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Airport Xray and Night Photography

dhr001

Member
After being anxious about travelling with unexposed film (NPZ800) here's what I did - took the film canisters out of their boxes and plastic capsules and put them in a clear plastic bag in my pocket. This is so it is quick and easy for the security staff to see them.

Then when I walked through the metal detector it beeped and I could just take out the bag and show them. No hassle at all (Singapore, Penang, Christchurch) airports. My night shots with Fuji NPZ 800 came out very nicely, I'd really recommend the film. I used a tripod for some long exposures, but most of the time the exposures were around 1/125 with my T3. Nice being able to set the flash default to "off" too!. Although in retrospect I wish I'd used a bit of fill-in flash here and there.

However the night portrait mode sets to "auto" and you cant force it. So if there are a few bright lights around and you're loaded with 800 it won't fire. So you probably have to manually set a long exposure and switch the flash on (haven't tried this yet)

No visible grain on my 6x4" test prints.

Hi to all you T3'ers

David
 

pvelz

Member
David, I travel a huge amount and mostly my experience is similar, this works well . . . However, there are also countries where even this method will not be accepted: currently travelling in the USA is a nightmare. Only if you insist they will test your film in another machine (this is gas chromatograph coupled to a mass spectrometer, so it is safe, but takes them more time and that is why they usually want you to just put it in the X-Ray machine.
Other countries will also not accept the visual inspection (most airports in Germany for instance), but they (are instructed to) believe that it is possible to stuff the film cartridge with explosives (and it is possible, so I see their point).
Insisting on a careful treatment is necessary in all of the USA.
By the way, there will usually be no damage to film under 400 ISO, for 800 ISO only if you take it through an X-Ray machine multiple times (such as trip where you check in many times). I do not take the risk, have the film in the transparent box and hand it over to the inspector before they find the film in the gate shaped-metal detector. My experience is that if you hand it over they are more willing than if you set off the alarm first and then ask for their willingness to perform manual/visual/alternative inspection.
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
Airports and film

I have traveled with slow speed film in my carry on bag and have never had a problem. I have read several articles that recommend that you hand carry film because the x-ray machines that are used to check baggage are much stronger and damage film.
Regards

Gilbert
 

pkipnis

Well-Known Member
I too have been proactive in showing the film to the gate people and asking for a hand inspection. With one exception, they are most helpful both here in other Western Countries. However, be very careful with passing even slow films through the detectors too many times, I used film shield bags for a long time, but the current level of security frowns on them. When in Eastern Europe and the Middle East I often have the film developed but not printed, just to prevent problems when I'm going on many connecting flights or through less developed (pun) regions of the world. NEVER put your film in you luggage, it will be zapped by high density particles. the TSA has an advisory on this on their web site. Besides, unless you're shooting astronomical images, who needs density build up?
 
W

writing4me

Processing locally like Phil noted reminded me of two other ideas. There is always the option of shipping your film ahead to your hotel etc, or to buy your film near your destination. Just a thought. -Lynn L.
 

saspencr

Well-Known Member
Forgive my ignorance, but does mail go through machines as well? Should the package containing ones film have special markings?
 
W

writing4me

I don't think that is a bad question. I remember that after those problems we had here in the US some time back, they did show on the news that mail would be irradiated (sp?) in certain instances at the major mail hubs. I don't know what that means to film, or where or when, or if it is underway now. You raise a valid point! -Lynn L.
 

dhr001

Member
Interesting feedback from around the globe. All this precaution about airport X-rays is still rather hypothetical as I have not had a first-hand account from anyone who's film has been actually damaged by x-rays (i.e. visible effect on photos) . A couple of trips through the hand luggage screener certainly had no visible effect on my rolls of Agfa Ultra 100 and the photo's are as brilliant as ever (except for the blurry badly-composed ones!)
 
T

ttu

Can vaguely remember something about that for postage to government sites as a result of the Anthrax scare
 
T

ttu

Buying film locally can be difficult or expensive depending on the destination. Don't think the local shop at well no.2 in the desert left hand side has Velvia 50 ASA :) .

Other thing re X-Ray scanning: It seems to depend on the sophistication of the equipment. In other words, recent, modern scanning equipment appears to be fairly neutral to film - if operated under normal conditions and with skilled operators. Have been travelling to a number of countries without any problems there, both with films in cabin luggage as well as main luggage.
 

pvelz

Member
David and others,

I once have had several 400 ISO film, exposed but not developed and after that on my way home having gone through the security scanners about 10 times on a long trip through USA and Canada. When I had the film developed back home on each print there was a multiple of vague shadows and vague contours which I attributed to the X-ray's penetrating the cartidge and the film. Now in principle the absorption of X-Ray by the film is low, hence the effect (comparable to a low dose exposure)on the film is low. But many small doses seemed to cause an effect that can best be described as casting the shadow of the (paint etc on the) metal cartridge (and maybe other part of the whole assembly) on your film. It was enough to waste a couple of nice bird pictures that had taken me long time to be able to shoot and therefore I do not take the risk anymore, despite what the signs on the machines in airports always say.
Buying film locally is a good way out, but then you have to develop the film as well before going into the plane, since only after that you will be safe. Undeveloped film, exposed or not, is principally not safe in these machines. I have experienced that multiple exposures of (certainly 400 ISO) film will cause damage at some point. Hope my experience helps.
 
G

guyg

Fed Ex packages do not currently get xrayed. It is a safe way to ship film as Fed Ex goes by non passenger cargo carriers. At least that's what Fed Ex people have repeatedly told me. Considering that people like B&H ship thousands of packages of film by Fed Ex without problems I'd say it's safe. By the way, I have found the TSA to be very cooperative with hand checking film when asked. It's a definite improvement.

Guy
 

pkipnis

Well-Known Member
My only concern with FED-EX or UPS or Express mail is how they treat the packages, i.e.: left in the sun in those large cargo containers etc. I've had Fed Ex leave packages on my door step in direct sun, until I get home several hours later. So, be aware before you ship as to how they will handle your package.
 
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