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02-29-2008, 07:23 AM   #1
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Camera Equipment and Airport Security

Although I'm a rookie, would apprciate some advice on the best ways, precatuions, etc to carry my equipment through modern day airport security systems.

My specific questions would include:
- What is OK to hand carry and what is not? (can you carry batteries and spares through security in carry on bags?
- What is the best way to pack your body and lenses? leave a lens attached or keep the body separte from each lens?
- Will security make you take the camera out of the bag like they do laptop computers?
- Since you cannot effectively lock your checked baggage anymore, is there anything that you should put in that bag?

Thanks in advance for your tips. I want to be able to take my stuff with me, but know that airports can be a major hassle and I don't want other people handling my equipment.

02-29-2008, 07:50 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonnstop Quote
Although I'm a rookie, would apprciate some advice on the best ways, precatuions, etc to carry my equipment through modern day airport security systems.

My specific questions would include:
- What is OK to hand carry and what is not? (can you carry batteries and spares through security in carry on bags?
it is ok to hand carry batteries etc, but if you check your bags, batteries cannot be "loose" and must be contained, packaged etc.
QuoteQuote:
- What is the best way to pack your body and lenses? leave a lens attached or keep the body separte from each lens?
there is no difference, as long as you use the rear caps and body caps
QuoteQuote:
- Will security make you take the camera out of the bag like they do laptop computers?
some times, this is dependant on the individual, i had one who asked me to remove the camera equipment from a photo back pack that was all camera equipment. I pointed out that this was rediculous, and fortunately common sense prevaled, but if you have a single camera in a pack with other things, they may ask
QuoteQuote:
- Since you cannot effectively lock your checked baggage anymore, is there anything that you should put in that bag?
anything you value should be carried on, chargers are not too useful and can go, tripods can't be carried on
QuoteQuote:
Thanks in advance for your tips. I want to be able to take my stuff with me, but know that airports can be a major hassle and I don't want other people handling my equipment.
You should also note that many airlines specifically qualify carry on, and I have seen some that allow photographic equipment in addition to other carry on
02-29-2008, 08:31 AM   #3
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I have flown several filights in the last year and have had little trouble with airport security.

My camera backpack generally contains a K10D, K110D, several lenses, flash, misc batteries and chargers, etc... Usually the bag zips right through the x-ray machine but sometimes I think all of the glass and odd shaped metal pieces confuses some of the screeners. Once in Daytona Beach, they actually asked me to open my bag so they could swab for explosives. And the last time I flew out of Dulles, they ran that same bag back and forth thru the x-ray machine a couple of times but didn't ask me to open it.

My biggest problem has been remembering to take my multi-tool out of the carry on and put it in my checked bag. Hey, with digital at least you don't have to worry about the x-ray machine ruining your film any more.
02-29-2008, 09:08 AM   #4
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Don't pack anything in checked baggage that you can't afford to lose. I had an SD card (unused, in the bubble pack) taken out of a large piece of checked baggage. The bag had one of those TSA type locks on it; lock was in place & closed at the other end of the flight. The card pack was in the middle of a lot of clothing, meaning that someone really had to dig to find it. Given the fact that the lock can be opened with a key that only the TSA people (supposedly) have, guess who probably took it. Small item, but indicative of what can happen.

02-29-2008, 09:21 AM   #5
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So far it sounds workable

Thanks for your comments.

I have this nightmare about going through security and them wanting to take my camera body and open it and check for stuff inside the camera near the mirror and sensor. Twisting and turning the lens, getting to close to all the sensitive parts, checking and tapping glass, etc.

Sounds like I've been watching too many spy movies.

Appreciate any more tips on traveling vs equipment.
02-29-2008, 09:30 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nonnstop Quote
I have this nightmare about going through security and them wanting to take my camera body and open it and check for stuff inside the camera near the mirror and sensor. Twisting and turning the lens, getting to close to all the sensitive parts, checking and tapping glass, etc.
Shhh! Don't give TSA or DHS any more ideas.

Seriously though, the advise here so far is sound. Only carry on and have delicate stuff in some kind of padding. Last I traveled I had my stuff in a Crumpler bag and I had no issues. Security didn't even ask to open the bag. I never put anything I'd miss or couldn't afford to replace in my check-in. I don't even both putting locks on any more. All of the experiences travels I know don't even check-in anymore and after my last trip back east I think I am converted.

