Over-exposure of film at airport??

Old Feb 15th, 2001, 07:54 PM
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Over-exposure of film at airport??

We will be flying into & out of London Heathrow airport. Should I worry about our film, camera, videocamera... and the film being ruined when it goes through x-ray??? It is a pain to have it all checked by hand -- but if the risk is losing all of our pictures we will do it that way.
Old Feb 15th, 2001, 09:06 PM
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Lyn, I've never had problems with film 200 ASA or under. But it seems that the prints from 400 ASA film, which I use with a panoramic camera, always come out a little grainier than they do when I take photos at home. My understanding is that the higher the ASA, the more vulnerable it is to x-rays. Also, the older x-ray machines are stronger, but I doubt you'd have older ones at Heathrow. <BR> <BR>Years ago when I flew, people were far nicer about hand-checking film. About 5 years ago, I just stopped asking; it seemed more trouble than it was worth. But this doesn't mean you shouldn't ask yourself. Personally, I don't think handchecking is a pain; it's the other folks, with the airlines, who seem to. Just put your photo film in a plastic bag, out of box, and hand it over; then stuff the bag in your carry-on. Simple. <BR> <BR>I don't think you have to worry about the blank videotape. As far as I know, videotape isn't subject to x-rays, because it works on the principle of magnetism. (In other words, x-ray is okay; big magnet is curtains once you've taped with the camcorder.) I am not positive about this, though. So I hope you hear from others at this forum. Have fun in England!
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 05:31 AM
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A couple tips to save yourself the worry and stress: <BR>1. Buy a couple lead bags (at any camera store) and put your film--out of the canisters--in them and put them in your carry-on luggage. <BR>2. Don't put any film in your camera until after you go through security.
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 07:20 AM
Steve Mueller
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Lyn, <BR> <BR>In addition to what Mary and Howard have already said, keep in mind that the effects of X-rays are cumulative - additional damage occurs each time the film is subjected to X-rays. Also, be aware that, in the UK, your film might be X-rayed at places other than the airport. Our luggage has always been X-rayed when we use the Chunnel Train (Eurostar from London to Brussels or Paris), and camera cases are typically X-rayed at places like Windsor Castle. The Windsor folks have been very nice about hand-inspecting my film, but the Chunnel personnel have always insisted on X-rays. By the way, you should be able to have your film hand inspected when you leave the US, so you only need be concerned with Heathrow on your departure. Finally, you probably already know this, but it's worth emphasizing because some people don't realize it, your film is just as vulnerable whether it has been exposed or not. <BR> <BR>On some trips, I have had film of speed 200 and less exposed to security X-rays at least four times, and the image degradation was minimal to non-existent. The one thing you never want to do, however, is transport film in your checked luggage, because checked baggage is subjected to considerably higher levels of radiation. <BR> <BR>As Mary said, magnets can be trouble with video tapes. I work in a scientific research institute and we are instructed never to pack data tapes (which are similar to video tapes) in our checked luggage because some automated baggage routing systems generate powerful magnetic fields.
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 07:23 AM
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The special bag will do the trick but i took photos with 800 film (no flash) in museums and they came out wonderful, x-rays and all.
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 08:49 AM
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No amount of pleading, can get the Heathrow security to hand check your film. I tried with the film out of box and canisters and in a plastic bag. There are VERY serious about security at Heathrow. <BR> <BR>Get the lead bag as Howard and Steve suggest and carry on your film, you can take it out of the plastic canisters to save even more space. It is the cumulative effects that are the worst for film.
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 09:36 AM
David White
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Lyn, <BR> <BR>Sorry to say, but I have had film damaged by British airport security screening. One alternative you may want to consider is to have your film developed in London before you return. A number of 1 hour film developing places have opened in town...expensive, but it may be worth it. <BR> <BR>Leo is right, British airport security will NOT hand-check film and cameras. I've tried and they politely spout the "company line" that their equipment will not harm film. That's rubbish, to use a mild British invective, but it doesn't change anything. In the US, by law you can demand to have your film and camera hand-checked--although I've always found that asking nicely works just as well. <BR> <BR> <BR> <BR>
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 02:18 PM
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I had a problem with film here in the US. We went to Florida for our honeymoon, and when we got our film developed, all of the pictures were ruined (7 rolls!). The film developer said that it was from the x-rays. Next time, we'll use one of those lead bags.
Old Feb 16th, 2001, 04:10 PM
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Lyn, <BR>You have to understand there are at least two types of x-ray inspection machines to deal with, one for checked baggages and another for the carry-ons. The general consensus is that the ones used for checked luggage are ones to be avoided. Here is the lengthy analysis on this subject. These CTX-5000 series machines are unmistakable. I have seen them in the check in area at Maui airport, these are HUGE monsters, nothing you have seen at carry-on inspection stations. <BR> <BR>http://www.photo-news.com/CTX-ray.htm <BR> <BR>Since at many airports you do not have choice to have them hand inspected, films should ALWAYS be carry-on and keep it in lead lined bag when going thru the x-ray machine when possible. This is harder with the 35mm films. Last time, all my cameras were APS with mid roll change capabilities, so I was able to unload all the films, send them thru the inspection machines in a lead bag, and reload them after the inspections. As someone else said, if you use 35mm, you can reduce the cumulative effect of exposure by not loading the camera until after the inspections.

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