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Film in airport X-ray machines
Old 06-25-2017   #1
ProSimex
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Film in airport X-ray machines

Just took a trip to Cuba and back to Canada, my film and cameras were in my carry on. After I put my bag through the x-ray machine in Montreal he security guards told me not to do that, oh well. Arriving in Cuba the guards couldn't have cared less about my film and camera when they X-rayed it. When we left they were X-rayed again.

So naturally of course all my film was ruined and I'm a full convert to digital?

Nah, film was fine, I never did any digital imaging in Cuba.

Why all the fear and lead lined bags?

Film was rollei rpx100 by the way.
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Old 06-25-2017   #2
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Most x-ray machines for carry-on baggage are film safe... unless the aiport has really old machines.
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Old 06-25-2017   #3
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Wow good guys in Montreal.

Most of my films get x-rayed once of twice. It depends on the airport itself. Really sad to say that some countries who don't know better wouldn't care less and force you to x-ray your bag.

I always ask people to hand check my bag. Only Hong Kong did that for me. Good guys in Hong Kong too (especially when I had Natura 3200 with me).

ISO 100 film is ok. I think it's when you start putting 800 and above through the scanners that it may affect it (although I had friends do that and they said it's fine).

But I realise most of them will say "it's safe, it's safe", but the thing you should always do is try to not get it scanned so much. The lesser the better anyway. Or get it developed before you leave if possible. I might do that next time.
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Old 06-25-2017   #4
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A TSA supervisor told me that the newer machines are supposedly safe for several passes with 800 and below film. I recently took a roll of Cinestill 800t two ways via air and it showed no fog, streaks, or whatever.

What does concern me are the times when your bag goes through the scanner and the agent can't identify something. He/she will rock the belt back and forth (I assume with tbe beam on), then maybe call over a supervisor or cohort, and they sit there and point and rock the belt back and forth and nod at each other and I assume my film is getting a continuous soaking.
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Old 06-25-2017   #5
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These days any film ISO 800 or under is pretty much safe for a few scans, the scanners are not going to fog it. Above 800 it gets a bit iffy.

Most films I wouldn't worry about, but if you've got some Delta 3200 that needs a one stop push, then you're likely to have issues.
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Old 06-25-2017   #6
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Don't bother with the lead lined bags.
The TSA screeners told me a long time ago that when they encounter those, they just turn the power up on the beam, so that it will penetrate the bag.
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Old 06-25-2017   #7
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I have travelled all over the world sometimes with my film scanned more than 10 times with no issues.
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Old 06-25-2017   #8
Chuck Albertson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
Don't bother with the lead lined bags.
The TSA screeners told me a long time ago that when they encounter those, they just turn the power up on the beam, so that it will penetrate the bag.
They were having you on - they can't crank the power on the x-rays. If they can't see what's in the bag, they're supposed to open it.

A new worry is that TSA is trialing a CT scanner for carry-on bags at one checkpoint at PHX, later to expand to BOS. CT scanners are what they use for checked bags, and they *will* fry film. Be sure to ask.
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Old 06-25-2017   #9
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Thank you. I am in Phoenix at the moment and flying back to Atlanta next month with 40+ rolls. I asked for a hand check in Atlanta, which was no issue, on the way out here.
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Old 06-26-2017   #10
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Thank you. I am in Phoenix at the moment and flying back to Atlanta next month with 40+ rolls. I asked for a hand check in Atlanta, which was no issue, on the way out here.
In the US, you have a right to a hand inspection of your film under FAA regs. Just be polite (but firm) about it.
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Old 06-26-2017   #11
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On a recent trip to Vietnam, I had no problems getting hand inspection in Toronto, Hong Kong, and Ho Chi Minh City )on both internal and international flights) Had my film in a clear plastic sandwich bag.

Going back in time, to October-November 2001, I had film go through the X-ray machines, up to 400iso as I recall, and there were no problems with the film. It wasn't a time to get into arguments, or even discussions, about security.
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Old 06-26-2017   #12
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I had my film inspected by hand - you can do this. The process involves taking each roll out of its plastic can and waving the explosive chem test wand under each leader. One-by-one, it takes a bit of time. Even though I was in the pre-check line and there were gobs or unassigned workers in the non- precheck line, they cannot "cross the streams" and test and clear you through. This means if you're travelling out with a lot of film, you need to allow a longer lead time. I waited almost 15 minutes for someone qualified to run the test.

NOT recommended. Stay with under ISO 800 film and even the TSA folks know to tell you that's okay. Needless to say, I ddin't bother on the way back and won't go there again unless for some unfathomable reason I'm unfortunate enough to run a trip with 10 connecting flights. Yes, I have a lead bag but all that does is mean they'll pull the stuff out and hand check it or bombard it with stronger rays.

Best solution? Have your films shipped to your hotel directly and mail it back, OR don't worry about it.
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Old 06-26-2017   #13
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Here's a question, has anyone ever had film ruined this way? First hand experience I mean.
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Old 06-26-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProSimex View Post
Here's a question, has anyone ever had film ruined this way? First hand experience I mean.
Yes (10 characters).