Good luck.
02-29-2008, 12:12 PM   #7
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I travel at least once a month from Toronto to Halifax and always carry my 300AW Sling fully loaded and for the most part never have had a problem. Two weeks ago I was asked about my Manfrotto222 head which I take off the tripod, and put in my Sling the tripod is in my checked in luggage. The funny part is in the compartment beside the 222head is my DIY cable release with the telephone wire and a small tin pill box to hold the three buttons. They never even asked what it was, just concerned about the tripod head. Go figure

Last edited by property#1; 02-29-2008 at 12:30 PM.
02-29-2008, 02:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by tybeck Quote
Shhh! Don't give TSA or DHS any more ideas.

Seriously though, the advise here so far is sound. Only carry on and have delicate stuff in some kind of padding. Last I traveled I had my stuff in a Crumpler bag and I had no issues. Security didn't even ask to open the bag. I never put anything I'd miss or couldn't afford to replace in my check-in. I don't even both putting locks on any more. All of the experiences travels I know don't even check-in anymore and after my last trip back east I think I am converted.

Good luck.
Although we all discuss this as a post 9/11 issue, ever since Pan Am 103 over Scotland, in the early 1990's different security inspectors had the right to inspect all electronics to prove it worked. For a long time afterward I can remember prooving my laptop actually worked, and they would at random expect to look through the view finder, or pull the caps off lenses and look through them.

All I can advise is be patient, polite and co-operative. As far as I am concerned they have a job to do. Let them get on with it.


ps

I was in the air, over NYC at 9:00 am on 9/11. I guess I have a different take on it.

02-29-2008, 04:39 PM   #9
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If you wonder why ...

screeners sometimes take a second or third look, it's because their quality assurance strategy includes superimposing one or more from a library of thousands of images to the image of your "stuff" that the screener sees. Many of these images are of very nasty things; some are just of things that need a second look.

If the screeners decide that they see something really suspicious, they can take some action that will tell them if the image is an exam that they passed or a real object.

I'd be far more concerned if someone got a bit complacent and overlooked something, dangerous or not.

As others here have indicated, there are very good reasons to be thorough (on TSA's part) and patient (on our part).

I just bought a Lowepro Compu Daypack (sp?) just to get my photo and laptop gear through screening and onto the aircraft safely. We'll see how that works on the next trip.

On a different facet of this topic, some British airports are still restricting passengers to one (1) carry on object, be it a purse, briefcase, laptop case, shopping bag, backpack, etc. It's causing no end of grief for the uninitiated. It's being resolved airport-by-airport this year. With luck.

Always check with the airline ahead of time - appeals are often fruitless and airlines are permitted to have rules more restrictive than those of TSA.
02-29-2008, 06:40 PM   #10
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Weird

This thread has taken a strange twist. My intent here was not to second guess TSA or other insperctors rights, responsibilities, or duties.

I hate taking my shoes off but I do. If I have to unpack my stuff I will but I don't have to like doing it.

I had hoped we could talk about the best and efficient ways to get your camera equipment through security with the least amount of hassle. Do's and don'ts so to speak.

I travel a lot and appreciate security, not an issue to me. Just want to have some fun by bringing my stuff along.


Thanks for all your thoughts.
02-29-2008, 07:42 PM   #11
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And what about customs? I'm traveling to London in two weeks with a loaded camera bag. Has anyone had trouble with their equipement getting though customs either coming or going? I haven't traveled internationally for oh, 23 years or so.

And film!! Gads. I'm actually taking a film body and some film. I forgot about the xray thing. Does it actually destroy film? I've completely forgotten. With the security screeners let me remove that camera with a roll already inside and the film? I won't have access to my luggage until the end of the first day (tour) so I'd hate to have to pack them.

Thanks in advance for any insights.
Mel
03-01-2008, 06:44 AM   #12
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Knock on wood--so far I haven't had any problems getting through security with my camera gear, although I can't say that for other things that I've tried to carry on. The only piece of gear that I will check is my tripod and it's a $40 tripod, so it's not that big of a deal. I'd like to get a smaller tripod that I could fit into a carry-on, but I'm still concerned about whether it would pass muster with security.

