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  1. #1

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    Airport x-rays, film, and metal!

    Here it is, the umpteen-millionth question about xrays...but thanks for reading anyway. Yesterday I almost missed a flight out of Milwaukee and put my 50 or so exposed rolls of 35mm Velvia 50 through the carry-on scanner instead of taking time for a hand check. When I got home I came to APUG to reassure myself that I have nothing to worry about and then found a couple old threads (such as http://www.apug.org/forums/archive/i...p/t-70427.html) where someone is mentioning the importance of keeping film away from metal (cable releases, etc) while being scanned. I hadn't considered this and sent my whole pack through with keys, cable releases, etc. Of course the film canisters themselves are also metal, right...? My head tells me I'm wasting everyone's time worrying about one pass of slow film through the carry on, but still, what's up with the metal, and is it that important to send film through separately? It'll be a week or so before I get these rolls processed to know for sure.

  2. #2
    Helinophoto's Avatar
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    I would believe that x-rays, because it being "light with a different wave lenght", behaves much like light.
    Meaning, the stuff it doesn't penetrate 100%, can cause reflections, which causes the rays to spread and hit other objects "several times", instead of just one straight burst of x-ray.

    Also, reflected x-rays may meet other reflected x-rays and create hotspots (much like waves meeting other waves in the sea, which can create "double-waves" with much more energy at that given point).

    You are safe, the carry on scan is too weak to fog even 1600 iso Neopan.

    - There have been incidents where small children have been playing on the airport and suddenly found themselves being scanned by the checked-baggage scanner. The reports in the media has always been that the scan isn't harmful to the child, so I doubt we are looking at a high-energy cobalt 60 source which will fry Superman. still, the checked baggage scan is no place for film.
    Last edited by Helinophoto; 10-08-2012 at 11:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Schoof View Post
    My head tells me I'm wasting everyone's time worrying about one pass of slow film through the carry on, but still, what's up with the metal, and is it that important to send film through separately? It'll be a week or so before I get these rolls processed to know for sure.
    I wouldn't call it "wasting our time", but I can assure you that you have nothing to worry about.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    There's nothing you can do about it anyway at this point. You can't anti-xray the film after the fact, so process your film and tell us how it went.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5

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    I suppose there is some validity in the metal thing. OTH, most cameras are metal, 35 canisters are, even most LF holders have some metal but problems are infrequent.

  6. #6

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    It is more of a great THEORY than anything particularly valid. I can attest to the fact that carry-on bag scanners are not an issue in most cases... metal or no metal nearby. I've been carrying camera gear on airplanes since 1980, frequently, and have rarely asked for hand-check and have never experienced any problem associated with Xray. That experience includes 35mm, medium format, and large format.

  7. #7

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    JFK airport, NY, early last September, I was returning home with a set of exposed 120 film (Ektar and Portra). I asked for a hand check and the security ladies were very nice and complied. Apparently the hand-check procedure is to check for explosive materials using a spray of some sort.

    No film went through the scanner, and all came out very nice!

    Thanks, JFK Airport!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    There's nothing you can do about it anyway at this point. You can't anti-xray the film after the fact, so process your film and tell us how it went.
    True there's nothing you can do about it, but I really doubt any 50 speed film would get any detrimental effect unless that machine is truly far out of whack.
    Michael Batchelor
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  9. #9

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    i know people who work for the tsa and they have told me
    there is really nothing to worry about ..
    even sending film fed ex, or ups or whatever
    it all gets xrayed before it gets freighted ...
    back in maybe 2008 around the time of theshoebomber
    i traveled to france via heathrow ..
    and must have passed my film through 10 or more
    scanners in heathrow airport alone between flights.
    it seemed like every 30feet we were scanned ...
    i had a bag filled with iso 200, 400 and even 800 speed
    film, color as well as b/w and in the end
    some of the 800 speed film was in my luggage, not
    carry on bags ... nothing happened to any of it ...
    the films were scanned probably 15 times each way,
    (pre and post exposure ). i wouldn't worry about it ...
    im empty, good luck

  10. #10

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    This is assuring coz I will be travelling to China in November and was worried about X-ray. Now I can pack a lot of films in my luggage.


    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    i know people who work for the tsa and they have told me
    there is really nothing to worry about ..
    even sending film fed ex, or ups or whatever
    it all gets xrayed before it gets freighted ...
    back in maybe 2008 around the time of theshoebomber
    i traveled to france via heathrow ..
    and must have passed my film through 10 or more
    scanners in heathrow airport alone between flights.
    it seemed like every 30feet we were scanned ...
    i had a bag filled with iso 200, 400 and even 800 speed
    film, color as well as b/w and in the end
    some of the 800 speed film was in my luggage, not
    carry on bags ... nothing happened to any of it ...
    the films were scanned probably 15 times each way,
    (pre and post exposure ). i wouldn't worry about it ...

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