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View Poll Results: Have you ever had a film damaged by airport x-ray ?
B+W 100 speed or slower fogged by x-ray 5 4.03%
B+W 400 speed fogged by x-ray 10 8.06%
B+W 1600 fogged by x-ray 1 0.81%
B+W 3200 speed or faster fogged by x-ray 0 0%
Colour 100 speed or less fogged by x-ray 1 0.81%
Colour 200 speed fogged by x-ray 2 1.61%
Colour 400 speed fogged by x-ray 6 4.84%
Colour 800 speed or faster fogged by x-ray 3 2.42%
Never had any x-ray fogging 84 67.74%
Never checked and don't worry about it 17 13.71%
I'm totally paranoid about it and always get hand inspection. 13 10.48%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 124. You may not vote on this poll

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X-RAY Paranoia - Fact or Fiction
Old 07-25-2011   #1
tlitody
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X-RAY Paranoia - Fact or Fiction

Please now vote in the follow up poll and not this one - click this to goto follow up poll

This crops up so often and some people don't worry about and some do so lets find out what peoples actual experience is.

Have you ever had a film damaged by airport X-Ray ?

Was it recent or a long time ago. Yes of course x-ray is capable of fogging film but does it in the dose our film gets? The proof of the pudding is in the eating so the poll might give us a clue of whether it really is a problem today, right now, not 10 or more years ago.

And telll us if it was x-ray's one or many times. How many times? Are you a frequent flyer with film?

note: you can select more than one option.

And if you are one of the people that has had film fried, then please tell us about it below. Where and how long ago. Which film etc...

Last edited by tlitody : 07-28-2011 at 03:39.
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Old 07-25-2011   #2
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Years ago I've had some base fogging of TMAX 3200, but you're not supposed to xray that

Last week I traveled from NYC to Jakarta with a box of Ilford HP5 4x5 film in my back pocket and walked through a few magnitometers. Didn't set off anything.

Xray is cumulative. I think if you keep it in your hand carry luggage you will be fine with up to ASA 800 film. I never noticed any problems.

Checked in luggage may be a different story. Since I never did check exposed or unexposed film, I have no experience with damage. But have read enough stories about CT Scan type devices that will damage film so I would avoid doing so.
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Old 07-25-2011   #3
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I forgot 2 pro-packs (10 rolls) in my checked baggage leaving Heathrow... and was surprised that it was complete fine after shootign and dev!
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Old 07-25-2011   #4
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No problems despite multiple flights with the film. In China I took several internal flights with lots of 100 and 400 speed film - no fogging despite each roll being X-rayed 6 times. Other trips required fewer passes through the scanners, also without incident.
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Old 07-25-2011   #5
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We really should have a sticky on this somewhere, since it keeps creeping up every three months

Having a sticky to refer people too would be so nice.


Other than that: there's lots of posts on the forum to find out about this! Go fetch!
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Old 07-25-2011   #6
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Definitively, a fact.

X-rays are, based on science, damaging to film, dogs, people, computers, chickens, etc. The damage is cumulative (as Saxshooter notes). X-ray dosage varies by machine, sensitivity to X-rays varies by film. Film speed (sensitively) plays an important role.

A sensible question would be, how much X-ray dosage for [insert type] film will cause visible damage? Instead of questioning if X-rays have the ability to affect film.
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Old 07-25-2011   #7
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Yes of course x-ray is capable of fogging film but does it in the dose our film gets? The proof of the pudding is in the eating so the poll might give us a clue of whether it really is a problem today, right now, not 20 or more years ago.
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Old 07-25-2011   #8
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I traveled in Europe in July 2010 and had my hand luggage scanned 4 times (again, the bags were with me at passenger check-in, not checked into cargo) ... I was shooting C-41 ISO 100 film, some E-6, and HP5+. I got the film developed when I got home. Nothing. Nada. If there was any damage, I couldn't see it.

In April 2011 my mom came to visit me from Arizona. I asked her to bring some new Portra 400 with her (not easy to get here in Canada yet), explicitly telling her to put it in her handbag and take the film through security with her. She instead put it in her checked luggage. <gulp!>

After hearing about the high-intensity X-ray machines the TSA uses for checked baggage, I thought the Portra 400 would be cooked. I developed a test roll. Nothing. No issues. Again, if there was any damage, I couldn't see it.

