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Photography Question 
Ronnie Black
 

Traveling with Film


I am about to go on a trip to the Spain/Portugal area and would like to know how best to protect my film both used and unused at the airports scanners X-rays or any other equipment used. I will carry all photography gear in hand luggage. Thanks in advance.


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8/26/2004 12:03:42 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  The best way is to not carry film through the airports, but instead buy, and have it processed, there. U.S. scanners for carry-on luggage are safe for up to ISO 800. Don't know about Spain/Portugal. In the U.S., you can request a hand inspection of film. While you are legally entitled to this, sometimes the security worker will refuse since the scanners are deemed safe for most film and hand inspections slow things down. Some advise carrying some ISO 3200 film to force hand inspection. You're also more likely to be obliged if you show up early and go through security during a relative lull.


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8/26/2004 6:22:11 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  P.S. Single-use cameras get scanned regardless. They do not count as "film".


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8/26/2004 6:26:00 AM

 
Nirmal Hasan   Hi Ronnie,

Blame it on the times we live in, but there doesn't seem to be an easy solution to this. The X-ray scanners are supposed to be film-safe up to about 800 ISO - the operative phrase being "supposed to be". So, theoretically, a single "normal" pass through the scanner shouldn't affect the slower films.

However, if you pass through multiple scanners, the effects add up. If the film stays in the scanner for longer than normal (say, the security personnel want to get a good look at your bag or someone else's bag through the scanner) then the film can get "cooked".

In the U.S., you can request your film (and cameras with film) to be hand-checked. I have done this and have had no problems. However, while the security personnel are supposed to honor this request, there is no real guarantee that they will (especially if the lines are long). Additionally, I don't know if you can get them hand-checked at airports in Spain.

You can get protective pouches for your film. As I understand it, the pouch is lead-lined and impermeable (or less permeable) to X-rays, which means there is a good chance that it raises eyebrows when put through a scanner. So now, it may sit under the scanner longer as they try to figure it out or you might be asked to either put them back without the pouch or have them hand-checked.

Another option is to not carry any film while flying - purchase your film at your destination and develop them before you leave there. If you cannot develop them there, you could consider mailing the exposed film back to your residence, but I am not sure if packages in the mail get scanned these days as well ...
Hope that is of some help..


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8/26/2004 6:30:47 AM

 
Steven Chaitoff
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/22/2004
  So they say it's safe ... I always cringe when my precious film goes through that machine and wonder about all the waves going through it. When I went to Kenya last year, I took about 40 rolls and put them in a see-through ZipLoc plastic bag. The rolls were Fuji and used their transparent white container as well, so everything was easily identifiable and all that really helped. You can just hold up your bag and point and they'll pull you over to the side for a hand check. Like Jon mentioned, I also put a couple 1600s in there because they do tend to ask "800 or lower? ... machine." In Nairobi, they actually opened, dusted and examined every canister but it was worth it.


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8/26/2004 6:28:25 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  It's good to leave it out of canisters and with the leader out, so it tells them it's actually a roll of film. It may get you a hand inspection if it's that way.


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8/26/2004 9:41:24 PM

 
Steven Chaitoff
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/22/2004
  I hear you should never leave a roll out of a canister for a long a period of time, but I don't know the source behind that.


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8/26/2004 10:10:30 PM

 
Norbert Maile   They say that even regular film (under 800 ISO) will be damaged if it is exposed to regular-strength X-ray more that 5 times. I have taken film out of Canada, and into the U.S., and Japan, post-911. I have always carried it in a separate bag (plastic), and, with a smile, requested hand inspection. I always had a roll of 3200 film in the bunch, and I was never refused. It takes time, but so what? Better to spend time (which is not your fault) than have your film ruined. Ever hear the story of the film company doing a documentary in South America? They spent months filming, came back to the U.S. with all film in cargo, and all ruined! I would not get film developed in a country that didn't have first-rate labs either, unless I was staying there for a few months. Mailing also would be risky, since you are not a film manufacturer. The U.S. government has a good Web site on the subject as well.


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8/27/2004 8:16:17 AM

 
Norbert Maile   Here is the link to the U.S. Government site:
http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?content=090005198004a860


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8/29/2004 5:43:02 AM

 
gary    I have travelled the world over and always have used lead lined bags The best ones come from travellers magazines such as Travel Smith or Magellans. I do try to get the film processed where I am but this year having just returned from France I had 6 rolls of exposed film and they all were fine. I suggest you purchase a leaded bag and place allin your carryon .


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8/31/2004 4:09:55 AM

 
Scott Pedersen   Gregory has the right plan. Film does not need to be stored in a canistor but don't leave it in direct light for extended time. if its in a baggie and the baggie is in your pack it wont hurt it a bit. As far a people getting all their film ruined, I think its an old photographers tale. Oh Im sure things can happen, but memory cards can be mysteriously ereased too. Neither of which happens very often. Just use some common sense and your film will be just fine. Traveling abroad and photographing would be fun but now I personally wouldn't do it. Its less safe than ever for us now outside of the USA.

Scott


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8/31/2004 4:44:58 AM

 
Norbert Maile   I wouldn't want to take a chance on my film getting ruined, even if there were no problems before. Take all the precautions you can and have a great trip!


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8/31/2004 6:45:56 AM

 
Ronnie Black   Thanks everyone for the information I will be flying from Scotland to portugal in the next few days this will be my last trip overseas for a while I will be sticking to the Highlands and Western Ilses of Scotland for the forseeable future .
Good Health, Ronnie


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9/1/2004 7:57:30 AM

 
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