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Old 06-27-2017   #15
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Here's a question, has anyone ever had film ruined this way? First hand experience I mean.
Two rolls of TMax P3200, nearly 30 years ago at AMS.
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Old 06-27-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewnelles View Post
These days any film ISO 800 or under is pretty much safe for a few scans, the scanners are not going to fog it. Above 800 it gets a bit iffy.

Most films I wouldn't worry about, but if you've got some Delta 3200 that needs a one stop push, then you're likely to have issues.
That's pretty much what the TSA site says: https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_r...=camera%20film.

They also suggest five scans as a safe guideline.

In the last sentence of the first paragraph, it sounds like they are suggesting to leave the film in the vendor's boxes. I can't imagine that would work very well.

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Old 06-27-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sara View Post

ISO 100 film is ok. I think it's when you start putting 800 and above through the scanners that it may affect it (although I had friends do that and they said it's fine).
Sara, That was always the info I received back in the day. The higher iso films are, of course, more sensitive to all radiation, including x-ray. And exposed film is more sensitive to outside influences than un-exposed film.
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Old 06-27-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProSimex View Post
Here's a question, has anyone ever had film ruined this way? First hand experience I mean.
Only time I had film ruined is when I put my film loaded camera on my check in luggage on Oakland Airport. Not a smart thing to do.


Edit.- It was Kentmere 100 if I remember correctly

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Old 06-27-2017   #19
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I still use a small-ish lead lined bag for trips to China. They have x-ray scanners at bus terminals, subway stations, and train stations and with the long lines of people and terse security guards they can't be bothered to hand check film, so they'll often refuse hand check. They don't check the X-ray machines rigoriously either, so a lead-lined bag is fine.

For extra security on sensitive film, I carry them in a ziploc bag inside my jacket pocket or liner pocket and go through the metal detector without a hitch (for medium format esp), or carry my cameras out with me through the metal detector (they might ask me to snap a photo wasting a frame). Of course this won't work for airports where they rigoriously examine contents, but for tourist amusement parks / museums / subways / bus / train terminals this is the only way to avoid getting 5-10 scans on a roll.
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Old 06-27-2017   #20
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Going to copenhagen from london gatwick I was refused a hand check on the basis that I had no proof that any of my film was over 800 asa (I had two rolls of bulk loaded P3200) they sent it through. Coming back they did it no questions asked.
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Old 06-27-2017   #21
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I have been through HUNDREDS of scanners, airport scanners, subway scanners, hotel scanners, train scanners, etc with my film over the years, zero problems.

Has it affected people? Sure, but sharks also eat people, yet people still go the beach.

I think this is mostly paranoia from people. I see the question "traveling with film what do I do?" almost weekly online, it get so annoying.
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Old 06-27-2017   #22
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My roll of Delta 3200 (true ISO about 1000) went through the carry-on scanner twice--once in St. Louis and once in Houston--with no ill effects. That was about 2005.
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Old 06-27-2017   #23
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Never had any problems with carry on.
Once I accidentally left film in my checked luggage and there was banding on all of them.
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Old 06-28-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProSimex View Post
Just took a trip to Cuba and back to Canada, my film and cameras were in my carry on. After I put my bag through the carry on x-ray machine in Montreal he security guards told me not to do that, oh well. Arriving in Cuba the guards couldn't have cared less about my film and camera when they X-rayed it. When we left they were X-rayed again.

So naturally of course all my film was ruined and I'm a full convert to digital?

Nah, film was fine, I never did any digital imaging in Cuba.

Why all the fear and lead lined bags?

Film was rollei rpx100 by the way.
My Neopan 400 was ruined from a 10 day trip to Italy. There was no question that it was in Paris that it happened. Security ran my bag in and out of the machine for several minutes trying to figure out what was in my bag.

I work with x-rays and am very familiar with the effects. There was a shadow of the metal lid along the film. It was very apparent not a slight fog but a wavy pattern. My 100 Acros was fine.

Never again film when flying.
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Old 06-28-2017   #25
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Some years ago on a flight from JFK to Paris my wife accidentally left her camera, loaded with a roll of Tri-X, in her checked bag. We did not use that roll, but I developed it when we returned just to see the effect of the X-rays. There was no evidence of fogging. Either we were just lucky or they did not actually x-ray her bag.

I am not advocating this as a standard practice but it is an interesting data point.
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Old 06-29-2017   #26
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Quote:
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...There was a shadow of the metal lid along the film. It was very apparent not a slight fog but a wavy pattern...
I've had this as well with 400, back in 2008, film that went from Oakland CA to Boston. (W)couldn't hand check because they were "backed up", so it went through the scanner. I had four rolls from a brick of HP5+ with me. Only those four rolls showed the wavy lines. My bag went back and forth on the machine as well. In my case the fog, which looked just like the waviest image below, was only on the last frames, so closest to the plastic spool. I had a scan of it but can't find it.