One thing that I have read is that carbon fiber tripods can get through with no problems, but in the minds of the airlines and security, aluminum tripods can potentially be made into weapons (who says you can't beat somebody upside the head with a carbon fiber tripod?).

As for taking film, what I would do is not load any film into the camera until you reach your destination (unless that's the only body you're taking). Without film, you can send the body and lenses through the xray without any problems. If you do have film already loaded, just leave the camera out and ask for a hand inspection. As for the film, simply put all of it in a zipper bag and let them hand inspect that, as well. With that said, that's one of the reasons I'm thankful for digital.

BTW, the last plane trip I took, I put my gear and other things into a LowePro CompuDaypack and didn't have any problems at all. It also fits nicely under the seat in front of you. I've since gotten a smaller setup, which I will put into a small roll-along carry-on suitcase, along with everything else I want to carry on. Once I get to my destination, the smaller setup will be easier to handle when I'm actually out and about.

HTH,
Heather
03-01-2008, 07:52 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
On a different facet of this topic, some British airports are still restricting passengers to one (1) carry on object, be it a purse, briefcase, laptop case, shopping bag, backpack, etc. It's causing no end of grief for the uninitiated. It's being resolved airport-by-airport this year. With luck.
As far as I a know this is a UK Government restriction so the airports can't make their own decisions on it. I hope they do relax the rules soon though. We have to take a laptop with us for our business whenever we travel. Everything else, including cameras, lenses, electrical goods, my wife's handbag (until she gets through security) etc, etc has to go in the only other carry on bag we are allowed. It can get mighty crowded and also can soon hit the weight limit, though it is rare that they actually weigh it. It has all made me think carefully about the long lens I want to buy. I would have a lot of difficulty with a Bigma for instance if I wanted to take that on a flight. There is usually no baggage problem flying into the UK as airports in other countries don't seem to have this restriction; it's just flying out from UK airports.

Never had much problem with security. Occasionally they ask me to open the bag so they can have a look, presumably because there is so much stuff showing up when the bag goes through the scanner.

Paul
03-01-2008, 11:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by hwblanks Quote
As for taking film, what I would do is not load any film into the camera until you reach your destination (unless that's the only body you're taking). Without film, you can send the body and lenses through the xray without any problems. If you do have film already loaded, just leave the camera out and ask for a hand inspection. As for the film, simply put all of it in a zipper bag and let them hand inspect that, as well. With that said, that's one of the reasons I'm thankful for digital.


HTH,
Yes thank you if this was addressed to me. It does help tremendously. I just made the decision to leave that film body at home. I really only need my k1000 for film anyway and just for artsy reasons. The vast majority of the shooting will happen on the digital. I will bag up my film separately and grab that out before sending the bag through.

Additionally, leaving that body at home frees up some more room in the bag for snacks. Looks like a win-win situation to me.

Thanks again,
mel
03-01-2008, 04:29 PM   #15
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Two stories same destination.

2003 - Trip to NZ for two weeks, film SLR. No issues getting through customes or screeners in either country. Did not carry unexposed film bought film in NZ and had it processed the day before we came back - no problems with the cameras. Read on a travel site that the X-Ray machines used for carry on luggage will not damage film - yeah right - you can buy lead lined bags and ask for a hand search - they will hit your shoes, pat you down and sniff your water bottle too - but you can ask for a hand search. Much better to request it rather that be asked - what's in the bag? The X-Ray machines used on checked baggage (especially on international flights) will destroy film - no doubt about it.

2006 - Month long trip to NZ - no film cameras. Carried my *ist Ds and lenses - in particular my 300mm Vivitar TX-K - oriented vertically in the bag. Everything went will - they did ask what was in the bag but they never opened it ----- until the last flight of the trip from LAX to SEA. They opened the bag and took out the 300mm. The TSA person said "Never store a lens vertically - you will be stopped everywhere you go - it looks like a grenade launcher/pipe bomb". I did not have the heart to tell her that she was the last of six times I had gone through the process (two of those were international flights) and she was the only one to mention the word grenade.

Carry what you need - but if you have questions - request hand searches otherwise it is not a big issue.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL
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