X-ray Power

32

Do x-ray machines at the airport really hurt undeveloped film?

Before I went on my trip to the UK I searched the internet to find out what would happen to my film when it goes through security x-ray machines at the airport. From my findings I decided that it would be perfectly fine and nothing would happen to the undeveloped film I was going to take there and bring back. Oh how wrong I was!

shot on Kodak BW400CN

My films were generally over-exposed and the colour film had gone a bit green from the turbulence. I can’t find any other reason for this happening because I had used the same films before in my Diana Mini and they had always come out normal. I would advise developing before departing, unless you want your touristy snaps to come out strange and foreign.

shot on unbranded colour film 400ISO

It would be interesting to know if anyone else has had this happen or if you had your films come out perfectly fine!

written by jschussler on 2011-06-25 in #gear #tipster #x-ray-traveling-film-exposure #quickie-tipster #film

32 Comments

  1. yapfl
    yapfl ·

    did you put your films in the check-in baggage or hand carry it?

  2. scriptkat
    scriptkat ·

    This also happened to me recently when I went over to the UK; my film ended up cloudy. I even asked that the film be left out of the xray machine but they said it would be fine. Maybe they didnt recognize the funny 120 film packages :) Your cathedral shot still looks pretty cool tho!

  3. robotmonkey1996
    robotmonkey1996 ·

    Incheon Intl ruined my photos.

  4. phalanx
    phalanx ·

    I recently took several rolls of film from the US to Germany (in my hand carry bag). There was no noticable impact on the film, no matter if already exposed or still unexposed.

  5. z
    z ·

    I went on a plane with a few rolls of Kodak BW400CN and they developed completely normally, however that was in a carry on... Although the picture are very interesting although i understand your frustration.

  6. lakandula
    lakandula ·

    When I was still clueless about it, I did not bother passing my films through x-ray checks. Then upon returning from Bangkok, I found out one of the rolls (an ASA400) was odd when developed - it produced rainbow colors even when I did not use any color filters. The outcome was awesome though but I tried to discover the most probable cause - which lead me to x-ray checks. Based on my experience, low ISO films like 200, 100 or below are not much affected by x-rays. It's the higher ISO films like 400 up that are prone to react to x-ray scans. Now, when passing through airport security checks, I usually bring my films inside x-ray safe bag I bought from a fellow photographer. The bag is made of layers of polyester laminated film and is really intended for protecting films from x-rays.
    Check this out: www.amazon.com/Quantaray-Film-Safe-X-Ray-Rolls/dp/B00009V3E9

  7. jschussler
    jschussler ·

    @yapfl I had them in my carry on because I had read on various websites that this was the best place for them as the x-rays used in checked in baggage are stronger

  8. stephanie_maks
    stephanie_maks ·

    I had a camera in my purse during a visit to the dentist when they X-rayed my teeth, and the film came out with wavy lines through it. I could find no other explanation for the waviness. The camera was fine, other rolls from the same batch were fine, only the roll in the camera at the dentist that day came out wavy. It was Ilford HP5+ in a Canonet GIII QL17.

    I think you can never tell, sometimes X-rays have no affect, other times they do.

  9. stratski
    stratski ·

    Crap, I'm flying today! Not time to get a special bag or anything, I'll just have to take my chances with my carry on bag. Fingers crossed for the 400 ISO already in my plastic camera...

  10. jschussler
    jschussler ·

    @stratski I also saw a tip that you should fly with your camera unloaded because they could ask you to open it and your film would be destroyed, just to be on the safe side

  11. stratski
    stratski ·

    Hm, a bit too late for that... Sounds a bit exaggerated, anyway. As long as you don't go around taking pictures of the security and stuff (or indeed at all, if you want to be on the safe side), you should be okay. They can hardly ask everyone the see with a camera to open it, or delete all the digital files (which would be the same thing).

  12. nleppa
    nleppa ·

    I end up traveling a lot and you are allowed to ask for a hand check on all of your film and cameras. You just have to make sure to have it in a gallon size zip top clear bag. They may put up a fuss, but they HAVE to do it. There is no way that airport security can knowingly ruin your film. It has to all be in your carry on but ask for a hand check and tell them that the scanner WILL RUIN YOUR FILM. I have had to do this in the US and internationally and have yet to have any film or camera scanned and thus ruining my precious film. It's too hard to find and too damn expensive to just waste! Lomo on and safe travels!

