Sheet film packets and airport metal detectors : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am off to France for a year and I have a box of Kodak TMY which I don't want to leave behind and I don't want x-rayed. The film comes in packets of 25 sheets which are inside an envelope which is coated on the inside with a silver metallic looking substance. I have determined that a sealed envelope is sufficiently light tight. I was thinking of just carrying a few of the packets in my pockets. Does anyone know if this will set off the metal detectors at the boarding gates.

Please note: this question is NOT about whether airport xrays will fog film!

-- Alan Shapiro (, June 05, 2002


I just returned from a 10 day trip across the US. I carried 10 boxes of Kodak T-Max Ready Loads through 4 airline security check points. The film was placed into the carry on x-ray machines and 4 times. I have processed the film and it shows no ill effects or density increase of Fb+f.

As a test, I left a few sheets of Polaroid 100 speed B/W film in my checked baggage. I processed it when I got home and there was absolutley no damage done to it. I say this not as a justification to place film in your checked baggage, as I certainly would not, but just as an interesting point of information.

I have no qualms about running my film through the x-ray machines at the gate check points.

On another note, I found the security personnel to be pleasant, couteous and very concerned. They used great care in examining and searching my carry on camera equipment. At one check point they asked to scan my camera for exposives. They too a cloth, swabbed my gear and then ran it through a scannner/analyzer of some sort. When finished the security agent thanked me for my patience and wished me a pleasant trip.


-- Bill Smithe (, June 05, 2002.

The metal dectectors are now very sensitive and the gate security agents use metal detecting wands to check your clothing and body. The metal clips on the T-Max packets will most certainly set off the detectors.

You can request hand checks, but it is really up to the local security agent if he/she will acommodate you. If not, I would not sweat having the film x-rayed.


-- Bill Smithe (, June 05, 2002.

You don't need the envelope to keep the boxes light tight. Most of us put exposed film in old boxes to keep until it can be processed so you should be able to do the same with unexposed film. Just remove the film from the envelopes before exposing it and then carry the boxes in your pockets. I share your concern about the x ray equipment. On a recent trip I was told by one operator that my film wouldn't be harmed if it was less than 800 speed, another operator said 1200 speed, a third said 1600 speed. This indicates to me that they don't know what they're talking about and/or that different airports have different equipment. I carried my exposed film in boxes in my pockets and went through without a problem. You can actually fit about 35 sheets in a 25 sheet box when you dispense with the envelope, which cuts down on the number of boxes you'll be carrying.

-- Brian Ellis (, June 05, 2002.

Alan asked about TMY, which is not available in ReadyLoad packets. No clips to set off detectors.

I conducted tests on the metallized mylar foil that surrounds 120 film, carrying five rolls in each of my two front pants pockets, prior to 9/11/01. No magnetometer alarms were triggered at five US airports. Kodak's sheet film envelopes are of heavier construction, and I have no data to offer about them.

The biggest risk in your proposed approach is that you might be selected for one of the random searches performed before each flight. Then you'll have no choice but to place your envelopes on the belt or rip them open. Express shipping the film to and from France (or developing it there) is safest.

-- Sal Santamaura (, June 05, 2002.

"The metal dectectors are now very sensitive and the gate security agents use metal detecting wands to check your clothing and body. The metal clips on the T-Max packets will most certainly set off the detectors. " it depends : i'm a french photographer, i'm in india at the moment : whem i pass the control in paris' airport, the machine detect a little tablet of aspirin that was in my pocket, inside my wallet ! you can always ask for a manual check, if you have a photographer business card or a book with you, it helps ...

-- dg (, June 06, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