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  1. #1

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    Flying with spot meter

    I'll be flying to the UK on vacation this weekend and I'll be bringing a bunch of photo equipment, including my Capital Spot meter. To the untrained eye a spot meter could look a little bit like a handgun, and in todays paranoid climate around airports I'm a little worried that I'll get hassled by security. So I was wondering, has anyone here ever had issues when flying with a spot meter (or other "strange" photographic equipment), any recommendations on how I should pack it (hand luggage vs checked in)?
    "Art is is a picture of some dude I never met smoking under a lamppost at 6400 ISO and in BW."

  2. #2
    hdeyong's Avatar
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    I'd pack it in checked luggage. If they can't be convinced of what it actually is, they may make you surrender it or not allow you to board if you won't. I had a monopod that would fit into my carry-on, and after fifteen minutes of explanations, and multiple passes through the X-rays, I finally told them to let me keep the ball head, and they could throw the rest out, it wasn't worth the hassle. At that point, they let me take it on board. This was at Heathrow.
    And, from what I'm reading, airport security is ramping up again.
    Film doesn't seem to bother them at all. UK security is strict, but they generally seem reasonable, especially if you remain calm and polite.

  3. #3

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    I had a similar problem at Heathrow with a monopod some 20 years ago. They were convinced that it was an aerial antenna of some kind. Even a demonstration left them scratching their heads. They could not understand why one would hold a camera on a tripod that only had one leg. Eventually they just let it (and me) go. Interestingly, this happened AFTER a flight and all I was trying to do was pass through customs. After that I took my monopod on flights within UK and EU without problem. And when returning to US the monopod was carried on the plane, again without any questions at all. That was before 2011 so I don't know what they might do now... especially after the latest concerns.

  4. #4

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    make sure the battery is good.

    empty pockets, phone, take off watch, trouser belt, shoes, specs, dump into xray tray with camera and meter.

    The metal detectors may pick up tooth implants...

  5. #5
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    It might look like a gun to an untrained eye, but when it's x-rayed, the electronic circuitry should show up and you'll probably get it past security. While flying to Chicago, I had a back back full of metal film gear and they pulled out every camera from my bag. Most camera gear is plastic and anything metal is suspect. I'm sure anything shaped like a gun metal or not is also suspect because somebody designed a plastic gun that can be made with a 3D printer. I always cooperate with US TSA agents.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  6. #6

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    I have traveled through many airports both in the US and Europe with a Pentax digital spot meter with my carry-on camera gear and never had a problem. It is easy for the agent to hand check any of your gear and see that it isn't a hand gun. If questioned ask for a supervisor. If possible pack it so it is vertical in your bag as it will have a different configuration to the x-ray. On a few occasions I have been asked to open the bag (backpack). If possible arrive with plenty of time to go through security before your flight, open lenses to the widest aperture in case they want to look through. If you get an agent who knows something about photography all the better. Once in Milan, I asked to have my film hand checked and the agent said the x-ray was film safe but the one working with him saw the Delta 400 film and said "that is fast film check it by hand". I've never had a problem with the film being x-rayed but I still prefer a hand check if possible.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

  7. #7
    ajmiller's Avatar
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    Fly between UK and France 2 or 3 times a year. Always have meter in checked in luggage, never been a problem.
    Only problem with "strange" photographic equipment, as you call it, was with my Mamiya C330s which I had in hand luggage. Not sure what caused it but had a swab alarm, men in uniform swarmed around it. Asked to open it (never have film in it going through airports), they checked it, swabbed it again then asked me "what exactly is it?" - me thinking all sorts of smart-arsed answers calmly said it was a film camera. Forms filled out (sure I saw TNT at the top of the form) and off I went with camera. As I was using it out in the streets of Manchester a lot I can only think it had picked up something that triggered their equipment.
    regards,

    Tony

  8. #8

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    manual

    I suspect if it were me I'd at least make sure I had the spot meter's owner's manual, in English if possible, to show them what it is.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajmiller View Post
    . As I was using it out in the streets of Manchester a lot I can only think it had picked up something that triggered their equipment.
    You'll have to stop going into the "Jockey" on the Chatsworth Estate

    pentaxuser

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac View Post
    It might look like a gun to an untrained eye, but when it's x-rayed, the electronic circuitry should show up and you'll probably get it past security. While flying to Chicago, I had a back back full of metal film gear and they pulled out every camera from my bag. Most camera gear is plastic and anything metal is suspect. I'm sure anything shaped like a gun metal or not is also suspect because somebody designed a plastic gun that can be made with a 3D printer. I always cooperate with US TSA agents.
    Just to be clear its just the frame that is plastic. The Barrel and about 90% of the lock mechanism is steel. Its no different that most of the polymer framed pistols that have been on the market for 2 or 3 decades.

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