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Films and flight hold luggage
Old 08-10-2006   #1
rxmd
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Films and flight hold luggage

Hi,

I'll be needing to fly through London-Heathrow this Saturday and will be carrying some exposed films, some of which I won't be able to process until then. In British airports you aren't allowed any hand baggage except for items of immediate necessity (list at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4778615.stm) due to some recent idiots planning to blow themselves up. The maximum ISO is 400.

Now I know that there is little to no danger to films from hand luggage scanners, but hold luggage scanners supposedly operate with higher radiation intensity or whatever the proper technical term is in English. So I'm kind of wondering if the films are actually in danger and if there's anything I can do to protect them during flight?

Philipp
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Old 08-10-2006   #2
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Two Hama high-Iso lead bags inside one another should keep out all radiation. But your luggage might be hand-searched then.
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Old 08-10-2006   #3
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Boy! with the current news, you might better ship your film. I would be afraid to take it in baggage. If you protect it with lead bags, it may be torn open to check.
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Old 08-10-2006   #4
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The other disturbing question is whether you feel safe about having your Leicas or any other expensive lens/cameras as checked baggage. On direct UK to US flights, apparently, there is no carry-on period.

For those travelling with an infant, even formula/milk is to be tested by having the parent ingest it first before boarding. What a world we live in.
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Old 08-10-2006   #5
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Old 08-10-2006   #6
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If I'm not wrong, the standard procedure when scanners encounter lead lined bags is to increase the intensity of the scanning beam. The scanner being used in most modern airports (I forget the brand and model number) is perfectly capable of seeing through your lead lined bags.

I'd suggest posting the film.

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Old 08-10-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaapv
Two Hama high-Iso lead bags inside one another should keep out all radiation. But your luggage might be hand-searched then.
I don't think lead bags are advicable, from what I have heard that will only prompt the X-ray operator to increase the power - resulting in even more radiation to the film than without. Or if that fails they'll take your luggage apart..

Btw. if shipped as air mail won't the film be X-rayed too? Perhaps you could have it developed in the UK and then shipped to you?

/Anders
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Old 08-10-2006   #8
fgianni
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Well I am travelling on Sunday, and I wonder how safe is to put my RD-1 with the checked baggage, I may have to settle for just the Panasonic LX-1 but it would be quite a PITA to have 3 weeks of holiday in Italy and Greece with just a compact digicam.
I also don't think it will be wise to put the laptop in the checked luggage, so I ordered a Jobo Giga one that should be delivered tomorrow via Royal Mail special delivery; this means that when I come back I'll have a huge backlog of photoshopping and archiving to do, while with the laptop I was used to do my photoshopping every evening at the hotel.
On top of that I'll have to drink my son's formula milk at the airport (it tastes like fish yuck), what a crazy world!
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Old 08-10-2006   #9
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I'm flying to Switzerland a week today. I think I'll drive if these delays carry on (Ryanair = whatever hell everyone else has to put up with x 10)
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Old 08-10-2006   #10
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Yep, at the moment shipping the film would be the second best thing.
IMHO the best is getting it processed at a reputable lab close to where you are now and having the results shipped.

I realy don't like beeing searched and treated like a criminal suspect at an airport but I think I like being blown up even less

No handluggage is one way to increase security without to much waiting at the counter and less hassle for the passengers.

OTOH it's bad for us photographers since we increase the risk to arrive without a camera, insurence doesn't help here, and we may have to use whatever film and processing is available at our destination.
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Old 08-10-2006   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndersG

Btw. if shipped as air mail won't the film be X-rayed too? Perhaps you could have it developed in the UK and then shipped to you?

/Anders
My understanding is that intra-US flights, FEDEX does not x-ray. Internationally, or by government post, that I'm not sure of.
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Old 08-10-2006   #12
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Well, there is always the option of just buying your film when you get to the country you're travelling to. In most modern industrial nations, reliable sources are available, though it may take some digging to find them. Sure, it may be more expensive, but to my mind it's worth it for the peace of mind. Processing your film before you take it home is more problematic. But then, it isn't actually necessary, since airport X-rays (of whatever kind) fog only unexposed film.
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Old 08-10-2006   #13
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Do you mean unexposed or undeveloped?