I used to be very uptight about the film + x-ray machine issue, but I think unless you're carting around high-speed film and going through numerous airports, there will be no noticeable problems.
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Old 07-25-2011   #9
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bmattock -- thanks for that info and the link. That's very informative.

Kodak also has a link about this issue. The info isn't that current but I think still relevant.

http://www.kodak.com/global/en/servi.../tib5201.shtml

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Old 07-25-2011   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobby_novatron View Post
I traveled in Europe in July 2010 and had my hand luggage scanned 4 times (again, the bags were with me at passenger check-in, not checked into cargo) ... I was shooting C-41 ISO 100 film, some E-6, and HP5+. I got the film developed when I got home. Nothing. Nada. If there was any damage, I couldn't see it.

In April 2011 my mom came to visit me from Arizona. I asked her to bring some new Portra 400 with her (not easy to get here in Canada yet), explicitly telling her to put it in her handbag and take the film through security with her. She instead put it in her checked luggage. <gulp!>

After hearing about the high-intensity X-ray machines the TSA uses for checked baggage, I thought the Portra 400 would be cooked. I developed a test roll. Nothing. No issues. Again, if there was any damage, I couldn't see it.

I used to be very uptight about the film + x-ray machine issue, but I think unless you're carting around high-speed film and going through numerous airports, there will be no noticeable problems.
I had the impression that checked luggage was checked at random. Not every bag gets X-rayed. Is that true?
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Old 07-25-2011   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vics View Post
I had the impression that checked luggage was checked at random. Not every bag gets X-rayed. Is that true?
The powers that be aren't going to give out that information. The official line will always be that it is all checked. Anything else is pure speculation.
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Old 07-25-2011   #12
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At least for me that's a more useful poll than querying black chrome / black paint preferences
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Old 07-25-2011   #13
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Never had any visible damage on up to 1600 ISO film. I've never checked film though, only ever carry-on.
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Old 07-25-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vics View Post
I had the impression that checked luggage was checked at random. Not every bag gets X-rayed. Is that true?
Used to be so; these days it is routinely scanned, at least when you depart from a major airport like JFK, SFO or BOS. If I forget film in the baggage, it does fog over. I have seen this with Tri-X and Neopan 1600 at least twice.

Never noticed any such damage from the carry-on scanners.
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Old 07-25-2011   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vics View Post
I had the impression that checked luggage was checked at random. Not every bag gets X-rayed. Is that true?
See this thread: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...d.php?t=108214
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Old 07-25-2011   #16
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X-rays fog film. I have done quite a few controlled tests at Adelaide and Brisbane airports and found exactly what Kodak and Fuji tell us: if you check your film in and it gets scanned, it will be fogged irrespective of the speed. The hand-luggage scanners increase base fog, and after ~10 passes with 400 or slower film, or ~5 passes with 800-3200 speed film you notice it. Less than that, the difference is minimal but measureable.

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Old 07-25-2011   #17
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Hand baggage scanners are significantly lower intensity than checked baggage scanners, and my understanding is that every piece of checked baggage gets scanned. Its difficult to tell what dose your film would get exposed to in a checked baggage scan because while the TSA standards might be the same for the whole country, the machines that work to those standards are all different. Most are based on multi-shot CT systems, but others not, resolutions vary, etc. European standards are different all over again. Safest plan is to only take film in your hand luggage!
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Old 07-25-2011   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vics View Post
I had the impression that checked luggage was checked at random. Not every bag gets X-rayed. Is that true?
I put a short length of film in my check-in bag for each leg when I travel to assess this. In short, it depends on the country and airport. Some take an epidemiological approach where they scan a selection, some scan everything.

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Old 07-25-2011   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
X-rays fog film. I have done quite a few controlled tests at Adelaide and Brisbane airports and found exactly what Kodak and Fuji tell us: if you check your film in and it gets scanned, it will be fogged irrespective of the speed. The hand-luggage scanners increase base fog, and after ~10 passes with 400 or slower film, or ~5 passes with 800-3200 speed film you notice it. Less than that, the difference is minimal but measureable.

