Ilford to process film by mail


From the USPS FAQ:

Is Mail X-Rayed?

Some of the mail that is sent through the United States Postal Service will pass through an X-Ray machine. There are no specific guidelines as to what may or may not be x-rayed, though mail sent to or through larger cities is likely to pass through an X-Ray machine.

Am I being paranoid to think that this could be a non-trivial issue for someone mailing undeveloped film?

I believe that x-raying only has a significant effect on high ISO (800+) film, but I may be mistaken. I know I have taken standard film (ISO 50-400) through airport scanners in the past with no ill effects. I wonder if you could write something on the package that would prevent it being x-rayed? (Photographic Film - Do Not X-Ray?)

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In most cases X-rays don’t have any effect on film. I wouldn’t advise anyone pushing their film to use it though. (If you are sending your film out for development, you’re probably not pushing it, to be honest.)

Wow. I had recently discovered Blue Moon Camera for film processing, but the Ilford prices are really great. Plus, they offer free postage to send the film in!

I have seen negatives damaged by x-rays, so I know it’s possible. Dunno what dosage happens where, but I heard long ago airport metal detectors were bad. That was in pre-pornoscanner days, when they were only looking for weapons.

If I was the guy using this service, I would call USPS, and maybe UPS and find out what their guidelines are like.

I’m always intrigued by the irony of “Film is sooooo much better than digital! Here, look at this image I am posting on the internet. You couldn’t possibly replicate that with digital imaging!”

Positive news indeed, for those who shoot slides. But a very negative development for those exposing print films, n’est-ce pas?

I see what you did there.

My impression is that it was more common before digital backs became established among the medium-format crew, and before full-frame DSLRs became nearly cheap; but digitization of images at a quality level that was either impossible or unaffordable with digital cameras is actually a fairly old custom:

In the field, where size, weight, and exposure time are at a premium, the generally superior sensitivity and resolution of mature photochemical processes make gathering those photons you wanted doable. Back at the office, some preposterously expensive and dubiously-man-portable scanner(that only has to digitize one slice of the image at a time, not the entire scene) digitizes the results for you. Some of the nuttier ones still use photomultiplier tubes, rather than silicon sensors, which isn’t exactly an option in-camera.

(Of course, while this means that claims of digital images that could only have been shot on chemical film are not necessarily false, the usual quality of the monitors people view them on tends to make them irrelevant-in-context: you can buy very, very, nice monitors for photo work; but people tend not to, so it becomes rather like opining about whether vinyl sounds ‘warmer’ when you are listening on dollar store earbuds…)

My sarcasm was indeed mainly directed at the quality of the monitors. Your “vinyl via earbuds” analogy is spot on.

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