Films and Airport: An Update? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi all,

Since I'm preparing for a trip to Europe... I would like to have these questions so everyone can share your traveling experiences..

-Does any one have had any mishap with film concerning scanning/Xray machines with the airports since the security was tightened? -Any recommendation for films such as shipping back and forth or carry on or buy and process on the spot...? (I will shoot with 120 and 4x5)

Thanks a lot for any advice or suggestion...

-- dan n. (, January 28, 2002


Dan, I don't know if this is still being done, but American Express offices in Europe used to act as a post office for travellers. You might inquire to see if this is still being done, that way you could mail or ship your film to yourself and it would be waiting for you when you arrived on the other side of "the pond" I don't know if there would be any added duty to pay, or if the europeans are x- raying their mail, or if American Express will accept FedEx or UPS. With european firms like Bergger, Ilford and Agfa, you might be better served by buying abroad if those are the films you enjoy working with. Best of luck!

-- John Kasaian (, January 29, 2002.

I travelled to Italy in November. My T-Max 100 went through at least 6 scans during the round trip with no apparent ill effects. Next time I'm going to take T-Max 400, though, as the 100 wasn't fast enough. I know a guy who did have some problems when his film went through the airport in Paris--he had half-moon black areas on the edges of his 120 films (don't know what the film was). But I have heard of others who did not have this problem going through Paris. A female photographer friend has told me she has managed to talk most security people into hand inspecting for her, but she has a great deal more charm than I do.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, January 29, 2002.

In addition to the European films both Kodak and Fuji sheet films are readily available in Europe. Not all countries have the same laws regarding hand inspection tht the US has. More importantly, if you read these threads you will know that even the US laws are interperted (misinterperted?) very differently at different airports. bottom line, when you are trying to make a flight who wants to be hassled? Ship it or buy it there. If you know your itinerary then do some advance planning and buy it there. Even when traveling domestically I now either ship or bu at the other end or have my supp;lier send film to my destination.

-- Ted Harris (, January 29, 2002.


Since Sept. 11 I've been shipping my film by FedEx. It's been working fine. No regrets. It is much simpler than negociating with airport staff.


-- Dominique Labrosse (, January 29, 2002.

Last december I pass spanish and swiss scans with a lot of Velvia and tri-x rolls, without any undesirable effect. But Iīm always afraid with it... I asked for visual inspection in Spain, but airport police donīt give you another chance: they force to pass the scan or to check it with the baggage. I found easy to buy/process any kind of films in the main cities. Good luck!!

-- jose angel (, January 29, 2002.

As far as I understand it, even after Sept 11, the "CAT scanner" type x-rays that WILL screw up your film are only being used on check-in baggage and the baggage of some of those persons who are selected for in-depth screening (hand-search of luggage, etc.) If you fall into the latter category due to having bought a one-way ticket, too much melanin, etc., you will obviously know that you have been selected and can presumably discuss the need to avoid using the more deleterious x-rays on your film. If you are hand-carrying the film, routine x-raying of 400 speed or less film (eg, anything you can get in sheets) should still not cause a problem. I believe there is still no airport anywhere that is routinely using CAT scan type x-rays on routine hand-carried baggage. I've been on at least a dozen domestic and Asian flights since 911, mostly with sheet film, and have not had a problem, despite multiple (10-20) doses on many of these trips. I have not heard of any documented cases of anybody having trouble with hand-carried film in the 400 or less range. I'm planning three major trips in the next few months where I will hand-carry 400 speed 12X20 sheet film, and will certainly update my travel article on this website if I encounter, or hear of, any trouble. At this point in time, I rarely if ever ask for a hand-search of my film.


-- Nathan Congdon (, January 29, 2002.

"If you are hand-carrying the film, routine x-raying of 400 speed or less film (eg, anything you can get in sheets) should still not cause a problem"

Does this apply when one decides to push the film to 3200 or so>

-- Dan Smith (, January 29, 2002.


I am planning a trip to Spain this spring, and am deciding how to get my film there. I plan on taking the 7x17, and my concern with the carry-on film is that these banquet sizes (7x17, 8x20, 12x20, etc.) are so unusual, that even sending it through the x-ray machine won't be enough to permit it to go through without a hand check.

I expect that the large size (and volume) of the banquet film boxes, will make an inspector want to hand inspect, even though it doesn't look suspicious on the monitor.

I have been on a number of flights recently where they will key on some of the specialized electronic or otherwise unusual equipment I have carried on, just because they have never seen anything like it before. If this is the case for electronics, I wouldn't be suprised if it is the same situation for a stack of large boxes of banquet film.

If they do want to hand search, you may have no choice but to permit them to ruin the film, if you want to get on the airplane.

That's my concern, and I hope someone out there can tell me that they have carried on their banquet film without any real hassle from the inspectors.

My feeling is that once the film is exposed, it should be mailed back to home, regardless of the safety. At that point, the film is in opened, unsealed boxes, and the latent images you have are _priceless_. I would not want to risk having them hand inspected at all. Getting them to a Fedex station should also help eliminate some of the cumulative x-ray exposure on the return trip.

Anyone with specific experience on this, please share your experiences.

I'm not really concerned about domesitc flights, it's the international flights that worry me. If the primary language of the region is not your primary language, you could have serious trouble getting them to understand what the boxes contain, and they ultimately may not care what's in the boxes, as long as the can verify that there are no weapons or otherwise.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, January 30, 2002.

I'm sorry but, what kind of film do you use? I don't know about your work but, why don't you process the film in Spain?

-- jose angel (, January 31, 2002.

thanks all the the answers.. and

sorry... I forgot to mention that I will use Iflord Delta 100, HP5 for BW and Fuji Provia II and Velvia for color (both in 120 and 4x5 format).. Yes.. I'm tempted to let the local over there doing the processing for color but time constraint will force me to bring back some... also I like to develop my BW my self in my lab...

-- dan n. (, January 31, 2002.

I'll be glad helping you posters who are planing to visit Spain (where I live) giving you adresses of labs or films available or another contacts, don't doubt e-mail to me directly.

Good luck!!

-- jose angel (, January 31, 2002.

I've been fedexing my film to and from locations. I usually send it to a friend's residence or to the hotel where I'll be staying. It's a hassle and everytime I ship a box off I wonder if I'll see it again. But so far, things have worked out fine.

For what it's worth, Kodak put out a circular in November 2001 on airport scanning (Tib5201). You can probably find it on Kodak's website or at ""

-- (, February 02, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