This is from Kodak:
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Old 06-29-2017   #27
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Has anyone taken Fuji Instax film through airport scanners? Issues?
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Old 06-30-2017   #28
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no to flog a dead horse of a thread, but I forgot to add another personal film/x-ray experience. Im a truck driver and regularly have to cross the border into the United States, and of course I always have a film camera with me.

So some of you may have noticed large truck sized shacks at the border crossings, these are Giant X-ray machines for trucks. You pull into the shack, get out and wait outside and they nuke your truck to see if there are any hidden compartments that they should know about. Ive left my camera and backup film in my truck cab every time I've gone through these because hopping out of a truck with something metallic in your hand around border guards is just not something people with an aversion to being shot do. I can only imagine the level of power they blast away with those X-ray machines , but again, Ive never had a problem.
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Old 06-30-2017   #29
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The one I always remember is about 10 years ago at Midway. The agent specifically mentioned photo film and asked if I had any in my checked bag, warning me that it would be nuked. I said no.

Then as I was walking to the gate I remembered that I had a partially-exposed roll of Fuji 800 in the Pentax in the checked bag. I felt kinda sick about it but I figured it was too late.

I took it in for a DO without shooting the rest of it, thinking it would be fogged beyond hope. Nope! Normal frames of what I had shot with totally clear base and unexposed frames. No fog, no dark streaks, no damage.

My guess is that they only did the full x-ray to some bags and mine was not scanned due to the luck of the draw.
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Old 06-30-2017   #30
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I've had this as well with 400, back in 2008, film that went from Oakland CA to Boston. (W)couldn't hand check because they were "backed up", so it went through the scanner. I had four rolls from a brick of HP5+ with me. Only those four rolls showed the wavy lines. My bag went back and forth on the machine as well. In my case the fog, which looked just like the waviest image below, was only on the last frames, so closest to the plastic spool. I had a scan of it but can't find it.

This is from Kodak:
The second sample down is exactly what mine looked like.
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Old 06-30-2017   #31
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no to flog a dead horse of a thread, but I forgot to add another personal film/x-ray experience. Im a truck driver and regularly have to cross the border into the United States, and of course I always have a film camera with me.

So some of you may have noticed large truck sized shacks at the border crossings, these are Giant X-ray machines for trucks. You pull into the shack, get out and wait outside and they nuke your truck to see if there are any hidden compartments that they should know about. Ive left my camera and backup film in my truck cab every time I've gone through these because hopping out of a truck with something metallic in your hand around border guards is just not something people with an aversion to being shot do. I can only imagine the level of power they blast away with those X-ray machines , but again, Ive never had a problem.
The machines you drive a truck into are backscatter machines. I'm not sure of the quantity of radiation but the energy level has to be quite high to penetrate the outer shell and contents.
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Old 06-30-2017   #32
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The second sample down is exactly what mine looked like.
Yep. (ten characters)
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Old 06-30-2017   #33
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After hAving it happen once I'm not willing to risk it happening again.

I used to fly to a lot of assignments and always removed my film from the boxes and canisters or foil wrappers (120) and put it in clear plastic bags. I often traveled with 60-100 rolls or more. Most of my film was 100 or 64 ISO but explaining I'm a professional and my jobs are critical and very expensive if ruined. Generally security was happy to hand inspect.

Sheet film was another problem. Mount back from San Francisco security insisted on x-Raying or me opening several 100 sheet boxes of unexposed and e posed film. Security was just being jerks. The unexposed film still had the factory seals unbroken. In the end they took me to a room that could be totally darkened and I with a couple of agents opened each box, tore open the foil packs and they felt the film in each packet.

The problem with taking a chance on a job like this is it could cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to reshoot. That's not to mention missing deadlines and losing a multi million dollar client (ad agency) plus missing a deadline on ad space in magazines that can run in the six digets too.

I'm a pilot and it got to the point I'd fly myself to jobs if in the south east just to avoid security issues. Greater distances I'd charter a private jet. Fly private there's no security checks. You come and go at your convenience and travel in style and comfort.
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Old 06-30-2017   #34
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One thing about digital, it's made travel much easier. It's not easy but one worry you don't have is your film being ruined.

On all shoots, large and small, I carry a 13" MacBook Pro and review every image before leaving the job. If the client is there I get them to review them as well. I always backup my files to a large flash drive and if it's a major shoot I also back them up on a portable hard drive as well. I have them in 3 places before I leave the location. I've found that you can never cover your butt enough because there's always a gremlin out there ready to destroy you and your work. Even in the film days on big jobs I'd backup my work on another camera on the next smaller format. If I shot 4x5 I'd backup with 120.
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Old 06-30-2017   #35
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Has anyone taken Fuji Instax film through airport scanners? Issues?
I have, no issues.
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Old 06-30-2017   #36
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Has anyone taken Fuji Instax film through airport scanners? Issues?
Yes, I put some through three carry-on x-ray machines earlier this year, no problems at all. I have come across someone who has had Instax x-rayed 5 times with no issues, you really have nothing to worry about.
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