Flying with Film: Results from 3x TSA X-Ray

Traveling with film can be stressful for photographers, as airport X-ray machines can damage or ruin the film. The X-ray machines emit radiation that can fog or distort the images on the film, especially if the film is exposed multiple times.

Photographers concerned about their film can request a hand inspection at the airport to avoid possible damage. This involves presenting the film to a TSA agent for manual review rather than sending it through the X-ray machine.

However, some airports may not allow hand inspection due to security concerns, and photographers may be forced to send their film through the X-ray machine. While it’s unlikely the standard X-Ray will affect the film, the film can be stored in a lead-lined bag to reduce the risk of damage.

Film with an ISO of 800 or higher is more sensitive to X-ray radiation and may be more prone to damage. In these cases, photographers should request hand inspection or pack the film in a lead-lined bag.

We conducted a test at the airport by scanning a roll of Portra 400 three times through a traditional X-ray (not the CT scanner). The results were surprising, with minimal visible damage to the film.

Overall, while traveling with film can be nerve-wracking, there are steps photographers can take to protect their precious rolls. Photographers can ensure their images are safe from X-ray damage by requesting hand inspection or packing the film in a protective case. However, it is reassuring that some film stocks may be more resilient to X-ray radiation than previously thought.

16 replies on “Flying with Film: Results from 3x TSA X-Ray”

Okay, I was wondering about this. Doing a roadtrip with my brother later this year. Driving up to Wisconsin from Texas, but I’ll be flying back, and it’s a good excuse to bring a camera. Hopefully MSP is good about hand inspecting film.

The X-ray power level used on passengers & carry on is much lower than the machines used for scanning checked baggage. 800 and lower will be ok in carry on. That said… I brought 8 rolls to Haneda May 19 and returned to Atlanta June 4. (160/400/800 Portra and TMax 400). Carried on, ( not hand inspected). B4,I left for the airport I used G-translate to write “please hand check, camera film” in hiragana on a piece of paper. Handed film/note on ziplock to security. Hand checked. Picked up scans and film yesterday. Looks good.

That isn’t true for every airport. If they have the CT xray, it’s just as bad as the checked bag machine. To be on the safe side, I’d have mine hand checked.

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The encouraging test results from scanning Portra 400 three times through a conventional X-ray machine make this camera worthwhile for photographers who want to save their priceless rolls from any fnf harm, even though traveling with film can be unpleasant.

I feel strongly about it and love finding out more about it. If you could, as you learn more, would you mind adding more information to your blog quordle

The X-ray power level applied to passengers and their carry-on items is significantly lower than the machines used for scanning checked baggage. Film with an ISO of 800 or lower should be fine in carry-on luggage. As an example, during my trip to Haneda on May 19 and my return to Atlanta on June 4, I brought 8 rolls of film (including 160/400/800 Portra and TMax 400). I carried them on without hand inspection. Before heading to the airport, I utilized Google Translate to write “please hand check, camera film” in hiragana on a piece of paper. I handed the film along with the note in a ziplock bag to security, and they conducted a hand check. I collected the scans and film yesterday, and everything looks good. geometry dash meltdown

To mitigate the risk of damage, photographers can request a hand inspection of their film at airport security Heardle checkpoints. This involves presenting the film to a TSA agent for manual inspection rather than sending it through the X-ray machine.

I’ve take film inside a camera through a CT machine with no visible issues. Not saying you should do it but don’t let it ruin your day like I did!

Also note some places won’t hand check the whole camera! So try to finish your roll before you get to the airport.

If photographers want to make sure their film isn’t damaged, they can ask for a hand inspection at airport security checkpoints. In this process, a TSA agent will manually examine the film instead of running it through the X-ray equipment.

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