X-ray of Super 8 films by FedEx

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There are only a handful of labs which can process Super 8 films around the world and it has on occasions been necessary for the filmmaker to send exposed unprocessed films to a lab in a foreign country for processing. This creates the risk of damage to films, particularly higher sensitivity films such as Kodak Vision2 500T, by security X-rays. (See http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/tib/tib5201.shtml)

It has been stated on many websites (including a page on Kodak and Pro8mm websites) that the safest way to send unprocessed films is to use the services of FedEx. (See http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/support/technical/xrays_damage.jhtml?id= http://www.pro8mm.com/pro8_pdfs/Press/protect_your_film.pdf http://www.kodak.com/US/en/motion/support/technical/xrays_airport.jhtmlhttp://www.birds.cornell.edu/Publications/LivingBird/autumn98/pictau98.htm http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=002Yqg http://www.birdsasart.com/n58.htm http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=006xFy)

However, such information is either of a limited application (US domestic flights) or is out of date. A customer relations team leader at FedEx UK stated in an email response to a complaint in April 2008 that:-

"All freight has to be x-rayed, this is a Department of Transport requirement. We must do this by law. No exceptions are made. Our x-ray machines are RAPISCAN A600/670V and as confirmed yesterday the length of time under xray would have been less than 10seconds. Our X-ray engineers state that this would not affect any film negatives. Despite as you confirm stickers/information on the box advising not to Xray, as it states in our Terms & Conditions of carriage, goods are subject to xray."

A senior manager at FedEx US who also is a photographer commented in a personal correspondence that:-

"To be frank, I do not think it would be realistic to expect someone at a FedEx sorting/screening facility to see the markings on your box and grab it off the belts before it gets X-rayed. Each location sorts hundreds and sometimes thousands of packages per hour....."

DHL and UPS in the UK also stated that all freights must be x-rayed regardless of potential damage to the images on the film. Therefore, it appears that there is no safe way of sending unprocessed film internationally at least from the UK to the USA at the time of writing this article (April 2008).