Airport X-Ray Scanners Hand Inspections

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Robin Guymer, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Robin Guymer

    Robin Guymer Subscriber
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    We have recently travelled from Melbourne to Hawaii (2 islands) to San Francisco then returned from Las Vegas to Auckland (3hr stop over) back to Melbourne. I thought I might have to have hand luggage scanned in Auckland which would have meant my 30 rolls of exposed and 9 unexposed rolls of 35mm film going through 7 x-ray scanners, which could have fogged all my 400 ASA film. So my thanks to all airport security staff who graciously obliged to hand inspect my film every time with no argument about it being okay to scan 400 ASA.
    This is what I did. Left all new film in its original plastic packaging. Packets of 10 x Tri-X leave the plastic wrapping on as you extract any boxes to use so say 7 unused boxes are still in the wrapping for the original 10. All other rolls (not in plastic canisters), whether developed or not, put in clear plastic zip bags When at security put all the film in a seperate tray and ask for a hand inspection very very nicely as this takes up security staff time. I found every airport staff extremely obliging. They take the tray for chemical analysis every time and then to their supervisor for further inspection and approval. They are all interested in the safety of your film. Congratulations to our world airline security personal for looking after us old school film photographers.
    Robin.
     
  2. RattyMouse

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    7 scans would not have done anything noticeable to your film. I've had my film go through up to a dozen scans during long trips with out any issues at all.
     
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    Robin Guymer

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    That's interesting because this info is from the Kodak web site........
    • If you're going to be traveling through multiple X-ray examinations (more than 5 times), request a hand search of your carry-on baggage. FAA regulations in the U.S. allow for a hand search of photographic film and equipment if requested. (See below for further FAA information.) However, non-US airports may not honor this request.
     
  4. mooseontheloose

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    That may be, but I think the real world experiences of frequent travellers will say otherwise. I've had rolls go through 10-15 scanners in one trip (not always airport scanners, sometimes train stations, malls, museums, etc. depending on the country) and they've all turned out fine. I've had rolls that were 1600/3200 go (accidentally) through scanners and were okay too. Here in Japan they will hand inspect film no questions asked, but in most other countries, especially Europe, if it doesn't go through scanner, it doesn't go. Of course it's always better to err on the side of caution - if I have time, and the staff seem amenable, then I get hand inspections done. But I don't worry about if I can't.
     
  5. RattyMouse

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    Hand inspection is such a hassle that I stopped doing that years ago. I typically have 40-50 rolls of film on me when I travel and that would slow things down considerably, if even tolerated. Many places in the EU outright refuse so I just stopped asking. I know from personal experience that 12 scans does nothing to a roll of film. If I think my film is going to be scanned more than that, I'll buy on location to cut down the number of scans.
     
  6. sepiareverb

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    It doesn’t matter what anyone says. X-rays will fog film or they will not. There will never be any agreement on how many times or what speed or what countries or whatever.

    Following the manufacturers instructions is what always comes up as the only proper course of action when questions of chemical capacity come up, but following the manufacturers instructions for X-ray exposure is flawed because moron A has “perfect” results even with expired films that have been xrayed twenty times, and Moron B has had his Superia 1600 scanned nine times and all is well.

    These threads should be banned.
     
  7. RattyMouse

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    As long as you get to make the choice of what we are allowed to read.
     
  8. sepiareverb

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    Another reason to never return to Photrio.
     
  9. BrianShaw

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    Is it really that bad here, Bob? I, too, find some topics and people boring but don’t find it bad enough to get a bad attitude about the entire site. Maybe taking a break and meditate...
     
  10. Sirius Glass

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    B*S*!!! B*S*!!! B*S*!!! B*S*!!!


    I have almost always gotten hand inspections when I have requested them. On my trips to Greece a year ago I had 12 scans of my ISO 400 and ISO 800 film and it showed no ill effects.
     
  11. Doremus Scudder

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    X-rays expose film just light light, and a certain amount is needed to reach the exposure threshold. Most hand luggage scanners emit so little radiation that many scans would be needed to reach the threshold. One low-intensity scan will certainly not fog film; neither will 5 or even more. I, like many above, have had film scanned multiple times with zero problems. This is with unexposed and exposed film.

    As for hand-inspections: The TSA, in my experience, knows what they are doing and gladly does a hand-inspection on request. However, it helps if you tell them that the film will be (or has been) scanned multiple times. Often, if you ask for hand-inspection, they'll politely inform you that the scanner won't harm film and you should just put it through; having a reason for the inspection helps. With sheet film that has been exposed and is stored in a box, it helps to have a large label stating: Exposed Film: Open Only in Total Darkness! and have the box well taped closed. Politely explaining to them what you have is important; not that many people these days are so familiar with film, even fewer with sheet film.

    In the EU, you can ask for hand inspections, but don't expect to get one every time. I don't even bother anymore. I do take my film out of the carry-on and send it through the scanner separately. This is because my carry-on often gets a second scan because the personnel are confused by the LF gear in the bag. Putting the film through separately ensures it doesn't get scanned twice too.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

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    The damage to film is cumulative.
     
  13. BrianShaw

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    The EFFECT of X-ray on film is cumulative. DAMAGE depends upon a criteria for how much X-ray effect is noticeable.
     