Marty
Marty: thanks for some pertinent scientific information.

I assign much more significance to this that all the anecdotes (most in the concurrent thread) saying "I flew, they x-rayed my film, it looks OK to me"
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Old 07-25-2011   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saxshooter View Post
Years ago I've had some base fogging of TMAX 3200, but you're not supposed to xray that
Hi,

Did you pass your P3200 just once or several times through the carry-on machines?


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Old 07-25-2011   #21
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As an exception I have had some airport in Eastern Europe zap a whole bag of slow film on me - but that seems to have been with a ancient machine that only created a base fog which mostly could be fixed in the (then, this being the late 80's, still expensive) digital scan and post. I never had patterned damage from any of the more modern scanning machines.
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Old 07-25-2011   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
... Kodak and Fuji tell us: if you check your film in and it gets scanned, it will be fogged irrespective of the speed. The hand-luggage scanners increase base fog, and after ~10 passes with 400 or slower film ... film you notice it
That is exactly my experience. Did a controlled, although unintentional, experiment once: two rolls of Arista Pro 400 from the same batch, taken from the freezer at the same time. One went through 2 scans in checked in luggage, the other in hand luggage. Developed in the same tank. I could see the difference in base density without any densitometer.

In other less controlled cases with hand luggage I would notice that 2 layovers (~4 scans) do not do noticeable damage to ISO400, with 3-5 you already start to see something
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Old 07-26-2011   #23
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When travelling on business it's not unusual for my little P&S to suffer 12 or 14 runs through the hand scanners without effect.

Why do we never see any photos posted here showing those telltale x-ray diffraction patterns? Given that it's effected so many people you would think they would be providing proof positive in the form of a photo
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Old 07-26-2011   #24
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In 2008 I went to Nepal with a stack of HP5+ and Velvia 50. All the film went through hand luggage with me, including a scary looking old machine at Kathmandu airport. All up that film went through the scanners 12 times and none of it shows any signs of the typical xray damage.

Last year I flew to Myanmar, again with a stack of HP5+ and this time Portra 400NC. This time it went through a total of 9 scanners, and again not a single sign of damage.

For what it's worth…
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Old 07-26-2011   #25
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Since these discussions tend to pop up with a certain regularity and usually the gist of the comments is more or less the same, I think we can simplify them with the following generic answer template.

It should cover most of the points that people have been making in these discussions ever since the topic came up on the Internet. Just tick the boxes that correspond to what you want to say and put in any additional information (names of countries, Internet links etc.)

FILM PHOTOGRAPHERS' X-RAY THREAD COMMENT TEMPLATE

Section 1. Anecdotal evidence

[_] I had film in my checked-in luggage
[_] I don't know if it was scanned at all
[_] It was damaged
[_] I had film in my hand luggage and it wasn't damaged in spite of being scanned ___ times
[_] That was in the following exotic countries: _____________
[_] I tried to get a hand inspection and [_] got it / [_] didn't get it
[_] I had this weird film: [_] ISO > 3200 [_] Infrared [_] X-ray film [_] Other: ____
Section 2. General information

[_] Here's a link to the Kodak bulletin.
[_] Here's a link to a random blog post: ___________________
[_] I recommend using a lead bag
[_] Don't use a lead bag, they'll just crank up the intensity
[_] They can't do that for labour safety reasons
Section 3. Other points

[_] Show pix
[_] The TSA sucks
[_] Other generic flight-related comment: _________________
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Old 07-26-2011   #26
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The simple fact is film is damaged by X ray. Damage is cumulative . Because people say they did not see anything means only that the damage was minimal and that there was no film that was free of x ray damage for comparison.

TSA knows this and is why you can always request hand inspection and you are supposed to get it in the USA. Other places have different rules & you will never be given hand inspection.
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Old 07-26-2011   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
Since these discussions tend to pop up with a certain regularity and usually the gist of the comments is more or less the same, I think we can simplify them with the following generic answer template.

It should cover most of the points that people have been making in these discussions ever since the topic came up on the Internet. Just tick the boxes that correspond to what you want to say and put in any additional information (names of countries, Internet links etc.)

