Every time you go on vacation, some relative or friend always says something to add to your list of things to worry about. Like you don’t have a lot already. One of those pesky things that you end up worrying about is film.
Some people believe that your film inside your check-in luggage will get damaged because of airport x-ray scanners. Their solution for this problem is to use lead-lined bags or luggages.
Can x-ray scanners damage film?
First and foremost, you should not pack anything of value in your check-in luggage. Instead, pack your camera and valuable items in your carry-on luggage to avoid possible theft or lost luggage.
Second, the scanners – CTX-5000 models – that are being installed at all major US airports have laser-like x-ray beams that produce a fogged line on processed film. So yes, x-rays can and will damage the film in your camera.
Can lead-lined bags protect the film in your camera?
Lead-lined bags do not protect film in your checked-in luggage. Again, the new scanners being used at major airports project beams that are just too strong for that.
Also, lead-lined bags look like a suspicious mass when scanned. To avoid all the trouble of having a suspicious looking luggage, stay clear of lead-lined bags.
There’s another reason why you should pack your camera in you carry-on bag. It’s because airport x-ray security scanning devices for carry-on bags produce very low-dosage beams, so they won’t damage your film.
Except for ISO 1600 film speeds.
The Eastman-Kodak Company recommends hand inspecting films of any speed that has undergone x-ray screening for more than 5 times because the effects of x-ray screening is cumulative.
If you’re traveling to a number of countries, best have your films hand inspected to avoid possible damage.
Packing film and going digital
When packing film, first take it out of its box and plastic canister. Put the roll inside a clear plastic ziploc bag, so if you want your film to be hand inspected, you can simply hand the bag to the security officer and avoid having to go though x-ray machines.
Lastly, you can always go digital – you know since it’s 2009. Just a suggestion.