Blog
X-Ray Film - No Way!

HOW DO I KEEP MY FILM SAFE?

Your Questions Answered about Traveling with Film.

Are you planning on traveling by airplane soon?  If you or any of your friends shoot with film, you need to read this!    
TSA is installing new scanning devices in many US airports that can damage your film.
We frequently get asked questions about going through security checks at the airport with film. Is it okay to put my film in my check-on or carry-on bags that will go through the scanner? Or is there a possibility the scanner will damage my film?  We found the answers to your questions about traveling with film based on scientific studies.  
The Kodak Alaris and Eastman Kodak, along with the assistance of TSA, did tests on their film after it had been screened with the new CT scanners.  The results were notable.
These new 3-D imagery scanning devices will allow TSA officers to manipulate an image on their screen improving security threat detection, and reducing the need to open and search bags.   As passengers, we appreciate the new scanners because they improve our safety, and get our bags moving faster.  But…if you asked your film how it feels about the new technology, your film would scream in terror!   Read on to see how you can keep your film safe while traveling by following the advice of the experts.

Here are the answers to your questions about traveling with film:

1. Can I put film in my check-on or carry-on luggage?

NO!  Kodak Alaris and Eastman Kodak have warned photographers not to check their film, or to place it in carry-on bags that will go through the new CT scanners.  

2. What happens to film that goes through the scanning process under the new scanners?

Kodak tested out the scanners on their Portra 400/135 film at  JFK Airport, with the help of TSA representatives.  The film was put through the new CT scanners from 1-10 times. It was then evaluated at Eastman Kodak Research facilities. The initial results were not good.  Just 1 scan showed significant film fogging, leading to smoky blacks and loss of shadow detail. It was more significant for higher speed films. Although it’s possible that a roll of 100 speed film would show less degradation, Kodak strongly recommends against putting any unexposed or exposed but unprocessed film through a CT Scanner

3. What’s the best way to get through TSA security with film?

If you are traveling with film, place it in a clear plastic bag, remove it from your carry-on bag at the checkpoint, and ask for a hand inspection.  

4. What is the TSA’s position on traveling with film?

TSA is aware that their screening devices can and will affect film. Airports with the newest scanners have will have signage in front of them stating that the machine may damage undeveloped film.
TSA signage states there could be damage to sheet film, large format film, film that is or will be under exposed, film that you intend to “push process”, and film with 800 ISO or higher.   However, as noted previously, tests conducted by Kodak revealed that the film with lower ISOs can also be affected.
TSA warning signs also state that film of any speed that is subjected to x-ray screening more than five times can be affected.   This is a common occurrence when traveling round-trip or on a multi-city trip.

5. What is the TSA’s procedure regarding film?

According to the TSA, all screeners are trained to hand check roll and movie film as well as single-use cameras.
Sheet film in boxes may require more diligence on the part of the photographer.

Thanks for reading, and happy traveling!

Oh ya, and DON'T Forget about Heat! Film's worst enemy.