It’s something that worries all of us: Is my film going to get wrecked by airport security? I guess the answer is always “maybe”, but recent experience makes me want to say “probably not.”

In the last year and a half I have had the opportunity to make three international trips with 4×5 camera gear and TMax 100 film. Italy via Frankfurt; Scotland; and China. In Albuquerque and in Florence, when connection times allowed the time, a hand inspection (with wipedown) was done without objection, but other times and places made it practical or obligatory to send the carry-on film through the scanner.

On the China trip, my ISO 100 film got “zapped” six times (they even do this at train stations in China). The net result? No trace of fog.

On the Italy trip last year I made three identical exposures on TMX 100 Readyload. I put one sheet in my checked baggage, one in my carry-on to be x-rayed, and one which I requested hand-inspect. The two carry-on films were perfect, but the film in the checked bag showed definite scan lines. The scan lines were probably Zone I or below so didn’t “print,” but the net reccommendation from all of this is:

  • Don’t put ANY film in your checked baggage.
  • Carry-on film is probably fine with multiple security scans.

Update: November 2008. I just returned from my fifth trip to China with TMax 100 4×5 Readyload film. After, I think, six scans through passenger security machines there was no trace of fog.

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