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  15. RattyMouse

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    Too little to notice. I do not worry when my film goes through the scanner.
     
  16. lantau

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    I've just been to Usbekistan and St. Petersburg. My carryon was scanned at least 9 times. Don't remember if my Provia 400x was with me when my backpack was scanned once or twice in the subway. I haven't had the time to develop any of the c41 and b/w film but the slide films are back from the lab. No problem, whatsoever, as I'd expect. I had two rolls of the Provia 400x pushed one stop, which doesn't make it more sensitive to x-ray scans, but perhaps any damage would have been more visible. And I can't see a hint.

    I couldn't even be bothered to take the film out of the backpack into a seperate tray most of the times. That is what I'd normally recommend to minimise the dose.

    I repeatedly noticed that the security people in Munich must be encountering film cameras regularly. Two years ago a screener replied to a colleague, who commented on my plenty film, that this is the proper way to take photos (or something like this). This time she knew right away to look into the top of the Rollei (SLX, Hasselblad style) when checking it. On my way back from Russia I had film left in two cameras, including the Rollei, and it was no problem either.

    Travel as much as you like and don't worry about film. As long as it doesn't get checked into the hold.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

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    You can always tell them that you will be processing you ISO 400 film at ISO 800 or ISO 1600 so that they will hand inspect.
     
  18. Richard Man

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    "No problems" with multiple scannings are anecdotal evidence. Unless someone does a scientific rigorous study, it will remain as "it looks OK to me!"

    I have had my film go through 3-4 scans during a trip and there have been "no problems" that I can't blame on other factors (maybe). If at all possible, I do request hand check and only have one person denied the request.

    So basically, just do whatever you feel is best. If it does get scanned multiple times, it will probably be "no problems". Me? I will continue to ask for hand checks and not sweat it either if they deny it.
     
  19. Dahod

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    I've noticed this topic has come up multiple times over the years on various forums. To date, I've never seen a response from someone who's actually had film affected by scanning though- just lots of testimonials that nothing noticeable happened. If anyone has had adverse effects from security scanning, could you please post your experience?

    Regards
    Dave
     
  20. Richard Man

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    It's anecdotal, as I said, and your rhetorical question can just be easily turned around: if you don't see any problem, are you sure that your highlight, shadow, and dynamic range did not suffer, even a little? Are you sure your C-41 negs don't have a color shift? even slightly? Unless you do rigorous testing, no one knows for sure.
     
  21. BrianShaw

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    Testing was indeed done... by an international consortium of film companies, together with the FAA, that led to the Kodak and FAA recommendations. It’s been a long time but it was much more than anecdotal. No matter, every time it is discussed there is a wave of rhetoric about the potential for scanning equipment differences, changes, and miscalibration... along with all sorts of other theoretical neuroses.
     
  22. Sirius Glass

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    Interesting, but that is not was x-rays do to film.
     
  23. Richard Man

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    Thank you Brian for the info. It's nice to know. As I said, I don't sweat it if mine get scanned, but prefer hand check. If it does not cost me anything but time, it's a worthwhile tradeoff for me. (I have TSA PRE, which is worth every penny, so the other part of the TSA process is relatively painless).
     
  24. mooseontheloose

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  25. Agulliver

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    There was also a big test done in the UK which had the same results as Kodak and the TSA stateside....nobody has actually managed to cause any detectable damage to photographic film by passing it even multiple times through hand baggage inspection systems. I think they were taking 800 speed film through at least 15 scans, processing it and looking carefully for even the faintest signs of the x-rays...and found none.

    I've not been on here very long but I haven't seen any post from someone who has actually experienced film being damaged in hand baggage x-ray scanners. Nobody has actually posted scans or photos of negatives which exhibit the effects of x-rays.

    So taking all the anecdotes along with the more scientific tests......this issue really ought to be closed.

    And just to add to the anecdotes, I've been flying with film 20 years and even Delta 3200 pushed to 6400 seems fine going through at least seven scanners. My late father started flying with film in the 70s and even on trips to China in 1984 had no problems, using 100 and 400 ASA (as it were then). I've not encountered anyone who can show me a photo damaged by x-ray scanners except the Kodak website where the film was deliberately damaged by checked bag scanners.
     
  26. jnanian

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    hi robin

    i've had good experiences asking for hand inspections for US / domestic US flights but
    outside the us not such good luck so i throw caution to the wind. kodak's advice is good advice
    because no one knows how much radiation is going to be blasted. some airports have newer machines
    some have older ones so it is a crap shoot. i've been lucky with multiple passes over and over but that doesn't mean much
    and people smarter than me suggest that atmospheric radiation in the plane might do more fog damage than the airport security.
    i figure its pretty much out of my hands at the point i go into an airport... and i hope the screening machines with stickers on them
    that say " safe for up to iso 1200 film" are true and the people at the airport know how to operate the machines &c cause
    that is really all we can do ..
    ===
    hi bob
    i must be one of the morons you mention cause
    i have put expired film through airline scanners many times
    ( back after the london subway bombing i was in heathrow and my
    film bag was scanned probably 15 times each way like every 10 feet )
    they wouldn't hand inspect and it all worked out. even put iso 1600 film in my
    luggage and it came out OK ... the fate sisters were nice, but im guessing soon
    they'll be running out of nice ...

    ohwell ..
     
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