airport scanning and IR film : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Anyone have experience with the airport scanners and InfraRed films? I have been told both ways so far... it will absolutely ruin it if it is scanned at all to nothing will happen. Anyone have any solid info on this? I asked in another forum & the topic quickly degenerated into foolishness. So any info or actual experience will be appreciated.

-- Dan Smith (, May 27, 2002



Contact the film manufacturer and pose the question to them. That would be the logical thing to do. Then come back here and share that information with us. Thanks Dan,

Your friend,


-- Jim (, May 27, 2002.

If you're willing to wait in line for ages, or maybe go to a smaller airport which doesn't have long lines, you could take a few rolls of various films to the airport and ask them to pass them through the scanner and see what happens.

-- Brian C. Miller (, May 28, 2002.

Dan I traveled a lot with IR film in the last few years, but in the 35mm format(kodak high-speed infra red). The films passed several times in the hand lugagge x-ray with no harm. Last year, for example, I went to London, Rome and Paris and in each airport it went to the x-ray. When I arrived home, after another pass in the x-ray, I developed the remaining unexposed film and I did not see any visible problem. I guess the same aplies to 4x5 infrared film. Anyway, when it's possible, I prefer to develop myself the films prior to returning home, to avoid the last scan. Rodrigo Malta

-- Rodrigo Malta (, May 28, 2002.


The question here is not whether the airport scanners will fog film, but to what extent. Any answer that states that xrays will have no affect on silver halides is simply scientifically incorrect. Any form of electromagnetic radiation will cause the release of electrons in a silver halide molecule (or any halide made up of a noble metal,and bromine chlorine or Iodine), resulting in separation to the base elements. In the case of IR film, metalic silver will be formed. This will be seen as general fogging of the film after development. Now, the simplest way to verify this, is to run a blank roll through the scanner and develop it with a roll that was not run through the scanner. process the rolls identically, and read the density levels of each roll using a transmission densitometer. The roll that was run through the scanner should be denser than the roll that was not.

IR film has EXTENDED sensitivity in the IR range. It is also sensitive to any radiation above IR, in fact the the shorter the wavelength of the radiation, the stronger the effect on the film. For that reason, a red filter can greatly enhance IR effects by filtering out shorter wavelengths.

The airport scanners are blasting your film with radiation 100s if not thousands of time stronger than visible light. Its x-ray. What makes it even more dangerous is the general lack of consistency from machine to machine. Some machines could be turned up considerably more than others, thus causing greater damage. Also, the more times you send the film through, the more radiation it will receive.

Personally, I won't allow any of my film to be run through these machines. When I travel, I purchase film on location or ship it ahead of time. I also ship all exposed film overnight back to my home.

I'd be interested to hear how other professionals are dealing with this. Maybe they've all gone digital and no longer have to deal with the reality of chemistry or maybe they're using lead lined film cannisters to protect against these scanners.

Don sigl

-- Don Sigl (, May 28, 2002.

I've flown domesticlly with Kodak's 35mm infrared film at least 5 times since 911 and have not experienced any problems with airport scanning.

-- Scott Killian (, May 28, 2002.

Dan, this past Summer, no problems to report with xray damage and 4x5 Macophot sheet film. The Same IR film went through carry-on baggage x-ray scanners in 3 European airports: Berlin, Glasgow, Dublin.

Obviously, don't put it in checked baggage, which eventually goes in the hull of the aircraft. That stuff randomly gets fried from what every is saying, and your film will show the result.

-- Andre Noble (, May 29, 2002.

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