Travel: 1600, 3200 speed 35mm film

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by klix, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. I've searched the archives, but unless I missed it, no threads specifcally address traveling with high speed film.
    My situation: going to Europe next month for a 3 or 4 week trip, and planning to take along about 100 rolls of 35mm film (mostly 100 and 400 speed, but I would like to bring along Neopan 1600 and Tmax 3200 as well).
    What I've gathered:
    • remove from packaging and put in ziploc bags
    • put ziploc in lead lined cases
    • ask for hand inspection
    • if they say no to hand inspection, then I'll have to consent to getting my film x-ray'ed
    • I've asked around about services that will ship the film to my destination, but they're expensive, and no guarantees that the film won't be subjected to xray that's even more powerful than the low dosage kind at airports.
    • yes, I know I can buy the film where I'm going, but unless I have them developed there, I'd be in the same situation on the return trip, plus I already have a couple of bricks of the films in my freezer.
    • So, any tips w/re to 1600 and 3200 speed film??
      Or do I just leave them at home, and just push HP5+ to 1600 or 3200 (I've never pushed HP5+ above 800).
  2. Actually, take the 3200 speed, regardless, and make sure
    it's clearly marked as such and easily visible in your plastic bags.
    Often, the security folks will say something like "this machine
    won't damage film up to 1000 speed", at which point you
    can point to your 3200 speed film as you request a hand
  3. I would not use the lead bag. My typical experience with one was:

    1) They refuse to hand inspect (not easy to convince them when there
    is a big queue, and you can't speak the local language)..

    2) Bag goes through x-ray

    3) Bag goes through x-ray on higher power

    4) Then they ask if you have a lead film bag.

    5) Finally they hand inspect the film

    6) The bag (minus the film bag) goes through the x-ray yet again

    In the end I found it less hassle to just let the film go through
    the X-ray machine.

    I would also comment that you may have problems with so much film.
    Some places may consider this a "commercial" quantity and charge
    duty etc.
  4. I'd avoid taking any ultra high speed films just to avoid security hassles. That would include Delta 3200, TMZ or Neopan.

    During the past year I've spent a lot of time improving my push processing techniques with commonly available fast films like Tri-X, HP5+ and TMY. I compared the results I was getting with Delta 3200. I'm satisfied enough now with ISO 400 films pushed to EI 1600 than I won't be using Delta 3200 again unless I need to use a film at EI 6400 or higher.

    Based on my experiences during the past year HP5+ does not have the same push processing capabilities as Tri-X pan and TMY, either of which can easily handle up to 1600 with very good results for day and night/indoor shooting combined on the same roll and processed to a compromise. I've uploaded two folders of examples to to illustrate this.

    Save the HP5+ for EI 800 or slower. It's an excellent film and, personally, I prefer it over Tri-X if I'm shooting at around EI 200 or so. But even in Microphen it can't compare with TMY at pushes up to 1600. However some folks report excellent results using DD-X developer which might be worth investigating if you prefer sticking with HP5+.

    One final tip: process pushed film as soon as possible. And if at all possible, keep it cool. It will lose what shadow detail you've captured *very* rapidly. Pete Andrews warned me about this last year and I dismissed his warnings, believing that my shots had little enough shadow detail anyway that it wouldn't matter. I was wrong. As little as one month, maybe less, of unrefrigerated storage can mean the difference between getting some Zone III and getting large blank areas on the negatives.

    I'd like to find a way to evaluate my observations in a more scientific manner using appropriate photographic terminology, but for the time being let's just put it this way: When pushing b&w film hard we're struggling to separate Zone III (the best we can hope for with, say, TMX pushed to EI 1600) from fog. And we want good separation in the midrange. I hardly even worry about highlights so forget that for now.

    A good push processing developer will help us by keeping the base fog as low as possible, while bringing up the midtones without excessive contrast. Even if we waited a year after exposing an ISO 400 film at EI 1600 we'd get the same benefit and effect, as long as the film was reasonably well stored.