FILM PHOTOGRAPHERS' X-RAY THREAD COMMENT TEMPLATE

Section 1. Anecdotal evidence

[_] I had film in my checked-in luggage
[_] I don't know if it was scanned at all
[_] It was damaged
[_] I had film in my hand luggage and it wasn't damaged in spite of being scanned ___ times
[_] That was in the following exotic countries: _____________
[_] I tried to get a hand inspection and [_] got it / [_] didn't get it
[_] I had this weird film: [_] ISO > 3200 [_] Infrared [_] X-ray film [_] Other: ____
Section 2. General information

[_] Here's a link to the Kodak bulletin.
[_] Here's a link to a random blog post: ___________________
[_] I recommend using a lead bag
[_] Don't use a lead bag, they'll just crank up the intensity
[_] They can't do that for labour safety reasons
Section 3. Other points

[_] Show pix
[_] The TSA sucks
[_] Other generic flight-related comment: _________________
Section 4. Don't worry too much

Yeah, but you'll need a LOT of passes through hand scanners before it's a problem.

Section 5. Seeing what you want to see.

A lot of photographers are really good at spotting minute differences, even where they do not exist.

For an illustration of the above, in response to a comparison in a magazine of a 'Premium' paper from a company beloved of darkroom addicts, and the manufacturers' identical paper in the manufacturer's own box, a spokesman for the manufacturer said, "We were delighted to be narrowly beaten by our own paper."

Cheers,

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Old 07-26-2011   #28
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By now we can all admit that it can be scientifically proven that X-rays can damage film. In normal everyday circumstances it would take a huge number of passes through a scanner for carry on luggage to impact film. Not too terribly much to worry about. If you are still worried get film hand checked where possible or go digital.

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Old 07-26-2011   #29
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I'd vote "I'm totally paranoid about it and get hand inspection when possible", but the option is not available, hence not voting.
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Old 07-26-2011   #30
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Also the TSA link:

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtrav...rial_1035.shtm

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd View Post
Since these discussions tend to pop up with a certain regularity and usually the gist of the comments is more or less the same, I think we can simplify them with the following generic answer template.

It should cover most of the points that people have been making in these discussions ever since the topic came up on the Internet. Just tick the boxes that correspond to what you want to say and put in any additional information (names of countries, Internet links etc.)

FILM PHOTOGRAPHERS' X-RAY THREAD COMMENT TEMPLATE

Section 1. Anecdotal evidence

[_] I had film in my checked-in luggage
[_] I don't know if it was scanned at all
[_] It was damaged
[_] I had film in my hand luggage and it wasn't damaged in spite of being scanned ___ times
[_] That was in the following exotic countries: _____________
[_] I tried to get a hand inspection and [_] got it / [_] didn't get it
[_] I had this weird film: [_] ISO > 3200 [_] Infrared [_] X-ray film [_] Other: ____
Section 2. General information

[_] Here's a link to the Kodak bulletin.
[_] Here's a link to a random blog post: ___________________
[_] I recommend using a lead bag
[_] Don't use a lead bag, they'll just crank up the intensity
[_] They can't do that for labour safety reasons
Section 3. Other points

[_] Show pix
[_] The TSA sucks
[_] Other generic flight-related comment: _________________
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Old 07-26-2011   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
When travelling on business it's not unusual for my little P&S to suffer 12 or 14 runs through the hand scanners without effect.
Are you measuring FB+F and comparing it with film that has not been x-rayed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
Why do we never see any photos posted here showing those telltale x-ray diffraction patterns? Given that it's effected so many people you would think they would be providing proof positive in the form of a photo
I have dozens, maybe hundreds of these but have never scanned any. And, to reiterate: you only get those patterns (they are scan patterns, not diffraction patterns) from concentrated, directed scan x-ray machines like the CTX5000 that are used for check-in baggage, where you should not put your film anyway. Carry-on luggage x-ray scanners increase base fog without a pattern because they apply the x-rays evenly and diffusely.

Marty

Last edited by Freakscene : 07-26-2011 at 21:20. Reason: Correct an error
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Old 07-27-2011   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
Are you measuring FB+F and comparing it with film that has not been x-rayed?



