FSTOP Group Issues New Warning about X-Ray Damage to Film

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FSTOP Group Issues New Warning about X-Ray Damage to Film

The following link is courtesy of Joseph Meehan at pdnonline.com. The article is entitled; "FSTOP Group Issues New Warning about X-Ray Damage to Film" and is copyright 2002 Joseph Meehan/Photo District News. Click on this link for http://www.pdnonline.com/newprod/articles/article1460.html

Guys please try to refrain from political ranting in this thread. I'm just posting it as a service to all.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 11, 2002


No political ranting here...just facts. Having spent my entire career as a professional shooter, I took the last twelve years off, where I was Deputy Director of Aviation for the new Denver International Airport. I can tell all on this board, that airport screeners don't give a damn about Federal Air Regs., and they are 'rude and crude'...and incredibly STUPID! Glad to be back in the working pro ranks again, and the next time I travel, I'll FedEx overnight, my film supply to my destination.. and the same on the return trip home.

-- Richard Boulware (boulware-den@att.net), April 11, 2002.

(biting tongue...trying not to rant...) thanks ellis - good info for us all to consider. i guess it is finally time for me to go buy some lead pouches.

-- jnorman (jnorman34@attbi.com), April 11, 2002.

Thanks Ellis...

This wont't come in any better time for me since I planned a trip to Europe mid May... and Richard I will do just that....

-- dan n. (dan@egmail.com), April 11, 2002.

Might they x-ray films sent by courier? Not, I suppose if they are looking for guns and knives for use on flight - but they also look for explosives do they not?

I have had to pay for customs examination of several items I bought on e-bay.

-- Dick Roadnight (dick.roadnight@btopenworld.com), April 11, 2002.

My daughter just got back from Paris and used the old, Please don't xray my film because some of it is 3200 ISO. This ploy worked on the outbound trip from Dulles, but on the return from Orly, the guys didn't want to hear about it and just shoved the film through without discussion. The decoy 3200 roll was destroyed of course, but the slow speed film did ok, but received some extra fog which can be printed through.

I guess the point I gleaned from her experience is that all bets are off, no standard treatment, and no appeal. I'm definitely shipping my film from now on. It's just not worth the risk.


-- Bill Marsh (redcloud54@earthlink.net), April 11, 2002.

Bill if you had read the article you would see that the guidelines for handchecking are only good for USA domestic travel.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 11, 2002.

Hand inspection of roll film in zip-lock bags may work OK, but what about LF sheet film? I'd think security would want to see what's inside a large lead pouch. Any other suggestions?

-- Rick Durbin (rddurbin@facstaff.wisc.edu), April 11, 2002.

Fed Ex would be my suggestion.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 11, 2002.

How about carrying the film on one's person; for those not requiring very large quantities?

-- Henry Friedman (friedlew@worldnet.att.net), April 11, 2002.

Thanks very much for posting this. Does anyone know where you can purchase lead containers of the type described in the article and how much 4x5 film a single container will hold?

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), April 11, 2002.

How about carrying the film on one's person; for those not requiring very large quantities?

nice idea, but how are you oingto explain it when you get singled out for one of those random searches (it has happened to me three times, in six or eight flights since September '01.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), April 11, 2002.

The sky is not falling. "CAT Scan" type X-rays are NOT used for carry-on luggage except for those persons pulled aside for higher level scrutiny, who are clearly identified as such. You are welcome to ask for a handcheck of a large box of sheet film, but if you are thinking this will mean that the box will not be opened and your film exposed, in the post-9/11 world, you are dreaming! No one has ever shown me a substantiated case where film in the <=ASA 400 range was damaged when carried on and run thru a standard carry-on scanner. Has ANYONE in this forum had such an experience? I routinely run multiple boxes of 12X20 sheet film thru the carry-on x-ray (the only other choice is to start walking!) and have never had a problem. This forum is way too susceptible to alarmist announcements ("All film to be discontinued tomorrow: better buy a walk-in freezer!") After extensive travel on four continents with sheetfilm before and after 911, I simply do not think that a sensible and prudent traveler carrying sheetfilm has anything to worry about .

My $0.02, anyway!


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), April 11, 2002.

You can get lead bags for film from Sima Products Corporation (http://www.simacorp.com).

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), April 11, 2002.

If you carried on your person a small box of, say, 4x5 silver-rich film (Bergger?), would it trip the metal detector? Now there's a head scratcher.


P.S. Sorry, Ellis.

-- Bill Marsh (redcloud54@earthlink.net), April 11, 2002.

I think that films or no films or anything else does not matter for the airport security people...all they want is to do their job FAST (getting more people thru the gate without incident)... so my opinion is better safe than sorry because I don't want to deal with people who do everything "by the book"..again Richard here has the point.. thanks...

