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Air travel with photo gear

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by Fraunhofer, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Fraunhofer

    Fraunhofer Subscriber

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    Since this seems to be a regular topic, let me report my experiences:

    The past year, I have been on about a dozen trips and through about twice as many airports throughout the US, Europe and Asia carrying either a Spotmatic with a radioactive Takumar or Zeiss Super Ikonta and ISO400 B&W film in my carry-on.

    I never observed any fogging even on a trip where I went 8 or 9 times through a checkpoint.

    Today, for the first time I was stopped at the checkpoint for additional screening related to the Zeiss Ikonta: this was at London Heathrow and all they did is have a look, ask what this is (underwater camera, sir?) and did a swipe test.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's quite normal, I've had my cameras checked and swab tested many times at UK airports, the security is very tight and has been ramped up significantly in the past year.

    I find it more worrying that security is lax as some airports when I fly back to the UK, two I pass through regularly but my cameras used to be inspected now nothing.

    Ian
     
  3. Robin Guymer

    Robin Guymer Subscriber

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    Same here, no problems with a number of interstate flights and I have called the airport to confirm that 400ASA film is safe through the carry on X-ray. Travelling to Tasmania last week with 3 Nikon bodies, lenses and a pack of film, I saw my bag on the X-ray screen. It looked impressive. The security officer stopped the conveyor and turned around till he caught my eye, gave me a smile, shook his head and sent it on through. Maybe another Apug member! Nothing quite like a good old film camera to attract a bit of attention these days.
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have not had problems for years traveling with cameras. Just carry your film on board the airplane. I have never had a problem with ISO 400 film.
     
  5. Agulliver

    Agulliver Member

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    I've been flying regularly for around 20 years, and have never had film damaged by airport x-rays. That goes from Efke KB25 up to Ilford Delta 3200...plus various C41, E6 and motion picture films. Some films have been through up to 7 x-ray scans without any ill effects.

    I do find these days that some older or more unusual equipment can attract attention. On one occasion flying from Heathrow to Las Vegas I was stopped for a random extra check and asked to explain a mechanical 35mm camera in my carry on. The guy knew what it was, but his instructions were to check that any such items function. Being silly, I had loaded it with film and couldn't take the back off to satisfy him the the shutter fired. Eventually he let me through...being familiar enough as we was to understand my dilemma.

    More recently I've been stopped at London Gatwick with an EWA Marine under water housing in my bag, but not the camera it fits. That caused confusion and I had to explain that the camera was in a checked suitcase. Just this February I had my hand baggage pulled for a separate manual inspection as I had two film SLRs, a DLSR and a medium format folder in there along with various lenses and accessories. The young x-ray operative wasn't sure but the older guy on the hands searches merely laughed "someone over there doesn't like cameras, but you do". At Malta Luqa airport I was requested to take out the same gear piece by piece...which I willingly started to do before they got bored and let me through.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  7. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    I raised the eyebrows of a guy at Shipol once with a Vivitar flash that had a coiled cord wrapped around it. He just laughed when he realized what it was.

    I was going through security once years ago and I heard, "Hey Patrick, is that a Leica?" from the guy at the screen. Turns out I knew him. Lesson was don't have a kid if you are trying to be a photographer or you will have to go work for the TSA.....

    Aside from having my jujubees felt up, I have never had a problem taking cameras or film on an airplane. The key is to not check it. Ever. I pretty much figure that I will be singled out these days. Nothing you can do about it. Might as well just go with the flow. I am super nice to them, and that gets me straight through without any grief.
     
  8. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    Anyone travel into the US with cameras from one of the countries included in the new electronic devices ban since that's been implemented? I'm coming back to Boston in mid August through Dubai.
     
  9. Troy Grilli

    Troy Grilli Subscriber

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    I fly for work a lot and bring either a Yashica 124 or a Pentax 67ii. The Yashica fits in my backpack, so I just cram it in there. Being that I also I have two laptops in my bag, it almost always gets pulled off. The look on some of these people's faces is priceless! It would be as if they opened my backpack to find a live snake. They jump and quickly try to zip it back. I think there're afraid of damaging the camera in any way. They quickly give me my bag back to exonerate themselves of any responsibility of my "old-school" camera! I did once have a TSA agent ask my to demonstrate that my 67ii was a functioning camera and they jumped a mile when the shutter fired. I guess if it's suspect if my camera is actually a cleverly disguised bomb, the sound of a 67ii firing would be startling!!!

    I've never had film fogged or altered in any way. Never checked my film, but I think we all know better than that! Traveled with all formats 35mm-4x5 across B&W, E-6, and C-41. I've had them run my camera back and forth under the x-ray for a painfully long time trying to discern what it was and I would think "surely, THIS is the time that my film will be ruined!" But it never has been. Im still going to knock on wood following that statement, though. Best not to tempt fate!

    My only fear is being told at the gate I need to check my camera. I never leave film in my camera when I fly, so I could take the film out of the case and just check the camera, but I would never trust the airline to return my camera in working order!
     
  10. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Member

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    So what, folks on customs are folks after all. I was driving exotic car once and police in country I was driving it did stop me for some reason or another. But all they wanted is to see is how this exotic car was made inside. Folder film camera is exotic for most of the regular people now. :smile:
     
  11. Dali

    Dali Member

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    Last time I took the plane, I had a specific inspection because of my TLR. I guy was not sure what it was about. I had to briefly explain how it works and to open the camera back so he could see there was nothing in. And as usual, the film boxes were swab tested.
     
  12. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    I was only checked once at Newark by a TSA goon that didn't know my camera was actually a camera (B&H Filmo 16mm movie camera) luckily one of the TSA agents who had a high school diploma came over and told her what it was and I was on my way. I don't even remember being swabbed ever in over 10 years of flying for work and personal travel.
     
  13. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

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    Many years ago, about 1976 IIRC, I flew into Heathrow with my Praktica LTL, etc. Flying out of Heathrow to Charles de Gaulle the security folks saw my home-brew battery pack for my flash - couple feet of zip cord between the flash with dowel AA dummies and a plastic holder for 4 D cells, the holder in a plastic shoulder bag. They froze and demanded that I turn it on, which I did. I then realized that, with the Troubles still active my home brew battery pack could have held enough C 4 or whatever to take down the plane! I apologized, and they relaxed.

    In London there were signs in all the Underground stations and trains urging riders to report unaccompanied bags, back packs, etc. We went into an Irish bar for a pint, and I decided that as a blue eyed blonde with a very English name a bar with a jar for IRA contributions wasn't the place for me.

    On that trip, a week in London and a week in Paris, I shot 100 feet of home loaded Ektachrome which I then processed. No damage to the film from X rays, and wonderful slides. It will be good to have Ektachrome back with us.

    Much more recently, after 9-11 I went through security at Atlanta. I had my Pentax LX and its lenses, etc, with me, and the security folks asked that I turn the camera on. I replied that it was a film camera, and they seemed cool with that. Good thing, the camera was loaded, after that I made sure that the LX was unloaded when I flew.