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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> film on a plane
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06/25/2007 10:55:22 PM · #1
This isn't about digital photography, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I'm going to Italy soon and want to bring my film camera as well as my digital. I've never really traveled with film before but I heard that the x-ray machine can damage it, so what do I do with it?
06/25/2007 10:57:57 PM · #2
Just tell them you have film and they should take care of it. It shouldn't be a problem. And yes, x-ray will damage your film.
06/25/2007 10:59:51 PM · #3
Bag it do not case it and hand it to the operator.
06/25/2007 11:03:05 PM · #4
I have run film through airport xrays many times, and several times post 9/11 with no problems. Higher ISO films are more likely to get damaged, but the instances of it would be rare.
06/25/2007 11:07:24 PM · #5
Originally posted by jmsetzler:

I have run film through airport xrays many times, and several times post 9/11 with no problems. Higher ISO films are more likely to get damaged, but the instances of it would be rare.


Best not to risk it.
06/25/2007 11:09:22 PM · #6
John is correct. Only very high ISO films have risk of damage from a couple passes through today's scanning equipment.
This may change in coming years as more sophisticated equipment is implemented. I don't think I'd put film in checked baggage, since those bags already undergo a more intense x-ray process than carry-on luggage.
06/25/2007 11:15:16 PM · #7
Originally posted by kirbic:

John is correct. Only very high ISO films have risk of damage from a couple passes through today's scanning equipment.
This may change in coming years as more sophisticated equipment is implemented. I don't think I'd put film in checked baggage, since those bags already undergo a more intense x-ray process than carry-on luggage.


What i meant is to put it in a plastic bag and hand it to the operator or checker. If you put it in a container and put it in your luggage they tend todo more then one pass on it.
06/26/2007 12:03:10 AM · #8
Anything under ISO 800 is ok for about 5 xrays.

When I went to Kenya last year I had my ISO 200 film go through about 7 xrays and it was fine.

If you're unsure just request that they hand check it. Though sometimes they'll just take it from you and put it through the xray machine anyway.

... but take it with you as carryon. The xray for checked luggage will definitely damage any film.

Originally posted by Air Canada:



Damage to camera film

New security screening can damage your camera film. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is deploying new screening equipment for checked baggage that will damage photographic film, but does not affect digital disks. The new checked baggage screening equipment is consistent with the types being deployed at airports in the U.S. and around the world. Passengers are advised to pack their film in carry-on baggage.

(The equipment used for carry-on baggage at pre-board screening areas will not damage film with an ISO/ASA under 800. However, multiple exposures of the same roll of film to a pre-board x-ray inspection may cause damage. Passengers may request a hand search at pre-board screening to avoid potential damage to film). For more details visit the CATSA website.


Message edited by author 2007-06-26 00:10:05.
06/26/2007 12:05:31 AM · #9
What is film? ;)
06/26/2007 12:23:51 AM · #10
snakes on a plane

yeah...just take it carry on and tell the security people at the x ray that it is film and they will understand (Unless, you are going to foriegn country and they don't understand)
06/26/2007 12:29:34 AM · #11
Originally posted by doctornick:

What is film? ;)


hahaha ahahaha ahaha! lol!

That is where it's going isn't it.

They make film x'ray protection bags that will protect it through x'ray machines. Check your camera store.
06/26/2007 12:47:28 AM · #12
I think they sell film in Italy too!
06/26/2007 12:59:37 AM · #13
Originally posted by kolasi:

I think they sell film in Italy too!


But wouldn't the machine then ruin the exposed film that I took in Italy? Plus, I have some film left over from school I want to use.
06/26/2007 01:12:11 AM · #14
i blurted that out w/o thinking. Of course you are right.

06/26/2007 08:20:39 AM · #15
Well, of course, they have film processors in Italy too. :)

I've heard that the X-ray bags are a bad idea, because they just bump up the power of the machine to see through them. (Which suggests that the power on machines is variable, so film might generally come through ok, but if they happen to bump it up to see something else while your film is in there...)

X-ray damage is cumulative, so the more times you are going through a machine, the more likely you are to have problems. So count me as another vote for hand-inspection.

Do what you can to make things easier - i.e. put the film canisters in a clear plastic container, not in their original boxes. I tend to carry a small cooler bag (which also helps keep the film cool during the day) that has a red sticky label saying "Warning - Photographic Film - Do Not X-Ray", which helps make it look a bit more official. I also tend to carry some high-speed film (ISO 1600 or 3200) which makes them a bit happier to hand-inspect.

At risk of stating the obvious, there is no problem with taking your film through the metal detector.
06/26/2007 08:46:36 AM · #16
Originally posted by equatic:

Originally posted by kolasi:

I think they sell film in Italy too!


But wouldn't the machine then ruin the exposed film that I took in Italy? Plus, I have some film left over from school I want to use.


No, if it is under ISO 800 and the number of xrays is < 5 (or there abouts). Use the same precautions as you would with unexposed film.
06/26/2007 09:46:17 AM · #17
When I used to travel as an assistant, we packed our film for flying like this:

Removed all rolls from their individual plasic cans.

Placed them in clear tupperware containers, sorted by emulsion

Labeled container with: FILM - DO NOT X-RAY - HAND INSPECT ONLY along with the film emulsion and lot number and the name of the person carrying it.

When you get to the security gate, hand them film to the security agent and request a hand inspection. I've never had any refuse.

We also carried an empty, identical tupperware container and once a rll was shot, we'd label the roll and put it in the empty container.

I'd not buy film overseas unless I was very certain of the storage conditions and date. Also, the color correction necessary for film you buy will probably be highly variable unless you shoot color neg, and even then you could have problems.
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