I have dozens, maybe hundreds of these but have never scanned any. And, to reiterate: you only get those patterns (they are scan patterns, not diffraction patterns) from concentrated, directed scan x-ray machines like the CTX5000 that are used for check-in baggage, where you should not put your film anyway. Carry-on luggage x-ray scanners increase base fog without a pattern because they apply the x-rays evenly and diffusely.

Marty
Ah, so the sky really is falling, and I just failed to notice it? I ask again, if either is such an obvious, and frequent effect, why do we not see examples posted here?
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Old 07-27-2011   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
Ah, so the sky really is falling, and I just failed to notice it? I ask again, if either is such an obvious, and frequent effect, why do we not see examples posted here?
Because most people are smart enough to follow Kodak, Fuji and other film manufacturer's recommendations to keep film in hand luggage and do not check it through and they do not make thorough enough comparisons to see or quantify the effects of the scanners used on hand baggage.

I will post some scan damage results sometime, if you like.

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Old 07-27-2011   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
Because most people are smart enough to follow Kodak, Fuji and other film manufacturer's recommendations to keep film in hand luggage and do not check it through and they do not make thorough enough comparisons to see or quantify the effects of the scanners used on hand baggage.

I will post some scan damage results sometime, if you like.

Marty
I was assuming we were all bright enough to not to check in film, except by accident ... and therefor we are talking here about damage from hand baggage x-ray
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Old 07-27-2011   #35
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I have yet to have a negative experience.

When I traveled to New Zealand my ISO 100 and ISO 400 films were scanned 9 times in total (every airport plus NZ security check) and I could not observe any ill effects.

I have one Delta 3200 roll to be developed which was scanned with as a carry-on luggage as I could not persuade our very own slovakian security guys that the film is too sensitive for that.
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Old 07-27-2011   #36
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I was assuming we were all bright enough to not to check in film, except by accident ... and therefor we are talking here about damage from hand baggage x-ray
Then the answer is, as I mentioned above, you don't see the scanning patterns because you do not get them from hand luggage scanners: the x-ray source in those scanners is diffuse and relatively low energy, so all you get is increased cumulative base fog with exposure. Most film users don't notice the increased fog that goes along with a limited number of passes through a hand-luggage scanner because not many people measure fog density and other factors including small variations in temperature, heat and other factors complicate fog and its effects. If you run your film 10, 20 and 50 times through a scanner you'll see the difference, but very few people ever have their film scanned that many times.

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Old 07-27-2011   #37
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I travelled from Sapporo to Tokyo just before the G7 summit in Hokkaido (2009) and a couple of rolls Portra400 showed patterns of x-ray damage over a couple of frames. It never happened before and afterwards so my guess that security forces were on high alert at that time ...
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Old 07-27-2011   #38
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Then the answer is, as I mentioned above, you don't see the scanning patterns because you do not get them from hand luggage scanners: the x-ray source in those scanners is diffuse and relatively low energy, so all you get is increased cumulative base fog with exposure. Most film users don't notice the increased fog that goes along with a limited number of passes through a hand-luggage scanner because not many people measure fog density and other factors including small variations in temperature, heat and other factors complicate fog and its effects. If you run your film 10, 20 and 50 times through a scanner you'll see the difference, but very few people ever have their film scanned that many times.

Marty
Well that would explain it, if the patterning is a delusion, and the actual effect is too small to notice, or differentiate between it and other causes.

I suppose unless it was exposed an improbable number of times we would find it simple a theoretical consequence of scanning
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Old 07-27-2011   #39
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I travelled from Sapporo to Tokyo just before the G7 summit in Hokkaido (2009) and a couple of rolls Portra400 showed patterns of x-ray damage over a couple of frames. It never happened before and afterwards so my guess that security forces were on high alert at that time ...
Was it in your hand-baggage or checked-baggage?
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Old 07-27-2011   #40
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I actually had issues with films on american airports. The films were in the main luggage loaded in cameras. Films in handbags were ok. It seems that they use different beams for different type of bags. Films faster than 800 I used to pass for a hand check.
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