  13. aprilrich427
    aprilrich427 ·

    Every time I ask for the film to be hand checked the people always say if its an iso of 400 or below that the xray wont hurt it and therefore they wont hand check it
    however some airport people are nicer than others, so ask every time just to be safe

  14. sammy-fries
    sammy-fries ·

    I shot a couple rolls while I was in Hawaii. I shot on BW, and developed my self. It was some type of film that I shot on for the first time (sorry I can't remember which) and when I went to hang it up after developing, I noticed that it was really grey. I kept it in a checked bag so it must've been blasting with an x-ray. However, after I toned it, and did some exposure correcting when printing, my prints came out great.
    Check them out on my tumblr:
    doctorfries.tumblr.com/page/3
    Three are on page three and one is on page two. They are the potato head pictures :D

  15. 2mur
    2mur ·

    I made this mistake, but had the opposite results. Most of my pictures looked completely black. Some turned out fine, others were visible, but extremely dark and grainy.

  16. russheath
    russheath ·

    X-Ray absolutely exposes film. It's just a matter of how much. The security folks in the US are taught that anything below 800 won't be affected. To me this makes NO sense. It's just a matter of scale. If more sensitive films are affected in a visible way, then ALL film is affected. So I always travel with the cameras empty, I put all film in a leaded bag for a little extra security (it doesn't prevent damage, just forces them to look a little harder), and I always ask for a hand check of the film. If they ask me about film speed, I always tell them that "several rolls are 1600," and they don't argue with me. Most are actually pretty nice about it once you tell them that the film is fast (and most can't tell the difference, they don't read the canisters very carefully). Hope it helps!

  17. cutebun
    cutebun ·

    Mine is normal though. I took some photos and bring them back from China and it turns out still good. =)

  18. slimspidey
    slimspidey ·

    I wrap my film in foil. I did it to keep the light leaks out but it seemed to help with the Xrays...

  19. thistown
    thistown ·

    always bring your film as a carry-on. add all the film to a separate ziplock bag and ask for a hand check of the film so it won't have to be scanned. it helps to remove the film from the packaging and just have the rolls in the bag because it's quicker for them to check everything.

    i didn't have a problem when i asked for one, but i've heard when you fly internationally sometimes people will give you a hard time. just politely explain to them that it will ruin your film or ask to speak to someone higher up. they say film under 800 asa is fine going through the carry-on scanners, but i'm still afraid to take that chance.

    those lead bags that supposedly keep out xrays are actually worse than just having the film in your checked luggage. all the machine will do is crank it up so they can see what's inside and you end up exposing your film to even more xrays. but yeah, putting film in your checked luggage is always the worst possible thing you can do.

  20. thistown
    thistown ·

    always bring your film as a carry-on. add all the film to a separate ziplock bag and ask for a hand check of the film so it won't have to be scanned. it helps to remove the film from the packaging and just have the rolls in the bag because it's quicker for them to check everything.

    i didn't have a problem when i asked for one, but i've heard when you fly internationally sometimes people will give you a hard time. just politely explain to them that it will ruin your film or ask to speak to someone higher up. they say film under 800 asa is fine going through the carry-on scanners, but i'm still afraid to take that chance.

    those lead bags that supposedly keep out xrays are actually worse than just having the film in your checked luggage. all the machine will do is crank it up so they can see what's inside and you end up exposing your film to even more xrays. but yeah, putting film in your checked luggage is always the worst possible thing you can do.

  21. paintinglines
    paintinglines ·

    I had my first film go through the carry on xrays at the airport, I was afraid it would ruin it but the airport staff didn't give any other choice, so I took the chance. I had two other unused rolls of film, I've only developed the first one and it came out alright, nothing funny, I'll see what happens with the one on the camera (still haven't developed it) and the third one, but I think there's probably a 50/50 chance it will be affected/ruined or not.

  22. feelux
    feelux ·

    Great timing! Hahaha! I read stuff about this before, but I didn't know how it'd look if I'm not careful with my films during airport x-ray scanning. I hope they don't give me too much of a hard time. Wish me luck, and thank you for this article :)

  23. blinghaha
    blinghaha ·

    Aaaah! I still have to scan in my 120 shots from my holiday! (i asked as well they said it would be fine!) I'll let you know how they turn out!

  24. clownshoes
    clownshoes ·

    I had the same bit of drama. I have an X-ray Proof bag for film (lead lined). But I still just had my film hand checked. There is a Part two of my trip and I'm not sure if I'll have time to have a hand check for that one.

  25. itsdebraanne
    itsdebraanne ·

    I had tons of used, undeveloped rolls in my pack traveling from California to my home in Florida. I'm not sure how to tell if my films got messed up. look at them
    www.lomography.es/homes/itsdebraanne/photos/13497184
    www.lomography.es/homes/itsdebraanne/photos/13441176
    www.lomography.es/homes/itsdebraanne/photos/13441150
    of course i had to put my camera pack and all its goodies through the X-ray scanner thing but i can't tell if my images are messed up. i also have my 120film but they only processed it; no prints. don't see anything wrong there.

