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Photography Question 
M Fussell

Why Are My Photos Fogged and Grainy?

I've had a Nikon EM for years, loved it, and it took great pics even though my skills are limited. The camera was stolen, so I replaced with same model used from an eBay seller. I took the camera on a trip to the USVI, brought 4 rolls of film with me, and purchased 4 rolls there. When I got home and had the film developed, they turned out grainy/foggy/hazy. Some rolls had all photos turn out bad, others had a few bad and others good. Was the film zapped by X-ray machines? It was in my luggage, not carry-on. Frustrating as I have few good pictures of a wonderful vacation place! Any suggestions? Could the camera be defective in some way? I used Kodak 400 ASA film and set the aperture based on the light meter in the camera viewfinder as I've always done with a Nikon. All pictures were taken in bright sun, a few at sunset. I would appreciate any help/suggestions!

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3/17/2005 6:40:09 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  I'm sorry for your loss. If you had the film in your checked luggage, it is almost certain that your problem is that was ruined by the X-rays. The X-rays used on checked luggage are much stronger than those used for carry-on and will fog all speeds of film. Never put film in checked luggage, not even in those lead bags.
Always bring your film with you in carry-on. The carry-on scanners are generally safe for film up to ISO 800. Plus, you can ask that the film be hand-inspected instead of scanned, though your request may be declined. To increase your odds of getting film hand-inspected: When you pack, take your film out of the box and plastic canisters, and put it in a clear plastic bag that you can hand to the inspectors. Include a couple of rolls of Kodak T-Max 3200 or Ilford Delta 3200 (ISO 3200 can be fogged by carry-on scanners) to force the issue.
See Kodak's Technical Bulletin - Baggage X-ray Effects on Film.

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3/18/2005 5:52:17 AM

Daniel J. Nolan   I agree with above. Xray appears to be the culprit. I have written an article including sample photos of xray damage. See the article on my website: then under articles for details and, using lead bags to protect film.

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3/23/2005 4:04:23 AM

M Fussell   Thanks so much for the info. I was never aware that the checked baggage scanners could ruin the film. Your links were very helpful. I was concerned it was either the camera or how I was taking the photos. Guess I'll just have to go back to St Thomas and take more photos! ;-) Maybe I'll just get them developed while I am there so there is no chance of them being ruined again!

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3/23/2005 4:19:52 AM

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