Film Exposure at airports : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Does anyone know how suseptable are loaded film holders at the x-ray machines of airports. Is it better to hand carry all the holers thru the gate IF allowed to?

-- Bob EVans (, October 20, 1999


Film holders being generally made of plastic (or wood) are transparent to xrays. Metal (some holders(?) and darkslides) is also transparent to xrays. Only a thick layer (many mm's) of lead will provide adequate shielding. Also note that newer xray machines give the operator the ability to turn up the power when an opaque object is present, hence increasing the dosage. As a result, those safe film bags can actually do more damage than good. The Kodak web page has some info on this. The only thing you can really do is try your best to get your film hand checked. In the US, FAA safety regulations provide for the handchecking of any photo sensitive materials, so they really can't deny you that option. In the rare instance hand checking is not possible, accept the fact that your film will get dosed.

-- Richard Ross (, October 20, 1999.

I guess it goes without saying, show up plenty early, be patient, considerate and polite and dress well!!! Even I, who has been accused by his spouse of looking like a terrorist, have been passed through O'Hare, Dulles, BWI, SEATAC, and others without too much hassle, provided I took the time to patiently explain what I was doing and made it as easy for 'em as I could. I make it a point to bring an un-opened box of film, an exposed and developed negative, and a sacrificial negative that I can demonstrate loading and un- loading the holder with.

-- Sean yates (, October 20, 1999.

As mentioned above, you have the option of getting it hand searched (throughout the US). and yes, be very polite! the question is, does anyone know how to transport film through international flights? through heathrow?

-- Dave Anton (, October 21, 1999.

BAA (British Airports Authority) which run Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead, London's Airports usually wont hand search as they claim that the hand baggage scanners will not fog film. One of the UK photo Mags has done tests and the only film that appeared to have problems was APS as its in a plastic holder. I haven't seen any info on film loaded in dark slides. I think film in its original packing unopened should be OK. Hope this helps.

-- Steve Hooper-Lawrie (, October 22, 1999.

I fly at least 6 times a year through heathrow and have carried loaded film holders in both my hand luggage and in checked bags. Some of them even made a return trip. I have never had any noticeable ill effects from x-rays and I am extremely demanding. I must point out, however, that I only shoot B&W and usually only Tri-X and T-Max 100 and that the film is always unexposed (exposed film would be more sensitive). I have no idea how color or faster film will react. I would like to take this opportunity to again ask a question I have already asked on this and other forums and have yet to get an answer to: Has anyone out there ever had fogged or streaked film which can be directly attributed to airport x-ray machines? In all my limited experience, I have never talked to, or heard of anyone who has. Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, October 22, 1999.

There is a website, that exists purportedly to warn about the dangers of airport x-ray scanners and provide film safety recommendations for travelers. They have a sample picture showing damage from a CTX-5000 airport scanner. I found no specific mention of LF film on the site, just rollfilm, but I imagine the dangers and precautions would be similar. The recommendations mirror those already mentioned in this thread. You might also try a search in the general forum as I believe the subject of airport film safety has been addressed there as well.

-- Skip Abadie (, October 25, 1999.

The CTX-5000 is a relatively new unit that is only used on checked baggage. If there's the remotest chance of encountering one, your film will only be safe in carry-on. I took 100 and 400 speed film through the US this summer, and after 2 doeses one way and one the other I haven't seen anything wrong with the negatives that wasn't photographer-induced. I was in a rush, and didn't have time to go through a hand inspection.


-- Paul D. Robertson (, November 03, 1999.

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