  26. jonalon
    jonalon ·

    uhmmm there are radioactive stuff at my school i might creep to the science teachers and see if they can get it out for me.. or some of the chemicals... hmmm

  27. burney
    burney ·

    I never had any problem with that but I think that's a very interesting review to keep in mind.

  28. rdp_ribeirense
    rdp_ribeirense ·

    Went to israel and where the film wasn't exposed there was interesting wavy lines, like the diagrams you see of radio waves. The lines slightly appeared in my photos. In israel you facy x-ray machines everywhere and my photos seem fine, film was all 200 and I think one was 400. Interesting fact is that if the person manning the machine zooms onto the film object, the x-rays are more concentrated and therefore will have more effect on the film, heard that from somewhere.

  29. rdp_ribeirense
    rdp_ribeirense ·

    Here some examples of photos I reckon got affected, please tell me if i'm crazy tho!

    <a href="www.lomography.es/homes/rdp_ribeirense/photos/12016808?utm_…" title=""><img src="assets5.lomography.com/576/425/1a/251563762a49289258c3e1c6b…" width="576" height="425" alt="" /></a>

    <a href="www.lomography.es/homes/rdp_ribeirense/photos/12016918?utm_…" title="Shops in the Old City"><img src="assets5.lomography.com/417/576/11/317334e4b5c3bf88bed21a17f…" width="417" height="576" alt="Shops in the Old City" /></a>

    <a href="www.lomography.es/homes/rdp_ribeirense/photos/12016915?utm_…" title="Old city Tunnels"><img src="assets5.lomography.com/394/576/60/d2af16baccc0f9b9208f182e4…" width="394" height="576" alt="Old city Tunnels" /></a>

    I thought they might be lens flare at first until I saw the un-exposed film with the same thing...

  30. jackparker
    jackparker ·

    I went on holiday to Greece from the Uk recently and like you I was concerned that my films might be damaged. However, several web forums said it would be OK so I transported them back in my hold luggage. I didn't notice any difference in the films when I got them developed. I'm not sure if they will have been X-rayed them on the way back but my experience was totally fine - no damage to the end product!

  31. t0m7
    t0m7 ·

    I flew to Barcelona and all my filme where x-ray'd 2 times. The results were just fine, even the INFRARED film! :-O

    Don't want to disturb you, but the Diana Mini is very "fast" with her 1/60s and f/8 and f/11. On a sunny summer-day you will overexpose even 100 ISO films. You used ISO 400 films and all your pics are outside on a bright day. In my opinon that's the reason for the heavily overexposured results.
    On i bright sunny day i shoot with f/11 and 1/100s on ISO 100 film. If you used the sunny-aperture you had f/11 with 1/60s on ISO 400 - that's about 3 steps overexposure!
    I recommend shooting low-ISO films in the diana mini. ISO 200 negative for general or ISO 100 (slide) films on sunny days.

  32. hello-alexander
    hello-alexander ·

    I will be taking 20 rolls of undeveloped film from Manchester, UK airport to Melbourne, I hope they are alright otherwise it is a big waste of money...

More Interesting Articles

  • Lomography X Das Salz der Erde Competition

    written by petit_loir on 2015-04-01 in #world #competitions
    Lomography X Das Salz der Erde Competition

    On the occasion of the German DVD release of Wim Wenders' latest documentary "Das Salz der Erde" on April 9, we're giving away DVD and Blu-ray copies of it. Learn more about the award-winning documentary film and take part in our new competition. Show us your best black and white photographs!

    1
  • Lomography x LIFE Rumble

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-09-25 in #world #competitions
    Lomography x LIFE Rumble

    ‘LIFE’ is a film that tells the story of photographer Dennis Stock who was assigned to photograph James Dean and inadvertently produced some of the most iconic photographs of the star. The film is released this week and we are offering some lucky people the chance to win a DVD, a book of photographs by Dennis Stock, signed posters and a LomoKino.

  • Lomography X The Gap: A Competition for Mountaineers

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-15 in #world #news #competitions
    Lomography X The Gap: A Competition for Mountaineers

    Snow-capped or covered in lush greenery, monumental or of smaller proportions, mountains create the most picturesque natural landscapes. The folks at The Gap Magazine are no stranger to their beauty and will showcase such visual splendor in their next issue. Do you have a scenic photo of mountains? Share your pictures with us and get featured in the December issue of The Gap.

    3
  • Shop News

    Grab Diana F+ Mr. Pink at a Discounted Price!

    Grab Diana F+ Mr. Pink at a Discounted Price!

    As part of the Valentine's Day Deal, you can grab this wonderful fluorescent pink plastic camera at a discounted price! Take seductive, soft-focused shots and pulsating vignettes on 120 film this season!

