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06-04-2008, 09:40 PM   #1
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Airport question

Being of the old school I remember the days when you made the sign of the cross and sprinkled Holy Water on the x-ray machine at the airport and before you would let them send your film through it but you didn't worry about film and the magnetometer. However, my question concerns the SD cards for today's digitals. Since it records on a magnetic medium (or at least I would think it does), one would think that it would be more harmful to carry it through the maggie than it would be to x-ray it. Anybody had any experience with this?

BTW, working for an airline, I had the opportunity between flights once to expose several rolls of inexpensive film to the X-ray on the concourse between flights. I exposed various rolls once, three times, five times and seven times. This was 200 ASA film and it took seven exposures before I noticed a significant degrading of the picture quality.

CW

06-04-2008, 10:02 PM   #2
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I'd also like to know. I hadn't even thought of this and I'm about to do it tomorrow :S
06-04-2008, 10:40 PM   #3
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Well, with some research I answered my own question and here's what I found on SanDisk's site:

"Taking Cards Through Airport X-Ray Machines and Metal Detectors: You can put full or empty flash cards in your checked baggage or in your carry-ons with little risk of damage from airport scanners. The International Imaging Industry Association conducted tests last year with security devices used in U.S. airports and found that no damage to the cards resulted with normal travel frequency. As an added precaution, SanDisk recommends that you take the card out of your camera before passing through security devices. "

CW
06-04-2008, 10:42 PM   #4
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now i could be wrong in this, but i thought memory cards wrote to solid state ICs, and had no magnetic element to worry about



EDIT: In this day and age, i'd be more worried about the security guards pointing guns at you for having something metallic in your pocket than damage to SD cards (which are pretty much bulletproof)

06-04-2008, 11:42 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by nakey Quote
...(which are pretty much bulletproof)
In that case, if you have enough SD cards you shouldn't even worry about the guns
06-05-2008, 06:41 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nakey Quote
now i could be wrong in this, but i thought memory cards wrote to solid state ICs, and had no magnetic element to worry about



EDIT: In this day and age, i'd be more worried about the security guards pointing guns at you for having something metallic in your pocket than damage to SD cards (which are pretty much bulletproof)
ROFL Knowing the attitude of most airport police, I was worried about that long before "this day and age."

CW
06-05-2008, 06:46 AM   #7
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Your SD cards will be fine. I just got back from a trip with no problems to my cards.
06-05-2008, 07:26 AM   #8
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Memory cards

QuoteOriginally posted by nakey Quote
now i could be wrong in this, but i thought memory cards wrote to solid state ICs, and had no magnetic element to worry about
You're right. Memory cards consist of a gazillion transistors on a single chip. Theoretically, though, any sufficiently powerful magnetic field could induce an electrical current in the card that could change the data stored in the memory.

In reality, this would require a HUGE magnetic field, probably far stronger than anything they could put in an airport.

More importantly, though, is that, AFAIK, the metal detectors do not generate a magnetic field. They are very large capacitance meters. Its been a long time since I attended a couple of college freshman electrical engineering classes, but this is a largely passive device that measures the changes in the electrical characteristics of the air in between the two columns (yes, air has electrical characteristics). If you pass a piece of metal between them, the characteristics of the air are drastically changed.

In short, flash memory cards, including SD, Compact Flash and USB Flash drives are safe to take through metal detectors. They are probably more vulnerable to cosmic radiation at high altitudes, than they are to airport metal detectors. As the memory gets denser and denser, the actual size of the individual transistors gets smaller and smaller. There are some in which the size is only a few times larger than the beta particles in the radiation and can be changed by a direct strike. I know that the military hardens the electronics in their high-flying aircraft against this possibility.

06-05-2008, 08:06 AM   #9
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I only have occasion to fly two or three times a year. As with ALL of my camera equipment, I do NOT check it, but hand carry it on-board with me, (tripod and/or monopod excepted). Have never had an issue with security x-ray machines. Never lost even one image nor were any cards damaged. It's a 'non-issue'.
06-05-2008, 08:12 AM   #10
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Ditto what Steven said. I've travelled a good bit with my camera gear, always hand-carried. Never had a problem with any of the cards. It's a non-issue, as far as I'm concerned.
06-05-2008, 09:23 AM   #11
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I fly about twice a week for the last couple years now, and always have a camera with me. (carry on) The only problem I had, was about a year ago, on 2 occasions , about 15-20 images were corrupted on a CF card that was still in a Canon 20D. (later the images were still unrecoverable with blue and black bars running through those images, I remember a blue and or black bar or half the image blue or missing, something like that , so probably an issue with the equipment causing the camera or writing mechanism to discharge somehow?) But that was with a Canon, not a Pentax and it was on CF, not SD.

Now I make a habit of removing the card from the camera, or more often, having a blank card in the camera and not one with images on it.

About 90 trips since then through TSA and no problems. (about 30 with my K20D)
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