I don't understand how they could not mess up exposed film.
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Old 08-10-2006   #14
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KODAK has some recommendations online: here.
(For motion picture films, but does that make any difference in this case?)

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Old 08-10-2006   #15
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I'm sorry, I was mistaken. Film that is exposed but not processed can still be fogged. So it may well be worth seeking out a reliable local processor if you're worried about this.
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Old 08-10-2006   #16
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And this is what they say:
Quote:
Any checked baggage may be subject to high-intensity x-ray scanning in a machine that is out of sight of travelers. Airline check-in agents rarely, if ever, warn travelers of this. Kodak is pressing for warning notices to be posted at check-in desks and for verbal warnings to be given to travelers. Never pack unprocessed film in baggage that will be checked.
So it might be best to buy film locally and have it processed locally.
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Old 08-10-2006   #17
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Buy the film locally.
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Old 08-10-2006   #18
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An X-ray operator cannot increase the radiation of the X-ray machine. One reason is to protect the machine operator and others in the area. X-rays are dangerous. If the object cannot be identified, the bag will be opened and inspected.
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Old 08-10-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
I'll be needing to fly through London-Heathrow this Saturday and will be carrying some exposed films, some of which I won't be able to process until then.
I really don't think you should worry much about it. I've just developed a few rolls of Delta 3200 that had been shot over the course of 2+ years, had gone through I don't know how many x-ray machines, and I only noticed some slight fogging. This is ISO 3200 we're talking about.

If you're really anxious about it, I think you'd be doing well to invest in express development, if you can find a lab that can do that for you. I know that's another level of anxiety and lots of spent time when you're in a place you don't know, but it's a thought.

Good luck, and have a good trip back.
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Old 08-10-2006   #20
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X-ray machines for check-in luggage are far stronger than the ones for carry-on. They will fog your film on a single pass. Check the Kodak web site to see what they can do.
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Old 08-10-2006   #21
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Maybe leave the film behind and buy/dev locally.
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Old 08-10-2006   #22
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Buying the film locally just limits you in what you can shoot and expect to have ready to return to the states. For me, when I go back down to South America, I think I will ship some film down before I leave. I have some time so I can set things up. I'll try and shoot mostly Super XP2 which is rated at 400 and the box says can be pushed to 800. But God I love the slow stuff as well! Pan F 50 and FP4 get run alot around my household. Not to mention HP5. Looks like Fed-Ex and I will be gettting a relationship going because I doubt that this whole thing will just blow over in time. Now that the bottle has been opened you can not put the Genie back in the bottle. The best we can hope for is they allow us to carry our computers on board once again but I would not hold my breath for that in the near future.
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Old 08-10-2006   #23
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I'm not travelling until the end of the month. If things aren't sorted by then, I'm buying film at the destination, and C-41 processing (if its colour). If things are ok by the end of the month then its all in the hand luggage.

I wasn't even aware of all this til I got home at 6:30pm BST and saw the new.


Good luck to everyone needing to fly with camera stuff.

on topic though - if it's already exposed, develop it where you are. worst comes to worst use coffee and baking soda for dev, lemon juice for stop, and I'm not sure about fix just yet
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Old 08-10-2006   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egpj
Buying the film locally just limits you in what you can shoot and expect to have ready to return to the states. For me, when I go back down to South America, I think I will ship some film down before I leave. I have some time so I can set things up. I'll try and shoot mostly Super XP2 which is rated at 400 and the box says can be pushed to 800. But God I love the slow stuff as well! Pan F 50 and FP4 get run alot around my household. Not to mention HP5. Looks like Fed-Ex and I will be gettting a relationship going because I doubt that this whole thing will just blow over in time. Now that the bottle has been opened you can not put the Genie back in the bottle. The best we can hope for is they allow us to carry our computers on board once again but I would not hold my breath for that in the near future.
Shoot Kodachrome. It is still available if you order it by e-mail at your destination and it will be shipped back to the States for developing anyway.
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Old 08-10-2006   #25
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Folks

I checked the web site for Manchester airport and you can still make purchases in duty free to carry on board once past security. Boots sometimes stock slide film and black and white film, so you may be able to stock up with a few emergency rolls at least.

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Old 08-10-2006   #26
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What about Bristol?? Their duty free is shockingly poor. b&w is probs £10 a roll because its a novelty item!
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