Hand baggage scans are safe, even multiple times. Baggage in the hold is not.

    Ian
     
  8. dmr

    dmr Member

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    I fly semi-frequently, almost all domestic, and I always ask for a hand inspection of the film and I have never been refused.

    I always have it out for them, in a clear plastic zip-lock bag, rolls out of the canisters all ready to inspect.

    Sometimes they just look at it and hand it back, sometimes they take it over to the nasty-detector and swab it off.

    I think asking nicely and having it convenient for them to inspect are the keys to this.
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Delta 3200 through Goa twice and Bombay once gave me no problems. Nor have I had problems with slower films through Delhi and Madras (wasn't carrying Delta 3200).

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  10. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Haven't we had this thread before? And before that? And before that?
     
  11. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Thanks for the comments, folks. Glad to hear that most film is still safe in carry-ons. I've heard a few horror stories before 9/11 so I assumed that things were worse nowadays. I now wish I'd saved all those transluscent Fuji film canisters. I've always preferred the black ones from Kodak because they're more light proof, but the TSA people would probably want to open them and look inside each one. Haha!

    -Dave
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    To give you an idea of how safe most carry-on xray machines are, I took Infrared film to Cambodia and it went through the xray machine there with no problem. It also went through the xray machines the whole way home (Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Singapore (2x), Amsterdam, New York). So, no worries. If IR film can survive Cambodian x-ray machines, not much out there will do any real harm. Your film actually gets more negative radiation exposure from the cosmic rays passing through your 14 hour plane flight than they do at the x-ray machine. THAT's what the lead bag is good for.
     
  13. Shawn Mielke

    Shawn Mielke Member

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    Anyone traveling with the faster films? I'm going to Morocco for two months, with my flights in and out of Spain. I intend to bring about 120 rolls of 35mm b/w film, and I really really want half of it to be Neopan 1600. I would unpackage all rolls and put them into gallon size ziploc bags, with strips of tape on the outsides that would say something like

    "Sensitive film, 1600 iso, please do not xray"

    Something like that. Too risky? I would pass through inspection no more than four times, and I would of course request hand inspections. Would a hand inspection of 120 rolls surely piss someone off?
     
  14. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    I always have the TSA people hand check all of my camera equipment and film.

    I've never had a problem with them getting upset about it. Yes, they get annoyed extracting each one of my Tri-X 120 rolls, but they're usually OK with it.

    Except at LaGuardia in the City, but thats just New York ...
     
  15. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    Shawn

    I travelled with TriX (120) exposed at 1000 and had no problems. You can always ask for a hand inspection, but outside the US they are under no obligation to grant your request.
     
  16. crispinuk

    crispinuk Member

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    I think the IR aspect of this might be misleading, isn't IR at the opposite end of the spectrum to X-rays and therefore less likely to be affected than visible light film ? Whatever, I think it's been fairly well established that carry-on X-ray machines should not to do any harm.
    Regarding checked-in baggage, I have tried a couple of the rolls Velvia 100 that went through with my checked in baggage when I went to Iceland (from London Heathrow) in August, and just to muddy the waters I cannot see any sign of damage. They were packed inside my aluminium camping cooker/pans so had a couple of millimeters of aluminium around them, but I doubt if that would make a huge difference. So I think with checked-in baggage it's entirely down to luck, some have had really bad fogging, while I got away with it.

    This thread really belongs in 'Geographic Locations' (or perhaps there should be new forum for 'airport xray machines' :smile: .)
     
  17. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    Now for your information the airport has two different devices! One is the handbag scanner which does not harm your film! That doesn’t hurt either to ask for hand visitation! The second one is what you don’t see is the big high intensity X-ray machine which they use to X-Ray your goods which goes into the cargo aria! That is will affecting your film and specially film with high ASA/ISO.

    So don’t put any exposed/unexposed film to your baggage which goes to the plain's cargo aria! Have it on you all the time! See the bright side of things! If you go down you go with your art! :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2006
  18. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I believe the big cargo scanners in the baggage handling area are actually C/T Scanning machines, but regardless, they are unsafe for any film at any speed. I had some sheets of 4x5 Fuji 160 NPS loaded in some film holders that I forgot, and they were in the checked baggage. When I got them back from the lab, the sheets closest to the outside of my suitcase were all irreparably fogged.

    I don't know if IR and X-ray are on opposite ends of the spectrum or not - I use the IR film as an example because it is so sensitive to just about anything it seems. Perhaps that is a false impression of delicacy on its part - it is just sensitive to visible light plus a little, but that little makes handling it a challenge.
     
  19. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    That’s exactly what I stated “That is will affect your film and specially film with high ASA/ISO.”

    Now there is two type of X-ray one we call low intensity X-ray also called soft X-ray and high intensity so called hard X-ray! Usually the low intensity x-ray (low in energy) used to (scanners) which is okay for handbags but if something doesn’t shows because the scanner is not able to penetrate it than personal will surely ask you to open your bag!

    That’s exactly what happened with me twice recently when I had my Tomiyama 6x24 cm in my bag! The stuff never seen a camera like this and they just asked me to open my bag and when they see my camera I could see a big smile on their face and than got a couple questions and than they asked me to pack it down again! I think it was very educational for the personal at the airport!:smile:

    Now the high intensity X-ray is totally different it’s uses high energy and therefore it can’t be used in scanners (very dangerous) but for penetrating bigger and ticker things you need to have them! Also it’s possible to increase or lower the amount of energy and it’s possible to change the viewing dept too! It’s makes it possible to concentrate on finding bombs and specially manufactured arms and stuff similar to it!

    Those will definitely damage your film! All of it more or less! Film pushed to High ASA react as usual films but manufactured high ASA/ISO film would be totally damaged!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2006
  20. uraniumnitrate

    uraniumnitrate Member

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    I’m sorry but I do forget about this IR situation!
    The X-rays are very low in radiations 0.001 up to 10nm on the scale and the radiation which we actually use for IR photography goes from around 500nm up to 900nm! Now, films call for extended they are not truly IR films just an extended sensitivity up to lets say 790 nm or less.I would think that they react similar as any other film!