    What we will lose by waiting, tho', is that Zone III-IV area that helps keep nighttime/indoor shots from looking like our subjects are standing amid yawning blackness.

    In some of the live nighttime outdoor theatre photos I did last year that I delayed processing the actors were generally isolated in individual pools of light. I couldn't see the floorboards between spotlighted areas. Yet my digital captures of the same lighting situations did show this shadow detail (and my digicam is a modest Olympus C3040Z, nothing fancy).

    Later I tested Pete's assertions that shadow detail is fleeting in the latent image. I loaded up a roll of TMY, which pushes well in Microphen, and shot half a dozen frames in low light and at night. I left the film in the camera for a month before finishing the roll, again in low light and at night. I processed the roll promptly and, sure 'nuff, the first half dozen frames lacked shadow detail, having only midtones amid that previously described yawning blackness. The rest of the roll had plenty of what I consider adequate shadow detail for hard-pushed film.

    So while ISO 400 films are less sensitive to fogging from X-rays, gamma radiation and heat, to preserve that latent image in shadow areas it is critical to develop promptly.

    Of course, Ilford, Kodak, et al, have been telling us to develop promptly for decades. Some of us are a bit thick and need to learn the hard way.
  5. FWIW, I had no trouble getting the security people at the Lisbon airport to hand inspect about 20 rolls of film when I was there two months ago. I was carrying HP5+, Tri-X, Plus-X, and some Fuji Superia 400. YMMV.
  6. I'm confused my the suggestion that a 400 speed film pushed to 1600 would be any less susceptible to xray damage then, say TMZ shot at 1600. Either way, because of the processing adjustments, you are effectively using a "1600 speed" film, aren't you? So if xrays are going to mess up one 1600 speed film, why not the other? Please explain to me if this logic is lacking.

    Back on topic, I'd second other's suggestions to skip the lead bag, ask for hand inspection, but don't freak if your film has to be xrayed a couple of times. I've had TMZ (shot at EI1600) xrayed 4 times with no effect that I could detect.
  7. Oops, of course that should be "I'm confused BY the suggestion..."
  8. Aaron - I'm assuming 400 speed film pushed to 1600 is not as affected to the same extent by xrays as 1600 speed film - I could very well be wrong.
  9. Nick,
    You don't say where you are travelling from and neither do you give us much idea as to where you are travelling to.

    I've read that a film such as 3200asa Ilford will generally survive few passes of a typical hand bagage x-ray machine.

    Lead film cases will more than likely ensure that the operator will stop the machine and trun the power up full, in other words your films will get a real blasting.

    If you are in the US you may well have some say in this matter by having to consent, however in most European countries you will have three choices, let them x-ray the film, bin the film or don't get on the flight.

    Your best bet is to have the films ready for inspection, be polite and show them the info leaflet from the likes of Ilford that states do not x-ray.

    If travelling to and through western Europe films like 3200asa Ilford should be easy enougth to obtain. For some eastern European countries check there are limits to the number of rolls of film you can bring into the country. Also they may note serial numbers etc, if you have the cameras stolen make sure you have the apropriate paper work ortherwise you may have hassels leaving the country.

    Let us know how you get on.
  10. "Aaron - I'm assuming 400 speed film pushed to 1600 is not as affected to the same extent by xrays as 1600 speed film - I could very well be wrong"

    That's very likely what you are, I'm afraid. At least according to Kodak's paper on airport x-raying of film, wether you use a high speed film or a pushed low speed film doesn't matter much, there's risk of trouble. After all, T-MAX 3200 is really an 800 ASA film or something like that, which is good for pushing.

    Anyway, my version of common sense also says that it's your e.i. that's significant, not the ASA stated on the pack.
  11. Actually, you *want* the film to go through the xray machine! Depending on how many times it goes through and the strength of the rays it has the effect of pre-flashing. Which is more-or-less a good thing to pick up shadow details when pushing film to 1600 and beyond. The bad thing is that you cannot control or tell how much exposure it's getting.

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