  • Adventurous Photography: The Lomography x Stilpirat Competition

    written by petit_loir on 2015-03-20 in #world #competitions
    Adventurous Photography: The Lomography x Stilpirat Competition

    You are probably already familiar with our German Petzval LomoAmigo Steffen Böttcher, aka Stilpirat. He recently released his very first audio book about his adventures as photographer, "Abenteuer Fotografie," featuring the beautiful Petzval lens on the cover. Through this competition, our German-speaking community gets the chance to win three of his audio books as well as his photo book about Ghana. So what do you need to do? Show us your lomographic adventures!

  • How Color Photography Trained Tony Ray-Jones for His Celebrated Black and White Work

    written by K. Aquino on 2015-04-20 in #world #lifestyle
    How Color Photography Trained Tony Ray-Jones for His Celebrated Black and White Work

    Against the grain of serious photography, Tony Ray-Jones used commercial color film to document American streets. This was a pivotal lesson in choosing colorful subjects, something he would later master in his black and white series.

  • Special Friendships: The Lomography X LIFE Competition

    written by petit_loir on 2015-09-10 in #world #competitions
    Special Friendships: The Lomography X LIFE Competition

    September marks the 60th anniversary of James Dean's death. Dean is remembered not only for his roles in American films, but also for his iconic image associated with teenage rebellion. Filmmaker Anton Corbijn honors James Dean in "LIFE," a new film that showcases the special friendship between the young actor and photographer Dennis Stock who made Dean immortal through his pictures. Take part in our new competition and win movie tickets, James Dean posters, an illustrated book and a Diana F+ camera.

    3
  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Shoot wider and bigger with this new instax camera that has film format twice the size of the instax mini films!

  • Lomography x The Photography Show

    written by gise11e on 2015-02-20 in #world #news #lifestyle #locations #events
    Lomography x The Photography Show

    Lomography UK are excited to announce we will be at the Photography Show 2015 at the NEC in Birmingham on March 21st - 24th. Come by and say hello! There will be workshops and you’ll also be able to test out the newest addition to the family; the Petzval Art Lens. As well as Lomo’Instants to play around with. Read on for details about our workshops and how to get tickets for this exciting event.

  • New in the Shop: Washi X Maskless CN and Z BW 400/135 Films

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-09-08 in #gear #news
    New in the Shop: Washi X Maskless CN and Z BW 400/135 Films

    Planning to head out to the streets or to the great outdoors? Take advantage of your adventure by testing out a new film! We recommend the Washi X Maskless CN and Z BW 400/135, now available at the Online Shop.

    16
  • Competition: Lomography x The Staves

    written by lomographyfrance on 2015-02-24 in #world #competitions #videos
    Competition: Lomography x The Staves

    Do you know the folk rock trio The Staves? You will undoubtedly love them with this competition! On the occassion of their upcoming release of their new album "If I was" on 23rd March, we offer tickets for their concerts, vinyl records and Lomography cameras!

    2
  • Shop News

    Check the New Super Sampler Black Panther!

    Check the New Super Sampler Black Panther!

    The ultra-lightweight, low-maintenance 35mm camera that fits perfectly in your hand for some wild and spontaneous shooting!

  • Tipster: DIY X-Pro Redscale

    written by rancliffhasenza on 2015-09-27 in #gear #tipster
    Tipster: DIY X-Pro Redscale

    Browsing through the Lomography website, you can find a lot of redscale shots, which are all done on color negative films. I asked myself if it’s possible to redscale a slide or chrome film and then cross process it. (And yes, it is.) In this tipster I’m going to teach you how to create the bloodiest homemade redscale film I've ever come across.

    10
  • Lomography X FOTO HITS Medium Format Rumble

    written by Lomography on 2015-11-26 in #world #news #competitions
    Lomography X FOTO HITS Medium Format Rumble

    With an expanded field of view and its ability to produce high quality images and capture minute detail, medium format photography has become the top choice of many photographers. Lomography is working hard to make sure that it keeps going with the continued production of medium format film and cameras. The current issue of German magazine FOTO HITS focuses on medium format photography. And with this rumble, we want to prove why medium format photography is king. Take your Diana F+, Holga 120, Lubitel 166+ or the new Lomo LC-A 120 and show us your best square shots!

    2
  • Lomography X Carol Rumble

    written by hannah_brown on 2015-11-20 in #world #competitions #videos
    Lomography X Carol Rumble

    Starring Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett and Academy Award-nominee Rooney Mara, CAROL is the beautiful new movie by acclaimed director Todd Haynes. To celebrate its release in cinemas on November 27 we have some great prizes to be won including our Lomo’instant Sanremo camera, 5 x copies of Vivian Maier’s Street Photography book, 10 x pairs of cinema tickets to see this fantastic film and x 10 Carol posters!

    4