film and international travel
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--
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.
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.
Either buy it there or buy it here and ship by a carrier that doesn`t x-ray and send back the same way.
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)
Too many Chiefs not enough Indians.....
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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).
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.
Originally Posted by chaim
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.
"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.
"The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance." ~Ansel Adams
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!).