Camera film and airport scanners

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Ely, May 6, 2002.

  1. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    I'm heading off to London for a little trip. I'll be bringing with my APS camera and a bunch of rolls of ISO 400 APS film. I was wondering if I should request that the film not be scanned. I've heard a lot of conflicting stories about what those scanners can/will do to film. Maybe someone here can dismiss any of the common rumors.
     
  2. Jeff Pryor

    Jeff Pryor Supporting Actor

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    I used to work as a supervisor in airport security back in the early 90's. Don't let film go through the X-Ray, request that your camera pack be checked manually. You spent too much money to take any chances. Some airport screeners, especially here in the states, are lazy low-lifes that make minimum wage and don't care about you and your belongings. These people may not want to manually check your camera pack, so insists that they do so. If they continue to refuse, ask to see the supervisor or manager. Just don't give in.
     
  3. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Is there any danger to the camera itself? I don't have a special case for my camera. I keep the film in a seperate bag (usually a ziplock bag). Maybe if I hand them the ziplock bag with the film in it they'd be more willing to check it manually (since they can already see the contents of the bag).
     
  4. Jeff Pryor

    Jeff Pryor Supporting Actor

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    If the camera is empty there's no danger in it being put through the X-Ray. It's the film that I worry about.
     
  5. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Jeff. I'll have them inspect the film manually. I'd hate to come home from my trip with my picture ruined [​IMG]
     
  6. Jeff Pryor

    Jeff Pryor Supporting Actor

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    Have fun in London!
     
  7. Mike Gariepy

    Mike Gariepy Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi David,

    I'm from Ottawa and my wife and I took a one month trip to Australia last October (less than a month after 9-11) and I had the same concerns as you. We were travelling with 40 rolls of 800 ISA film inside three large lead bags. At each and every airport security check-in, I requested a hand check of my film and was DENIED. They just would not do it, in any Country.

    After a grand total of eighteen (yes 18) separate X-ray machines over the course of the month (I kept count), our film turned out perfect. No problems at all. I was paranoid for nothing. Do I attribute this to the lead bags? Who knows. I was told that the lead bags make things worse on occasion because they just crank the x-rays until they can see through, but nothing went wrong for us.

    If you're going from Ontario on a direct flight to London and back with 400 ISA film, I would no worry at all. Even if you have a few extra stop-overs it shouldn't be a problem. Now, if you want to get lead bags to ease some paranoia, they are not very expensive. And hey, being this much further away from 9-11, you might actually get a few guards who will hand-inspect your film.

    Good luck and have fun! Don't forget to put those prominent Canadian luggage tags on your stuff :)
     
  8. MikeF

    MikeF Stunt Coordinator

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    As any photographer will tell you, you needn't worry about x-rays using slower, consumer-speed films -- i.e. even 800 ISO should be okay.
     
  9. Gui A

    Gui A Supporting Actor

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  10. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    I've put 100-400 ASA film through airport X-ray machines numerous times and have never had a problem.
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    David,

    I am a photographer and I used to travel an incredible amount, but don't any more, so I'm really not sure what you will be able to do. The basic goal is to get your film checked manually and not x-rayed. You need to plan ahead and make this as simple as possible for the checker. The Ziploc bag idea is usually the best. One or two zaps here in the states is probably OK if unavoidable, but I would avoid it in London.
     
  12. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    The last batch of 400 that we sent through the machine came out a bit grainy (we forgot about it). Maybe t was a bad couple of rolls, but we had more from the same lot that didn't go through, and they look great.

    I'd avoid it, if at all possible. But, that's my limited, amateur opinion.
     
  13. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    Buy a digital camera and a huge compact flash memory card? [​IMG]
     
  14. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    I've been to London and Ireland several times always taking lots of film with me and have never had a problem with the normal x-rays. If however you're selected to go through the big scanner (the one that looks like a hospital CAT scan machine) you will need to give them your film for hand inspection as that one is much more powerful. As for the lead lined bags, I've noticed that since 9/11, if the machine can't see through it they'll pull you out of line and go through your bags to see what's in it. That could cost you some time. Have fun I know you'll enjoy London.
     
  15. Tom Meyer

    Tom Meyer Second Unit

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    I recently took a trip to New Zealand and was able to avoid having my faster film xrayed outbound in Chicago, LAX and Aukland. At O'Hare, I handed them my few rolls of 3200 B&W (now THAT'S fast!) and a couple infrared that I just wasn't sure how would react to xrays. All my other 50, 100, 200 & 400 speed film (B&W and color) went through the machines. Asking to get hand searched set off all sort of alarm bells and I had to empty out my carryon and camera backpack. It was also checked for explosives at O'Hare. This wasn't a big deal, of course, as I expected it. At least they didn't insist that I actually open my infrared film.

    On the way back, I kinda freaked when the Christchurch security put my 3200 & infrared thru the scanner but then decided to just go with the flow and not worry. I had to go thru 2 at Aukland and another at LA, so that's 4.

    Thankfully, everything turned out fine (50 rolls) and even the 3200 speed film didn't get fogged. The bottom line is to be prepared and, as John said, put all your film in ziplock plastic bags to make it easy for them to search. Allow for a few extra minutes if you really, really, really don't want to put them through.

    Good luck !
     
  16. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Wow! Thanks for all the input guys!

    When I'm at the airport tomorrow I'll hand them the film in the ziplock bag. If they still want it to go through the scanner I won't worry about it. I doubt I'll be in the mood to start an argument with airport security.
     
  17. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    If you are concerned about film that you have already used, then just mail it home from where ever you may be.
     
  18. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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  19. Charles Guajardo

    Charles Guajardo Stunt Coordinator

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    i've never been to england before, but i'm guessing they sell film in that country.
     
  20. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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