/ Taking film through an airport?

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EricaB - on 11 Feb 2013
Hi....it's a while since a took a film camera abroad but I was planning to do just that and I'm concerned that any rolls of film will be trashed if they are in my luggage and go through a security scanner.

Any advice?
Richard Carter - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB:

What speed film is it?
How long is the flight?
Blue Straggler - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB:

They will be fine. To be on the safe side put them in your hand baggage and just let them put them through those scanners. Your hold baggage MAY be subjected to a high dose, and if you keep them in your pocket and get scanned by a backscatter x-ray system, then I am not sure what the dose is there (pretty low I imagine). The hand-baggage scanners will subject your film to X-rays for only a fraction of a second, as the x-ray beam is a very narrow "fan".

Further to this, I don't know anyone who has had film "trashed" by such a scanner, nor have I ever heard any real stories of it happening.
toad - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB: Back in prehistory, I used to go on holiday with my camera all the time, never had any problems
Alex Collins - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB: Anything above iso 800 will be useless if it goes through the hand baggage x-ray. I insist that my Illford Delta 3200 is always hand checked regardless of the queue behind me. I always carry a roll that they can unravel to see the inside (120 film). Hope all goes well.
Blue Straggler - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Alex Collins:

Do you have experience of a film above ASA 800 becoming "useless" after going through a hand baggage x-ray? I've been looking for someone with direct experience of this for a long time.
I did a test on this in 2010. I have like-for-like results from different rolls of Neopan 1600 having passed through a hand-baggage scanner 0 times, 5 times and 10 times. There is no difference, which is why I am sceptical that anyone has seen a true effect. I am happy to accept evidence to the contrary.
Alex Collins - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler: Hmmm, good findings. I've only had trouble with unprocessed 3200 speed showing 'fogging' after going through carry on baggage scanner. I consider this useless.

I've heard many stories from photographers from different countries of trouble with iso 800 and up. Hence my concern for my film.

My advice for hand checking is to be polite and patient as the security personel are only trying to protect the travelling public.
Blue Straggler - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Alex Collins:

Thanks Alex, that is interesting indeed. I don't suppose you have any scans of your 3200?
It's always good to be concerned, "better safe than sorry" etc, but there is a real lack of examples of x-ray-damaged photography.
As for why I saw no change between my "control" film and the one that had gone through 10 times, vs. your "useless" ASA3200, well there is a variation amongst scanners I guess. Should be about the same dose in all though. How many times had your 3200 been through?
Snax - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB: I lost some film that got x-rayed leaving Chile in 1999. I had two bags of film, due to delayed flights I forgot about one bag in my hand baggage and that was scanned a couple of rolls of this had a slight fog to them, the other I had checked and was all fine. After that I always had film checked and I've never had a problem, I always try to arrive early, have it all in a clear bag for them to look at and explain politely why I don't want it scanned. The only time I had an issue was leaving Portugal once with around 35 rolls of 35mm... but after a few minutes chat they let it through. I do make sure the camera is empty so they can check inside if they want.

Got to admit, that I rarely carry film these days, haven't for 2/3 years I guess. It's all digital, which brings its own grief...
Blue Straggler - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Snax:

What were the ambient conditions whilst out in Chile?
I had suspected that some of this fogging might be due not to x-ray but to other factors such as high constant temperature and humidity (though I did leave a test roll in a sauna for 24 hours and saw no effect at all, so I dunno...)
I'm not defending x-ray by the way! Just trying to be scientific. A lot of these tales of fogged film come from photographers who have been out to exotic places which might themselves have had an effect. Even high altitude can subject film to greater doses of x-ray (cosmic rays which would normally be absorbed by air by the time they reach sea level).
I don't think anyone has published a comprehensive study.
jayrenegade - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB:

Hi, this has definitely happend to me. Please see the link. I went to serbia for a festival, and the camera got put in the hold luggage by accident. It was a cheap disposable, I wouldn't know if that makes any difference. Anyway this is the result.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiestandbridge/8466796636/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiestandbridge/8465700021/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiestandbridge/8466796640/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamiestandbridge/8466796646/
Blue Straggler - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to jayrenegade:

They are double exposures, not fogging. They have absolutely nothing to do with airport x-ray scanning equipment. They happen when the film in the camera does not wind on properly so you get one image overlaying another. You can get nice effects like this, and as it happens, I really like your images even if they were accidental.
Snax - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler: Whilst in CHile all the film had been in one bag, there was just a difference between some rolls when I got back, which had been in separate bags through the airport, with one being scanned and one not. I assumed, as I'm sure most of us do, that it was the x-ray as that had been the only thing different.
Stone_donkey - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB: Coming back from the US last month they had signs for the queues going through security that their scanners were safe for films up to ISO 800. Nothing scientific to that but I thought that it was interesting that they didn't just say "safe for all film" like everywhere else.
Adam Long - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> I'm not defending x-ray by the way! Just trying to be scientific. A lot of these tales of fogged film come from photographers who have been out to exotic places which might themselves have had an effect.

I suspect its more likely that exotic places are more likely to have ageing or poorly maintained X-ray equipment. Combined with the fact that exotic places will generally require multiple leg journeys with cumulative effects from all the scans. When I went to Patagonia it was a 4-leg flight each way, involving lots of waving my bag of film at airport staff.

> I don't think anyone has published a comprehensive study.

The photo mags used to run articles on this issue in the nineties and early noughties. Its definitely a real issue. Fairly sure Galen Rowell wrote one of his OP columns on it too.
Blue Straggler - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Adam Long:

Cheers. You have mail.
Alex Collins - on 12 Feb 2013
Blue Straggler - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to Alex Collins:

Interesting stuff, thanks. I had not seen that one before. Note that I have throughout the thread been talking only about scanners for hand baggage, which Kodak seems to generally agree with:

"X-ray equipment used to inspect carry-on baggage uses a very low level of x-radiation that will not cause noticeable damage to most films."
"Travelers probably shouldn't worry about possible X-ray damage when hand-carrying their film onto the airplane unless they are carrying:

Highly sensitive X-ray or scientific films.

Film with an ISO speed or Exposure Index (EI) of 400 or higher.

Any motion picture films.

Film of any speed that is exposed to X-ray surveillance more than 5 times (the effect of X-ray screening is cumulative).

Film that is or will be underexposed. (See Note 1 below.)

Film that you intend to "push process." (See Note 2 below.)"

"Never ship unprocessed film as checked luggage with commercial airlines. Keep all unprocessed film as carry-on baggage."

(although my tests on ASA1600 including underexposed film and 10 scans showed no difference from the control image)
Blizzard - on 12 Feb 2013
In reply to EricaB:

Buy a digi camera???

Seriously though Ive taken loads of slide film on and off flights ( hand luggage) never had a problem
Blue Straggler - on 13 Feb 2013
To all - remember that airports aren't the only place that x-ray your bags. Many museums, hotels, embassies etc will do this too, but using hand-baggage scanners which even the Kodak article says are OK
Mikkel - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

also be carefull not to get to close to US Aircraft carriers with your film.

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