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  1. #1
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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    Traveling with film.

    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

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    roteague's Avatar
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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.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  3. #3
    Dave Krueger's Avatar
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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. #4
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Krueger View Post
    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 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.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  5. #5
    roteague's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Krueger View Post
    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.
    My carryone was actually 4lbs over, but I asked if they would waive it and the lady at the check in said yes.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  6. #6
    Monophoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Krueger View Post
    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.
    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.
    Louie

  7. #7
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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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. #8
    dmr
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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. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by roteague View Post
    I can't tell you about the Indian ones...
    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. #10
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    Haven't we had this thread before? And before that? And before that?

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