-- dan n. (dan@egmail.com), April 12, 2002.

I have always been puzzled by the lead bag scheme. It seems to me that the moment they spotted that, they would stop everthing and tear it apart to see what was inside. Am I missing something here?

-- Richard C. Trochlil (trochlilbb@neumedia.net), April 12, 2002.

I have been in communication with Mel Gibson , the lead actor in Conspiracy Theory, and he absolutely KNOWS that this is a ploy by the camera manufactures to make all travelers use DIGITAL. The digital allows the scurity to view the pictures taken immediately, and the travelers of course have o but new cameras for their travel pictures.

I have also heard it on high authority that when a person is abducted by aliens there is no security scan made before you are taken on the U F O. Given thsi I then asked my source:"Why are there no pictures of the interiors of the alien spacecraft?". He replied with a wry smile" You just haven't seen them yet!"

-- ED (zeke@idirect.com), April 12, 2002.

I believe that rolls of 120 film, being metal-free, will pass through the metal detector with no problem. So a few of rolls could be carried in your jacket pocket(s).

Also, I second the query above: has anybody on this forum personally had film >1600 ISO damaged by a carry-on x-ray machine? Can I take my NPZ to China in my flight bag?

-- Christopher Condit (cxc@pacbell.net), April 12, 2002.

Curious about the possibility of carrying film "on my person" (always thought that was a strange expression), I recently carried 2 rolls of 120 film from New York (JFK) to Heathrow and 12 rolls back (purchased film at the destination) in my shirt pockets, without tipping the metal detector (120 being on plastic reels) or attracting undue attention. It wouldn't be difficult to carry at least 50 rolls of medium format this way, with a not-unfashionable number of pockets.

I suppose one could do the same with a box or two of 4x5", as long as it didn't have a metallic bag. I have gotten a hand inspection of a sealed box of 8x10" film, where they just ran a swipe for explosive residue over it and didn't X-ray, but obviously one only has a sealed box of film when traveling outbound.

-- David A. Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), April 12, 2002.

Regarding lead bags; I use them but I suspect that I'm protecting my paranoia more than my film. I once watched the x-ray monitor as my pack went through the airport screening; on the monitor was the faint outline of the lead bag and each clearly visible film cartridge inside. It appeared that the lead bag blocked no more than about 1-5% of the radiation. The pictures turned out fine!

-- Dan Montgomery (soareyes@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

When I flew home and back over spring break a few weeks ago, my 35mm bag went through the x-rays twice, and by and large my film came out fine. I had about 25 rolls, some color slide, the rest Tri-X. All the slide film and Tri-X I shot at EI 200 was fine, but the Tri-X I pushed to EI 1600 had the occasional weird banding that killed a few frames per roll. I haven't had to fly with sheet film yet, but when I do I'll just FedEx it.

-- David Munson (apollo@luxfragilis.com), April 12, 2002.

"I have always been puzzled by the lead bag scheme. It seems to me that the moment they spotted that, they would stop everthing and tear it apart to see what was inside. Am I missing something here?" Not neccesarily - I went through Ottawa airport - our nations capitol, a couple of months or so after Sept 11 - politicians, miliatry and all sorts flying through all the time. Generally, at that time, the most rigorous security I came across in Canada at that time (DOn't want to be lax when your checking the Misnister of Transporations bags...). BUT, I put my camera bag through with two lead pouches full of film. Big black blobs show up on their screen. "Can I check your bag sir?". Security dweeb opens it up see the two "Filmguard" bags, go "Oh Film" Okay sir, thankyou. Puts them back in without opening them and go on my way....!

Tim A

-- Tim Atherton (tim@kairosphoto.com), April 12, 2002.

Nathan, not to pick an argument, but my girlfriend came back from Mexico with a few rolls of Fuji NPC 160 ASA (35mm) and it definitely got fogged (bad). I know this wasn't an exposure problem, because the last ten shots on one of the rolls she didn't expose, yet when we got them back from the lab, there was still the tell-tale sign of a hazy yellowish line going through the middle of those prints. Prior to September 11th, I too had no problem with film under 400 being scanned. However, this recent experience makes me not so confident.


-- Peter Chipman (chippete@yahoo.com), April 12, 2002.

Hand inspection is the US, and I'm sorry if this is a repeat, is done by swabbing the outside of the containers, and putting the swab in a machine that test for residue's. I went thru the Arizona airport with film in a clear plastic bag and they didn't open any of my containers. (120 and 35mm) Other airports may be different. I did get searched with a wand every time even tho I took precautions to keep metal off my body and put everything thru the scanner. Unfortunetly, my shoes had metal in them which I thought they didn't.

-- Wayne Crier (waynecrider@hotmail.com), April 13, 2002.

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